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Rolfin's Orb
Book 5 - Topaz
Chapter 10

After breakfast Johnny, Jesse, Fiona and Mairi headed to Angus’s croft, anxious to get started on their camping trip. “We’ll talk to the others and get a list of things we need and then come back to your house, Mairi, and pack. You’re not going anywhere alone. Drayton’s still out there somewhere.”

“He’s right, Mum. He kidnapped you and tried to kill you,” Fiona said.

“Looks like the others are as anxious to get started on our little campout as we are.” Jesse pointed at Angus’s croft. They were outside folding tents.

Angus saw them approaching. “Good to see you up so bright and early. I doubt if you’ve got enough room in your car for all these tents and camping equipment. Jock McTavish said I could use his SUV. Why don’t I take all the equipment and as many of you as can fit and Mairi can bring the food and whoever is left. Sound good?”

The others nodded their approval. Angus walked to Jock’s house and came back a half an hour later with the black SUV.

While they were packing and tying things up, Mairi walked over to Julian. “I’m Mairi. I understand you’re quite the gardener. This is my daughter, Fiona.”

Julian squatted down and shook her hand. “I’m happy to meet you both and look forward to sharing gardening tips with you upon our return from our camping trip.”

“Come and help us, Julian. Stop being so lazy,” Jack teased.

“Alroy, it’s good to see you,” Julian said. “It’s been too long.” They hugged each other.

“Enough of that. Both of you, get over here and help,” Jack said, smiling at them.

 Jack, Jesse, Jeffrey, Julian, and Jimmy loaded everything into the back.  Johnny, Fiona and Mairi went back to her house. They drove over to the grocers and put boxes of easy to fix foods and snacks in the boot of her car. They drove back to Angus’s.

“All right. I can fit four of you in the SUV. It’ll be a tight squeeze, but we can manage. Who wants to come with me?” Angus looked for a show of hands.

“I’ll go with you, Angus,” said Jeffrey.

“Jack, Julian and I will go with you too,” Jesse said.

“Great. Jimmy, you go with Mairi and we’ll meet you up at Roderick’s Campground up on Ben Iann. It’s about an hour and a half drive. Have you all packed warm clothes? It’ll be a bit chilly up there at night.”

“Uncle Angus, what about the orb and the 2 books? You can’t leave them here!” Fiona tugged at her uncle’s sleeve.

“We’re not about to leave them here. I’ve packed them away and they’re going camping with us. What about Callum and Elspet? Did you invite them to come?” Angus opened his car door and climbed in.

“Callum’s got to help his dad with the sheep today and Elspet’s got to babysit. I don’t want to take Alastair and Malcolm camping with us,” Fiona said.

“Och, I understand. We’re off then,” Angus said. The other climbed in the SUV and Angus drove off.

“Let’s stay close behind them. Sometimes at this time of year, the roads can be washed out or even snow covered,” Mairi said. Jimmy, Johnny and Fiona climbed in the car. “We’re off.”

“It’s a good thing Uncle Angus had all those sleeping bags, isn’t it, Mum? Why do you think he had so many?”

“Uncle Angus can be a bit odd. I suppose he has saved them over the years and couldn’t bear to part with them,” Mairi said.

The rest of the drive was spent in silence, with an occasional gasp of delight when they spotted a red deer or eagle soaring.

             *  *  *

With the sunrise, Drayton found his release. He lay still, rubbing his aching arms and legs and feeling thankful that the night was over. Every part of his body throbbed with pain from all the bites. He stood up and walked to the arched doorway. Phelan chose that moment to make an appearance. “Did you sleep well? No? I didn’t think so. Now, are you ready to obey?”

Drayton mumbled something and nodded. “What do you want?”

“They are going somewhere today and spending the night. All of them are going. That means they’ll have to take the books and the orb with them. Follow them and report back. If an opportunity reveals itself, get the book. Report back to me tomorrow night.

