Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 12

 CHAPTER 12

 A Disappearing Trick

The Pontyrabad Secret Society met regularly in their secret underground room and kept up their watch rota with grim determination, but nothing did they see and no new evidence did they gather until the following Thursday when it was the turn of Titch and Gogs to go on watch. After their meeting that evening, Bunny, Smudgie and Miff decided to go for a swim so made their way, with their bathing kit, in the direction of the beach near the coastguard station. Titch and Gogs went in the other direction down the coast road to the common.

“We’ll hide near the end of the church tonight Gogs,” said Titch, “then if anyone goes near the old cellar or the warming room we’re bound to see them.”

“Cool idea Titch!” agreed Gogs. “There’s some long grass and weeds on that side, so we can move about on our hands and knees to avoid being seen.”

They took up their position a little way off from the church where they could see a good stretch of the Straight Mile. They sat down on a large stone, only their heads showing above the mixture of tall grass and weeds. They continued their patient watch chatting for nearly an hour until it was beginning to get dark.

“Looks as though we’re going to be unlucky again tonight Titch,” said Gogs disappointedly.

“I’m afraid you’re probably right,” replied Titch. Then he paused gazing intently in the direction of the Straight Mile. “Look there! Look!” His companion looked but seemed quite unimpressed.

“What am I s’posed to look at Titch? I can’t see anything.”

“Coming down the road there. See . . . a car. It looks like the one those men came in last Friday, unless I’m mistaken. Look! It’s slowing down.”

“It is slowing down Titch. Are you sure it’s the same car those men were in? It could be evening trippers.”

“It can’t be trippers at this time of night. It’ll be dark soon.”

Gogs became quite excited. “Titch! Titch! There’s someone getting out.” He would have jumped up to see, but Titch, knowing Gogs, held him firmly down.

“We’ll soon see who it is, Gogs. There’s five of them and they’re walking in this direction.”

“They’re carrying suitcases Titch.”

“You’re right! Who on earth would want to come to this place carrying suitcases?”

“It’s them Titch! It’s them!” gasped Gogs.

“Yep! There’s the man who gave Bunny the five pound note. And that rough man he called Mason is with them.”

“Those cases are pretty big!” exclaimed Gogs trying to stand up to get a better look.

“Get down you chump!” whispered Titch who grabbed his companion’s jacket and pulled him down unceremoniously into a crouching position. “They’re getting nearer now. I wish it wasn’t quite so dark so we could see them better.”

The suitcases the men were carrying were obviously quite heavy. When the group was some thirty or forty metres from the two boys they stopped and put their cases on the ground. The man they all seemed to treat as the one in charge was the only one not carrying a case. He put his hand in his pocket and drew out a packet of cigarettes. He handed cigarettes to all his companions while, at the same time, glancing all around him.

“What’s the idea, boss?” asked one of the men.

“Yeah. Why stop here?” added another.

“Just making sure there are no . . . er . . . observers,” replied the man. They all lit their cigarettes and started to walk in the direction of the old cellar.

Gogs moved slowly forward in the long grass straining his eyes to get a better look at the men. Suddenly his knee hit something hard and he rolled over sideways with a cry of pain.

“Ouch!”

“Sssh!” whispered Titch clapping his hand over Gogs’s mouth.

The boys froze in their positions as two of the men stopped. One looked in their direction. “What was that?” he hissed.

“What was what?” asked their chief stopping and following the gaze of the other man. “See something?”

“I didn’t see anything Guv,” the man replied, “but I thought I heard a noise over there somewhere.”

“I thought I heard something too,” added the second man.

“Wait here!” ordered the chief as he started to walk in the direction indicated by the other two, straight towards the crouching figures.

Titch and Gogs lay flat in the grass and weeds hardly daring to breathe. The man advanced slowly looking this way and that as he went. When he was only about five metres from the boys he stopped. He had a final look all around him and then walked back to join his companions. “Nothing there! Probably a rat or something. Come on, let’s get this stuff done up.”

The five men moved off towards the cellar. The boys, slightly scared, but still determined to find out something, watched the men above the top of the grass untill they were lost in the darkness.

“Come on Gogs!” cried Titch cautiously rising to his feet.

“Are we g . . .g . . . going home?” asked Gogs still lying in the grass, not having quite recovered from his fright.

