The Enid Blyton Society
Tricked on the Track
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Book Details...

First edition: 1930
Publisher: Birn Brothers
Illustrator: Uncredited
Category: Birns 1930 Series
Genre: Mixed
Type: Short Story Series Books

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List of Contents
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson

  1. Tricked on the Track
    Story: Specially Written
  2. A Day of Thrills
    Story: Specially Written
  3. The Stormy Petrel
    Story: Specially Written

Front Cover
I've never seen this booklet mentioned anywhere in the extensive lists of Blyton Books so it has to come under the heading of "Rare." It's just over 13cm x 19cm and contains three stories of which no record seemed to exist until now.

Tricked on the Track:

I've never seen Enid Blyton as a "racing car" person and I can't think of any other stories that deal with the subject from her point of view. She did describe cars occasionally and an example I remember from childhood was "Black with a Small Green Line."

One of Enid Blyton's favourite names is used again and it's bestowed on Uncle Harry whom Jimmy thinks is a most exciting person seeing he owns a racing car. According to Jimmy it can go faster than any existing vehicle and this is attested to by the array of silver cups and other prizes on display in his Uncle's study.

Jimmy would love to ride with Uncle Harry in the Big Race but it's a dangerous sport and, when you think of it, Jimmy's mother (you know what mothers are like) would hardly allow him to take part in such an exercise. Besides, Uncle's pal (Peter) always sits with him when he's on the track. Jimmy says that he wouldn't be scared to accompany his uncle on a race and Uncle Harry, after looking hard at him, agrees and tells him that he's a "plucky kid."

Race day arrives and something unexpected happens. A few minutes before blast-off Peter, Uncle Harry's mate, is called away because "one of the mechanics over by the shed wants to speak to him." He doesn't return and this is how Jimmy's uncle reacts:

"There's some dirty work here. Peter's been knocked out I expect by someone who doesn't want me to start in the race. I've got to have a passenger ... whatever shall I do?"

The obvious solution rears its head and young Jimmy fulfills his dream. He hasn't got a helmet of course but who cares about that? Just Go, Go, Go and they do so with a R-r-r-r-r-r-rRRRRRRRRR!

There's an account of the thrilling race, and Uncle Harry's determination to win seeing that someone has attempted to stymie his plans. A red car appears alongside and when it tries to force them off the track, Jimmy feels sure that the driver is the person who got someone to knock poor Peter out.

Fortunately, Uncle Harry is a superb manipulator of mechanical contraptions and, taking evasive action, he shoots ahead just as a crash is heard behind which, possibly, signals the arrival of a little rough justice.

It's easy to figure out who wins the race and after all the hand shaking and applause they find that Uncle Sherlock has deduced exactly what had happened. Someone had knocked Peter out and locked him in the shed. As for the driver in the red car ... he had crashed and received a broken leg for his efforts.

A Day of Thrills:

Dick is saddled with a ten-mile walk across the moor because his mother thinks he should visit his grandfather who's rather ill. The boy can't go by train because it would cost too much so he sets off on foot early one misty morning. Unfortunately, he loses his way when the fog comes down with a vengeance and then, when it lifts, he sees an aeroplane circling above. As he gazes up, the aircraft descends and when it's fairly low, something drops out of it and hurtles towards earth. Dick watches as the plane rises and heads west.

He runs to where the object has landed and finds a sack with a considerable amount of cotton wool in it. Feeling around, his fingers touch something hard a box, but he has no time to explore further because three men suddenly appear and run towards him. They tell Dick to leave the sack alone and one of them actually boxes his ears when the boy tells them he thinks they're smugglers.

They tie him to a tree when he threatens to "spill the beans" and then extract a dozen small boxes from the sack. Wishing Dick "Pleasant Dreams" they inform him of their plan, which is to drive to the next big town, catch the express train, and tomorrow they'll be in Ireland. Off they go over the moor to the road where their car is parked.

Dick's not a qualified escapologist but he struggles hard until he manages to reach his pocket-knife. After thirty minutes or so he manages to open it and rub the blade up against the rope. It's terribly hard work but eventually the stiff, tired, and hungry lad, succeeds in freeing himself.

Like any good citizen, he wants to catch the smugglers and deliver them to the authorities so, after resting and having his lunch, a marvelous idea flashes up. Why not try to stop the train the men are on? Dick's not without clues and, knowing the lay of the land, he sets off at top speed.

The train runs through a tunnel and sends up billows of smoke that emerge from shafts set into the moor every so often, but there's a cutting some two miles away and Dick heads for it. After a very tiring run, the boy arrives and climbs down onto the railway lines to stop the train down when it exits the tunnel.

Here it comes, puffing steadily towards him and grinding to a halt when the driver spots a boy standing on the tracks waving his coat. Dick explains his reason to him and the fireman and is told to run to the end of the train and inform the guard. He does so and the guard jumps out at the next station to telephone the police.

Dick is able to identify the crooks when the train reaches its destination and the he ends up being congratulated soundly because the police have been after these particular crooks for a long time.

"What a day of thrills!" thought Dick as he sat down in the express that was to take him home again " ... but I'm glad it doesn't happen every day."


The Stormy Petrel:

Harry and Harry? No! This time it's cousins - Alan and Morris, who are about the same size although Alan's a couple of years younger. He's also a rather foolish boy with a bad temper. Morris is fond of him but, at times, he wishes he could knock a little sense into his head.

Morris lives by the sea and his father has presented him with a small boat because the boy's a splendid sailor and a good swimmer but, when Alan comes to stay as he often does, Morris' father tells him that his cousin mustn't go sailing alone in the boat. That's a fairly reasonable order seeing Alan's fairly young and also, he can't swim.

