Grant stood over the sleepy Leith. “It’s
Saturday morning! What are your plans for today? I must say that since you
arrived we’ve done little together. I’ll be transferred out of here in the
next few weeks. Would you care to join me and some of the chaps from Hall
Six in a game of rugby?”
Leith yawned. “I’m not really into sports. I think
I’ll spend the day catching up my journal and do some writing, but thanks
for asking. Maybe we can get together and watch a DVD tonight, or go for a
“Sounds good. I’m off. Enjoy your writing.” Grant
Leith looked around the hall. Sandy, Fraser and he
were the only ones there. “What time is it?” He glanced at the clock on
the wall. “Blimey. We slept in. Must have needed it. Sandy, Fraser, it’s 9
A.M. We’ve only got an hour until we’re supposed to be at the cemetery.
I’d like to have some breakfast first. We’ve only got half an hour until
they start tossing the food away.”
Fraser pulled himself into a sitting position. “I’m
up. I’m up.”
“All right. Give me five minutes.” Sandy stretched and
threw his legs off the bed.
“I’ll meet you both downstairs. I’m too hungry to wait
for you.” Leith threw on his jeans, tennis shoes and an olive green tee
shirt. He filled himself with scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, sausage and
fried tomatoes. Sandy and Fraser showed up a few minutes later and did the
same. Leith looked around for Duncan and Murray; spotting them sitting at
another table on the other side of the room and waved them over.
Duncan arrived first. “I turned down kite flying to go
to the cemetery today.”
“I turned down a game of rugby,” Leith added.
“Nobody turned down anything. We’ll be back in the
morning and you can still have the day to do what you want.” Sandy shook
his head. “Am I the only one with brains around here?”
Murray showed up. “I stuffed my pockets with apples
and sausages in case we get hungry later on.”
“Brilliant idea, Murray.” Sandy and Fraser went back
in line. They took a dozen or so sausages each and three apples. “We have
full tanks and are ready to go.”
“I wonder where we’re headed today. It’s rather
frightening sometimes to think of where we might end up. Are you going to
call your parents tonight?” Fraser turned to Leith. “I think I will. I
miss my mum.”
“No. They wouldn’t be home anyway. They will be out
partying,” Leith said.
As they walked down the main hall, Sandy glanced at
the ceiling. “Please don’t laugh at me, but I have decided to join the
school choir. They sing every Sunday at church. Tonight is our first
rehearsal. Do any of you want to come with me?”
“I will,” said Duncan.
“I’ll come too,” Murray added. “What about you, Leith?
Can you sing?”
“Not one note. I’m more a writer than a singer, but
I’ll come and watch you practice.”
“Don’t look at me,” Fraser said. “I can sing as well
as a wounded dog.”
“I’ll race you to the cemetery gate,” Sandy said,
relieved nobody gave him a hard time. He ran ahead of the others.
Duncan, Fraser and Murray caught up with him. Leith
didn’t follow, but kept walking at a steady pace. When he saw Duncan win,
he cheered. “Way to go, Duncan!” They stopped at the decorative front
gate. “Remember, we have to look like we’re checking out the newer
headstones. Walk around and look natural. If anyone is watching they won’t
worry about us. In ten minutes, go one by one, starting with Murray, then
Duncan, Fraser, Sandy and then me.”
“Both Fraser and I are older than you, Leith.”
“I know that, Sandy. We aren’t doing it by age. If it
worries you then you can go first.”
“No. It’s all right. Murray can go first. I’ll go
after Fraser,” Sandy said.
They wandered around the newer cemetery, noting the
names of the buried in case they were asked. “Looks like they’re all
McDiarmads and their wives,” Fraser said, including Headmaster’s wife.
They moved to another headstone while Murray slipped
away; watching him as he wound through the Celtic crosses into the Pictish
area. “Murray made it.” Leith glanced at the school. Several boys ran
around the grounds. He could see the rugby game going on. Everyone seemed
to be caught up in their own world. Duncan went next. He ran from
headstone to headstone, hiding behind each for a few moments before moving
on. “What’s he doing? We aren’t hiding from the police.” Leith burst out
laughing. “He looks like the Pink Panther. Your turn, Fraser. Don’t be as
daft as Duncan.”
