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Rolfin's Orb
Book 5 - Topaz
Chapter 4


“Where are we, Elspet?” Fiona looked around at the landscape.

“I think we’re in the southern hemisphere.”

“What makes you think that?” Fiona couldn’t tell the difference.

“It’s spring here. Back in Scotland it’s autumn. That means we’re south of the Equator. So, we’re either in Argentina, Malawi, or Tasmania.”

“I say Tasmania. We’re not on any small islands and we’re sure not in Africa.”

“You’re probably right.”

“I forget,” Callum said. “Where is Tasmania?”

“It’s south of Australia. It’s actually part of Australia,” Elspet said. “I can’t believe you didn’t know that. Didn’t you pay attention in school?” She laughed at him.

“We’ve not studied Australia yet.” Callum stuck his tongue out at her.

“There are a lot of azaleas, camellias, roses and cherry blossoms.” Elspet sniffed a flower. “It looks like we’re in a botanical garden of some kind.”

“There’s a building over there. It says Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens,” Fiona said. “We are definitely in Tasmania.”

“We’re in a city. What’s the capital of Tasmania?” Callum looked for a sign.

“I have no idea. Do you, Fiona?”

“Nope. We’ll have to hope we find some sign or billboard,” Fiona said.

“I don’t like Tasmania,” Alastair cried. “I want to go home.”

“So do I,” added Malcolm.

“You can’t go home yet. We’ve got things to do. We’re now ten hours ahead of London. That means it’s early in the morning. That would explain why it’s so dark. It’s only 4 a.m. here. We had better find a hotel and see if we can get some sleep before we start our search for the topaz.” Fiona lifted her shoulders in a sigh. “Another hotel.”

They walked through the gardens, heading for the brightest lights of the city. “We’re in Hobart. That’s the capital,” Callum said. “I saw a sign that said 2 KM to Hobart.”

“There are some hotels. Thank goodness we didn’t arrive at the docks or somewhere out of the way. Let’s just check into the first one and sleep for a few hours.” Fiona led the way. “How does this one sound, Barramundi Barracks?”

“That sounds like an army camp. I hope we don’t have to sleep on cots,” Callum said.

They went inside and up to the front desk. The night manager, a girl not much older than Fiona said, “It’s a bit late for children to be out, isn’t it? Where are your parents?”

Fiona told the others to sit on the settee and wait. She turned around and explained that their parents wanted some privacy and stayed in the car. “They told us to come in and get a room.”

“I suppose you’ll want a room with several beds,” Stephanie said.

Fiona glanced at her name tag. “Why thank you, Stephanie. That would be nice.” She gave them the biggest vacant room in the hotel. “Come on, everyone. We’re in room 58. It’s on the second floor.”

“Do they take British money here too? How did you pay for it?” Callum rubbed his eyes and yawned.

“Yes, they took British money. Thank goodness. Let’s check out our room,” Fiona said.

When she turned the key and opened the door, the lads ran in and jumped on the bed. “Big beds,” Alastair shouted.

“Shh, Alastair. Everyone else will be sleeping. Callum you have to share a room with Alastair and Malcolm. Fiona and I will share the other. Luckily they’re king-size beds,” Elspet said.

She settled her brothers in bed and then they turned off the lights. Soon all were asleep. They woke up the next morning about 10 a.m.

                                                *  *  *

“I don’t want to go to Mania, Elspet. I want to go home and see Mummy,” Alastair complained, rubbing his eyes.

Malcolm sat up in bed next to his brother. “I want to see Mummy too. I don’t like Mania either.”

“It’s Tasmania, lads, and you have no choice. We’re staying here. You’ll see Mum again soon. Besides that, it will be fun for you. We’re going to find a stone called a topaz,” Elspet said, pulling them both off the bed. “Go and get dressed so we can be on our way.”

“Your brothers are going to be a pain, Elspet,” Callum said. “How are we going to find anything with them tagging along? Fiona, maybe we should leave them here with Elspet and you and I go and find the topaz.”

“No way! We’re coming with you,” Elspet said.

“But the boys might get hurt by the traps. Have you thought of that?” Callum raised his voice.

“We’ll keep them out of danger. I agree with Elspet. They should all come. Maybe they’re supposed to be here this time, have you thought of that, Callum?” Fiona slipped on her shoes.

“Oh, all right. Where are we going to start looking? Did you have a dream or anything? This looks like a big place,” Callum said, putting his arms through his shirt and pulling it over his head.

“I think I know the area, but I’m not exactly sure where it is. We’ll need to go into the city and check things out. I saw the hotel offered continental breakfast. Let’s just have that and we can eat a big lunch when we’re out,” Fiona said.

A few minutes later they stood outside the hotel doors. “Well? Which way do we go?” Elspet grabbed Alastair’s and Malcolm’s hands.

“I was looking at the tourist book in our hotel room this morning while you were all getting dressed and it said something about a place called Battery Point. It’s not far. I think the boys will like it there,” Fiona said.

“Is the jewel there? Why are we going there if the jewel is someplace else?” Callum watched a bus drive past.

