The Marsh of Adventure by Poppy, chapter 15

Chapter fifteen:

Deeper into the adventure

The children were soon on their way back to camp, the boys carrying two large baskets of food. They were extremely heavy and they began to wish they had asked an adult to come and help them carry them up.

“So, how about that, then?” Jack said once they were out of ear shot of the inn. “Ferton and Kennedy were the ones who got kidnapped, not the kidnappers… When they went past I was sure I saw Mr Ferton’s face, and I assumed that he was the kidnapper, not being kidnapped himself!”

“So, if he’s not the enemy, who is?” asked Lucy-Ann feeling a tremble of fear. “And why did they want us away from Lowfell Hill if they are not the enemies?”

“I don’t know,” said Philip, thoughtfully, “but we’re jolly well going to find out.”

“This is getting stranger and stranger,” Dinah said, “we’re in the middle of another adventure, again, aren’t we?” The others nodded and began talking things over and over.

The children were soon walking steadily up the hill, stopping continually for the boys to have a rest. It got to tea time and the girls suggested having tea next time they rested. So the girls began preparing a meal of meat paste sandwiches, ripe plums, fruit cake and biscuits. “Lucy-Ann, you run over to the stream and fill this jug with water. I don’t know about everyone else, but I just couldn’t drink ginger beer in this heat,” Dinah ordered.

Lucy-Ann did as she was told and ran over to the stream that had now swung round in the direction the children were walking. The others were sat under the trees in the shade. Lucy-Ann dipped her hand into the water as it rushed by and they pulled the jug through the water catching the beautiful crystal clear liquid. It soon filled the jug and she began to run back over to the others. On her way, her foot caught in a hole, in the ground and she tripped over, the jug was tossed up in the air, emptying the contents, and thudded on the ground. Poor Lucy-Ann began to cry bitterly and the others ran over to her. “Poor old Lucy-Ann,” Jack comforted his little sister, examining her hands and knees. She had scraped them a little bit but there was no blood.

“Come and bathe your hands and knees in the stream, Lucy-Ann, and the boys will block up the hole you fell through. No doubt it’s an old un-used rabbit hole,” Dinah said, helping Lucy-Ann up. She led her to the stream where Dinah wet her handkerchief and dabbed Lucy-Ann’s sore hands and knees.

The boys began looking for the hole. They soon found it a little way from the stream, quite big. It was big enough for a small dog to fit down. It was already stuffed with bits of heather and bracken. The boys pulled it all out and peered down the hole. “Why, it looks like this is the beginning a small passage.” Jack exclaimed. “Though it hasn’t been used for a while, for lots of dirt had gathered round the edges making the hole smaller.”

The girls came over and peered down the hole too. It certainly looked like there was a little rocky passage leading down into the hill. “Let’s try and scrape the dirt away from round the edges with sticks, and we might be able to get down there and explore,” Philip said, beginning to work at the edges of the holes with a large stick. The others did the same, digging vigorously at it, dirt falling down into the hole. Kiki watched with interest from Jack’s shoulder. Soon it began to get quite large, but not yet large enough for the children to get down. They continued working at the hole, digging and groaning, until, finally Jack announced it was big enough to get down.

“One of us boys should go down first and see if it’s safe for the others to come,” Philip said. “I’ll go. We’ve plenty of time till it gets dark. It’s only three o’clock. Right, how shall I get down?” he asked, looking around. “Got any rope, anyone?” Nobody had, so Philip would just have to drop down and hope it wouldn’t be too deep.

He smiled at everyone as he clambered down the hole so he was waist deep, his hands resting on the sides. He then let go and down he went! Luckily it wasn’t deep at all, and the children heard a slight thud as Philip’s feet landed at the bottom. Jack threw him a torch. He flicked it on and shone it round.

He whistled a piercing whistle which made all the children above jump. “Yes, looks safe enough, all right. Fine place down here. It’s only a small drop.”