Ten minutes later the five of them stood near the
cross. The hole had been opened by Murray and Duncan. Each boy slipped
inside and the last, Sandy, pulled the sod back over the top.
As before, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel
and followed it, jumping into the warp. Fraser was the first to recognize
where they were. “That’s the island of Lindisfarne, though I think it’s
called the Holy Island nowadays. I’ve been here before with my family.”
“I wonder why we were brought here and more important,
what are we supposed to find?” Leith looked around. “Wow. It has recently
been surrounded by water. How do people get there and back?”
“There’s a road, but it’s only usable when the tide is
out. Tourists come here a lot. There are about 165 people who actually
live on this island. It’s rather small.” Fraser turned in a circle. “It’s
much prettier at this time of year. I like September. It isn’t too hot nor
“I think the abbey is magnificent,” Leith said. “The
tide is out. We might as well walk over to the island. There was an abbey
in Iona, a church in Fortingall and now another abbey. History always
seems to center around the churches, or it did at one time.”
They made their way across the puddled road, kicking
and tossing stones. The island drew closer and seemed much larger than it
had from the mainland.
“Once we’re on the island, we have to stay until the
next tide goes out. It happens twice a day. The tunnel to get home is over
there,” Fraser said, pointing behind them, “near the oak. Let’s try to
remember this time.”
“I’m sure we can stay busy. Oh, I get it. This is the
Lindisfarne that’s famous for the Lindisfarne Gospels. I believe they are
in the British Museum Library.” Leith spoke to nobody in particular.
Sandy ran ahead to make sure he was the first one to
the island. Sea gulls soared overhead, squawking and swooping at the sea.
The air smelled salty and fishy. Sea shells lay among piles of kelp and
driftwood. Crabs wobbled back and forth, running from one tidal pool to
another. Children ran across the wet sand gathering eroded pieces of sea
glass while hovering mothers stayed nearby, chatting to one another.
“Not much of a town, is it?” Fraser took a quick look.
“I suppose if you were a tourist you would call it quaint. The local
residents must make their living by fishing and tourism.”
“Where should we start looking and what are we looking
for?” Duncan inhaled a deep breath.
“Since this island is so small, we should divide up
into two groups. Duncan and Sandy, would you mind searching the town and
then run out to the castle ruins. It’s only a mile,” Leith said.
“No problem. Where are you going?” Sandy tied his
“We will walk around the island since the tide is out.
There might be a hidden cave, or something shiny lying on the beach. We’ve
got less than six hours to do it,” Leith said.
“Do you think we can walk all the way around in that
short of a time?” Murray scratched his face. “I’m glad we brought these
sausages and apples with us.”
“Yes; we can walk the whole thing. It isn’t that big
of an island. Come on Fraser, Murray. We’ll meet you two here in five
hours.” Leith searched for the easiest path down to the sea. “We can start
here. Keep your feet dry. Walking in wet shoes is miserable and cold.
Thank goodness it isn’t one of those bitter days.”
Murray had a great time picking up seaweed and
swinging it around. Whenever he let go, the kelp flew through the air,
usually landing in the surf. When he wasn’t playing with seaweed, he was
making wet sand balls, tossing them into the water and watching them
Fraser occupied his time gathering shells. Murray had
already found one to his liking. Fraser’s pockets bulged with scalloped
Leith’s gaze wandered to the North Sea. He imagined
Vikings rowing their long ships to the island to find enjoyment in
plundering and pillaging. The island had sat vacant for many years because
of their dirty deeds. Leith tripped on something and fell on his face. He
stood, spit out sand and was grateful that Fraser and Murray hadn’t seen.
