Saving Starbird

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Chapter 5

The Team of Four

Sally awoke to find the sunlight streaming in through the window that was still wide open. She sat up in bed but she could not decide if she had dreamt the adventures of last night.

She leapt out of bed and rushed to the window but, when she looked out everything appeared normal and, although she stood looking for several minutes, she could not see the white bird anywhere.

Sally washed and dressed and went down stairs to the kitchen where she found Archie’s mum busy getting breakfast for her four other guests, as well as for her own family.

Mr Smith asked Sally if she would help by taking the tea trays to the dining room and explain to the guests that their breakfast would soon be ready. Sally enjoyed being allowed to help and she was very happy to take out the tasty fried breakfasts together with hot toast and home made marmalade.

When Sally got back to the kitchen again she found Archie had arrived back, together with his dad.

They had been down to the harbour to tidy the boat, but Mr Smith told Sally he had decided not to go out fishing today, as he had several jobs he wanted to do around the guesthouse.

“Can Sally and I go down to the village together,” asked Archie.

“Of course you can,” replied his mum. “Don’t for get that it is the Summer Fair today. I am sure that Sally will love to see it and join in the fun.”

She made them some sandwiches so that they could stay out and enjoy themselves until suppertime.

Archie’s mum explained to Sally, “The whole village joins in to make the Summer Fair a yearly highlight in the whole area. There are several events during the day.”

“It is really good,” said Archie. “I am sure you will think it is great.”

Uncle John told Sally, “It is during the evening the biggest event takes place.

There is a torch light procession down the hill through the village to the harbour and there will be various floats and even small handcarts are decorated showing different parts of the village life.”

Aunt Mary said “It all ends with a big street party down beside the harbour wall. It is great fun all day long, but when I was a girl, it was the party at night I loved the most.”

Archie added. “There is a silver cup for the best decorated trolley and we had always wanted to win it but so far we have been unlucky.”

Archie’s mum asked, “Archie would you like to decorate the fish box cart this year for the procession on your own without the help of your dad.”

He replied, “That would be wonderful. I will try and think of something a bit different this year and I am sure that Sally would love to help me. In fact together we will win the cup!”

Archie and Sally both went up to their bedrooms and collected their stones, discovering that they were both cold and dull in colour, in fact as Archie said they looked just like normal stones!

Collecting their sandwiches the children left the guesthouse and walked down towards the village still discussing the events of last night.

“I can’t believe the things that have happened to us lately,” said Archie.

“Nor can I,” replied Sally. “I still feel as if yesterday was a dream.”

“The strange thing is I do not feel frightened anymore. When the stones first appeared I admit I was terrified,” Archie admitted.

“I agree. Do you remember we said perhaps we were being cursed by an evil-eye?” Archie nodded. Sally continued, “Well I have been thinking about that. It does not feel evil to me anymore. Nothing has harmed us so far; also the white bird seems to be asking for help. I don’t know what is happening to us, but I am quite sure it is not black magic.”

“Perhaps it is a form of white magic,” Archie replied. “What ever is controlling the stones and the bird is really trying to control us. As I said I don’t feel frightened, but I don’t have the faintest idea what is going on.”

When they got to the gap in the hedge the white bird had shown them, they scrambled into the field and ran over to the far hedge where they squeezed through on to the grass at the cliff edge.

Archie pointed to a patch of the long grass that had been flattened, and just as they had the night before, they crawled on their tummies and looked over the edge of the cliff. Archie recognised the large rock formation below them, saying, “I am sure this is the right place.”

However they could not make out the entrance to the cave they had seen during the night. They decided that as the sun was now shinning onto the rocks, the shadows were different to those made by the beams of light made by the stones in the dark. However hard they both strained their eyes to see the cave, it was not visible in the bright sunlight.

Just as they were saying that perhaps they had imagined the whole thing, the white bird suddenly appeared in the rocks below. It flew up to them, landing on the grass beside them and cocking its head to one side as it stared at them with its bright eyes.

Suddenly the two stones started to throb in their pockets, and when they took them out, the markings were bright again and the eyes were wide open.

Sally looked at the white bird and asked, “Where is the cave entrance?”

At once the bird nodded its head, took off, and flew down the cliff face. It swerved out towards the sea before gracefully turning back towards the cliff. It landed and hopped slowly down until it finally disappeared into the shadows behind the rocks.

For a moment the white bird had completely disappeared from their view. Suddenly a bright light shone from behind the rock and the startled children could see that it was coming from within the cliff face. They had found the cave!

The light from within the cave went out and the white bird returned to land once again beside them.

“How are we going to get down there to the cave?” asked Sally.

Archie explained again, “We can’t climb down this part of the cliff without help, as it is much too steep. “It will be impossible to get on to the rocks from a boat. Now it is daylight I can see the rocks just below the water. It would be far too dangerous.”