Almost every day the boys are out sailing in the boat, which is called "Stormy Petrel" and soon Alan is quite good at rowing but he won't learn to swim because he just can't be bothered. Morris passes on his father's ruling regarding the fact that he's not allowed to take the boat out alone.

Alan's not happy.

"Ho! Can't I? I'm as good as you do you think I'd fall into the water like a frightened girl?"

When Morris accuses him of boasting and being babyish, Alan tries to pull the boat into the water by himself. He doesn't make it though because his cousin drags him away and then has to duck as a blow is aimed at him. Alan hits out again but Morris pushes him out of range.

He tries the gentle approach.

"What's the good of fighting ... my mother wouldn't like it and anyway, you're younger than me."

Unfortunately, he ends up on the ground when Alan in a real fit of temper hits out and connects. Morris' mother appears and, not knowing the true cause of the altercation, berates her son for fighting.

Morris has had enough.

"Go off in my boat if you like and drown yourself. I don't care." He disappears into the house.

One can predict exactly what happens and one will be correct. Witness the intrepid Alan out on the ocean waves rowing hard and heading far out to sea. That's all very good but eventually he becomes tired and with the shore so distant, the sailor is now becoming rather scared because a mist is creeping over the ocean.

There's a fairly heavy swell, and he feels a little unwell. What on earth would happen if, into the water he fell?

Does Morris know he's out in there? Yes, his cousin has spotted the boat from the cottage window and watched it sailing further and further away. He goes to help his mother in the garden but later notices the sea-mist descending and, feeling a little apprehensive, he realizes that Alan could be in danger.

He consults Daddy who, takes a very grave view of the situation and immediately launches his motorboat. They both head off to look for the Stormy Petrel and eventually a faint cry of "Help!" is heard on the wind. Heading towards it, they locate the stricken boy who's looking green with fright having become stranded after losing both oars.

A rescue is performed and with the Stormy Petrel tied to the back of the motorboat, they turn and head for shore. Alan's father has a few sharp words with his nephew and leaves it at that. It's enough though because Alan is full of remorse, and also of resolve. He's sorry for being such a beast and he won't lose his temper again. Furthermore, Morris was "such a brick" to come and save him and ...

" ... tomorrow, I'll jolly well learn to swim."
"Black with a Small Green Line" describes the Rolls-Bentley belonging to the Honourable Favorleighs that rolled up the St. Clare's driveway during the half-term break (Claudine at St. Clare's).

She may not have been into cars, but EB seemed to like trains because she produced a booklet called A Non Stop Run that contains lots of information about rolling stock. In another of her stories there was a Spook Train, and many of us may remember 'Hurry Secret Seven, Hurry'.

Here's a thought: The story 'Tricked on the Track' ends thus "... you should have seen Jimmy's face. He was the proudest boy in the Kingdom." Now if a Queen had been on the throne, would "Kingdom" be replaced with "Queendom?"

Sometimes Enid Blyton had a "Business as Usual" approach when something quite nasty has taken place and this is amply illustrated with Uncle Harry's reaction to Peter's disappearance. There was also a similar approach in another story when a small girl took time off from partying with her friends to pull a gun on a burglar who was upstairs ransacking the house. After the police had carted off the intruder, she rejoined her buddies and carried on from where she'd left off ('The Uninvited Guest').

We have to trust that Jimmy's mother is still friends with Uncle Harry despite the fact that he hijacked her son and allowed him to ride alongside without protective headgear!
The ten-mile walk Dick had to undertake when visiting his grandfather is worthy of a sympathetic view. Looking at him I'd say he was about a "five kilometer per hour" kid - taking in mind that three to eight kilometers per hour is roughly the walking speed of a child. That makes his walk (or expedition) a sizeable 3 hours! If a bike could be used on the moor, I reckon he needs to save up for one.

His lunch was in his pocket.

Times have changed. The train that Dick waved down was, of course, one of those great big clanking things that run on steam and it did have a corridor that allowed passengers to pass from one carriage to another. These days, the guard would have whipped out a cell phone to call the police that's presuming modern trains have guards.

"Smoke shafts" may bring to mind another Blyton novel called Five Go Off To Camp. This is the scary (in parts) tale where a "Spook Train" runs under a vast and lonely stretch of moorland.
Harry is very common name in the Enid Blyton books.

A Petrel is a sea bird defined as such - "A theory (unsubstantiated) is that it is named after St Peter who walked on water in the Gospel of Matthew. The petrel's habit of flying low over water with legs extended gives the appearance that it's walking on the surface. The birds got the name "storm petrel" or "stormy petrel" because old-time sailors believed their appearance foreshadowed a storm."
In human terms A Stormy Petrel is one who brings trouble or whose appearance is a sign of coming strife.
EB was sometimes inclined to place girls a little lower on the scale of achievements as compared to boys so ... when Alan asked Morris, "Do you think I'd fall into the water like a frightened girl?" - the idea would be that girls aren't able to row as well as boys seeing they're more inclined towards quieter and not so energetic pursuits (besides being less sturdy). To be absolutely fair, I do know that there are definitely some girls around who're almost as good as boys and you have only to look at Chapter #3 of Smuggler Ben in order to learn that a lass named Hilary did a very good job of rowing a boat all by herself and with a passenger in it.
The three stories are good examples of the "simple" tales that are sprinkled throughout the early short story collections, particularly in this range of booklets but, as the years rolled by and the author refined her talent, a little more plot and substance could be observed in later compilations.