Drayton, furious with Phelan for the night of torture he was forced to endure, did as he was told. He walked down to the island’s shore and remembered the boat was gone. Knowing it was futile to complain, he marched back into the castle and went into the tunnel. The mid-morning sun felt warm on his aching body. He hid in the trees and watched Angus’s croft. “They’re going camping. I hate camping.” He watched as they shook out sleeping bags and talked about cooking outdoors. When Angus brought the books out and the orb, Drayton knew he had to find a way to follow them and find it quick. He ran into town and headed for the grocer’s. A man pulled up in a small car and much to Drayton’s delight, left the keys in the ignition while he ran in to the shop. It took Drayton only a moment to jump in the car and drive off.

Billy McPhee came out with a pint of milk in his hand and saw his car was not there. At that moment, Mairi, Fiona, Johnny and Jimmy pulled up. When they got out of the car Billy said, “Did you see my car? It was here a minute ago. I pulled up to get a bottle of milk for the wee one and when I came out, it was gone.

Mairi looked at Johnny. At the same time they said, “Drayton!”

“I think you should call the police immediately, Billy. Have them put out an alert. I don’t think the car is far. If you call right now, they might find it for you,” Mairi said. Billy disappeared into the grocers. “One of you had better stay out here with my car, just in case.” Johnny and Fiona volunteered. Jimmy went in with Mairi to buy the food.

Drayton sped down the side streets, screeching tires as he headed for Angus’s. When the croft was in view, he pulled over and hid in a grove of trees. Glancing at the fuel, he was pleased to see it was on the full mark. Hardly able to keep his eyes open, he leaned his head on the steering wheel. His eyes closed and he dozed off. Snapping himself alert, he was relieved to see he hadn’t lost them. Angus was just driving off and Mairi right behind him. He pulled out and keeping his distance, followed the cars into the mountains.

                                    *  *  *

“Hey, do you either of you know any camping songs?” Fiona leaned forward to ask Johnny. He sat up front with Mairi. Jimmy sat next to Fiona in the back.

“I can’t say that I do, Fiona. I’m sure you’ll teach us some though, won’t you?” Johnny winked at Mairi.

“Jimmy, I can teach you one right now while we’re driving. Do you want to learn one?”

Jimmy cleared his throat. Being a more serious type of person, he didn’t think he’d appreciate learning a camping song, but not wanting to hurt her feelings, he said, “I’d love it, Fiona. What’s it called?”

“Kum Ba Yah.”

“Fiona, don’t teach him that one. Teach him a fun one,” Mairi said.

“All right. How about ‘Alice the Camel’? It’s only got five verses,” Fiona said.

Jimmy looked at Johnny. “Only five? Well, that sounds marvelous. How does it go?” When Fiona started singing, Jimmy shook his head.

“Alice the camel has five humps. Alice the camel has five humps. Alice the camel has five humps, so ride, Alice, ride.”

“Let me sing the next verse,” Jimmy said. He sang, “Alice the camel has four humps. Alice the camel has four humps. Alice the camel has four humps, so ride, Alice, ride.”

“Wait. It’s my turn to sing the next verse,” Johnny called. “Alice the camel has three humps. Alice the camel has three humps. Alice the camel has three humps, so ride, Alice, ride.”

“My turn,” Mairi said. “Alice the camel has two humps. Alice the camel has two humps. Alice the camel has two humps, so ride, Alice, ride.”

“All together now,” shouted Johnny. “Alice the came has one hump. Alice the camel has one hump. Alice the camel has one hump so ride, Alice, ride.”

They stopped singing. “Wait a minute. There’s still one verse left.” Fiona sang, “Alice the camel has no humps. Alice the camel has no humps. Alice the camel has no humps, so ride, Alice, ride.”

They burst out laughing. Johnny laughed so hard he had tears running down his cheeks. Even Jimmy laughed. “Lovely, Fiona. You do add a spark of youthful delight to my life.” He squeezed her close to him. “You’re a brave girl and a joy to be around.”

Fiona lay her head on Jimmy’s arm and closed her eyes. He heard her soft snores as the car drove towards Ben Iann.

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