Saving Starbird

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Chapter 7

Inside the Cave

Archie took several moments to catch his breath following his climb then sat back against a large rock and looked back up the cliff face.

He could see Sally looking down at him with a very worried look on her face. She shouted down to him asking if he was all right. When he reassured her, she called back to the others and both Jack and Jane’s face appeared over the cliff edge above Archie.

Archie shouted up to them, “I will see if I can find the cave entrance.” As he said this, the white bird flew down onto the rock beside him and, once again, stood on one leg and pointed the other to show Archie the direction to follow.

He scrambled around the large rock he had been leaning against and followed the white bird as it fluttered from rock to rock along the bottom of the cliff.

Finally, the bird stopped opposite a small hole in the cliff face. Archie climbed down over the rocks to squat down beside the bird.

The entrance hole was much smaller than Archie had expected, but was still large enough for him to crawl into.

The bird hopped into the entrance, nodded its head, and then disappeared inside the opening.

Archie got down onto his hands and knees and looked into the hole. It was very dark but he could see that is was the entrance of a low tunnel.

He took a deep breath then started to squirm slowly forward on his tummy into the darkness of the tunnel. It seemed funny to Archie that the floor of the tunnel felt quite smooth.

It was very dark and he could hear scratching noises above him. He tried hard not to imagine what animal was making that sound, as he did not like rats. In fact they were about the only animal he really detested.

As he crawled forward into the hole it gradually opened up into a much bigger space so that he could get up onto his knees without his head hitting the rocks above him. However, it was still very dark so he could not see very far into the cave ahead.

Suddenly, the stone that was still in his pocket began to throb. Archie carefully took it out and at once a beam of green light shone from the stone as it lit up the cave.

Archie found the space was big enough for him to stand upright. He pointed the beam of light created by the stone, using it like a torch.

The cave was quite deep and the sides were lined with rocks. The strange thing however, was the floor. This was quite smooth with a dark burnt colour. It almost appeared that something had flattened it. When Archie looked down carefully, he could see that the rock seemed to have melted, as if a great heat had created this unusual floor.

Archie walked slowly into the cave he could see all the way to the very end where the white bird was perched on a large rock.

As Archie approached, the bird nodded its head and once again the stone in his hand began to throb, but this time far more strongly than it had ever done in the past.

“Is this what you wanted me to see?” Archie asked out loud.

Archie then heard a low humming sound that seemed to be coming from within the cave.

The white bird once again pointed its claw down towards the end of the cave floor. It was then that Archie saw a very large stone with similar marking to his and Sally’s stones.

He knelt down and examined this new stone very closely. It was much larger than he first thought; in fact he could only just touch either side with his arms fully extended, and was very smooth all over. It almost looked as if it had been polished, having a very shiny surface.

It also had a pattern of strange markings, but they were rather faint. However, Archie could see that they were far more elaborate than those on his stone.

The white bird hopped down onto the top of the large smooth stone and rubbing its head very gently on the cold surface. It was almost like watching a mother caressing her baby.

The bird bent down and touched an indentation in the stone surface with its beak. Archie looked very closely at the smooth hole in the stone the bird was indicating. It was the same shape as the stone he was holding. In fact it looked as if it would fit exactly into the hole.

“Do you want me to try and fit my stone into this notch?” he asked.

When Archie tried to see if his stone would fit into the hole the white bird got very excited, it was hopping up and down and nodding its head vigo

When the stone in his hand was about six inches from the hole, Archie could feel a strong pull. It was almost as if a very strong magnet was drawing his hand towards the smooth surface of the large stone.

As his fingers touched the edge of the hole, Archie gasped as his stone leaped from his grasp, fitting itself snugly into the indentation with a loud click.

At once all the markings on both stones became much brighter, then the eye in his stone opened wide and slowly winked at him several times!

Archie fell back in surprise and he sat and stared as the large stone began to emit an unnatural green light that got stronger and brighter, until it lit up the whole cave. There was also a throbbing sound that also got louder as the light became brighter.

Archie was amazed but, as he told Sally later, he did not feel at all frightened. In fact, he felt a wonderful warm glow throughout his body. It was as if the stone was giving him a new inner energy.

The white bird hopped up onto Archie’s lap as he sat on the smooth cave floor reaching up until its beak was beside Archie’s ear. The bird started to make a cooing noise very softly and also began to sway gently from side to side. Archie found that his eyes were beginning to close, no matter how hard he tried to keep them open.

He was still sitting on the cave floor, but he had the strange feeling that he was floating above the ground. He did not feel at all frightened; in fact he had a nice warm feeling all over.

It was then that heard a gentle voice in his head telling him that every thing was fine, but there was something he had to do at once. The soft voice said he must get Sally to come down to join him in the cave, and to make sure that she brought her stone with her.

The voice went on to say that the white bird would help them achieve this task, helping to find a way for them to get Sally down the cliff face safely.

Archie found himself waking up and he rubbed his eyes. He found that the light in the cave was now very dim, but looking back towards the entrance tunnel he could see daylight.

He edged his way slowly towards the daylight, then crawled through the low space until he finally emerged into the sunlight and smelt the sweet sea air, and heard the familiar sounds of the gulls and the waves breaking on the rocks below him.

Archie clambered around the rocks until he could see his three friends looking down at him with very worried looks on their faces.

Sally called down. “Have you found anything?”

Archie replied, “Yes, but you will have to come down here. Have you still got your stone safe?”

