Saving Starbird

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Chapter 14

Archie’s Pride

Jane told them all, “I want to get Sunbeam back to the stable in the dairy yard as quickly as I can, before anyone starts to worry why we are so late returning from the milk round.”

While she once again made sure that the probe was safely stowed for the trip, Jack, together with Sally and Archie, went back through the hedge to pick up any remaining bits of the spare harness and other item that they had taken to the cliff edge. When they got back to the milk float Jane was ready to start back across the field to get onto the lane that led back to the village.

She asked, “Can you all walk alongside the float while we cross the bumpy field to make sure the probe is not going to roll.”

However, they crossed the field and arrived back at the gate into the lane without any problems, but as they came down the short path from the field gate to the lane, the probe did begin to wobble and move slightly.

Jack shouted, “Look out Jane its wobbling!” Jane quickly slowed Sunbeam down until he had safely stopped on the lane.

They tucked some of the spare harness around the bottom of the probe, and Jane was satisfied that it would travel safely without any further movement until she got back to the dairy yard.

Jack was worried and he said, “I am scared that your Mum will not only ask about the milk round, but will also want to know what is in the strange round bundle on the float.”

However Jane was hopeful, “I hope there will not be anyone at the dairy. They will be up at the hall involved in getting things ready for the Summer Fair.”

It was agreed that Jane should drive the float back as quickly as she could and that the others would follow behind to join up with her again in the dairy yard.

While Archie carefully shut and latched the gate to the field, Sunbeam trotted away down the lane and Jane looked back and waved as she disappeared around the corner in the lane.

The three friends walked quickly down the lane towards the village discussing the events of the afternoon. Sally seemed the most concerned about how long Starbird would last, however Jack was more worried in just how they were going to be able to get the probe through the village and down to the harbour without people seeing what they were doing and asking difficult questions. One thing was obvious to them all; they were going to use a boat for the last part of the journey to Smugglers Rock.

Archie told them, “I am still trying to think of a way to sail the boat, but I have come up with a super plan to get the probe from the dairy yard down to the harbour.”

He explained to Sally, “In the past my dad and I have used the cart which we transport our fish to market. We dress it up to take part in the Summer Fair torch light procession.”

“Your Mum said this morning that she wanted me to help,” said Sally.

“That’s right. We can put the probe in the centre of the cart, and then cover it up as part of the decoration.”

Jack laughed as he said, “Perhaps with Sally helping you might even win the cup for the best dressed cart this year. You know you and your dad have never won it before. Sally’s artistic touch may be just what is wanted.”

“It could be. Let’s hope so anyway. Dad said this morning he hoped we would win this year.”

They agreed that when they got back into the village Jack would join up with Jane at the dairy and look after the probe, while Archie and Sally would make their way down to the harbour to fetch the fish-box cart.

The three friends soon arrived at the top of the hill that led down through the village to the harbour. By now it was late afternoon and when they arrived outside of the village hall they could see how much had been done since they were last there to get things ready for the Summer Fair celebrations.

There were flags and bunting strung across the hall entrance and the tea party for the very young children of the village was in full swing. They could both see and hear the Punch and Judy man providing entertainment for the young children, and the screams of delight and laughter told its own story of just how much Mr Punch was holding their attention.

Archie spotted his mum and dad standing together with several of his friends near the hall doorway.

When his mum spotted them she shouted loudly, “Come here you two. What on earth have you both been doing?”

Sally and Archie looked at each other with guilty looks on their faces as they crossed over to Mrs Smith, who was standing with her hands on her hips.

She glared at Jack who was still standing in the middle of the lane. “I bet it’s down to you” she shouted. “No wonder they call you Mad Jack!”

Jack was flabbergasted. How on earth did she know what they had been doing? Had Jane said something when she had passed by on the float?

Sally was thinking the same thing.

“Just look at you both,” said Archie’s mum.

When she looked at Archie, Sally realised why his mum had called them over to see her.

