Jack and Julian looked up at Angus’s clock on
the wall at the same time. “Shouldn’t Buntabi be here by now? It’s been two
hours since the ruby was put in the orb,” Jack said.
“Perhaps one of us should go to Callum’s house
and find the others and let them know. We should begin a search
immediately,” Julian said. He stood up and headed for the door.
“I’ll go, Julian. I know where the McAllister’s
live. Whatever you do, don’t leave this croft. Guard the orb and books. Help
yourself to some of Angus’s stew.” Jack smiled, shut the door behind him and
ran through the woods to the McAllister’s.
* * *
After taking Elspet home, Johnny walked down the
road to the McAllister’s. The house was lit up and the dogs, Devlyn and
Creanth were outside running around. “Down boys,” Johnny said, pushing their
huge paws off his chest. He knocked on the door.
Anne opened it. “Johnny, we’re so glad you came.
Come on in. We’ve got a large crowd tonight, but there’s plenty of food for
you all.” She ushered him inside, stopping the dogs with her leg.
The living room was packed with bodies. Malcolm
sat on the settee talking to Jimmy and Jesse. Jeffrey had wee Shona on his
knee playing horse with her. Callum and Fiona sat talking to Uncle Angus.
Johnny sat by Malcolm and listened to him talk of the upcoming deer-hunting
Anne joined Mairi in the kitchen. They prepared
a shepherd’s pie, a pot of stovies, finnan haddie, boiled tatties and neeps,
peas, and a trifle for after-tea sweet. They all fit around the table after
Anne put in the three leaves to make it longer and gathered all the chairs
in the house. They ate, enjoying each other’s company once again. Just after
the last bite of trifle had been eaten and the bowl whisked to the sink to
be washed, the doorbell rang.
Johnny heard Creanth and Devlyn barking. Since
he was closest, he opened the door. “Jack? Is something wrong?” He stepped
outside to talk with his friend.
“It’s been over two hours and there’s no sign of
Buntabi. Julian and I are concerned for his safety. What if Drayton or
Phelan got to him?” Jack fidgeted with agitation.
“Stay here,” Johnny said. He went inside. “I’m
sorry, Anne, Malcolm, but there’s a bit of trouble back at Angus’s cottage.
I think we should all leave. Thanks for the meal.”
“Och, we’ve no had tea and biscuits yet,” Anne
“We’ll come back another night and bring Jack,
Julian and Jason with us, we’ll have a grand cup of tea. Mairi, you, Fiona
and Angus need to come too.”
With quizzical looks on their faces, Anne and
Malcolm bid them farewell. The door shut behind them, Mairi asked, “What’s
wrong?” She saw Jack standing off beside a tree. “Jack? Is Julian all
Jack joined them. “Something’s not right. It’s
Jason. He’s not shown up yet.”
“Mairi, you take Fiona and go back to Angus’s
croft and stay with Julian. You’ll be safe there. I’ll take Jesse, Jack,
Jimmy and Jeffrey with me,” Johnny said.
“What about me? I’m going with you,” Angus said.
“Of course, Angus. Forgive me. We’ll go to the
castle and see if Jason’s all right. Hurry, Mairi. Don’t dally.” Johnny and
the men ran off.
Mairi and Fiona rushed to Angus’s cottage. They
knocked on the door. “Who’s there?” Julian’s voice called through the wood.
“It’s us, Julian. Let us in,” Fiona said. Julian
opened the door and they went inside. “Johnny took the others and went to
the castle. He told us to stay here with you.”
“Then you’ll do just that,” Julian said. “I was
about to feed the cats. I’ve never seen so many in one place. Will you help
Mairi sat down on the settee while Fiona and
Julian went outside. They poured dry cat food into the dishes. Tumbles came
scurrying up to Fiona. I’ve not seen you for a while. I like it here. Thanks
for bringing me.
I’m glad you like it. You’ve got lots of
friends. Here’s your supper. Fiona made sure Tumbles got enough for
herself. Sometimes the bigger, older cats pushed the little ones out of the
way when it was feeding time.
They went back inside. Mairi called Fiona over
to her. “It might be a long night. Why don’t we curl up on the bed and get
some sleep. Julian, you can lay on the settee. It’s quite comfortable.”
“I know, Mairi. I’ve been sleeping on it since I
arrived.” Julian smiled and winked. He turned off the lights and made sure
the fire had enough fuel. Soon Mairi and he were sleeping.
Fiona lay awake. I can’t just lie here in a warm
bed while there’s danger. I’m the only one with magical powers. There’s
nothing they can do to stop Drayton, but I can. She crept off the bed,
stuck a flashlight in her pocket, and snuck out the back door.
Something ran by her feet. Where are you going,
She looked down to see Tumbles. I’m going to the
castle to help Uncle Angus and the others.
Can I come with you? I won’t get in the way.
No. You stay here with the other cats. It’s
dangerous there. Go on. I’m in a hurry.
curled up in a ball by the back door and fell asleep. Without paying any
more attention to the kitten, Fiona ran through the woods to the castle. She
knew there was no boat, so she had to find the tunnel as she knew the others
had. The castle was dark. She pulled out the flashlight and aimed it in
front of her as she ran. The tunnel was dark and scary. She remembered the
spiders and ran faster.