“Let’s go into the village and find Jack and Jane to see if they will help us,” said Sally.

The white bird nodded its head several times and the stones both winked together.

The two children quickly made their way through the first hedge, crossing the field back to the gap in the second that led down into the lane. When they scrambled down the bank into the lane, the white bird landed on the hedge and, by standing on one leg, pointed towards the village with the other, before it flew back towards to the cave.

Sally and Archie set off again down to the village and before long arrived on the cobbled street outside of the shops.

They were very pleased to see Jack’s delivery bike standing outside the butcher’s shop, so Archie went into the shop to see if he could find him.

While he was inside, Sally ran on down to the dairy and looked in the yard to see if Sunbeam was back in his stable. However, the stable was empty and there was no sign of Jane.

As Sally looked back up the village street Archie appeared with Jack and they hurried down to meet her.

Jack explained, “I have just finished my delivery round so my dad said, as it was the Village Summer Fair, I can have the rest of the day off.”

The three of them slowly walked down towards the harbour wall while Jack told them that Jane was still out with Sunbeam and the milk float, but she would be back soon. Almost before he had finished speaking they heard the clip clop of Sunbeams hoofs on the cobbles, then Jane appeared round the corner at the end of the harbour with Sunbeam trotting steadily towards them.

Jane pulled up beside them and waved as they called out to her.

“I have just got to make one more delivery. I am taking a large cheese up to the village hall. It is one of the main prizes in the Summer Fair raffle. When I have delivered it I am finished for the day and can enjoy the Fair with you,” Jane told them.

They agreed that they would walk up to the hall and wait for her so that they could explain what had been happening, also what they wanted her and Jack to do to help.

Jack kept asking them what was going on all the way up to the hall, but Archie said he would explain everything when Jane finally arrived.

The three children sat on a seat outside the village hall where people were setting up stalls for the Village Summer Fair. The large cheese Jane and Sunbeam were bringing was to be a star prize, but there was a lot of other local produce being delivered as they watched.

After the cheese had been unloaded and carried into the hall Jane told them although she had finished for the day, she had to get Sunbeam back to his stable in the yard.

“Before you go back to the yard could you bring Sunbeam and the float up the lane,” asked Archie.

“Please Jane,” said Sally. “We really need to speak to you and Jack urgently.”

“I don’t know what these two are doing. They wouldn’t tell me anything until you joined us,” said Jack

Jane was going to say no, but she could see by the look on their faces how worried both Sally and Archie were, so agreed to go with them.

Archie ran ahead up the lane until he reached a gate to the field that they had crossed with the white bird to reach the cliff edge. He opened the gate and Jane expertly steered Sunbeam and the milk float into the field. Archie shut the gate behind them and then led the way across to the hedge on the far side above the cave.

The milk float bumped across the uneven surface of the field with the empty milk crate making a loud crashing noise as they banged together.

Jane got down from her seat when they stopped beside the hedge and demanded crossly, “What is going on? This field is very bumpy and is very hard work for Sunbeam to pull the float.”

“If this is some joke you two have thought up it is not funny,” said Jack

Jack and Jane sat on the grass in silence while Sally and Archie told them about the stones, the white bird and the cave.

They looked at one another and then Jack jumped up and ran around laughing and waving his arms. Sally could see why they called him Mad Jack!

“I was wrong,” shouted Jack. “This is the best joke I have ever heard. A white bird that grows! Stone with winking eyes! Did you make this up Archie, or is it Sally with her London ideas?”

Jane did not laugh but shook her head sadly saying; “Well I don’t think it’s funny. It’s very unfair to Sunbeam to be driven across a bumpy field towing the milk float. I am very cross.”

Sally pleaded with them to believe them and said they would show them the stones if they promised not to tell anyone else.

However, when Archie and Sally took the stones from their pockets the markings were very faint and the eyes were closed.

Jane stood up and said again she was very upset with Archie for bringing them into the field for a very unfunny joke and started to climb back up onto the milk float.

Suddenly, the white bird appeared over the hedge from the cliff, swooping down upon the startled children, almost hitting Jane as she stood next to Sunbeam.

Jane screamed and almost fell off the milk float.

The bird flew in a tight circle around them flying very low and fast, before landing in front of Sally and Archie. Once again it stood on one leg and pointed the other, first at Sally’s stone, then at Archie’s.

At once the markings became very bright and the eyes opened wide.

Mad Jack and Jane stood with their mouths open in disbelief.

“Gosh!” said Jack.

“I would have never believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes,” muttered Jane.

They all stood staring at the stones while the white bird fixed his bright black eyes on Jane and Jack.

Both Jane and Jack said later, they could not believe how calm they felt once the white bird stared at them. They also said how it seemed that its eyes got bigger and bigger as they became calmer and calmer.

It was at that point that the gang of two became the gang of four!

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