Archie’s clothes were a mess, and he had dried blood down both legs where he had smashed into the cliff. When she looked down at her own legs they were also grazed and her dress looked as if it had been through a hedge backwards. Which it had she thought with a small smile?

“What have you been doing?” she asked them again.

Archie looked at Sally before he answered. “It’s not Sally’s fault,” he replied. “We were playing on the rocks when we both fell and rolled down a small part of the cliff.”

“Yes that’s what happened, said Sally. “But it was my fault as I leaned over too far and Archie was very brave when he tried to save me.”

“What about him?” asked Archie’s mum, pointing at Jack who was also looking a total mess.

“Jack slipped and fell when he tried to help,” said Archie. “It was not his fault either.”

“It’s always his fault,” grumbled Mrs Smith to her self. “Come on lets get you two cleaned up.”

She led them into the hall’s kitchen where she cleaned up the blood and watched them as they both did their best to brush down their clothes.

“You had better get down to the harbour and dress up the cart ready for the procession. Don’t get into any more trouble.” Then his mum added, “And don’t listen to anything Mad Jack tells you!”

As they went back outside they met Archie’s dad. “Well you both look a bit better now. Are you hurt?” he asked with a smile.

“No we are fine dad, replied Archie. “Can I get into the boat to get some things to decorate the cart?”

“OK,” his dad said giving Archie the bunch of keys for the boat. “Be very careful with the keys, and try to stay clean. Your Mum will have a fit if you turn up that scruffy again.”

Archie felt his face going red as he blushed knowing this was just what he was planning for later that night. He had never kept anything important from his father before, but he knew that if they were to save Starbird, he would have to sail the boat in the dark for the first time without his father’s permission. Clutching the bunch of keys they ran away down the hill towards the dairy trying not to think of the trouble he would be in if his dad found out what they were planning to do.

When Archie and Sally arrived at the dairy yard, he found their friends standing around the milk float looking very worried. They told him that no one had been in the yard when they had got there and that the probe seemed to have travelled without damage. However, they both expressed their concern about reaching Smugglers Rocks in time to save Starbird.

Jane told Archie that she had got Sunbeam into his stable, giving him a quick rub down before giving him his food and water. They were all delighted that the faithful horse had survived the events of the afternoon without any ill effects and was now happily munching his food in his warm stable.

Archie said, “So far so good. I have got the boat keys but we will have to wait until the torchlight procession arrives at the harbour before we can even think about getting the probe onto the boat.”

He asked Jane, “Have you got a roll of the artificial grass that your mother uses in the window display to show off the cheese. That will be just right to help cover the probe among the other cart decorations.”

She said, “Yes I am sure there is a spare roll. I will go and find it.”

Archie and Sally left the dairy yard to run down to the harbour to collect the cart and the other items they required to decorate it.

Together they went first to the large shed that housed the fish market, where they collected the large fish box trolley.

Archie pulled the trolley while Sally pushed from behind as they made their way over the cobbles down to the quay where Archie’s dad kept his boat. Archie climbed down from the quay onto the deck and undid the cabin using the keys his father had given him. Once again he had a pang of guilty conscience at misleading his dad, but told himself once he told his father the full story he would understand. At least he hoped he would!

He put the ignition key into the engine starter and gave a single turn to show how much fuel there was in the tank. To his relief it was almost full. Using another key he was able to unlock the door in the deck that led down to the store in which they kept all the fishing nets, crab and lobster pots, together with many coils of rope.

Archie passed everything up to Sally who stacked all the items she could onto the trolley. Archie carefully locked all the doors on the boat and climbed back up the steps to the quay to join Sally. He then quickly used a rope to tie the load securely to the trolley and they started the uphill journey back to the dairy

Bumping over the cobbles the load on the trolley almost toppled off, but they managed to keep the load intact by stopping to push and pull the pile of fishing gear upright.

