Bill's Diary 1949 (Part 2)
First edition: 2014
Publisher: EB Society
Illustrator: not illustrated
Category: Bill's Diary 1949
Type: Continuation Books
Publisher: EB Society
Illustrator: not illustrated
Category: Bill's Diary 1949
Type: Continuation Books
On This Page...
August 19th – Friday
Master Micky and Miss Kiki! That's what the children's favourite steward calls the livestock to the amusement of the kids and especially to Lucy-Ann who seemed full of beans this morning. I think she likes having me around so that she can hang onto my arm whenever we're walking about. They'd all slept well and were now looking forward to what the day would bring now that I was with them. They've organized themselves as only they know how and Lucy-Ann produced a bag containing cut lunches that included a selection of the colourful fruits often served at dinner times. Their steward friend has packed grapefruit and other stuff for Kiki and Micky so everyone was covered. Dinah was just getting over a bout of hiccups, which she said Philip had caused when she hiccupped once and he smacked her on the back. At least they hadn't started fighting, in fact I haven't seen anything happen between them as yet, but we still have the day before us.
Tim appeared as we clambered down the gangplank. He smiled round at the kids and patted the monkey before telling me he's run into a chap who hasn't been able to get anyone to take him up for a view of the island and as I wouldn't be using the plane, could he commandeer it for the day? I was only too happy to oblige seeing it's his occasional bouts of expertise that help to keep me up in the air. Tim has a knack of making friends no matter where he is although it might be partly attributable to the way he'll put himself out to help anyone at all, anytime, anywhere. He wished us all a good day and went off to his car while we walked towards the collection of small boats in the marina to look for our man and as we approached, a dark, weather-beaten peasant, about 5 foot seven in height appeared. His alert eyes appraised us from under a woollen beret and he saluted us all. He had the inevitable moustache and wore a brown shirt that had seen better days. Covering it was a kind of waistcoat and below were wide-flaring trousers tucked into fisherman's boots. I wonder what description his brother had given of me because he recognized his customer.
"Kalimera! You want boat David say ... I am Andros," and then he lapsed back into Greek.
He was our man all right and pointing to a sturdy little boat bobbing about in the water he beckoned us closer. It would take us all so I asked if we could go to Thamis. He looked reluctant and said he could show us better islands but Thamis it had to be and after confirming we didn't want a grand tour, which I think he'd been expecting together with the thought of more money, we were escorted aboard. Kiki made an impression on the chap as she always does and Micky Monkey didn't seem at all afraid of him so Philip must be taking good care of the little creature and instilling some confidence into it's make-up; apparently the animal had been ill treated before Philip acquired it.
Andros started up the motor and we moved smoothly out of into the bay and in no time the boat was speeding along leaving a furrow of water behind as we headed out to sea, passing the Viking Star with it's bright red plimsoll line contrasting against the whiteness of the superstructure. Buildings were nestled together in the port and dwellings dotted the hills. A fresh breeze threatened to whip Kiki off Jack's shoulder but she clung on valiantly while Philip's monkey kept hold of a mast and chattered some gibberish that only Lucy-Ann dared to say she understood. We invited Andros to share our lunches but he had brought his own, a very continental one of bread, Limburger cheese if I'm any judge of the foul-smelling stuff, and a container of dark looking liquid.' We all surprised Lucy-Ann by anticipating her thoughts when she was getting stuck into a tomato sandwich and suddenly looked as if she was going to say something.
"Food tastes so much nicer out of doors!" the boys and Dinah chanted.
Everyone laughed and Lucy-Ann joined in when she realized her mind had been read. The animals were fed as well and seemed to be enjoying themselves except for the wind-nuisance to fur and feather. Jack handed his binoculars to Lucy-Ann and pointed out some birds he'd spotted and bemoaned the fact that he'd left his camera on the ship. Micky the monkey was sitting on his master's shoulder and looking over at Kiki who was perched on the railing as if to crow over her because of his slightly higher position.
Andros was diligently keeping to a course marked on the map nearby although he didn't have to look at it because he's an old hand. Philip fell asleep for a few minutes when he lay down with the hot sunshine above and the lull of the ocean's waves below. Our skipper certainly doesn't have a very high opinion of the island we were heading for, preferring instead a place he named as Janos where his sister apparently lives part of the year. I couldn't see it on the map until he pointed with his finger to a much larger island that as far as I could see through the smudges, was called Grammeza. The map Andros showed me had titles for the smaller islands each handwritten in ink, although the one I'd got on the ship showed several that were un-named.
"Our family call Janos" Andros remarked and he tapped at a roughly written list of several islands that was tacked onto a noticeboard. "We have our names and we know each one. They are the islands we take the toris!"
"Tourists," I said and he nodded understandingly.