Dinah dropped down neatly next, after warning Philip to get out the way, then came a rather frightened Lucy-Ann, and then Jack. Dinah had her torch, and Jack had another too, so it was quite light. The children shone their torches round. They were in a rather small rocky walled room, which was quite damp and uneven. There was a wooden door, wide open in front of them showing a dark passage behind it. The room had a low ceiling which of course had a hole in it, through which the children had dropped. If it was covered in heather though, it would be quite invisible to anyone inside the room.

“My goodness, this hill must be honey-combed in passages and caves. We’re in one of them now, and of the course the hole in the hill at the other side must be one too,” Dinah said, in an excited voice. “Let’s go and explore!” she said, making for the doorway.

“No!” Jack said, pulling her back roughly. “You are forgetting that there are prisoners being kept in this hill in one of these passages. We can’t just go and walk in on them, they could be anyone, or worse still the kidnappers could be there, guarding them, and kidnap us as well!” he said, staring at the door, thoughtfully.

“Yes, he’s right. It’s too dangerous. Anyway, we’d be sure to get lost,” Philip said, “How are we going to get back onto the grass above?”

“We’ll give the girls a leg up, we should be able to get back up by our selves all right,” Jack said. “Lucy-Ann first…”

Soon they were all gathered at the top, stuffing heather back into the hole so nobody would see it. “Come on then! Time for an afternoon bathe.” The children raced up the hill as fast as they could with the baskets in their arms. They seemed a little lighter after their large tea!

Lucy-Ann didn’t want to bathe in the spring and instead she occupied herself in arranging all the little tins and food into the hidey hole. There was some tinned nestles’ milk which she opened and poured into the large jug which sat in the middle of the hole. Soon, it was even more full than when they first arrived at their little camp site!

Kiki accompanied Lucy-Ann, feeling she was the most sensible of all the children. She still couldn’t get over why the children would want to splash about in the spring. She pecked hungrily at the tins of peaches, and at last, Lucy-Ann opened the tin and handed the delighted bird a few slices of peach. The others soon got out to dry themselves and looked in admiration at Lucy-Ann’s cubby hole.

“Let’s get the toffee out round the camp fire tonight, won’t that be fun?” Dinah said. “And I’ve brought back a few more board games for on an evening when we usually only have a pack of cards to cope with!”

“We need to make some plans.” Jack said, when they got back to their tents and sat down.

“What for?” asked Lucy-Ann.

“For tonight. The enemies only come at night, and we need to see who they are, don’t we? That’s why we’re going to keep watch at night and see if we can find out who the enemies are,” he said. The others listened in excitement.

“We’ll take it in turns, and wake the next person up every two hours,” Philip said. “That should cover the whole night.”

“And what if we see something?” asked Lucy-Ann anxiously.

“Then you wake us up, you idiot. Don’t just sit staring at them. And if you can’t warn us boys without them spotting you, hoot like an owl,” Jack said. “Who wants to watch first? Right, Dinah, then Philip, then Lucy-Ann, then me. We’ll rig up a sort of watch place so we shall be comfortable when we are watching, and not be too cold. Where shall we have it?”

“There’s a bush just behind our tent which has a hollow in the ground beneath it. I found it when I was hunting for a place to store the food. That would be a good place, we could take some rugs to put on the floor to sit on, and take a rug to wrap round ourselves and we should be fine,” Lucy-Ann said importantly. The others nodded.

“We’ll arrange it all now, before it gets dark,” Dinah said, taking a few spare rugs. They all made their way behind Dinah and Lucy-Ann’s tent to hunt for the bush Lucy-Ann described. Lucy-Ann pointed it out at once. The others looked. It was a gorse bush, not too prickly, and sure enough there was a large hollow in the ground beneath the bush. Dinah crawled in and lay the rugs in the dip and put a spare one to wrap round whoever sat watching.

“We could also put a towel over it, to keep in the warmth. It would just look like it was drying there,” Philip said, grabbing one and putting it over.

“Perfect!” they all chorused as they stepped back to look at the finished watching place. It was perfectly disguised. The children then took turns solemnly crawling in, and sitting in the delve to test how comfortable it was. It proved very nice indeed and most importantly, they could see quite clearly around, and would see anyone passing, enemy or not! What would the night bring?

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