After he had written his
letters of apology and put them on the bulletin board, Leith disobeyed
Headmaster’s instructions and searched for Sandy and Fraser. He found them
both in the library on the third floor. “We are going tonight,” he said
and walked away. They put their books back on the shelf and ran after him.
“Wait for us, Leith. You
just got in trouble and you want to tempt fate tonight?” Sandy had to walk
fast to keep up pace with his friend.
“Tonight, Leith? What
about Murray and Duncan?” Fraser huffed and puffed. “Slow down!” They
darted down the stairs and stopped at the second floor landing.
“Go and find them. I have
to stay in the dormitory all day. Tell them to meet us here at midnight,
as usual, and tell them to be quiet about it. If I get caught, I’ll be
sent home.” Leith headed for Hall Seven while the other two went to find
Duncan and Murray.
At midnight and with
caution the five boys crept down the stairs and into the kitchen. Fraser
opened the back door with Sandy’s stolen key and they ran for the
cemetery. Once inside the tunnel the rubbed their hands, trying to get
warm. “It’s bitter out there tonight,” Duncan said.
“I’m not sure where we are
going, but stick together,” Leith said. “What tunnel is lit up?”
Duncan knelt to tie his
shoe while the others wandered off to search.
“Here it is,” Sandy
Duncan could hardly see
and his lace kept coming undone. “Wait for me.” He didn’t hear the others
and ran for a tunnel that was dimly lit. “I guess this is the right one.”
He jumped through the time warp.
Leith, Sandy, Fraser and
Murray looked around. “I think we’re at Edinburgh Castle. Why on earth
would we have to come here? Have any of you been here before?”
“I have, lots of times,”
“My mum drags me here
every summer,” Sandy said.
“Duncan, have you been
here before?” Murray turned to look for his friend. “Where is Duncan?”
The others couldn’t see
him either. “Duncan! Stop goofing off,” Sandy groaned. “He is probably
hiding, or trying to trick us. Come out, Duncan.”
Silence surrounded them.
“Maybe he didn’t come out of the time warp. What if he changed his mind
and decided not to come with us?” Fraser stomped his feet on the ground.
“It’s just as cold here as it is at school.”
“I suppose I’ll have to go
back and look for him. What is with you two? First it was you and now
Duncan. Stay here and I’ll be right back.” Leith jumped back through the
warp and searched the tunnels for Duncan. He popped back out a few minutes
later. “I can’t see him anywhere. I suppose he was just too tired and went
back to the school. We can handle this part by ourselves. How much trouble
can we get into at Edinburgh Castle?”
“I wish you hadn’t said
that, Leith. Who knows what sort of creepy thing is waiting in hiding,”
“My guess is that we have
to go to St. Margaret’s Chapel. This whole adventure is focused on Malcolm
Canmore and Queen Margaret. That seems to be the most sensible place to
start,” Sandy said.
“Good thinking, Sandy.
It’s just up at the top of the hill.” Leith led the way.
Murray tripped on the
cobblestone path. “Why is everything in Britain made of cobblestone? I
can’t tell you how many bruises I’ve had during my life from tripping on
The others ignored him.
“Mons Meg up ahead,” Fraser said. “I love that cannon. Three of us
probably could fit inside. Do you know the history of it?”
“No,” Leith said. “And if
you are going to tell us anyway, can you give us the shortened version
instead of one of your long-winded speeches?”
“Hey! That was rude. I’ll
keep it short. There are two theories about the cannon, but the one most
people go by is that it was given to James II of Scotland around 1450 as a
gift from the Duke of Burgundy. It’s called Mons Meg because it was tested
at Mons, Belgium. The Meg part is probably after Margaret of Denmark, who
was the Queen of James III of Scotland. The cannonballs are huge and weigh
nearly 400 pounds. Because of the size, the cannon could only be fired
about ten times during the day. There, that’s the short version.”
“Thanks, Fraser.” Leith
stopped in front of the cannon and stuck his head inside. “It is rather
grand. I can’t even imagine how big the cannonballs must have been, or how
much gunpowder was needed to shoot it.”
Fraser climbed on top and
helped pull Murray up with him. “It’s like riding a horse,” Murray said.
“Giddy up, Mons Meg. There are cannonballs right here. Look down.”
“They are enormous. You
two quit goofing off. I’m getting one of those creepy feelings again. I
think we should hurry up to St. Margaret’s Chapel and do what we need to
do,” Leith said.
“You frighten me when you
say you are getting one of those feelings. I know what happens when you
do. What do we need to get from the chapel?” Sandy looked over the castle
wall. “Uh oh.”
“Uh oh, what?” Fraser
climbed off the cannon and ran over to Sandy. He jumped up and looked over
the edge. “Uh oh.”
“What are you guys talking
about? What does ‘uh oh’ mean?” Leith joined them and so did Murray.
“You can see them,
correct? There are some creepy black crawlies climbing the wall towards
us. They look like spiders, but there are thousands of them,” Sandy said.
“I see them too,” Murray
said. “We’d better hide.”
“Where do we go? Where do
we hide? I don’t want to be trapped somewhere with no escape. Do we go up
to St. Margaret’s Chapel, or somewhere else?” Fraser jumped up and down in
terror, hands flinging to the side. “Say something, Leith.”
“Think faster because here
they come.” Murray ran up the hill, tripping on the stones.
“The dungeons would be a
good place. We could lock ourselves in one of the cells and the spiders
wouldn’t be able to get through the bars,” Leith said.
“Are you crazy? I’m not
going into any dungeon,” Sandy said. “I’m going to the chapel.” He ran
toward it. “Murray, come this way.”