The girls and Jack woke Philip and we all gazed out from the deck to take in whatever we could of the odd islet that slipped by. On and on we went. Andros looked over his shoulder at me and yelled above the engine noise,
"You talk Andra!" Then he added, "My name is after Andros ... Isle of Andros."
He grinned at us all and added,
We skimmed over the waves and Andros pointed out the Island where his mother lived which meant we'd come a little further south than we needed - he may have been hoping we'd choose the larger one after all, but we were on a mission. The map had one Island with simply 'Kyra' written on it in Andros' shorthand and one viewable on the other side of the boat was referenced as Alonissos. I joined the kids on port side and we watched the changing scenery
At 13:40 we approached Thamis or whatever its real title is if it has one, and a feeling of awe seemed to emanate from the children as they viewed it, no doubt thinking they would soon be searching for buried treasure. Would they? I wasn't so sure of that but there was no harm in trying, I decided. Andros made for a little channel, avoiding the waves that pounded the shore and leading us into quieter waters where he stopped the motor and allowed the boat to drift towards a rocky ledge. The buildings we could see were a bit of a letdown. We'd expected a bustling village but the makeup of the area was more of a ghost town and the kids tried to see if there was any life visible before jumping on to dry land. We took our food while Andros settled down for a siesta in the cabin.
Jack used his field glasses and expressed alarm at the seemingly 'dead' surroundings. There were a few Parthenon-like columns, some old dilapidated dwellings, and even a temple set amongst trees and bushes with dry orangey earth showing here and there as we wandered into what seemed to be a kind of 'main' street. I followed the kids up a part that led us around more old buildings and outhouses with our hope of finding life descending into a pretty forlorn one; but the children had one thought on their minds: Treasure, - and looking at the map was a good way to start. We had got to the top of a hill with a view all over the island and in the distance the sea sparkled with waves covering the shore every now and again. In the other direction, marked tracts of land could be made out - Andros had mentioned there were a couple of abandoned farms but there was little sign of life on them, not even when I borrowed the glasses. We turned to retrace our steps, when suddenly there came the sound of a bell - Kiki's pretty good at imitations but it wasn't her. We were halfway down the hill and happened to be walking past a whitewashed enclosure with a couple of brick columns by the door when round the corner came a laden donkey with a ragamuffin boy riding it! We all stared and Lucy-Ann commented.
It was, being the only sign of life we'd seen apart from a few birds and the odd skink darting around amongst the dusty cobbles (at least that's what Jack said they were). The boy grinned at us and jumped down to point out baskets on each side of his animal and then began unloading an array of local foods all the time chattering to us like Micky the monkey often does. Wished we'd brought Andros with us because we couldn't understand him, and I wanted to know why a boy would approach, and offer us food. Going by his actions it seemed as if the stuff was actually for us and after he'd unpacked it he looked expectantly at us. The boy wouldn't stop gibbering and I could only try my best to indicate our surprise while he just stood there with his hand out and a slightly mutinous look on his dark face. In the end I gave him some 10 lire coins that I just happened to have in my pocket. He didn't seem to mind what they were as he counted them up and then appeared quite happy again. Seizing the halter of his donkey, which had strayed over to give Philip a friendly nuzzle, he jumped on it and after an altercation with Micky and Kiki, gave us a rough salute before galloping frantically away when Kiki began braying.
A mystery! That's what it was but we didn't have time to pursue it. Instead we each grabbed a roll and took the rest of our bounty into the nearby building and placing it in a shady nook. Turning to the crude map once again we figured out that 'Creek' which was printed on it meant the narrow inlet where we'd sailed up to the shore so we set off back to the boat where Andros was lying asleep in the coolest section of the boat having left the cabin. Hamidi had printed the words 'Two Fingers' and on impulse I looked to see if there was anything resembling a hand or fingers seeing we were standing by the first clue. Philip reminded us of the time we'd followed signs marked out on a treasure trail a few years ago when we were in Austria and it brought back memories of that project.
Lucy-Ann followed on with "Waterfall."
"It was 'Waterfall' first," Jack corrected her, " ... then Bent Tree."
"Black Rock and a creek after that," said Dinah. "Or was it a spring?"
Further over to the left on the hillside we spotted two projections and couldn't help deciding they were the 'Two Fingers' because nothing else presented itself. We all viewed the 'clue' through Jack's glasses and then climbed around and upwards to the landmark that looked like a fist with two fingers and although we hadn't expected to see anything so near to where we'd started off, looking in the space at the rear of 'Two Fingers,' a hole could be seen in the face of the cliff. Kiki soared up to perch on one of the 'fingers' and looked down at us.