While he was brushing the sand off his clothes, he noticed some tiny
cylindrical objects. He reached for a few and swished the sand off in the
sea. “I know what these are. They are St. Cuthbert’s beads.” Found only on
the beaches of Lindisfarne Island, these fossilized shells were of great
historical value. Leith remembered learning about how St. Cuthbert had
worn a rosary made from the beads. He picked up dozens of them and shoved
them into his front pocket. Water seeped from the hollow centers onto his
pants, but the wind dried the fabric quickly. “This is it! These shells
are what we are supposed to bring back from here. I won’t spoil the others
“I wonder how Duncan and Sandy are doing. I have seen
enough beaches. Do you mind if I run up and join them? You and Murray can
handle this on your own.” Fraser rubbed the sand off his hands and pulled
an apple from his pocket.
“Go on then, Fraser. If you can’t find them, head for
the meeting place and wait there,” Leith said.
Fraser waved and ran toward the castle. It sat high on
a cliff on a southern tip of the island. Murray and Leith kept walking.
After they had rounded the northern side, Leith noticed the tide beginning
to come in. “We’d better hurry and get back to the road. I hope Fraser
made it safely, and Sandy and Duncan are there waiting for us. If not,
we’ll have to wait another six or seven hours and I don’t want to. People
at school might notice we are missing.”
“No they won’t. Time stands still for them. You forget
that a lot. Do you want to race? I can beat you.” Without waiting for an
answer Murray ran ahead, splashing through the incoming tide.
Leith watched the water rolling toward shore and
decided to run the rest of the way. He saw the other boys standing in the
“Hurry, Leith,” Sandy
shouted. “The tide is coming in fast. We’ll have to hurry. Did you find
Gasping for breath, Leith arrived at the road and bent
over, placing his palms on his lower thighs. “Did you find anything?” He
glanced at Sandy.
“All I saw,” Fraser said, “was people walking around
eating crab sandwiches. I can’t tell you how much I wanted one. Instead I
ate a cold sausage.”
Duncan answered. “We found some stones with carvings
on them. They were lying on the ground. I think they’re pieces of the old
castle. We probably shouldn’t have taken them, but we did anyway. Since we
weren’t sure of what we were looking for…”
“Can we talk about this later?” Fraser noticed the
water moving in. “Do you think we have time to make it to the mainland?
We’ll be cutting it close.”
“Let’s get a move on.” Leith and the boys ran down the
road, the water drawing closer. After fifteen minutes, Leith stopped.
“Look at this. We’ll never make it. The water will be over the road before
we reach the mainland. I guess we’ll have to climb into one of those white
refuge boxes. This is embarrassing, but at least we can spend time looking
at the goodies we collected on the island.” They reached the nearest safe
box and climbed in. It was a tight fit, but they found a place to sit and
“How will we get out of here? Will we have to wait for
hours and hours?” Duncan peeked out the door.
“A man in a wee boat will come around to rescue us.
When he drops us off on the beach, everyone will laugh at us. I saw this
happen on my last visit; not a pretty picture,” Fraser said.
“Show me what you collected,” Sandy said to Murray and
Murray emptied his pockets. “I have some sea shells to
add to my collection. Disgusting! I still had a sausage in my pocket.” The
limp, sand-covered link fell on the floor.
“Murray, did you pick up every shell on the beach?
“No. I didn’t collect any mussels, but Fraser did.”
“I found these.” Leith took two out of his pocket.
“They’re called St. Cuthbert’s Beads, but they’re just fossilized shells.”
“Wow! Those are cool. They have a hole in the middle
to string for a necklace or bracelet,” Duncan said. “Can I have a look?”
He stuck out his hand and Leith gave him a few shells.
“Why do you think it’s those things we’re looking
for?” Sandy took the other to inspect. “They are pretty cool looking. Do
they have special significance?”
“The man who is first mentioned as coming to this
island is St. Aidan. He came here from…guess where?” Leith grinned.
“Atlantis?” Murray blurted out.
“No, not Atlantis!” Leith scoffed.
“Right you are, Fraser. St. Cuthbert came way after
that, but he gathered these shells and made a rosary from them, so that
gives them a religious importance. I think I’ll put these on a string when
we get back to school. There’s much less chance of losing them that way.
