Everybody in the room looked in baffled surprise at the hat glowing on Tezzie’s head. Tezzie acted quickly,
“Thank you very much, Inspector – we don’t need a lift, home is very close to here and we really need to get going straight away.”
The Inspector raised his eyebrows,
“Ahem, very well then. Thank you very much boys for your help and I am sure we will meet again.” He and the sergeant turned, while still staring, puzzled, at Tezzie's glowing hat and finally left the room.
Tezzie and Nico started to say their goodbyes, first to Mr Fairchild, and then lingering over their goodbye to Billy; they had grown rather fond of him during their adventure together.
“Bye then,” said Billy awkwardly, “thanks for um, you know, everything.”
“You’re welcome” said Nico grinning.
Tezzie hugged Billy and said,
“Look after yourself Billy, I’m glad we met you”. They all shook hands sombrely, as though they were grown men, and indeed, they did feel they could walk a little taller after such an adventure!
Tezzie and Nico started to walk quickly towards the library door, but as they entered the hallway Billy followed them and shouted “Wait!” Billy had the palm of his hand raised above his head in expectation. Tezzie and Nico both gave Billy a ‘high five’. They all laughed.
(Illustration: boys doing the high fives)
Without waiting for any more goodbyes, Tezzie and Nico ran quickly to the back of the house. Something told them they would only get one chance to get home and that this was it. They ran towards the back of the garden – the steps had appeared on the wall! There was the same familiar scraping, grinding noise from before, and the steps were already rearranging and starting to recede again!
“Come on!” shouted Nico, grabbing Tezzie’s hand as they jumped on to the bottom step. They bounded up the rest of the steps, aware that as their feet left each step that it would be slowly grinding its way back into the wall. As they got to the top, they took one last look behind them and were surprised to see that the garden behind them was starting to fade, the way a chalk painting on a pavement fades in the rain. They looked down and saw that the wall they were standing on was starting to fade from the bottom upwards, so holding hands for balance, they started to jump again and again, from wall to wall – hoping all the while that this would indeed lead them back to the safety of Grandma and Grampy’s back garden, back to the present time, back to their home.
Tezzie noticed as they jumped along that the horse and carriages became buses and cars again. After some time they finally recognised Grandma and Grampy’s garden wall. When they eventually got to the top of it they turned and took one last look behind them, all of the walls that they had jumped along had disappeared. They quickly jumped down the last of the steps on the wall and then ran with all their might up to Grandma and Grampy’s house and through the back door.
“We’re back – we’re back – don’t worry – we’re back!” panted Tezzie as they ran into the living room. Grandma and Grampy were sitting quietly doing the local newspaper crossword; they looked up to see what all the clamour and commotion was about.
(Illustration: grandma and grampy doing crossword)
“Whatever is the matter, boys? What’s happened? Have you hurt yourselves?” cried Grandma, a very worried look on her face (as all Grandmas have when their grandchildren create such a fuss)
Out of breath, Nico explained,
“It’s ok, Grandma – we’re fine! We’re back now...sorry for making you worry. We’ve been gone ages...but we’ve had such an adventure!”
“Yes, we have, we met this boy called Billy – a chimney sweep – and we were back in time – Victorian times – and we caught his boss who had stolen the jewels and…and…”
“Whoa there! Slow down, we don’t understand what you’re saying,” said Grampy with a smile. He was feeling rather relieved and was enjoying the distraction from the crossword as he wasn’t as good as Grandma at solving them (Grandma was super-dooper good at solving crossword puzzles, as all Grandmas are)
“And we’re sorry we missed dinner, “ added Tezzie, “but it was all so exciting you see and we were trapped and couldn’t come back until we had had an adventure – just like Daddy and Auntie Suse used to do”
“Boys, what are you babbling about? You haven’t missed dinner – I haven’t even started making it yet. Dinner won’t be for another hour – are you hungry already? What are you talking about?” said Grandma looking bemused.
“But...but we’ve been gone for hours!” exclaimed Nico.
“Hours?” said Grandma, eyebrows raised, “You came in about twenty minutes ago to ask for a feather and a hat! What are you up to boys? Is this some kind of joke or trick you’re playing?”
Tezzie and Nico stared at one another. It slowly dawned on them that while they had been gone for hours and hours, having an adventure in Victorian London, literally no time at all had passed here in the present day!
Tezzie thought quickly and then said,
“Umm – don’t worry Grandma, we’re only joking – just a game we’ve been playing. We’ll just go outside now and carry on playing until dinner…”
“Are you sure there isn’t anything you want to tell us?” said Grandma, eyeing Tezzie and Nico suspiciously.
“No Grandma, nothing, we’re just playing, really.” Said Nico, his eyes wide and innocent, hoping that Grandma wouldn’t ask too many questions.
“Ok then, off you go,”
They ran outside into the sunshine of the late afternoon and then burst out laughing! All the tension of the past few hours left them as they sat down on the lawn and discussed all the weird and wonderful things that had happened to them on their very first adventure together.
“You don’t think it was a dream, do you?” asked Nico, lying on his back now and looking at the clouds scurrying along in the sky.
“How could it have been a dream? It’s like we said at the beginning: - we both experienced it, so how can it not be real?” replied Tezzie, lazily rolling on to his front so that the afternoon sun could warm his back too.
“I suppose so…” answered Nico, and then grinning “So I guess this will have to be our secret then? I think it is a bit too difficult for the grown-ups to understand!”
“Yes – our secret,” said Tezzie, grinning back.
“Do you think it could possibly happen again? I mean do you think that the hat will glow again and we could go on another adventure?” asked Nico.
“Oh yes,” said Tezzie, his eyes twinkling with delight and mischief, “something tells me that this is only the beginning of our adventures together.”
After an hour or so chatting, laughing and going over all the minute details of their adventure, they finally heard Grandma calling them in for dinner, and they suddenly realised they were ravenous again. Adventures were a hungry business and they now could smell Grandma’s famously delicious chicken makhani curry - Tezzie’s favourite. They jumped up and made their way back to the house – Tezzie with his Panama hat clutched tightly in his right hand.
And we will leave them there, revelling in the memories of their first adventure together.
I wonder where Tezzie and Nico will go the next time that the panama hat glows?
And I wonder if they will take us with them?
I hope so – don’t you?
(Illustration: Tezzie and Nico on grass)
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