However they were almost completely out of breath by the time they turned into the dairy yard and stopped the trolley beside the milk float.

It took the four children some time and all their strength to manoeuvre the probe across the floor of the milk float and then down onto the trolley.

Once it was sitting in the centre of the trolley Sally said, “I am very worried how Starbird is doing.”

She put her arms as far around the probe as she could and put her head down until her ear was pressed against the canvas that still covered the spacecraft.

She gently called Starbird by name while she listened as hard as she could. At first she could not hear anything but suddenly she felt a faint throbbing sound but it quickly died.

Sally was almost in tears as she told the others, “I don’t think Starbird will last much longer.”

Jack told her,” Like you said before, while there was life there was hope.”

He picked up a crab pot from the pile of fishing gear they had unloaded and looked at the probe centred on the trolley.

Archie agreed with what Jack had said. Then he told them they must cover the probe with the roll of artificial grass that Jane had supplied. The four started to decorate the cart using the nets and pots Archie and Sally had collected.

Once they started to create the display they almost forgot about the reason they were doing it, and enjoyed the challenge of making the trolley look very good to look at from all sides. It was like Archie’s mum had said. Sally would prove to be very good at decoration. Because of her artistic skills she was able to make little changes to the look of the display that helped to make it perfect.

When they had finally finished they stood back and admired their handiwork. The probe in the centre had given the display quite a lot of height, while the nets, ropes and pots created a very artistic look. However, what stood out was the painted name plaque that they had brought up from the cabin. ‘Archie’s Pride’ just set off the whole display perfectly.

Archie said, “This is easily the best display we have ever created for the Summer Fair procession. I am sure that we will win the cup.”

“I agree,” said Jack “It will be far better that anyone else. But that’s mainly because I helped!”

“You mean Sally helped,” said Jane. “You are very good at this sort of thing.”

Sally blushed and said, “Thank you. It was wonderful to be able to help. I have never done anything like this before.”

“We do things better down here than you do in London,” boasted Jack.

“I am sure that is not true,” said Jane. “We had better get the cart up the hill to the hall, or else it won’t be in time for the procession,”

It was almost dark as they pushed the trolley carefully out of the dairy yard. Jack pulled the long handle while the others all pushed and before long they arrived at the hall.

When they looked around the crowd that had gathered Sally was amazed how many people were there. The others had seen the Summer Fair many times before but to Sally it was a wonderful spectacle. There were dozens of carts and wagons all colourfully decorated. Horses mostly drew the wagons, although there were also several open backed motor lorries, together with farm carts drawn by tractors.

Almost all the larger displays had several people with them and they were all in different fancy dress.

A large man in a frock coat seemed to be in charge. He had a large megaphone and was shouting instructions to get all the vehicles in line to start the procession down through the village to the harbour. There were several other handcarts similar to Archie’s and they were formed up behind the larger floats.

At the front of the procession was the village brass band, looking very smart in their red and blue uniforms. However the thing that took Sally’s attention was the great pile of torches that were being handed out to all the adults and older children. They were constructed with oily rags wired onto long sticks.

Archie told her, “The torches will be lit from the fire.” He pointed to an old oil drum beside the road in which there was a blazing fire.

The large man with the megaphone had now put on a very tall top hat that had a large bunch of flowers tied to it. He also had a long staff that also had flowers fixed to the top. He started to wave the staff and shouted to the band to start playing.

Sally thought it was a very colourful sight, and knew she would enjoy drawing the scene in her sketchpad later.

The band struck up a loud marching tune, the first torches were lit and they gave off a smoky light and with the large man in front waving his staff high above his head the procession started down the hill towards the harbour. Jack got a torch and lit it from the fire and he held it one hand, while he helped the others push the cart with the other. Archie pulled the long handle in front while Jane pushed from the back. Sally walked along side helping to steady the cart while Jack and his flaming torch bounced along the other side.

