Angus stretched his legs, walking in circles around the perimeter of the
croft. “It gets rather crowded in there with all those bodies. I'm not used
to having so many people around. Sometimes I have to come out here just to
feel alone for a few minutes.” Angus squeezed his niece's hand. “I’m afraid
I’m a bit of a hermit.”
“I know the
feeling, Uncle Angus. I spend more time with Elspet and Callum than I do
anywhere else. I've not been to school in days and I never get to lie in bed
and listen to my CD's or watch telly,” Fiona said.
“Angus! I want you
to tell me what's going on here!” Malcolm stomped up the path towards them.
“It's Callum's dad
and he looks mad,” Fiona whispered.
What can I do for you?” Angus smiled and shook Malcolm's hand.
“Where's my son? He
left home, telling his mum he was coming to your house. I know what's going
on and I don't want Callum going with you any more. It's far too dangerous.
Where is he?”
“He's in the
cottage,” Fiona said, “but please, don't stop him from coming. If you know
what's going on then you know I need him. He's part of this and without
Callum we can't get all the stones for the orb. If we don't, then Phelan and
his evil helpers will gain power and do horrible things to everyone in
gazing at the girl. “You're a brave one, you are, Fiona. It’s just that I
worry so much about him.”
Mairi opened the
front door. “There you are, Fiona. Are you about...Malcolm?” She stopped
when she saw her neighbor.
“Mairi, I came to
get Callum and take him home.” Malcolm walked towards her.
“You can't do that,
Malcolm. I know you're worried. Heaven's knows I am too. Fiona marches into
danger every time she leaves, but the danger is real here too. Without that
orb, we will all die.” Mairi put her arm around Malcolm's shoulder. “Come
inside and talk with the men for a while.”
When he followed
Mairi in, he saw a room full of men plus Nellie and Penelope. “Well, the
whole gang's here. You too, Elspet?”
“Hello Dad. Why are
you here?” Callum walked over to him.
“I came to take you
home. This is far too dangerous for a lad.” Malcolm sat on the settee next
Fiona spoke up.
“Look at the people in this room, Mr. McAllister. We all love Callum. Each
of us has a part in this. Callum has to come, or else our lives as we know
them will end. Phelan, the wizard, grows more powerful every day. Why don't
you stay here while Callum, Elspet and I go to the next place and then
you'll understand more. You can talk to Johnny and Julian and Jacob and all
from one set of eyes to the other. “I suppose you're right. I'm staying
right here until you get back though.”
Callum hugged his
father. “We're off then.”
Angus gave them
some money and Mairi made sure they had plenty of food and bottled water in
their packs. “Remember, it's a sapphire you're after this time.”
The group formed a
circle around the three children and waited.
“Got your camera?”
Angus raised his arm.
“Yes,” Elspet said.
“Is that all? Any
more questions?” Fiona glanced at her uncle. “All right. We’re off. Daleth
shapish yam.” Fiona shouted the words and the three of them disappeared.
“Where did they go?
How did they do that?” Penelope gasped in surprise.
“What were those
colored lights and sparkles?” Malcolm's eyes were huge with wonder.
“It's very pretty,
isn't it? Don't worry. They'll be back shortly. They've done this nine times
now and always come back safe and sound. It took me a few tries before I
stopped worrying about them,” Mairi said. “Now, can I fix you all something
# # #
“Where are we?”
Callum looked from side to side. “Wherever it is, it's not too cold. It's
still late afternoon here, so we must be in Spain.”
“I think you're
right. We're in some sort of Spanish town,” Elspet said.
“Wow! Look up on
the top of that hill. Windmills!” Callum pointed to the white towers. “I
recognize this place from Geography class. We're in Consuegra.”
you ever heard of Don Quixote? A man named Cervantes wrote a book about him
that takes place here, in La Mancha, Spain. I recognize these windmills from
pictures our teacher had on the wall.”
“Callum, you never
cease to surprise me. Here you are, not even eleven years old and you know
more about things than my mother!” Elspet reached around her neck and
grasped the mouse necklace in her hand.