The four boys raced up the
path to the chapel. They pushed the door open and slammed it shut behind
them. “The only way they can get in is through this door. Put some of
these pews in front of it. Hopefully St. Margaret will protect us since we
are her descendants,” Leith said. The lads pushed a few of the wooden pews
and blocked the door. “Sit with your backs against them.”
“What if they try to come
in under the door?” Fraser checked to see if there was a gap. “Never mind.
Nothing can fit under that. It’s air tight.” He sat next to Sandy.
“What did Queen Margaret
do to have a chapel built for her?” Murray walked around the small room.
“It’s weird to think she actually came in here, this same room.”
Sandy spoke up first. “She
was a really nice woman. I think she was born in Hungary, because her
family was in exile and when she was young the family moved back to
England. When William the Conqueror came over in 1066, they had to flee
again so she and her brother, Edgar Atheling, last of King Alfred the
Great’s descendants, went to Scotland. They were Saxon-English. They
didn’t mean to go to Scotland, but the wind blew their ship north. Malcolm
Canmore fell in love with her the moment he saw her and they were married.
She taught the Scottish people about tapestries and wines from France. I
know she made it so Sunday was the recognized day of worship and she was
responsible for the building of monasteries in Scotland. She prayed a lot
in a cave and gave a lot of money, even her clothes, to the poor people.
You know how there is a ferry that goes over the Firth of Forth and leaves
from Queensferry? She is the one who started that too. Everyone loved her,
even her husband, but I hear Malcolm Canmore was a bloodthirsty warrior.”
“She must have brought out
the good in him,” Fraser said. “This chapel is small. It looks Celtic.”
“They’re here,” Murray
said, pointing up at the ceiling. “I hear them walking on the roof.” They
saw the shadows crawling outside the stained glass windows. The sound of
the spider’s long, spindly legs tapped as they ran across the tiles.
“You two stay here. I’ll
look around and see what I can find. Murray, help me.”
“What about this?” Murray
showed him the coat of arms draped over the altar. “It looks like it’s
“It is important,” Leith
said, “but we can’t take it from here. It looks like it represents a lot
of Queen Margaret’s character traits. If I was a girl, I would say it was
quite romantic. Leave it there. We have to take something small that
nobody will notice.”
“Just take a chunk of the
building. Nobody will care if you take a small piece. This is like the
oldest building in Scotland and it was built by her son, King David I, in
her honor. The walls are over two feet thick. One little chunk won’t
matter.” Fraser felt the spiders pushing on the door. “Hurry up and
decide. I want to get out of here.”
“And how are we going to
do that?” Sandy turned to Fraser. “As soon as we open the door the spiders
will attack us.”
“How about this?” Murray
brought a piece of glass over to Sandy and Fraser.
“What is it? Where did you
get it from?” Sandy took it in his hand.
“A piece of that stained
glass picture was loose, so I simply wiggled it free.” Murray gloated. He
noticed the look of fright on their faces. “Don’t worry; there’s no hole
in the window.”
“That window is the image
of St. Margaret. Good choice. Leith, Murray has something.” Sandy saw
Leith on his hands and knees. “What are you doing, Leith?”
“I was able to get a chunk
of the wall down here in the corner where nobody will see. Nice piece of
glass there, Murray. That should do us. Now all we have to do is figure
out how to get back to the time warp without being eaten alive by hairy
spiders. Any suggestions?”
“You can make yourself
invisible. We could open the door wide enough for you to squeeze out and
not let any of the spiders in. You can cause a distraction somewhere away
from here. When the spiders come toward you to see what’s going on, we’ll
make a dash for the time warp.” Fraser stood, but kept pressure on the
pews. “You can fly. The spiders won’t know what’s going on.”
“I don’t think there is
another way. As soon as you open the door those spiders will come running
and try to get inside. Be ready to close it quickly and then wait until
you hear me whistle. You might have to stomp on a few.” Leith moved a pew
out of the way. “Ready?”
Sandy and Fraser put the
pews back in their proper place. “We’ll wait until you whistle.” They
pulled the door open. Immediately dozens of spider’s legs and bodies poked
in through the crack.
“This is sick. I have to
move through their icky legs.” Leith made himself invisible by holding the
golden arrow, which he now carried with him everywhere. “Open it a little
wider.” He pushed the spiders out of the way and ran, brushing a few
clingers off his sleeves. Sandy and Fraser slammed the door shut. A few
creepy crawlies made it inside, but Murray was ready to squish them.
Spider legs broke off and blood squirted all over the room.
“What a mess. At least
it’s all on the floor and not on the nice white walls. Watch where you’re
stepping. We don’t know if their blood is poison,” Sandy said.
“They’re just spiders,
Sandy; not scorpions,” Fraser said.
A few minutes later they
heard the remaining spiders climbing off the roof. “He’s done it. They’re
leaving.” Sandy opened the door a crack. Even the legless spiders wobbled
towards the noise. “Leith has tipped over a bunch of trash cans. Tourist
junk!” Leith whistled. “Okay. That’s the signal. The spiders are heading
away from us. Let’s get out of here.”
The three ran past Mons
Meg. Down at the bottom of the hill the time warp shimmered against the
black sky. They leaped into it, followed by a still invisible Leith. “Get
a move on so we don’t have a repeat of the goblin problems.”
Once at the cemetery they
collapsed on the grass. “That was close. Where in the world did all those
spiders come from?” Murray huffed and puffed.
“Taygetus? Or maybe they
just happened to be there and we had bad timing. There are a lot of
strange things happening.” Sandy shook his hair, thinking a spider was
crawling in it. “Weird stuff happens at night. We never know about them
because we’re asleep.”
“The wizard hasn’t been
called back to life yet, so how can it be him? I hope Duncan is sleeping.
Tomorrow at lunch everyone meet at Professor Wilson’s room; eat first
Murray was so tired that
when he went to bed he never looked to see if Duncan was there.