“I don’t know exactly where the jewel is, Callum. All right, let’s forget Battery Point. Let me just stand here for a minute and think.” Fiona leaned against the wall and shut her eyes. A picture of a vineyard came into her mind. When she opened her eyes, Alastair and Malcolm were staring at her.

“What’s Fiona doing? Is she sleeping?” Alastair poked her leg.

“I’m not sleeping. We need to go to a vineyard, which means we need to ask someone where the vineyard areas are.” Fiona took Alastair’s hand. “See, Alastair. I’m fine.”

“I wish we knew more about Tasmania. Let’s see if we can find a book shop and pick up something we can read about it,” Elspet suggested.

“I want a book too,” Malcolm said.

“Me too, Elspet.” Alastair looked up at his sister.

“I see a book shop. There’s one right across the street and up about four buildings. Do you see it?” Callum pointed and the others looked.

They walked up the street and went inside. While Elspet looked for a book about Tasmania, Fiona took Alastair and Malcolm to the children’s books area. Callum followed Elspet. By the time they left, they had two books about Tasmania and three books for the lads.

“I think we should go down to the seashore and sit and read through the books. There’s no sense in us going anywhere until we figure out where we are and where they grow grapes.” Elspet looked at a map in the book. “If we go down this street we can be to the sea in five minutes.

While the lads chased seagulls and picked up shells, Fiona, Callum and Elspet looked through the books. “It says here,” Callum said, “that the early settlers came over by a land bridge from Australia, but over time the water level rose and left the people on the island.”

“Wow! They have penguins here. That would be so cool to see penguins!” Elspet turned the pages in the book. “They’re called fairy penguins and they’re here because its not that far from Antarctica.”

“We’re not near the area where the penguins are though,” Callum said, pointing at the words on the page.

The waves rolled in, gentle and calm. Fiona laid down in the sand and shut her eyes. “Manzanio Vineyard. That’s where we need to go. Does it say anything in those books about vineyards?”

“My book says there are hundreds of vineyards in Tasmania. We might have to look it up in a phone book,” Elspet said.

“Go and get Alastair and Malcolm. Bring your books. We’d better find a telephone,” Fiona said.

The boys rushed over when Elspet called them. They were both covered in sand. “Throw the sea shells down. They’re dirty. We can get more later.” Elspet took them and tossed them into the sea.

Alastair threw himself down in the sand and screamed. “I want my shell. I want my shell. I want Mummy. I don’t want to be in Mania any more.”

Malcolm stood, trying to decide if he should do the same or not. Choosing not to, he looked up at Elspet. “I think Alastair wants his sea shells back. Do you want me to go in the water and get them?”

“No! Give him one of yours and you keep one and throw the rest back in the water.” Elspet took one from Malcolm’s hand and gave it to Alastair. “Here’s a shell. We’ll get you more later.”

Alastair wiped his eyes, spreading more sand across his face. Elspet brushed them off as well as she could and they walked up the street searching for a phone booth. 

Callum found one within a few minutes. They turned the pages until they came to Vineyards. “I see it. Manzanio Vineyard. It’s not in Hobart. It’s north and too far to walk.”

“Well then, we get a taxi,” Fiona said. They stood on the side of the street and flagged one down. Climbing in, she asked the driver, “Do you know where Manzanio Vineyard is?”

“Miss, there are hundreds of vineyards around Hobart,” the driver said.

“I’ve got a map in my book. It shows it right here.” Elspet handed the driver the map.

“That’s quite a bit north of here. Do you children have money?”

“We have enough to pay you and give you a big tip. Please take us there. It’s really important,” Fiona said.

“You’re awfully young to be driving around Tasmania. Do I detect a Scottish accent?” He looked at them in the rear view mirror.

Fiona looked at his license, which was taped onto the dashboard near the radio. “Your name is David. David, our parents are in business meetings. The people who own Manzanio Vineyards are my parent’s friends. They’ll meet us there later on. Could you please take us there? The lads are tired.”

“They’re dirty too and getting sand all over the inside of my taxi,” David said.

“Sorry about that. We were at the beach.” Elspet apologized.

“I’ve got a seashell,” Malcolm said.

“I’ve got one too.” Alastair took his out of his pocket, along with a handful of sand and showed the taxi driver.

“Very well then. We’re off to Manzania Vineyard. I suggest you sit back and take a nap. It’s about an hour’s drive.” David pulled away from the curb, merging into the traffic. 

Fiona watched as they left the city of Hobart behind them and drove into the country. Alastair and Malcolm were napping. Elspet was staring out the window and Callum was cleaning the sand from under his fingernails. Fiona said, “David, are there really penguins in Tasmania?”

“Yes, Miss. You have to drive south and a bit to the east to see them. Are you thinking of going to the rookery?”

“Not really. I just thought the lads would enjoy seeing penguins.”

“I suggest you take them to the zoo. There are a lot of penguins there, along with other animals.”

She nodded and sat in silence the rest of the drive. David pulled in front of the vineyard. “There it is.” A wooden sign spread across the driveway. “Manzanio Vineyards, as requested.”

Elspet woke Alastair and Malcolm up and they all got out of the car. Fiona paid the driver and he drove away, leaving them standing in the middle of the road. “Here we are,” Fiona said. “This is where the jewel is hidden.”


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