“Of course I have. I am not climbing down this cliff Archie. If you want to have my stone for something, I will throw it down to you.”

When Archie shouted back that Sally must climb down and join him and bring her stone with her there was silence for a few seconds, then all three children on the top of the cliff started to talk at once.

They thought it was far too dangerous for Sally to climb down the cliff, even if she used the two ropes in the same way Archie had managed the decent.

No sooner had his friends finished explaining their worries about Sally, the white bird landed on the rock beside Archie and stared up the cliff at the faces of Sally, Jack and Jane.

Jack called down to Archie. “If you need someone to come down with you, I will do the climb.”

At once the white bird shook its head as if to say no to this idea.

Archie shouted back, “No it must be Sally, and she must bring her stone with her”

Jack replied, “Don’t be daft! Sally just can’t make the climb. I can do it easily and I will bring her stone with me.”

As soon as he said this, the white bird started hopping up and down; making a harsh screeching noise while it shook its head violently.

Archie told them that the bird would fly up to them, and that they were to try and understand and follow its instructions.

At that Jack started to laugh wildly. “You must be mad if you think a bird could solve the problem!”

The white bird nodded its head to Archie and flew up to the three children above, landing on the grass beside them. They all three watched as the bird once again did its pointing act by using its claw.

The bird was indicating the gap in the hedge they had come through. It then promptly flew over the hedge into the field beyond.

When they followed the bird into the field they found it had perched on the side of the milk float.

They watched in amazement as the bird then hopped down onto the small shelf under the float where the ropes they had used in Archie’s climb had been stored.

Jane bent down to see what the bird was indicating. It was tapping its beak on the leather straps of Sunbeam’s spare harness.

“I think it wants us to use the spare harness,” said Jane.

Jane pulled the black leather straps out from the shelf and laid them on the grass, their brass buckles shining in the sunshine

Jack then said excitedly, “I’ve got it! I can see exactly what bird brain here wants us to do.”

He quickly buckled several straps together, showing the two girls how they could form a sling with a seat that Sally could sit in. Then, by tying this makeshift seat to a rope, they would be able to lower her safely down the cliff.

Jack went on to say, “Sally is much lighter than Archie so Jane and I can hold her weight safely, so she will not have to climb down using the knotted rope as Archie had done. We can just lower her down.”

When Jack had finished explaining his scheme, the bird nodded its head several times before it winked its eye at Jack who felt very pleased with him-self.

“There is no doubt about it bird. You and I are becoming a great team.”

He quickly fixed the leather seat to the rope, and then they all clambered back through the hedge again, and shouted down their idea to Archie who was waiting impatiently to find out exactly what they planned to do.

Sally climbed into the harness checking that all the buckles were correctly fastened and then Jack and Jane took the strain on the rope as Sally slid her legs over the edge of the cliff, and the dangerous descent began.

Jack had told Sally, “Don’t look down at any time and use your feet to stop bumping into the cliff face.”

For a start the descent was far easier than they all had thought as Sally leant back in the harness and almost walked her self down the cliff face.

However, when she was about half way down Sally forgot what Jack had told her, she looked down to the rocks below, on which Archie was waiting to grab her legs when she was low enough.

The rocks seemed a long way down below her.

Suddenly, a gull that had been sitting on its nest in the rock face just below her screeched and flew up in panic, almost hitting the startled Sally in the face. Sally let out a loud scream and dropped her legs down into space away from the cliff face. She fell a short way totally out of control, throwing all her weight onto the rope.

She screamed again and again in terror.

The sudden jerk on the rope made Jane slip again and she fell down on the grass, frantically trying to keep her grip on the rope that had whipped away from her.

Jack found a sudden pain shoot through this hand and arms, as the rope cut into his flesh. He cried out and dug his heels into the grass, looking like someone in a tug of war team. It felt like his arms were going to be pulled from their sockets, but he grimly hung on.

Sally’s fall was checked by Jack’s actions and Jane managed to scramble back up on her feet after grabbing the rope, and helped take the strain once again.

Once Sally stopped falling she also stopped screaming, but was sobbing quietly as she swung in the harness seat.

They continued to lower Sally down without any further incident, until Archie was able to grab her, helping her stand safely on the rock beside him.

The white bird fluttered down beside them making a gentle cooing noise.

All the children let out great sighs of relief that Sally was down the cliff safe and sound, even if she had been badly frightened by the incident half way down.

Sally allowed Archie to help her remove the harness that had proved so reliable, saving her from a terrible fall.

“I am sorry I made such a noise, but I thought I was going to crash down on the rocks.” she said to Archie.

“Don’t be daft. I was doing the same down here when I saw you falling.”

She looked around at the rocks that now seemed much larger than they had from the cliff top, and at the waves breaking over the rocks down at the water’s edge below them.

Archie helped Sally climb around the rocks until they came to the hole in the rocks that led to the cave. Having first made sure that Sally had her stone safe, he told her to follow him as he got down on his hands and knees, disappearing into the tunnel.

Sally took a deep breath and, as she bent down to follow him, the stone started to throb and gently move around in her pocket and she could hear the humming sound that it was making.

She looked into the darkness of the tunnel where she could just make out the soles of Archie’s shoe as he crawled away from her.

Sally paused to wonder what more strange adventures awaited her in this mysterious cave. She also hoped there were no spiders inside, as she had as big a dread of spiders as Archie had of rats.

She got down on her knees and stared into the dark tunnel.

Once again she got that cold sinking feeling of fear, but she bravely began to crawl forward towards the tunnel.

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