Now, let’s see those carvings.”
Sandy took a few small ones out of his pocket. Murray
had two larger pieces. “You can see the carvings. They aren’t Celtic and
they aren’t Pictish either. They don’t look like the cemetery stones at
school. They might be Norse.”
“Uh, mates, the water is nearly up to the bottom of
this box. Are you sure we’ll be safe?” Duncan stuck his hand out and
scooped up the seawater.
“Here comes the boat. We’ll take these back to
Professor Wilson and let him tell us what sort of writing it is. You found
them at the castle?” Leith stuck his head out to see the boatman.
“Yes, on the ground,” Sandy said.
The chugging of the small boat engine rumbled across
the North Sea. A bearded man pulled up. “Are you lads all right? Where are
your parents? Lads your age should not walk Pilgrim’s Crossing alone.”
“They wanted to stay behind, but we wanted to go back
to the mainland, so we left. We were supposed to run, but I guess we
didn’t run fast enough,” Sandy said.
“Climb in, lads. I’ll take you to shore. My name is
William Wainwright. I live in Beal and make quite a bit of money rescuing
foolish people like yourselves, who don’t know how to read tidal time
“Yes, sir, Mr. Wainwright. We’ll be more careful from
now on,” Fraser said. The others turned and looked at the water.
A few minutes later the boat ran onto the beach. “Out
you go. Do you have any money on you, lads? I normally charge for the
None of them did. “Uh, sorry, Mr. Wainwright. We’ll
get some from our parents and when we see you next we’ll slip you some.
Will that do?” Leith told a wee white lie.
“That will be fine, lads. Stay out of mischief.” The
boatman sped away to check for other stranded tourists.
“I feel bad. We owe him money and will never be back
this way. Oh well. I’ll make it a point to come back here when I’m old
enough and find him. I was afraid we might run into some sort of sea
monster. We were lucky this time. After those goblins, I was expecting
something bad to happen,” Sandy said. The others didn’t reply, but climbed
on top of the sea wall, threw stones and watched them splash in the water.
“Are we ready to go home?” Leith threw one last stone.
“Where is Murray?”
The other lads turned in circles searching for him.
“He was here a few minutes ago, wasn’t he?” Duncan rubbed a small cut on
his chin. “He didn’t fall in the water, did he?” They looked down at the
waves gently breaking against the stone wall.
“Murray! Murray!” Leith shouted. The others called his
name. He was nowhere in sight. “We are going to have to search for him. He
couldn’t have gone far.”
“I’m going to brain him alive for this. Why would he
wander off?” Fraser let the breeze blow through his hair.
“Maybe he was kidnapped. Sandy just said he was
surprised we weren’t attacked by a monster. Maybe a land monster, or some
of those goblins followed us and took him,” Duncan said.
“This isn’t good. We had better find him and soon.”
Leith looked out to sea. “Wait! There he is. He’s still in Mr.
Wainwright’s boat. He mustn’t have climbed out after all. We’re going to
have to sit here until the boatman brings him back. If he has a lot of
rescues, it could be quite a wait.” Murray sat in the boat waving at them.
They could barely see him. “Murray, you clown!”
“I wish we had some money. I’m so hungry. I would love
to have an ice cream cone. Wait a minute! Leith, do you have the golden
arrow with you?” Sandy felt Leith’s pocket.
“Knock it off, Sandy. Don’t touch me. Yes, I brought
it. After last time I wasn’t about to leave it at home. Why?”
“You can fly, remember? You can turn invisible and you
can fly. Now is a good time to try. Fly out there and pick Murray off that
boat and bring him back here,” Fraser said.
“All right, but I think I need to practice first. What
if I fall into the sea?”
“You won’t if you practice. We’ll watch out for you.
Fly up and down this street. Nobody is around. They’re all busy shopping
and looking at the sea, not the sky,” Sandy said.
“What should I do? Do I flap my wings like a bird, or
jump off the ground like Superman?” Leith puffed out a frustrated breath.