"Eee-yore, Eee-yore, Eee-yore!" she yelled while Micky jabbered and then started climbing up one of the 'fingers.' Kiki flew back down to Jack's shoulder and cast a beady eye on the monkey that had scampered up to where she'd been sitting - probably just to show her he could get up there as well. I got Jack to run back and fetch a couple of lanterns from the boat and then we all entered the hole which was simply a tiny cave that led to a narrow passage at the rear. Didn't think there'd be any harm in following the track along to see what could be seen and with Jack and I holding the lamps we stumbled our way along it for about five minutes until the passage opened out into a slightly larger space than the entrance and it contained a wall of stone blocks that seemed to have been placed deliberately there for some purpose. Whatever it was it looked as if our treasure hunt had been nipped in the bud almost immediately, to the children's disappointment.
Just as we were about to turn back, Lucy-Ann discovered something in the dim light of the lamp I'd placed on the cave floor - it was a battery. That gave the impression we weren't all that alone as far as treasure hunting goes and when Lucy-Ann started imagining things I decided it was time to go so we made our way back to the entrance and out past the queer shaped rock. Tramping back down the way we'd come there was a shock in store for us - reaching the channel we found the boat had gone! Gazing up and down the 'creek' brought zilch and then Jack spotted what he thought was the craft way out at sea and using his binoculars, he was able to confirm it was Andros' boat when he spotted the green mast. Now we had another mystery on our hands - why would he suddenly make off when I hadn't paid him any money? Had someone or something scared him away?
Lucy-Ann clutched me and I put an arm round her thinking for the hundredth time what is it about these children that attracts perilous situations? But it wasn't so, I told myself. Andros will come back or he'll get someone to pick us up. Perhaps he thought we wanted to stay here a while and had sailed off intending to return later. He may have gone to visit his sister on the larger island so we were by no means in a 'Perilous Situation.' Decisions were made - we'd find some place to sleep although we wouldn't freeze if we stayed out in the open air. We were all right for food - there was the rest of our picnic meal and also the supplies brought to us by the local boy so after we'd come across a suitable spot near some trees with brightly coloured flowers cascading down the trunks and covering a stone wall, we sat amongst them and made ourselves a good meal. There was a clear view of the channel as well in case Andros reappeared but there was no sign at all of him and his boat. Afterwards we went for a stroll round the town with its crumbling edifices and narrow streets and weeds all over the place and eventually we picked out a crumbled ruin with part of a room where we all settled down on some grass that covered the earthen floor. The hot sun had been tiring for the kids and now that the stars were out, it wasn't long before they drifted off to sleep together with the pets which had found themselves beds as well ... on Jack and Philip. I lay awake for a while thinking over the day and pondering over the mysterious gift of food, the passage we'd explored, Andros and his vanishing act, and finally I thought of Allie. I wondered what she would think of our latest incursion. Those kids of hers are terribly persuasive but there was no reason at all to think we'd end up stranded on an island ... no reason at all I convinced myself. I imagined Allie's face when she learnt that once again the children had been courting danger and then pulled myself together. Tomorrow things would turn out all right - someone would arrive. Wrote up the diary ... and now I lay me down perchance to dream! (21:10).
Extraordinary happenings last night. Just as I'd got comfortable and was about to have some shuteye voices and footsteps could be heard nearby. Obviously there are people somewhere about but at this time of the night it didn't seem kosher so I got up and stood by an opening in the wall to observe, and was just able to make out the images of two men. Every now and again they would look into places they passed as if searching for something and after racking my brains as to why they'd be here I could think only of the food we'd received earlier on. Was it theirs? Whilst wondering whether to show myself, Kiki who had woken up suddenly took matters into her own hands (or claws) and made a noise that was so loud it sounded like a gun going off. The children were roused out of their sleep and I shushed them as the men outside came to a full stop and started whispering to each other in excitable tones that ceased abruptly when they heard a terrible cackling on the night air. It was eerie even to us, as we crouched in the darkness waiting on tenterhooks for the men to make a move, when suddenly an ear-shattering screech came and it continued to grow in volume sounding exactly a train roaring through various tunnels and sounding it's horn. That settled it as far as the would-be threat was concerned ... the men bolted in terror, racing back down the street and disappearing round some high columns that rose up above the nearby houses, blocking out some of the stars that shone down in their millions.
After Kiki had been praised for her performance, and Philip had called his monkey that had leapt up to a small ledge on the wall, we settled down again. The girls snuggled up together and I placed my jacket over Lucy-Ann although she didn't really need it but I thought it might give her some kind of assurance. I told them it was a fair bet the men wouldn't return after their encounter with Unknown Forces and I was right - there were no more disturbances that night and we all slept quite well.
