BACK AT LOWFELL INN
The children awoke early that next morning, all lying outside their tents in their clothes! The children themselves were indeed very surprised but then remembered and grinned. “We must have fallen asleep just after dinner and not woken back up! My goodness we are up early!” Lucy-Ann exclaimed. “It’s only half five, but we’ve had plenty of sleep so don’t let’s go back to sleep.” The children got changed into clean clothes and had some breakfast. They then took all the pots down to the stream and washed them and then found the deeper spot and began splashing about again. There was nothing like an early morning swim.
“What time shall we set off to the inn?” called Jack, as they splashed about, Kiki keeping a distance away again.
“About half six I should think. We’ll have plenty of time before lunch, we can go and get your batteries and then perhaps we can join lunch at the inn, today?” Philip replied.
So at half past six the children set off down the other side of Lowfell Hill, carrying two large baskets to put the food in. The stream turned rather suddenly not far down and made off down the hill in a different direction. The children could just see the back of Lowfell Inn from where they were walking. The sun blazed down onto the children’s heads, and Kiki began to feel uncomfortable. She turned round to face the other way on Jack’s shoulder, and found it was just as hot. She turned round again and began pecking Jack’s ear, trying to get his attention. She listened to the children and suddenly Lucy-Ann shouted Jack and pointed to a bird up in the sky. It was only a blue-tit but she didn’t really know much about birds and couldn’t tell the difference between a common one and a rare one. She knew the names of a few, but only the rare ones that Jack talked about for hours on end.
Jack laughed as he looked up at the blue-tit. They all laughed at the little bird. Kiki listened to all this, desperate for some water. How could she get Jack’s attention? He usually ignored her silly remarks.
“JACK!” she screeched, imitating Lucy-Ann, “JACK!” Jack looked at her at once. Kiki had learnt all sorts of phrases and strange words but she had never tried to make a conversation before! Kiki had heard the children say ‘water’ many times before and she had picked it up, usually eyeing the water in dislike, but now she could really do with a bit to cool her down. “Water!” she screeched much to the children’s amazement. Jack laughed at her and produced a bottle of water he took from the basket, Dinah was carrying. Kiki stuck her beak down it and lapped up the water, thirstily. Ah that was better! The children carried on, and very soon, they reached Lowfell Inn, the place they had all started their holiday.
The children went in the back door, through the kitchen and past the cook, who was busily making some delicious looking cakes for lunch. They went on into the sitting room, where a few guests were sat, knitting or reading. No Mrs Jordans. They wanted to ask her if there had been any news about Bill, before they asked Jane the cook to get them some more food. They soon found her cleaning the tables in the dining room, preparing them for lunch.
“Hallo children!” she cried in delight when she saw them. “Now, you’re just in time for a delicious lunch, would you stay for lunch?” she asked in her sing-song voice, wiping her big hands on her apron.
“Yes, of course, Mrs Jordans, we’ll stay, but have you any news on Bill?” Lucy-Ann asked, hoping dearly that she had.
“Now don’t you worry yourself about Mr Bill, no more, missus. E’s safe, see? You just enjoy yourself, young Lucy-Ann.” she said, tickling Lucy-Ann under the chin. “You take my word for it, eh,” she said.
Lucy-Ann beamed. She felt sure Mrs Jordans was right.
“We’re just going to pop out to get some batteries for Jack’s torch, Mrs Jordans. We’ll be back soon for lunch. Oh, and could you ask Jane to pack us up some more food, please? Plenty, for it does seem the warmer the weather is, the hungrier we get,” Philip said politely.
Mrs Jordans looked quite alarmed. “Why, I do think I’ll need two baskets then!” she exclaimed. The children laughed and went back outside and made their way to a little hardware shop. Jack bought his batteries and they went to a little dairy and bought themselves each a ginger beer. The little shop keeper watched Kiki in amusement. She laughed at the bird’s silly remarks and soon had the bird imitating her express train screech!
The four finished up the drinks and paid the shop woman. “Haven’t seen you youngsters for a while,” she said, after Philip had handed her the money. “You won’t know what ‘appened a few nights ago then,” she added mysteriously. The children looked at her in interest. “Two men disappeared in the dead of the night. They were staying at the inn, been there a while, they ‘ad, and then, a few nights ago they were gone, all their things gone, beds been slept in, but not made,” the young shop keeper said, in a whisper. The children listened with bated breath.
“Susan, you’re no trying to scare them children away are you? Do stop telling them fairy tales,” a woman’s voice shouted. The girl grinned at them as they went out the shop. The children stared at each other once they got outside.
“Well, what do you think of that?” Philip exclaimed. “We saw some men up Lowfell Hill on the night of the storm. I bet those men, Ferton and Kennedy are the kidnappers and have been kidnapping for some reason or other. Buck up, you others, we’ll go and ask Mrs Jordans about it now. Come on!”
And hurry they did! They shot across the grass to Lowfell Inn, this time going in by the front door. They hurried in and slammed the door after themselves making a fine old row and surprising the cat tremendously. The children hurried the dining room where Mrs Jordans was serving everyone lunch. The children looked at it in satisfaction. It was a delicious looking homemade soup and crusty bread. But they were not interested in the soup in the slightest. They wanted to know about the disappearing men!
“Mrs Jordans,” Philip said calmly, as Mrs Jordans spooned the soup into the guests’ bowls, “Would you mind telling us about the disappearing men?”
Mrs Jordans smiled at him and shook her head. “Nothing much to tell I’m afraid. Just two men disappeared from their beds on the night of the storm. All their things were gone, their beds left un-made. Nothing else.”
“Who were the men that disappeared?” Lucy-Ann asked.
“Ah, now they would be Mr Ferton and the other man, err… Mr Kennedy,” she said, moving on to the next table of guests. The children gasped. No that couldn’t be right. Thy were the ones who kidnapped the missing men, but they couldn’t very well kidnap themselves…
“Were they the ones who disappeared, did you say, Mrs Jordans?” asked Philip, politely.
“Yes, that’s right, young man. Haven’t come back yet either. I thinks they just packed up and left in the middle of the night, for some reason. Maybe they just had to rush off, for some reason or other. They’ll be fine. Now sit down, you rascals and I’ll pour you some of my delicious home made leek soup!” The children sat down and waited for Mrs Jordans to fill their bowls. There was a piece of crusty bread at the side of each plate. It was a delicious meal and the children enjoyed it through, however they longed to talk of their latest discoveries, but did not dare open their mouths until they were alone. They each did a lot of thinking, though, and by the end of the meal, each child were sure that Mr Ferton and Mr Kennedy were not the enemies in this adventure. Someone else was…
Jane had packed the children two big baskets of delicious looking food. The children had a quick look inside them. “My goodness, look!” Lucy-Ann exclaimed, “two tins of ginger bread, apricot jam, three newly made loaves of bread, jam tarts, meat paste and some of that delicious looking toffee Jane makes.” The others gaped at it all and Jane smiled.
“Well, it’s ‘ungry work being up on ‘em ‘ills in this weather!” she laughed. “Only thing is, will you be able to carry it all up by yourself?”
The children didn’t think so, but Jack answered for them all. “Oh yes, we’ll manage fine,” he said, not wanting to be accompanied by an adult all the way up Lowfell Hill, because they wouldn’t be able to share their news. The others guessed what he was thinking and backed him up at once.
Jane laughed. “I bet you’re planning to run all the way back so you can open the toffee and have a good old chew!”
“Oh we’ve already done that.” said Dinah. And sure enough, they all had a piece of toffee in their mouths!