“Stand on the sea wall,” Sandy said. “Face us.” Leith
climbed on the stones. “All right. There are only a few feet between the
top of the wall and the ground. You wont hurt yourself if you mess up, at
least not too much. Put your hands out like you’re going to dive and push
yourself off the wall.”
Leith put his hands out in front. “I feel like a
“Do it, Leith. Just do it!” Duncan climbed on the wall
next to Leith. “If it makes you feel better and less like an idiot, I’ll
stand next to you with my arms out.”
“I will too.” Fraser climbed up and joined them.
“You all look like idiots.” Sandy burst out laughing.
Soon all of them were joking. “At least we’re relaxed. Jump, Leith.”
“All together now,” Duncan said. “One, two, three.” At
the same time Duncan leaped from the wall and landed on his bottom, Fraser
jumped from the wall and landed on his knees and the palms of his hands.
Leith flew through the air. “He’s doing it. Way to go, Leith!” Duncan
rubbed his backside.
“I’m flying! I’m flying like Superman!” Leith soared
above the boys. He landed on the ground next to them a few minutes later.
“That was great fun. All right. I feel confident enough to fly over to
Murray. I just hope Mr. Wainwright is looking the other way.” Leith sprung
into the air and headed for the small boat.
“Look at him go!” Sandy whistled.
“Go! Go! Go!” Duncan and Fraser chanted together.
Fraser’s palms were scraped and raw, but he didn’t notice.
Leith kept his gaze on the waves. Fishing boats bobbed
up and down as they headed out to sea to catch herring, cod and whiting.
“This is great! Which of those boats is Murray in?” He flew closer to the
water for a better look. “Ah. There he is. How do I snatch him up without
the boatman seeing, or do I care if he sees or not?” After a chuckle,
Leith decided to swoop down, pick up Murray and not worry if Mr.
Wainwright saw or not. Nobody would believe the man if he told. “Here I
come, Murray.” Just as he was about to reach for the boy, Murray saw him.
He raised his arms high above his head and Leith grabbed them, carrying
Mr. Wainwright turned his
head at the same time. “What in heaven’s name is going on?”
Murray grinned at the old
man and swung his legs back and forth. At first his weight made it
difficult for Leith to keep his balance. “Hold still, Murray, or I’ll drop
you in the sea.” Murray stopped wiggling. After that Leith was able to
climb higher and zoomed towards the others, who stood on the sea wall
cheering and calling Murray’s name. Leith let go of the lad when they hit
the sea wall. He flew in a few more circles and landed.
“That was fun, Leith. Can
we do it again?” Murray clapped his hands.
“No. I’m pooped. Let’s
head back to the tunnel. We should get back in time for supper. I’m going
to eat like a horse.” Leith rubbed his belly. “Flying makes you hungry.”
“I haven’t been flying,
but I’m starving,” Fraser said. “How did it feel? What was it like to fly?
Can I borrow the golden arrow some time and give it a go?”
“Fraser, no, you can’t try
it. Abaris gave it to me, but it did feel cool to fly. Now I know how
Superman feels.” Leith chuckled.
“I’m glad we’re going back
so Murray, Duncan and I can go to choir practice. You said you would come
and watch, Leith. You haven’t changed your mind, have you?” Sandy ran
ahead of the group and then turned to face them.
“Here’s the tunnel. We’ll
talk about it while we eat. I’m too hungry to think of anything but food.”
Leith stepped into the tunnel. “This has been a long day.”
When they came out at the
cemetery, the morning sun shone against the school walls. “Good. We’re
safe,” Fraser said, seeing the other boys occupied with their football
games. They covered the hole, climbed through the bars and ran to the
school. Before they went in the front door, they brushed the sand from
Leith stretched and yawned
as he glanced around the main hall. “Let’s meet in the library in an hour.
I don’t know about you, but I want to have a long, hot shower. We need to
go over what we’ve done so far and what still needs to get done.” The
other nodded and headed for their rooms.