The kids woke before I did and were already active. Jack had organized a water supply from an old well he'd hunted out and the girls had fished out some rather stale rolls for our breakfast and a generous filling made them a good starter for the day. Jack reported there was still no sign of the boat and I wondered again why Andros had stranded us - he seemed a good man and hadn't given any indication at all that he was going to disappear. We'd all slept in and the stiffness in our muscles had only just disappeared when, round midday, we heard the donkey bell again. What an extraordinary business - it was a repeat of yesterday and made me resolve to run over my diaries some time in the future and take note of the times the kids have been in dire circumstances yet, with food, food, and more food presenting itself to them. Altogether, they've been extremely lucky in that department and it's just as well. Water can be found, but food can be a problem and now, here once again, was their 'delivery.' The roguish little boy appeared and we wasted no time ... 'take the food now and ask questions later,' so that's what we did and the lad looked pleased with our efficient unpacking of the panniers tied to the donkey.
Boy and donkey disappeared before I'd thought of following them to see where they went, but after last night's encounter I wasn't sure if we needed to know because I couldn't see either of the intruders being related to the lad. If it was their food, they'd know where to get it. Whoever had supplied the stuff was more than likely to be one or other of the lad's parents. After a meal we hid the rest with the other food after Lucy-Ann and Dinah had gone through it and selected various morsels that weren't in an edible state. They threw it outside for the birds and then after a tidy up we were at a loose end so we sat at the entrance of our 'home' and watched Micky chasing Kiki around after she'd swooped down and stolen a grape from his fingers. Dinah was trying to make a temporary repair to a rip that had appeared in her shorts, Jack and Lucy-Ann were in a corner poring over the 'treasure map' once again, and I sat smoking whilst having a think and gazing out at the tiled roofs and straggly bushes.
Jack and Lucy-Ann got up after a while and went out to pace around the courtyard of the nearby ruined temple, when another altercation between bird and primate occurred. Kiki and Micky had gone out to join them and I watched as Micky jumped up onto a broken column keeping hold of another grape that Philip had given him. Why he didn't just swallow it is anyone's guess - perhaps he wanted Kiki to see it. She did of course because she was sitting on the column as well - watching him. Not sure what happened next but suddenly there was no monkey. Micky definitely hadn't come down so perhaps he'd found a niche somewhere inside the column and had settled in it to eat his grape.
Then we heard a whimper, so Philip climbed up and his pet had disappeared all right - fallen down the inside of the column and there was a chance he'd been hurt although it wasn't all that great a fall. I handed Philip my torch and he shone it down inside and next moment gave a shout – there were some steps at the base that led downwards. Jack got quite excited when he heard that pronouncement and yelled out something about vaults and temples and bells but I didn't want any more casualties and told Philip to come down so that we could prepare ourselves properly if we were going to rescue the little monkey, and if there were steps it was probably worth seeing where they led as we had nothing better to do.
I sent the boys off to get lanterns and some of the food and while they were in our 'quarters' the monkey somehow managed to scramble back up from where he'd fallen and climb down the column to look for his master. Seeing Philip wasn't around, he went to Lucy-Ann for comfort. Don't think Kiki felt too loved after being the cause of Micky's disaster because instead of flying off to Jack, she perched further away from us looking quite ashamed. It's surprising how human some of her expressions can be. I climbed up and shone my torch down to view the steps and tried to figure out why there was no entrance outside. Surely they hadn't been put there after the column weathered away. Kiki rejoined us and flew to Jack's shoulder thinking probably that two minutes penance was enough for her attack on the monkey; Dinah had seen her giving him a vicious peck.
Warning everyone to be careful not to gash themselves on the jagged sides, we all climbed up and then lowering ourselves down one by one onto the steps inside the column, we descended by lantern light. Left the food behind us on a ledge so that we could concentrate on crawling through the narrow confines until it became easier as the passage got wider, and then at the bottom it opened out into a long cave that was obviously the Temple vault. It reminded me of a picture I'd seen taken under some of the Roman ruins although the walls were of rock rather than hewn bricks. Some steps leading upwards further over probably led to the original entrance. I tried them and found the way blocked by a square stone that could have been sitting somewhere in the courtyard, so I rejoined the kids.
Time out for a look at the map. Must say I was starting to feel, as the kids did, that we might be on to something other than a Saturday stroll when mulling over clues marked 'Bell' and 'Bird' and even 'Labyrinth' which gave it a touch of Greek authenticity. Decided to go right, seeing there was no way to figure out anything else direction-wise in the absence of sun or compass. We stumbled along by torch and lantern light with Kiki and Micky rather quiet for once. Lucy-Ann and Dinah were directly in front of me with the boys leading and I couldn't help running over the other times we'd been in a situation like this - working our way along caverns with some purpose in mind, accompanied only by shadows and the sound of our feet and the occasional remark coming from Kiki.
