Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 3


A Strange Encounter


“I couldn’t have knocked it in a worse spot,” declared Titch in an anguished voice. “The trouble is it would have bounced such a lot in amongst all these stones. It might even have hit the cloister wall over there and bounced off in another direction.”

“I wonder if it rolled down that passage and into the cellar,” queried Bunny.

“I hope not,” replied Gogs. “It’s jolly dark down there.”

“It’s not very light out here now the sun’s gone down,” added Titch.

After searching unsuccessfully for some twenty minutes, Titch, feeling a little guilty as the main cause of the search, suggested that, as they really had no idea of the whereabouts of the ball, they should split up and each look in different places.

“Miff and Bunny, you look in the old refectory there,” he said pointing to what had once been a long room where the monks had eaten their meals. “You can get over that gap there where the wall is lowest. Gogs and Smudgie, you can look along the passage leading past that old room to the cellar. I’ll look over on the other side of the cloisters.”

This new search, although well organised, was equally as unsuccessful as the first. After a further fifteen minutes’ searching, the light was failing rapidly and Bunny and Miff rejoined Titch at the other end of the refectory.

“Sorry about your ball Bunny,” murmured Titch apologetically.

“Oh, that’s all right,” returned Bunny sportingly. “I don’t suppose . . .”

He broke off and all three looked quickly in the direction of the old cellar. They could distinctly hear the voices of Smudgie and Gogs who seemed to be having a heated argument with someone.

Their footsteps echoed as they ran through the old cloisters and, on turning a corner at the end of the refectory, they saw Gogs and Smudgie standing near the cellar passage and arguing strongly with a burly and rough-looking man in a black  leather jacket who held both boys by their collars.

“You let us go!” protested Gogs in his high-pitched voice. “These ruins don’t belong to you.”

“No!” joined in Miff. “An’ we’re staying till we’ve found Bunny’s cricket ball.”

“Oh!” grunted the man. “And who’s Bunny?”

“I am,” announced Bunny, calmly walking in the direction of the arguing trio.

“Oh, you are, are you? And what are you snoopin’ around here for, may I ask?”

“We’re looking for a ball,” returned Titch. “I accidentally knocked it into the ruins when we were playing cricket.”

“Well, my advice to the lot of you is to get out of the ruins, and quick!” yelled the man placing his hands on his hips and glaring at the boys who showed no sign of moving.

“All right Mason, I’ll handle this,” said a quiet voice. Turning round the boys saw a well-dressed and pleasant-looking man making his way towards them.

“Go back to the car. I’ll join you in a moment,” he said to the man he had called Mason, who, without a word, immediately left. When he had gone the man turned and smiled at the boys.

“Now then, what’s the trouble, eh?” he asked.

Titch explained about Bunny’s cricket ball getting lost and how they had failed to find it. Gogs and Bunny joined in and explained how the man had grabbed them by the collar and told them to go.

“Ah! I see,” said the man still smiling. “You must forgive my friend. I’m afraid he’s a little quick tempered and hasty. You see, we are members of the South London Occult Society. We make a hobby of investigating ghosts and haunted buildings and the like. At the moment we have some sensitive scanning equipment hidden at various places in the old abbey. Naturally such equipment costs a lot of money and I expect my friend, Mr Mason, was afraid you might accidentally damage it. I expect you’ve heard that a ghost is supposed to walk this place, and we hope that, with our instruments, we will be able to find out whether there is any truth in the story.”

“Oh, I’m pos’tive we haven’t damaged any equipment,” blurted out Gogs. “We haven’t even seen any, have we boys?” The others agreed.

“No, no, of course not,” hastily added the man. “The stuff is well hidden, naturally, and I’m quite sure you haven’t touched it. Now then, to whom does the lost ball belong?”

“It’s mine,” replied Bunny.

The man offers Bunny a £5 note to buy another ball.

“Well, then,” said the man putting his hand into his pocket and pulling out a wallet, “suppose I give you a five pound note and you get another ball. I’m sure you won’t find it now it’s almost dark, and we really must get on installing our equipment. If I were you I should have a look for the ball when it’s light. If you find it, then you’ll have two.”

“Thank you very much sir!” exclaimed Bunny taking the proffered note.

“Well, boys, I really must be getting back to my car to rejoin my friend. Good evening!” And with that he walked away in the direction of the Straight Mile which was the main road bordering the common.

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