“It's hilly and
rocky here. It's also evening and we'd better find a place to stay for the
night or we'll freeze to death,” Fiona said.
“Let's head into
town then. I'm sure there are hotels. This looks like a typical tourist town
to me, of what I’ve seen in brochures.” Elspet led the way.
“Ah, here's an inn.
Man of LaMancha Inn. That's original.” Fiona scoffed and pushed the
wooden door open. “Smells good,” she said, turning to Elspet and Callum.
“We're here just in time for supper.”
How can I help you?” A plump middle aged woman with salt and pepper hair
pulled back into a bun greeted them. A stained apron hung around her pudgy
middle. “My name is Dulcinea. And you are?”
McAllister. These are my cousins Elspet and Callum. We'd like a room for the
night, if you please.”
wanting a room for the night? Where are your parents?” Dulcinea wiped her
flour-dusted hands on the apron.
“Our parents are
staying in one of the bigger hotels with the rest of the tourists. We wanted
to experience what it would be like in an Inn, so we came without them. They
gave us money. We can pay.” Fiona reached into her pocket for the money.
Dulcinea saw the
cash. “Very well. If it's a room you want, a room you'll get. Would you like
to have supper?”
Elspet noticed how
well Dulcinea spoke English. “You must have a lot of tourists come here. You
speak excellent English.”
“Why thank you,
little one. Now, about supper?”
“Yes, we'd love
supper, something authentic from this area. Do you serve such foods here?”
Fiona sniffed the air. “Something smells good.”
“You are in luck.
Tomorrow is a festival. We will have a grand party,” Dulcinea said.
“A festival? What
sort of festival?” Callum wiggled with excitement.
“It is our annual
saffron festival, the Celebration of the Rose of Saffron. There will be
puppet shows and dancing and all sorts of things going on. I am baking and
cooking for it, so I can spare some for you, if you are hungry. Si?”
“Oh yes, we're
hungry.” Callum licked his lips.
“Follow me to your
room. You can wash up and then come down later.” She led them up a narrow
flight of stairs, turning and twisting through rough whitewashed walls.
“Most people, tourists, don't stay in Consuegra hotels. We are usually just
a stop on their way to Toledo. Your parents must have come for the festival
“Si, senora, they
did,” Fiona said, practicing the few Spanish words she knew.
They stopped in
front of the door. “Here you are.” Dulcinea put a key in the lock and turned
it. “It has a lovely view of the windmills on the hill. You know about them,
“Si. Callum told us
about Don Quixote and the windmills. We'll be going to visit them tomorrow.”
Fiona winked at Elspet.
“They have names,
the windmills. They are silly names like The Turk, The Vixen, Sancho Belly,
and The Target,” Dulcinea said. “Oh, you like cheese? Here in La Mancha we
specialize in Manchego cheese. It is made from the milk of the Manchego
sheep, which is only found here in La Mancha. You can try some with your
supper. It was good enough for Don Quixote. I will leave you now.” Dulcinea
disappeared down the steps.
Elspet said. “I wonder what she will fix us for supper.”
“We'll find out
soon enough.” Callum saw two beds in the room. “Aha! I get the choice of
beds and I choose the one by the window.”
“No problem, Callum.
Elspet and I aren't fussy.” Fiona sat on her bed. “The curtains are lacy and
pretty. I'm sure Dulcinea made them. She's nice, don't you think?”
“Yes, she seems to
be nice,” Elspet said. “I mean, si!”
“When we get up in
the morning we'll go right to the windmills. I'm sure that's where the stone
is. What is it this time?” Fiona lay back on the bed.
“A sapphire. Don't
forget, Fiona. It’s time to go and eat.” Callum went to the window. “This is
going to be a great place and I sense a grand adventure tomorrow.”
Callum. If this place is anything like the other eight places, we're in for
a grand adventure of terror. Let's just wash up and get something to eat. I
have a feeling we're going to need a good nights sleep.” Fiona headed for
the sink to wash her hands.