Reaching a passage that led down we followed it to the end where an ancient but solid looking door barred our way - but only temporarily because the boys pushed at it and with my help, the hinges gave way and it crashed down onto the floor. Our resident expert identified a carved bird on the facing as that of an eagle, which of course tied in nicely with 'bird' written on the map. An undercurrent of excitement manifested itself as the children and I gazed at it before entering the portal and taking one of two passages although we weren't keeping strictly to the map. The 'Labyrinth' part was what we really needed to find but it was worth exploring the narrow passage we were now in. Kiki and the monkey had to jump off the boys' shoulders occasionally and whilst Micky loped along behind Philip, Kiki, after trying to hitch a ride on him and getting a swipe from his paw, had to hop along as best she could. After we'd followed the passage downwards some way it led into a cavity that contained what could have been the remains of persons, presumably of high status judging by the intricate designs and lettering carved on wooden blocks inserted in the walls. A 'tomb' no doubt because the word was printed on the map.
Beyond, it was quite steep but the 'bloodlust' was up by now and the thought above all others that occupied the children's minds was 'Treasure.' Couldn't be this easy surely. If we got in, other people could have entered ages ago with grave robbers well to the fore although, admittedly, it was spot-luck that we had found the entrance inside the column - I don't think the ancients would have had a bickering monkey and parrot to assist them. We finally reached the bottom and found ourselves in a distinctly more Upper Class area with an archway and floor of marble glistening in the lights as we held them over to get a good look. Animal and bird figures had been sculptured in the cavern walls and the decorative facades looked almost ghostly as shadows bounced here and there in the lantern light. 'Goddess' was one of the words on the map and the set up in this part of the caves made it the ideal location so the feeling was that we were on the right track. We more-or-less knew where we were now and shortly, after following the passage onwards and down, we ended up on the other side of the barrier we'd come up against during our exploration in the passage behind the Two-Fingers rock. Now, all we had to do was to retrace our steps and tick off the signposts one by one.
Back we went back, following the map closely. It wasn't all that difficult a trek except for the steepness now and again but I was a small bit concerned there could be a rock fall from the vibrations we were making as we lurched past overhanging rocks and moved under dubious looking arches. When we got back to the broken door with an eagle in it, we took the left passage and groped our way along having to bend our heads every now and again when the roof suddenly lowered. Jack suddenly realized that Kiki had disappeared and after calling for her a few times, decided he'd have to go back and find her. Taking one of the lanterns he turned and went off the way we'd come. Lucy-Ann said she'd go with him but was reassured he'd be only a few moments.
The passage forked again and we continued to the right with Dinah saying she'd give anything for a drink. Philip and Lucy-Ann echoed her statement but having not so far to go now we just kept on towards the part we estimated as 'Catacomb' on the map. At Philip's suggestion, we stopped for Jack to catch us up but he didn't reappear. Lucy-Ann became alarmed and after she'd yelled out his name a few times we thought it best to go back and find him. All very well intentioned but things became a little sticky when we realized our orientation was not as it should be. Part of the cave seemed different ... it was extremely low in parts and none of us could recall it looking like that. There were so many twists and turns as we progressed along but we had kept dutifully to the right as the map had shown; coming back, of course, things were reversed and we must have gone one way when we should have gone the other. How utterly annoying! I was only glad the kids didn't fully realize the seriousness of the situation. I was fairly confident there was no Minotaur waiting for us in the maze of tunnels but we were in a labyrinth and no skein of cotton had been unravelled so we went blindly on our way. Chiding myself, I led the kids back to where there may have ben an error of judgment. This didn't work at all because in the dim light the passage just got narrower and narrower until only Kiki would have been able to squeeze through.
I turned to the kids who were hard up against me craning their necks to see what we'd come up against. The only thing we could do was to walk up and down and around backpedalling until we came to a familiar bit so, getting them behind me, we set off again with poor Lucy-Ann stumbling behind, feeling very anxious about her brother. Had a feeling we were still retracing our steps and that was confirmed when Dinah recognized a ledge-like projection that jutted out from the wall - one which I'd also noticed earlier but we still kept on and when the passage forked we stayed to the right because the map had indicated right hand turns. Whenever we had a choice it was tight-hand all the way and eventually we reached a slope and some steps. Down we went and at the bottom there was a large cave that contained niches and hollowed out sections in the walls. In parts it looked as if there'd been some collapses because some loose rocks overlapping in one corner had blue tinges as if there had been leakages of water or something over the years. I held the lantern high and we surveyed our whereabouts then figured we were in the catacombs that were marked out on the map.
Philip suddenly tripped almost falling over and shining a light down onto the floor, a hole could be seen. Closer scrutiny revealed that footholds had been carved into the walls for climbing down and suddenly I had a hunch that, as we were so far down and this hole went even further, could it have been considered the ideal place to hide something. An indentation in the earth round the top hinted at a long gone cover so it was worth investigating. Climbed down the shaft and didn't even need to reach the bottom because all was revealed when it suddenly opened out and there it was - a hollowed out space in the rock stuffed with all kinds of goods that fitted the description of 'treasure."
