Last time Jack and Philip rescued Bill from the enemies’ boat.
Jack, the sensible boy that he was asked if they ought to use the oars to row out, to avoid the sound of the engine being heard. Bill had already considered that and discarded the idea – they needed to get away as swiftly as possible, as he felt sure they would be chased and he told Jack as much. He wanted the children out of the line of fire, so just before he started the engine he ordered them to lie flat on the deck.
The ruckus on the other boat stopped as soon as Bill started the engine, and he realised that they’d had no idea there was another boat. Perhaps they could have snuck off quietly, but well, it was too late and they were committed now! Almost immediately came the sound of gunshot, the enemy firing wildly in the direction of the engine-sound and Bill hunched down as low as he could to protect himself.
He warned the children to stay down as despite the poor visibility a few of the bullets had come quite close to the boat already. He swore under his breath and revved the engine of the boat as hard as he could, wishing it was a service boat which was always ready to go at top speed. He was doing his best to avoid the bullets when there was an ear shattering squawk from Kiki. It was so unexpected, that Bill jerked involuntarily at the wheel.
As Kiki continued to screech, Jack began to rise up to check her. “Oh! Kiki’s hit!” he was shouting. Bill felt an uncomfortable lurch in his stomach, he really was fond of the idiotic bird even if she could be annoying at times. He turned to check on the situation, dimly realising that if Kiki was badly hurt she couldn’t possibly be making such a racket. “Keep down, you idiot!” he roared as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He yelled words to that effect to Jack who wasn’t heeding his instructions and was risking being shot himself as he continued to fuss over Kiki.
With Jack lying down again at last Bill refocussed on the boat and the enemy, and as the shooting stopped he distinctly heard the sound of their boat. He groaned inwardly, the last thing he wanted was a pitch-dark boat chase on the open sea. He shouted a warning to the children, lest they try sitting up like Jack had just done, and told them they would just have to keep going as long as the petrol lasted.
They were lucky to be beyond the reach of the searchlight that the enemy had on their boat, and on information from Jack, Bill began heading towards the ‘lagoon-island’ that the children had visited earlier, leaving the enemies’ boat on a different course entirely.
As Bill began to relax slightly, there came a guttural “Arrrrrrr!” from somewhere in front of him. He jumped at the noise but then had to laugh. The children had brought the puffins with them. “My goodness–have you still got Huffin and Puffin?” He looked at Kiki who was beginning to make noises now she wasn’t the centre of attention, as he had noticed the puffins. “Now don’t start screeching again, Kiki. I’m absolutely certain you’re not hurt.”
As Jack began to ask if he could check Kiki over, the boat coughed and spluttered as it began to run out of petrol. Bill sighed and said bitterly, “Petrol’s run out. It would, of course!? Now we’ll have to row, and it won’t be long before the enemy catch us up!” Everyone got up and stretched as the boat began to drift, and there was grumbling about how heavy the boys were on the part of Dinah and Lucy who had been squashed underneath the boys, but everyone, luckily was unhurt.
Bill was glad when Jack confirmed that Kiki wasn’t really hurt, but his mind was busy elsewhere, as was Dinah’s clearly as she told Jack to forget Kiki and think about what they were going to do.
What ought they to do? Making for the lagoon-island was one option, or was that too close to the enemy and should they try to get as far away as possibly but risk being far from land if a storm blew up? In the end he decided that striking for the nearest land was the best option for the moment, they could always divert at the last minute if they saw anything that worried them.
The boys’ sharp eyes could make out the dark shape of the island, and so he trusted them and they began to row in that direction. Just as Jack was reassuring him that there were no rocks around this island, there was an awful grinding noise and the boat shuddered to a stop.
Bill was dismayed, “On the rocks! And somehow I don’t think we will get her off! She means to stay here alright!” They had a look around and found they were wedged hard on the rocks and with rocks all around them too, so they were indeed rather stuck. At least the boat was still in one piece.
Lucy-Ann eventually had the idea of wrapping up in rugs and having a good long talk as they waited for the morning, and enough light to see if they could do anything about their predicament.
Bill and the boys got some dry clothes on, and sat down with hastily sourced rations of biscuits and chocolate. The children insisted he share his story first, and so he began with being abducted from his boat the night of the storm. He sketched a few details of his time in the shack, careful to keep his tone light, and then told them about Horace Tipperlong’s arrival. He couldn’t resist telling them what Horace had said about them, nor from exaggerating slightly to tease Lucy-Ann about her being the most vicious of the group.
Then it was his turn to sit and listen and he was amazed at all they had been through, as well as how much they had discovered about the enemy. They quite put him to shame, in fact. He had run away from the enemy, only to end up accidentally running into them and being kidnapped, while the children had not only worked out where they were but what they were doing, and had rescued him from their midst!
One thing he didn’t understand was, why hadn’t they headed for safety once they had Horace’s boat? When he asked them this, and they said they’d considered their options and chosen to try to find him, Bill found himself suddenly choked up. He swallowed hard, glad it was dark enough that they couldn’t see the sudden glint in his eyes as he told them they were the finest friends anyone could have, and he was proud of them.
The girls were clearly touched, though the boys were quiet. Before anyone could say anything else, however, Lucy-Ann pointed at the far horizon. The sun was coming up.
To be continued…