It is the first day of the Easter holidays and Peter and Janet decide to organise a meeting for the Secret Seven. Janet writes notes informing the children of the get-together at half-past ten the next morning which Peter delivers. A day later, Peter and Janet’s mum allows the brother and sister to make some real lemonade from lemons and sugar, as well as giving the pair jam tarts and a tin of biscuits.
Excited, Peter and Janet take down their niceties to the shed at the bottom of their garden where the meeting would take place. However, both are left in shock when they find the door and windows of the shed wide open, whilst boxes and cushions and sacks are all dumped on the grounds in untidy heaps! With Janet in tears the two children soon see the gardener who tells them that their dad had asked him to clean out the shed. By this time all of the stunned children including George, Jack, Barbara, Pam and Colin have arrived. It is at this moment that it dawned on the children they would have to find another meeting place away from their beloved home.
In disbelief, the seven decide to huddle up in the summer house of Peter and Janet’s garden. The summer house is not very spacious but the seven make the most of it, and in their determination begin to think about finding another hideout for the summer. Peter, the leader of the group decides that all the seven should go out in the countryside and find a suitable location for meetings, before coming back to the summer house at six o’clock that evening with their ideas. Six o’clock soon comes and the seven come up with a list of exciting places to meet. Colin mention a tree at the bottom of his garden but it isn’t secret enough, Barbara mentions an old hut in a field but it has a hole that exposed it the rain, Pam didn’t manage to come up with any idea, and George says he could get permission off his father to use a caravan but Peter feels it is too luxurious to use. Despite these exciting ideas, it is Peter and Janet’s idea of a secret cave in a quarry near Peter and Janet’s garden that wins the most votes.
Unable to contain the excitement, Peter and Janet lead the rest of the seven children to the cave. Off they walk through their garden, through their dad’s farmland, and in to the quarry until they reach a sandy hill. It is here that Scamper runs through a gap in some thick bushes and disappears. The others follow and to their joy arrive at the cave. In the cave, the entrance is lit-up by stems that hang down over the entrance, while the inside is spacious and comfortable with a lovely sandy floor. There are also rocky shelves around the cave which could be used for the children to put their things on. The next day, the seven come back to the cave with cushions to sit on, a box for a table, while books, two bottles of juice, two bottles of water, a tin of boiled sweets, a packet of oatmeal biscuits, two bars of chocolate, ginger buns and crab paste all sit proudly on the rocky ledges of the cave.
Unsurprisingly, the children love their cave, and decide to play hide-and-seek in the woods near the quarry. Jack is chosen to shut his eyes and count to one hundred near a tree. Soon, strange happenings are to meet the glaze of Jack’s eye. He has seen a figure slip into the cave! At the time, Jack does not think anything of it, but when he tells the children and they realised he has counted an extra person, the seven begin to worry. In light of this revelation, the seven search around the cave only to find nothing. Thinking it must have been Jack’s imagination, the children and Jack walk back home. However, when Barbara and Pam arrive the next morning, the two girls find a tin on the floor of the cave, that a bar of chocolate and currant buns has disappeared, and three cushions are missing. Soon the other children arrive with Colin also finding that one of his Famous Five books had been stolen. Thinking it was Susie; Jack questions his sister, only to anger her, thus leading to Jack having to tell his mum where the children’s hiding place is.
In their refusal to leave the cave, the seven decide to lay a booby-trap for any potential thief visiting the cave. Using string, the seven balance a jug of water on the ledge to the entrance of the cave, and cover cotton with sticky threads of the honey. This means that any impostor who tries to get in the cave will be saturated with water and covered with the spider’s web of cotton and honey. Convinced their trick will work, the seven return to the cave the next morning, only to find that more of their things have been stolen. Shell-shocked, the seven look around their cave to find that the entrance has been untouched, and that there are no other potential hiding spaces in the back of the cave. Forced to leave, Scamper does manage to find a small, dirty notebook with a frayed elastic band round it. Inside the notebook, the seven find to their astonishment a name hastily scribbled within the pages. The name is Albert Tanner, and Albert is to meet a man called Jim on the post office seat at 8.30pm on the 15th, a date which happens to be today.
Sensing growing excitement that this man is their thief, it is agreed that Colin and Jack will meet-up at the post office in an attempt to overhear what the two men say. At 8.30pm Colin, stationed behind a tree near the bench, and Jack up in a tree, finally catch sight of two shadowy figures approaching the bench in the moonlight. Hardly daring to breathe, the two friends listen, only for Colin to sneeze loudly. Startled, Albert immediately lunges at Colin from behind the tree and shocks the poor boy, and terrified, he runs for his life. Brave Jack up in the tree is left to overhear what the two men are saying. Thankfully he hears one crucial piece of information: that Jim has told Albert to look for a mystery item at the scarecrow.
The next day, Jack and a bruised Colin tell the others of the night’s drama, and it is decided that the seven will search for Albert, and what they suspect is a stolen item, in an inn up in the common called the Scarecrow. Would this be where the loot was hidden? Or was it in fact hidden in a real scarecrow? Also, will the seven find their own stolen items? Strange happenings indeed, and if you want to find out what happens, make sure you read Secret Seven Win Through!
This book was an immensely enjoyable read. I felt really sorry for the children as they had so much bad luck. First, the seven are forced to move from their shed; second they find their things stolen in a cave, and finally the children are forced to leave their beloved cave! Not to mention poor old Colin getting shook and receiving a blow to the head by Albert which I found immensely upsetting. I really hope the Secret Seven have a lot more luck finding what they suspect is hidden loot and their own items in whatever this scarecrow may be!
Next review: Three Cheers Secret Seven