I yelled up to the kids and on hearing the word the word 'treasure' they almost fell down in their excitement with Micky monkey bringing up the rear. He'd been quiet on our journey through the dim caves and must have felt rather wary but not being able to bear being parted from Philip, he swung down with his usual agility, hardly seeming to touch the footholds.
What a feast for the eyes - piled all higgledy-piggledy as if they'd just been thrown down were ancient vases and metal objects that gleamed in the lamplight. Bracelets and armlets and badges that looked as if made of gold were strewn here and there. Some of the stuff looked so ancient that it might have held pride of place in a museum of Greek artifacts, and sticking up amongst the display were several mouldy looking chests held together by studded metal strips. Aladdin's trove! This was a treasure hoard indeed and whether or not it was the Andra cache needed to be determined but whatever it was, the worth would be incalculable.
In fact Lucy Ann asked me what I thought it would fetch and I could only estimate:
"Many millions of pounds."
The children scrabbled amongst the goods and I didn't even think of telling them to take it easy - they could have scratched a silver drinking cup or a tiara, each worth several thousands of guineas. Turning, I and saw Dinah and Lucy-Ann had donned what looked like ruby encrusted crowns and had draped themselves with jewelry that sparkled and glowed in the torchlight. Philip was examining a dagger that shone in places where the mildew hadn't set in and when he reached for a scabbard so that he could tie it round him I thought it was time to get back and see if we could find Jack. Lucy-Ann looked wan again and I tried to cheer her up by saying that he'd probably decided not to join us in case he lost the way and even now could be back at the column in the sunshine waiting for us to emerge. That did the trick and after helping the girls up, I followed them with Philip in tow. The monkey somehow managed to use us all as stepping-stones to reach the top before anyone else and then he crouched down chattering loudly, waiting for his Lord and Master to reappear. Back we went to the catacombs and then, keeping left all the time, made our way along as quickly as possible because we were anxious to reach the outside world again. Took a wrong turn somewhere and then Micky monkey suddenly jumped to the floor and scurried off with such intent that I felt it might be a good idea to follow him. Like dogs and cats, monkeys could also have an unfailing sense of direction and it was with great relief when we found ourselves in the 'vault' part again. Lucy-Ann was crying with relief and I took her hand reassuringly. She's a brave one all right but still the youngest and prone to expressing her feelings a little more noticeably than the others. Found the stairway and with me leading, we started climbing up to the open air once again. Kiki was perched on the edge of the column looking down at us and speaking her usual nonsense. I greeted her and looked for Jack to appear when all at once there was a cry, almost a shriek -
"BILL, LOOK OUT!"
I clambered my way up the column and jumped out to see Jack being held by a flabby looking character all bundled up in a long coat with a battered hat on his head and dark glasses hiding his eyes. He had his hand over the boy's mouth. As I went to accost the fellow, three men who'd been hiding behind the column pounced on me and I was manhandled to the ground. I could have put the three of them out of action if one hadn't manage to stun me with a blow from something, so I just lay there under them with stars whizzing round. I couldn't even shout out to warn the others because my head had been forced down into the earth. Two of my assailants had straggly beds and they all wore traditional head coverings and loose clothing that smelt pretty bad. They weren't short of muscle-power either and when Philip suddenly appeared and flung himself on one of the men he was brushed away like a fly and then at a word from the one in charge who could only have been the insidious Mr. Eppy, I was allowed to get up while his three ruffians stood alert, ready to pounce again. Thought I'd better not try anything violent because Jack and Philip were both being held and if anything was started they were sure to suffer. I was allowed to go and help the girls out and they spotted their friend Lucian. He started talking to them but was shut up by his uncle. I warned him that he can't act like this and expect to get away with it but he countered by saying he'd bought the island recently, it was his, we were trespassers ... and then he got down to the nitty-gritty. He believed we knew where the treasure was and expected us to lead him to it. I looked at the children. Jack had been allowed to join the others. Fear and apprehension showed in their faces and I thought what a contrast it was to the delight displayed by Philip and the girls only a short time ago when they were rolling around in a King's ransom of riches.
Nothing made sense. Assuming Eppy had taken an interest in Thamis only after he got wind of the children's map (from what they'd indicated), he wouldn't have had time to complete all the formal proceedings needed to obtain possession. It just didn't add up. I told him so and threatened him with the weight of law but it was no good; pouncing on me again they tied my wrists and ankles and there I was, completely at their mercy. Philip had been hit when he tried to help me, Lucy-Ann was crying and Dinah looked rebellious, while Jack had to be subdued once more as he tried to get away from Eppy who'd seized hold of him again. Kiki had flown into the air when Jack was being grabbed and now she was perched in a tree looking us over and trying to figure out what was happening. She flew down suddenly and attacked Mr. Eppy with a brutal nip at his ear before flying back to be joined by the little monkey who'd jumped up to be with her when the fighting had started up. I think he wanted comfort and as Kiki was one of the clan and not able to be got at, he might have felt safer up there with her.
