“But Mum, I don’t want to go to school today!
We’ve got to get the jewel from the next place. Uncle Angus and the others
are waiting for us.” Fiona whined.
“You’re going to school. Your Uncle Angus will
understand. You can go after school. I’ve got to go to work. I’ll meet you
there when I get off. No arguments. School!” Mairi handed Fiona her backpack
and bagged lunch.
Fiona didn’t wait for a kiss on her cheek. She
stampeded out the door, slamming it behind her.
Mairi sighed. “Kids! I’ve got to get to work.”
She locked the doors and headed for the bakery.
Fiona met up with Callum and Elspet a block from
the school gates. “Wait till I tell you about last night. After you went
home, we went to Castle Athdara. There’s a cave under it and lots of tunnels
and Jesse got hurt when Drayton grew into a giant and threw him into the
“Wait a minute. Slow down. Stop rushing.” Elspet
sat on a crumbling wall.
Fiona told them of the night’s events. “I was so
mad at my mum for making me go to school. She’s going to meet us at Uncle
Angus’s croft when she gets off work.”
“You mean your mum knows everything?” Elspet
gasped. “She won’t tell my mum, will she?”
“I hope she doesn’t tell mine either.” Callum
brushed his hair from his eyes.
“She said she’d keep it a secret, but if one of
us gets hurt, then she’ll be forced to spill the beans to your parents,”
Fiona said. “See you after school.” The school bell rang and the three of
them ran to class.
* * *
Drayton woke up and jumped out of bed. “Where am I?” He remembered breaking
into the house. He stretched and went into the kitchen. A pile of mail lay
on the floor inside and below front door. The postman had just dropped it
through the slot. “Let’s see who lives in this house.” He picked it up,
looking at each letter. “John and Susan McAllister. There are a lot of
McAllisters in this boring town.” He tossed the letters down and then ran to
pick them up again. “Let’s see if there’s any money.” He ripped each one
open, wadded them up when he saw no money and then tossed them on the floor.
“What do you have to eat here, John and Susan
and how long will you be gone for?” Drayton opened the cupboards and found a
box of cereal. “Is this it?” I’ll go into town and get something to eat at
one of the restaurants. Who knows, I might pop in and say hello to Elsie and
her guests. Ha!” He dumped the box of cereal on the kitchen floor. “Let’s
see if I can make as big a mess as I made at Mairi’s house.” Opening the
refrigerator, he looked inside. He poured a container of orange juice on the
linoleum and then added a spilled jar of pickles, some mustard, yogurt, a
container of baked beans, and a half pint of cream. Spaghetti noodles,
crackers and biscuits crumbled in his hands and dropped on top of the other
food lying on the floor. A squirt bottle of tomato sauce sat on the shelf on
the refrigerator door. “Look at this. It comes in its own handy squirting
container.” He picked it up and went into the living room, squeezing it on
the ceiling in a big circle. What was left he squirted into the back of the
television set, on a few CD’s and then on the white settee. “That’ll do.” He
slammed the door behind him and headed for Castle Athdara.
* * *
The sun filtered its way through the pines into
the croft window. Angus opened his eyes, rubbed his shoulders and groaned.
Jimmy and Jack sat up. “The settee isn’t as comfortable as I thought it
was.” Angus stood and stretched.
“Try the floor!” Jack rolled up his blankets. “I
shouldn’t complain. I’ve slept on many a sandy beach and in quite a few
grassy meadows in my days. At least I didn’t have rain drizzling on my
“How’s Jesse this morning.” Jimmy went over to
see for himself. “You awake there, Jesse?”
Jesse opened his eyes. “I’m doing fine. I feel
like I was stomped on by a bear, but other than that, I’ll be fine. How long
was I asleep?”
“Just overnight, my friend. Angus, will you fix
us something for breakfast? Do you have any eggs? I’m feeling hungry and I’m
sure Jesse is too,” Jimmy said.
There was a knock at the door. Angus, being the
closest, opened it. “Come in Johnny. We were just talking about having
something for breakfast. All I’ve got around here is some day old bread and
a few eggs.”
Johnny stepped inside. “That sounds grand to me.
I’ll fix them for us. Have you got any bacon?”
“Bacon? No, but I’ve got a pot of last night’s
stew in the back room. Will that do?” Angus went to get it.
“Sounds good to me,” Jack said. “Anything sounds
good right now.”
“Me too. I’ll start the eggs.” Johnny looked
around for Angus’s stove. “Angus, how do you expect me to cook the eggs?
You’ve no stove.”
“There’s a griddle near the sink. It lies across
the fireplace.” Angus nodded in the direction of the sink. Jack walked over
to get it. “Take a towel with you so you don’t burn your fingers.”
“Where are Mairi and Fiona this morning?” Jimmy
cracked a few eggs into a bowl.
“Mairi’s off to work at the bakery. She promised
to stop by later with some fresh breads and cakes. Fiona’s off to school.”
Johnny placed the griddle on top of the stones Angus had placed around the
“I was thinking, at least a few of us should go
back to the castle this morning. It was so late last night, we didn’t get to
look around much. Johnny, will you go with me?” Jack watched Jimmy stir the
“I will if Jimmy will stay here with Angus and
Jesse.” Johnny took the beaten eggs over to the fire.
“I’ll stay with them, as long as you promise to
bring us back some real food!” Jimmy laughed.
“What’s wrong with my leftover stew?” Angus hung
the pot over the fire and stirred the thick stew with a wooden spoon. “All I
have to do is add another fresh onion and it will taste like I just cooked
Johnny poured the eggs onto the black pan. The
eggs thickened as he stirred them. “We’ll leave after breakfast. Jimmy, why
don’t you get a few more eggs from the back room. I’ll make a pan of them
and you can eat them all morning if you want. Of course they’ll be cold.”