The Enid Blyton Society
Adventure of the Strange Ruby
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Book Details...

First edition: 1960
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: Roger Payne
Category: One-off Novels
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Review by Julie Heginbotham
Further Illustrations

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Title page from the 1st edition, illustrated by Roger Payne


This story's adventure begins almost from the first page, with Pat and his sister Tessa reading a piece from his father's newspaper about, 'The Strange Ruby', it begins:-
'This sinister ruby, the biggest in the world, is once more in the news...'
It goes on to explain that the ruby gleamed in the forehead of a great idol in a temple on an Indian hillside for many years, being one of a pair of 'enormous' ruby eyes. During a civil war both rubies were stolen, one was never found, and the other ended up being given to a Major Ellis Gathergood. Once he'd died it was believed to be in the possession of Mrs Eleanor Gatherhood, and on her recent death would be passed to her nearest relatives, twins of 12, Faith and David Gatherhood.

Tessa remarks that they must be the twins they met at Swanage a year ago, and with them was their governess, Miss Lawley, because the twins' parents had died in a car accident and so their only living relative was their great aunt, Eleanor Gatherhood.

Pat and Tessa write to the twins and back comes the reply that they were now the owners of the ruby, (which was being kept for them somewhere) and that because of bad luck which attached itself to the ruby, their governess had left, and they were awaiting someone new, and hopefully going away, but it was all being kept a secret. Once the twins knew, they wrote that they would write back with the news.

A week later they get a letter, rather grubby and creased and it says that the twins were being taken somewhere by car and they'd overheard the name 'Bringkin Hill' and were throwing this letter out of the car, hoping someone would post it.

It's quite remarkable that this letter is delivered to Pat and Tessa, but obviously in true Blyton fashion someone must have found it and popped it into a post box.

Tessa and Pat look in their Father's 'garage and hotel book' and spot a town called Brinkin, (not Bringkin which the twins wrote) in Dorset and not far from Swanage where they're going on holiday. They plan on cycling to Brinkin, to rescue the twins, and so looking at the map of Dorset, they plan their route, which takes them through the village of Corfe, and on to Brinkin, and hopefully they will come across Brinkin Hill.

Four days into their holiday in Swanage, they decide to cycle to Brinkin Hill and try and find where the twins could be. Once in Brinkin they stop off at a shop and buy ice creams and lemonade, and the shopkeeper confirms exactly where Brinkin Hill is, and at the top is a large house, owned by a rich man, from overseas, but it is now empty and has been 'shut up' for many years.

Pat and Tessa, cycle up the hill to Brinkin Towers and come to some high locked gates and a high wall that goes all around the building. They decide to walk around the wall, on a pathway that's covered with undergrowth, when suddenly they come to a clear piece of hillside that looks down onto a small lake with an island in the centre. Amongst thick trees they see a little building with queer pointed towers. Pat tells Tessa that the island must belong to Brinkin Towers, and if that was the case, then there must be a door somewhere in the wall giving access to the lake. The children hunt around and find the door, which is locked on the inside, but they notice the undergrowth leading to the door is well trampled down, indicating that Brinkin Towers must have visitors, and that this was possibly where the twins had been taken. By the aid of a fallen tree, they manage to get over the high wall and make their way over to the building, taking care not to be seen, amongst the overgrowth. As luck would have it, a face at the window, confirms that it must be the twins. But to be sure, Pat throws up a stone that breaks the window, and Faith throws out a note confirming that they're prisoners.

Pat and Tessa decide they must rescue the twins, and head back home to make some plans. Once home their Mother informs them that she must go back to London to help their auntie Dora, who had broken her leg and that it would be a good idea if the children camped out for a few days until she returned.

They decide to camp on the small island by Brinkin Towers, and discover a boathouse by the lake and a small boat to take them across. Waiting for nightfall, they explore the tiny building, and decide to camp inside, amongst the many idols there, which Tessa describes as 'great dolls' with jewels in their eyes.

When night fell, the children made their way into the grounds of Brinkin Towers and after a secret whistle beneath their window, a key with a small label was dropped, informing them that the key belonged to the garden door. Unfortunately for Pat, he is discovered once inside the house and locked in the room with the twins. Tessa's quick thinking has her hiding behind a curtain until such time as the house is quiet, then finds and unlocks the room where the others are held, enabling them to escape to the safety of the island.

Very early the following day, the children are alerted by the arrival of two of their captors, who proceed to leave rugs and food inside the little building, and much to their surprise they learn that the island is going to be the new hiding place for the twins and Pat, who's escape hadn't yet been discovered.

After five days on the island, one of their captors visits the little building to pray to the idols, and betraying the rest of the gang he leaves the stolen ruby in the eye of one of the idols. The children are hiding close by, but an unexpected sneeze from David scares the man, and he rushes out and swims back to the land. Because of this incident he goes missing, which brings two other members of the gang to the island, by boat, and they begin to search for Rinji.

Witnessing their arrival, the children hide until the men are out of site, then they have the bright idea of stealing their boat and rowing back to the land, and going for help. All ends well, as the children come across a policeman, who alerts his superiors, and they round up the gang, and discover the ruby in the eye of the idol. The ruby is taken off to the security of the bank, and the children get to spend the rest of the holidays together.

This is only a brief outline of this story, but for me this isn't one of the best Enid Blyton books I've read, as I found the story rather vague regarding the ruby. Enid didn't give out any information about where the ruby was, once the twins had inherited it, nor how the gang had actually managed to rob it.

Certain aspects reminded me of other Blyton books. The island with the small building housing all the idols with jewels in their eyes, was rather like the Famous Five book, Five Have a Mystery to Solve. The fact that the children were hiding on the island, which turned out to be the very place the gang had chosen, was rather like The Boy Next Door, when the houseboat, where Kit was hiding, was the very place his wicked uncle had chosen to keep him prisoner. The Secret Island, of course, a book I've not actually read, only the review.

What makes these books so exciting for the reader, is that the children are always left to defend for themselves without the interruption of any 'grown ups'. For Tessa and Pat it was quite fortunate that their Aunt had broken her leg, and their Mother was called away from their holiday, and so leaving the children free to do as they pleased, in this case rescuing the twins.

This book is well worth a read for anyone who hasn't read it. I'd never read this book until now, but reading as an adult one has to remember these books were written for children in Blyton's time, and try not to judge them as anything more. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.