The thugs manhandled the boys just as roughly as myself, throwing them to the ground and binding them up with strips of cloth that looked as if they'd been torn from a tent or perhaps the canvas bag I'd brought from the boat. Having trussed Philip and Jack very efficiently they turned to the girls and I could only warn them they were heading for trouble treating kids like this.
"There'd be no trouble from them," I said, but they ignored me, probably because they couldn't understand English, and the girls were each grabbed, pushed to the ground, and hogtied. Dinah was struggling like a mad thing and managed to kick one of the men in the eye but wished she hadn't when he struck her savagely. Eppy just stood there with a smug look on his face thinking, no doubt, that soon he'd be considerably richer than he already was. The boys wriggled around trying to sit up, and Lucy-Ann just lay on the ground sobbing. Poor girl. I managed to slide myself over a little nearer to her while Eppy and his men went to the column with the boy Lucian, who'd been hovering well to the rear looking scared as he watched us being tied up. I think he wanted to help but was too frightened of his bullying uncle to do more than speak a few words to the kids as he joined the men and climbed with them into the column.
So, here we were again - in trouble as we'd been last year and the year before and the year before and ... it was those children. There was something about them and maybe that's why I've been so drawn to them. They're special, but now the men had gone I had to think of a plan and very quickly. With his knowledge of the islands and his explorations, Eppy would be well up on the traditions that dictate the placement of tombs and valuable artifacts buried for dead souls to use so, unless they got lost, which I could only wish upon them, they'd probably discover the hoard and then what would they do? Jack took the chance to fill me in on the conversation he'd had with Eppy and how the man had wanted to claim the treasure right from when he'd first learnt about it. He'd also mentioned a second creek in which he'd moored his boat but hadn't told Jack where it was. His violence towards the boy wasn't too mystifying after having met him although I'm sure Jack had earned it somewhat by giving lip. That kid doesn't lie down for anyone.
Dusk descended. I rolled over further and ended up beside Lucy-Ann who looked terribly frightened so I told her we'll get free and as for Eppy and his cronies, he's too intent on reaching the baubles rather than worry about us, and they'll probably be a long time away if they get to where we ended up. They all felt a little cheered after those thoughts were voiced especially when Kiki flew down from her perch to land on Jack with a squawk and then suggesting we send for the doctor! She has a talent for picking up phrases and she's into 'mistersir 'now having listened to Andros talking to me when we were on the boat. I was wondering if Jack could get her to use her beak on the cord knots when suddenly, little Micky boy scurried down from his tree and went to Philip.
It suddenly dawned on us that Philip was talking in the caressing voice he uses when communicating with animals and our thoughts suddenly united - Micky had hands. Hands could untie knots. Philip now had the monkey pulling at the strips round his wrists, but strong men had fastened them and Mickey's slim fingers couldn't make much of an impression. However, realizing that to have his master cuddle him again the boy's hands must be free, the monkey fastened his sharp little teeth on the canvas strips and began gnawing at them. We were holding our breaths and silently urging him on while Philip continued speaking softly in his hypnotic voice, encouraging the little pet to keep at it. Kiki decided to interfere after a while but Jack called her - Micky was hard at work and mustn't be disturbed. The monkey obviously sensed he was doing what his master wanted so he kept at it with Philip jerking every now and again when the monkey's teeth scraped against flesh.
At least twenty minutes passed but at last the canvas pieces had frayed enough for Philip to free himself and it was relief all round when, after getting some of his circulation back and petting his adoring monkey, he got out his pocket knife and cut the bonds round his feet. Next it was our turn and then we spent time rubbing our wrists and ankles. It took a while for my blood to start moving again and it was helped by my jumping up and down and taking a run round the courtyard. Jack went back into the column to see if any of the food was still there. It was, so we were able to have a rough meal of bread and cheese. There was some of the meat as well but no one felt up to risking it after its long spell in the warmth.
We were all tired. Escape didn't seem possible seeing that Andros had been warned away by Eppy whose belligerence would probably have put the fear of God into the sailor. He'd be no match for the scoundrels and might not think it even safe for him to alert the authorities. Plans were made - I'd stay awake and keep a watch out for the men to return. Tomorrow we'd look around for the boat they came in and possibly hijack it. Mine would be a four-hour watch and the boys could do two hours each so having sorted that out, Philip and Jack curled up a little way from the girls against a wall with the matted undergrowth substituting for a mattress. Dinah and Lucy-Ann were quickly lost to the world so I covered them with the rather shabby blanket we'd brought to sit on when picnicking, although the night air was quite mild.
