Benjamin Ulysses Maitland-Abyss & Chips BOOK SIX

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Chapter 27

Ben’s eye had completely closed the following morning and it was so very painful. Any further trips to the sub would be hard because he could only see out of one eye and the goggles wouldn’t fit his face and then the stitches would take a while to heal if they became wet. It was okay. Ben felt like he needed to rest and devote some time to the hotel and give Agnes a break. She seemed to be doing all the work of three people. So while Ben’s gash healed and his eye finally started to open again he cut timber for the fires, cleaned rooms and helped Agnes’s workload immensely. To top it all off he gave her a raise which was his way of thanking her for doing such an excellent job.

Now Aubrey’s flight had been bought forward by one week and in that time his eye would be almost open again and he could start to fix the submarine up. Until then it was house duties for Ben and some way to get rid of that dead fish smell from his room. It seems the shells that Lanthe and Cleodora put in his flippers left a lingering smell in his room. He went outside to where he had left them away from anyone’s nose to see if the shells had given up the smell and he shook the shell in his hand. It rattled. Shells don’t rattle usually and on further inspection Ben was able to see a gold coin lodged inside the shell. Ben sat there for ten minutes trying to rattle the coin into a position where it would fall out of the shell into his hand and finally it did. It was a German gold coin with Adolf Hitler’s picture on one side and a swastika and eagle on the other. It was heavy in Ben’s hand and he put it into his pocket and left the shell there because it still smelt like something dead inside it.

Actually he left the shells there for quite some time because every time he bought them inside for years afterwards Aubrey said she could smell them. It seems that some of the treasure must have fallen out of the sub and into the Dx4H and some shells had latched onto them thinking it was food and once inside the shell the creature could not eject the coin so inside the shell it remained.

Now the type of shell was of importance to Lanthe and Cleodora when they put them into his flippers as gifts but what if one of those fishing boats that had Sorehead and Verandah as their passengers also netted a shell that rattled as well. That would mean that they knew where and what was down there, hence their intent to net the sub and its contents before anyone else got their salty mitts on it. Now all that was left of Sorhead and Verandah was just their salty mitts, a memory not easily forgotten by Ben.

It was time to go into town and get some ‘welcome home’ presents for his wife and little Zara. Definitely get some water wings and more goggles so Aubrey could meet all the new friends he had made. Ben rowed over to the land and no sooner had he tooted the car horn Zara and Hambone were by his side. Ben saw something splashing in the water coming towards the land and he stopped the car and got out to have a look at what it was. It was Lamb Shanks swimming after Hambone. He wanted to come too. Ben went to the boot of the car to get a towel and a leash then he called for Lamb Shanks to swim hard.

Lamb Shanks got the fright of his life as he was lifted out of the water by some very strong arms and hurtled toward the water’s edge like a speed boat. It seems now that the Merrows were safe, Queen Zillath had sent some Merrows to keep an eye on the waters around Amazing and Graceful. Ben bowed to the man who lifted Lamb Shanks onto the rocky shore and thanked him. He bowed back and in the blink of an eye he was gone. Lamb Shanks barked back at the water and about 100 yards to the left of Amazing and Graceful a Merrow leapt from the water and waved then was gone without a splash as he re-entered the water to protect the hotel.

Ben dried Lamb Shanks off and he jumped into the car. Hambone did a happy growl and Zara sat next to Ben as he drove off into town to get some things. It was a cold drive as both Hambone and Lamb Shanks loved the windows being down and they both had slobber flying this way and that. Zara loved the radio in the car and listened to the music tapping her foot to the beat of lots of different songs that came on the radio. Ben was trying to figure out what to get Aubrey as a welcome home present. He forgot he still had the gold coin in his pocket and when he parked the car he thought about how long it would take to make a ring for her or something that would sit as a pendant on a chain as well. That could be just as good.

He tied Lamb Shanks to the dog leash and went for a walk around the shops, stopping to look in shop windows and letting Lamb Shanks sniff all the telephone poles and parking signs leaving his mark everywhere for future reference. There wasn’t anything in the shops that caught his eye and he kept jingling the gold coin in his pocket wondering what it could be turned into. Finally Ben stopped out the front of the local jewellery shop and looked in the window. There was a collection of pendants, chains and broaches all mounted on a wide and varied assortment of gold and red velvet plaster hand castings.

Ben looked through the window and saw a man sitting on an old leather chair in the back of the shop tinkering around with something in a vice. He hardly noticed Ben staring at him because he was concentrating so hard on what he had in the vice.

Ben tapped on the window of the shop with his car keys and the elderly man looked up very slowly turning his head in mild annoyance to the source of the noise on his shop window. Ben smiled and a muffled voice said to the shop owner...... ‘Got a minute mate?’ The shop owner took off his glasses with little expression on his face and placed them neatly in their case. He stood up and pushed his chair underneath the table he was working at and turned off the light. He took off his leather apron and placed it on a beautiful piece of mahogany with gold hooks on it and made his way to the front door. Ben moved over to the front door with a big grin on his face and when the man reached for the door he had worked out what he was going to say to him when he opened the door.

Instead the man locked the door and turned the OPEN sign to CLOSED.

‘Vee are clozed,’ said the man from behind the sign and the door.

Ben was flabbergasted and just a bit frustrated.

This bloke was a miserable old coot who didn’t want his business.

Lamb Shanks peed on his front door and that made Ben laugh, but it also made him think about the library. If Ben could create a furnace just big enough to cast his own hand made pendant then maybe he could do that at home at Amazing and Graceful - without burning it to the ground!

Food for thought as Ben and Lamb Shanks made their way to the library taking in the sights and sounds of the local town and trying not to pee on every pole that came Lamb Shanks way.

(What is it with guys and marking their territory???? Beats me!)

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