He waved his torch vigorously making clouds of sparks fly upwards, and had a great big grin that spread from ear to ear. Sally could see once again how he had earned his nickname of Mad Jack!

The trip through the village was great fun. Lots of people were standing along side of the road, waving and clapping as the colourful procession passed and Sally almost forgot about Starbird and his spacecraft hidden among the fishing gear.

When they finally arrived at the harbour it was now completely dark.

Sally thought that in the dark the view was magical. Yellow lights shone from the lamps in the small houses that surrounded the harbour. The lights reflected in the water from several boats that had switched them on, or had put coloured lamps on the decks.

All along the harbour wall there were brightly painted glass jars with candles in them that twinkled like fairy lights. The brightest lights out to sea came from the Lifeboat. It had been launched from the ramp and shed where it normally stood awaiting an emergency call that would send it down into the water. It had all its lights on, and the red and blue colours on the upper cabin shone in the lamplight, and were reflected in the dark water of the harbour.

However the brightest and most cheerful lights came from the Smugglers Rest. Tables had been set up outside the pub and there was a crowd of people enjoying the Summer Fair celebrations. A large spit roast had been set up with a hog that had been cooking since early afternoon over the charcoal fire. Again painted jars with candles burning inside added more twinkling colour to the happy scene.

Sally saw the big man in the long frock coat and still wearing his colourful top hat and carrying his staff, just as he had when he led the procession through the village. He climbed up onto the harbour wall where he shouted through his megaphone for quiet.

He helped a pretty girl in a beautiful long white dress and wearing a crown, up onto the wall beside him.

Jane told Sally, “That’s Mary. She is the Summer Fair Queen for 1938. She is a good sport and is a jolly good friend of me and Jack.”

Jack jumped up and down waving to attract Mary’s attention. When she spotted him she waved back and Jack shouted, “Hi Queen Mary!” Then he burst out with shrieks of laughter that everyone standing near joined in.

The large man shouted that the judges had decided the winners of the various shop window and procession competitions. He told everyone that the Summer Fair Queen would present the cups to the winners from the table that had been set up in front of the Smugglers Rest

As each name was read out there were loud cheers as the winners came up to the table that had several silver cups on it. The butcher that Jack worked for won the window display, and when the jolly red faced owner came up to receives his prize Jack jumped up and down with delight. However, Jane looked rather sad as she had hoped that the dairy would have won again as they had the previous year.

Sally squealed with delight when it was announced that the winner of the decorated hand card for 1938 was ‘Archie’s Pride’.

Jack and Archie whooped and danced together while Jane and Sally enjoyed a big excited hug. Archie rushed forward to grab his mum’s hand, as she stood with his dad near the table holding the cups. He started to pull her towards the Summer Fair Queen, but his mum whispered in his ear and pointed to Sally.

Archie ran back and pulled his blushing friend with him as they went together to collect the cup. Sally thought it was one of the most exciting moments she had ever enjoyed as everyone around them clapped and cheered.

Jack was shouting to every one near him “I helped! I helped!”

Jane shouted back to him, “Sally was the one that made the difference.”

Archie’s dad swung his mum up into the air and whispered to her, “We have done it at last!” Then he gave her a big kiss.

She pushed him away, blushing and whispered loudly, “Get off, and don’t be so daft.” However she was very excited deep down “I am so pleased for you and Archie.”

Mr Smith replied, “I am sure Sally will always have very happy memories of us and Archie’s pride. I am very pleased she has come to stay for a few days. She seems such a nice girl.”

“It is good to see Archie with her. They seem to have become friends very quickly. It is as if there is some hidden secret that holds them together.”

Mrs Smith did not know how right she was!

Sally was jumping up and down with pride and excitement. She said to Archie “We’ve done it!”

However, as she turned to wave to Jack and Jane, she suddenly remembered Starbird. The happy smile faded and she felt a horrible sinking feeling come over her as her feeling of happiness quickly turned once again to fear and worry.

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