Lit up my pipe up and sat near to the column listening for any sounds from below but all that could be heard were the chirps and buzzing of insects that had started up earlier as darkness came. Sniffed the scented night air mingling with the smell of tobacco smoke and decided it was a pleasant combination. Put the lantern out after a while and listened intently for any signs that someone was approaching from inside the column but the heavy breathing of the kids was all that could be heard apart from the night sounds that lessened at times and then started up again as if a signal had been given. Went over the state of play and then while I was relighting my pipe a small noise brought me instantly alert. Someone was in the column climbing up the steps and then I heard something falling. I thought of the food that had been placed there - had one of the men come back to fetch some?
Suddenly a quavering voice could be heard. It was Eppy's son – Lucian, and when I shone my torch down on his head, the boy's frightened face looked up and I could see he was crying. He was too scared to jump and grab my hand so I climbed down and shoved him up. He was ravenously hungry so I gave him some of our bread and cheese, which he devoured rapidly. Told me his uncle had left him in the vault area and gone off with his men to hunt for some treasure and "they'd been away for ages." He was "scared" and wished he'd never come with them. He also said that their plan was to leave us here while they fetched more men to shift the treasure.
So, that was it and now a bonus had come our way. Lucian wanted nothing to do with his uncle's seedy operations and just wanted to get away so I asked if he knew where Eppy's boat was and he did of course although he wasn't sure about how to get there. He'd better, I told him. I wasn't prepared for any more fiddling round and made it quite clear that if he wanted things to go smoothly for him he had to throw in his lot with us. Fortunately, he was happy to oblige so I got him settled down where I could keep an eye on him and after asking an extraordinary question - "Can I clean my teeth?" he fell sleep almost instantly. Had he expected me to provide him with a toothbrush?
Around 01:00 I went over to Jack and shook his shoulder waking him up with a start. Kiki flew off his middle and was immediately shushed before flying to a niche in the wall and looking at us with her head on one side watching the lantern light throwing it's shadows everywhere. After telling Jack about Lucian, I ordered him to keep alert and wake Philip in a couple of hours, then rolled over for some shuteye that ignominiously ceased when I heard Philip calling my name. It was dawn and the men were returning. The girls and Jack stirred and we all got up except Lucian who was lying on the grass lost to the world. I grabbed a piece of wood to use for a club if the men decided to be difficult.
Voices could be heard as Eppy and his cronies reached the top steps inside the column and then when we heard Lucian's name suddenly being called I yelled down, daring them to come any further and there was a moment's silence before a voice came up asking how we'd got free. Eppy went on to say that Lucian wasn't with them so might he have got out and undone the ropes? When I told them Lucian had nothing to do with it there was a whispered conversation and then in as polite a voice as he could muster, Eppy showed his desperation.
"I've just been told that Lucian is down her after all and he's fallen down the steps. He's in a bad condition so could we come up immediately and summon help?"
Not only was Mr. Eppy a rogue, he was a fibber as well. I played along.
"O.K. Lift him up and we'll tend to the boy, I've done the advanced first aid course and we can improvise bandages."
Lucian had woken up by now and was amazed to hear what was going on but a nudge from Jack indicated he was to say nothing. Eppy repeated his concerns but was told, once again, to hand the boy up so that I could have a look at him. Funny ... they wouldn't oblige! I banged the piece of wood on the column to let them know I was not without an implement while the men resumed talking with each other in low voices. Then another request came, this time for food. I took great pleasure in denying their plea when a picture of them tying the kids up flashed across my mind. Anyway, there was hardly any left and at that particular moment, Eppy and Co. were way down in the pecking order. Couldn't hear them after that so they must have gone back down to the vaults.
Told the kids to share out what was left of the food while I kept watch on the column in case the men decided to make a rush for it. Four people appearing over the edge all at once could have been quite threatening, especially if one of them had a revolver. When we'd eaten, the kids and I held a short conference. I would stay here and they'd go with Lucian to find the boats that Eppy and his crowd had arrived in. When Lucian said they'd be manned, I changed tack and told just to make sure of where the creek is and then come back. I had a plan that involved sending Lucian with a note telling the boatmen to come up here and then at least they would be unguarded. Lucian volunteered more information - the rocks were treacherous and only an experienced seaman would be able to get through them. I put that on the back burner and told them to get off. I watched as they made their way to the street and then turned a corner with Lucian leading the way rather hesitatingly. Could only trust that he'd remember where the boats were.
Still couldn't hear any sounds from below and I started wondering if Eppy knew of another way out but doubted it seeing he'd needed the kids' map, and if he did know of a way, the treasure would have been carted off ages ago. Sat in the warm sunshine half wishing that Kiki was here so I'd have someone to talk to but that was out of the question - she was devoted to Jack. Dozed briefly sitting with my back leaning against the column - a dangerous thing to do but I was fairly confident of waking as soon as there was any sign that the men were returning to have another attempt at getting out. A plane woke me but it was gone before I could see if it had any recognizable insignia. Pulled out my notebook and scribbled a few diary entries. (08:35).