Hiding places again
“The men were discussing the happenings of tonight, in I’m afraid for them, much too loud a voice for us to not hear. The marsh will be fully drained by tonight at two o’clock sharp, when all the men will have to do is take a helicopter out over the land to look for the ship. They will land, search for the treasure and anything else of value, and fly off to America where they will sell all their goods! We seemed to have speeded up their process, for they had not planned to do this until tomorrow night, but they have been working all day and have asked some more men in on this trick to fly the helicopter over tonight. It will land on the top of the hill, and fly off. A good plan, but not good enough for us!” Bill said. The boys felt rather ashamed. All that going on and they never heard a word of it!
Bill hadn’t meant to embarrass the two boys and thumped them on the backs. “You both did a great job down there, though.”
“So what are we going to do tonight, Bill?” asked Dinah, suddenly.
“We’re planning to lie in wait for the helicopter and when the men all arrive, we’ll arrest them, and the men in the helicopter, too. Something tells me it wont be as easy as all that though, so things might get a bit dangerous. You are to stay right back, see? You can watch the fun, but that’s all. We’ll need a few more of my work colleagues, so I’m off to get them now. Coming?”
The children were, and of course Kiki the parrot. They walked down the hill, talking nineteen to the dozen about the exciting night which lay ahead of them. They reached the village of Lowfell at last, and stopped at the little garage there. The garage keeper was there. The children hadn’t seen him before. He was a short fellow, who wore rather dirty overalls and had all sorts of tools in his pockets. He wore a red cap on one side of his head. The children thought he would be hardly able to walk with all the weight in his pockets! Bill said a few words to the man, who ran lightly over to a black, sleek car and handed Bill the keys. Bill nodded to him, and told the children to hop in. Raymond and Howard had stayed behind and were sitting in the little dairy.
Jack, Philip and Dinah piled in the back of the car, and Lucy-Ann slipped in the front, next to Bill. Bill reversed the car out of the garage and headed out of the little village. Off they drove, along a quiet, narrow, country lane. When they reached the village where Bill’s base was, he told them to go to the little dairy and get five large ice creams and he would join them in a minute.
The children slipped over the road and walked into the dairy. A woman was cleaning up the little tables, and she smiled at them. She was a plump little woman, and wore an apron that hardly fitted her. Her hair was bundled up in neat buns on top of her head, and her face was round and jolly. “Now what would four hungry children like on this very hot afternoon?” she said, beaming at them. “Four extra big glasses of lemonade…or perhaps ginger beer? The biggest ice creams in the shop, or how abouts a frozen lolly?” she asked in a sing song voice.
“We’ll have five ginger beers, and five ice creams please!” the children said, after much discussion.
“Now I haven’t seen your faces ‘ere before, ‘ave I? You just visiting?” she asked, as she brought the little tray of ginger beers and ice cream over.
“Yes,” said Lucy-Ann politely, “We’ve just come because Bill has gone to his…” But she couldn’t go on, because the others had kicked her so hard under the table, to prevent her from giving away Bill’s secret. Why, this woman could be part of it all too, for all they knew, but they very much doubted it, for the woman was so friendly and open. “And look at this bird!” said the little woman, suddenly attracted by Kiki giving a large yawn.
“Now what’s ‘er name, young man?” she asked, looking down at Jack. The conversation went on and suddenly the woman disappeared behind the counter for she heard someone shouting. “What a friendly little woman.” said Lucy-Ann, “Where do you suppose Bill’s base is? We didn’t see it did we?” she said.
“Well it would need to be somewhere hidden, so that nobody knew it was there.” said Jack, “It’s probably in one of those little cottages, across the square, and inside it will all be offices and full of men in smart suits,” he said. The others tried to imagine.
“Lets watch to see which one Bill comes out of,” said Dinah suddenly. So the children watched the row of cottages, intently, waiting for Bill to come striding out of one. But he didn’t and quite suddenly, he appeared at the dairy door.
He joined the children and grinned. “All sorted!” he said, “Some more of my colleagues will arrive late tonight, with a few cars to load the prisoners into! Ah, you’ve got me an ice cream and ginger beer!”
The children did not dare to ask Bill where his base was, and ordered one more ice cream each. Bill had one too, though it was more like drinking, for it was so hot the ice cream had melted! As soon the ice creams were finished up, Bill paid the woman and they all loaded themselves back in the car and off they went, once more, back to the village of Lowfell.
The car was returned to the garage, and Raymond and Howard joined them once again. It was now almost dark, and the children and men set off back up the hill once more. “Is there anywhere we can hide?” Philip heard Howard ask.
Bill thought for a moment, but Philip answered for him. “I know somewhere!” he exclaimed. “I hid there last night, in the willow trees underneath a big canopy we made. It’s big enough for a few people to get under.”
Bill nodded to the men. “There’s our place sorted. I’m sure we’ll all be able to make ourselves invisible inside the willow trees and under the canopy. Will you show us where this place is, please, children. And I don’t suppose you brought a food supply when you came here, camping, did you? We could really all do with a proper meal.”
“Let us get you one of our proper meals, Bill,” said Dinah, grinned, and ran to the hidey hole, once they were near. She pulled out a few things, some cheese, a loaf of bread, some tinned sardines, and some nestles milk. There was still a few pieces of toffee left in the box, and she brought that too, bundling them all in her arms. She took them to the others, where the boys were showing Bill the willow trees and the canopy.
Dinah set all the things out and made the sandwiches – cheese and sardine ones, with toffee for afterwards and Nestlé milk to wash it all down with! Delicious! The men stared at these in horror, but tried them anyhow and voted them the best sandwiches there ever was! Kiki and Beaky were glad there were sardines on the go and pecked them up greedily, both squabbling over the last one! The toffee was eaten up, and Bill declared it time that they slipped into their hiding places, for it really was getting quite late, and they wouldn’t want to be spotted. And so, into the Willow tree, they went, toffee in mouths! Jack told Kiki sternly to keep quiet.
Soon the other men arrived, slowly coming up the hill. Everyone was tense at first, for they thought it could be the enemies, but an owl hoot filled the air, and Bill retreated from his hiding place. “He said a few words, and the men got under the canopy, followed by Bill. The children were hidden in the willow tree, for they would not have to move. They watched all of this in interest. There were four more men.
All was quiet again. It was past ten o’clock now, and the children were almost dropping to sleep! They were sat down, and peering through the willow tree branches. They imagined the men below, working away, and the marsh at the other side of the hill, getting shallower and shallower, in the place where the treasure lay. The purple herons continued to fly overhead, though not so many of them now. Most of them would be at a completely different marshland by now, nesting there. Jack watched the owls in interest, and the others amused themselves only with their thoughts. The time went on and finally, the men arrived. They had piled up all the crates of sloppy marsh inside the big cave room, planning to pick them up another time.
By chance they had planned to wait just in front of the willow trees beside the spring. Everyone became tense again. Would the men see them? Would the helicopter arrive? What would the night bring?