“Home?” echoed Titch. “Of course not. We’ve come here to investigate, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll follow them and see what they do.”

“But wouldn’t it be better to wait here for a bit?” protested Gogs.

“Don’t be a nitwit,” said Titch. “How can we see what they do from here? It’s just about dark.”

Gogs started, very reluctantly, to get up when he cried out again. “Ouch! I put my knee on that . . . cor Titch, look! Look what I’ve found!”

Titch stopped and shone his torch on Gogs who was holding something in his hand.

“Good grief!” cried Titch. “Bunny’s cricket ball!”

“Now we’ve got the ball and the five pound note,” said Gogs getting to his feet in great triumph.

“Put it in your pocket for now,” said Titch. “We’ve got to find out where those men have gone. Come on! This way. And, whatever you do, don’t go treading on anything else or start making a noise.”

The two friends walked towards the passage leading to the old cellar. As they drew near they saw the flash of a torch in the passage way. Then they heard muffled voices echoing inside. Silence followed. The boys stopped, listening intently. Hearing nothing else they moved forward behind a pile of rough masonry only a few metres from the entrance to the passage.

“That’s funny!” whispered Titch. “They’re very quiet.”

“Perhaps they’re putting their equipment down there,” Gogs suggested.

“You don’t believe that old yarn now, do you?” asked Titch. “If they wanted to install equipment there’s no need to smuggle it here after dark in suitcases.”

“Cor! Do you think they’re smugglers then?” asked Gogs in amazement.

“I don’t know what they are, but I . . .sssh . . . Quiet Gogs! I think they’re coming out.” There was the sound of footsteps, then they heard someone walking along the passage.

“There’s only one of them,” whispered Titch close to Gogs’ ear. ‘Keep absolutely still, he’s coming up the passage.”

It was the chief. He walked quickly out looking all about him as he came. Without waiting he picked his way through the ruins and disappeared into the darkness across the common.

“He’s gone,” said Gogs.

“Yes, but there are four others still down there,” Titch replied.

“P’raps he’s gone to get something from their car,” suggested Gogs.

“Yes, you might be right. I can just see the car sidelights from here. Let’s watch.”

A few minutes elapsed before the man reached the car. The boys heard the door slam as he got in, and saw the lights flicker as he started up the engine. Then, to their utter amazement, he drove off.

“That’s jolly queer!” burst out Titch.

“He’s left all those others behind,” added Gogs.

“This business gets fishier every minute,” said Titch slowly. “It looks as though that man’s not coming back.”

“He might have just gone to fetch something,” suggested Gogs.

“Mmm Very doubtful. Anyway Gogs, to be on the safe side, you stay here. I’m going to go down the passage and look down the steps to see what the others are doing. If that car comes back, you come and warn me.”

“Y. . . Y . . .You’re not going to go down there?” asked Gogs in sheer amazement. “Those other four might hear you and . . .”

“Be quiet Gogs. Remember this is a job for the Society, so do as I say. They won’t hear me if I’m quiet.” Titch crept towards the passage on tip toe, while Gogs watched open-mouthed at the courage of his small companion.

The passage which ended at the flight of steps leading down into cellar was bounded on each side by a stone wall. Titch kept close to this and felt his way slowly along until he could feel the first step with his foot. He listened carefully trying to pick up the sound of voices. He heard nothing. He felt inside his jacket and pulled out his torch. If he were discovered he thought there might be a chance of dazzling his pursuers for a second or two to give him a start back up the steps.

The flight of stone steps was a long one, and although Titch had been down it several times before when he and his friends had been playing in the ruins, on this occasion the journey seemed endless. Eventually he came to the well-worn bottom step. To his left the wall ended abruptly and the cellar extended several metres behind it. The wall to his right carried on a few metres and joined the end of the cellar.

Titch cautiously peered round the wall to his left, every nerve tensed as he strained his ears to listen for the slightest sound. Although his eyes had now grown accustomed to the dark, as he looked into the deep recesses of the cellar all he could see was inky blackness. He began to wonder how four men could stay so absolutely quiet. Surely he should be able to hear them breathing. He briefly stopped breathing himself, but still could hear nothing. Doubts began to enter his mind. Were the men more used to the dark than he was? Could they see him? Perhaps they were preparing to pounce.

Titch withdrew his head behind the wall again and looked back up the steps. All he could see was a faint blue glow high above him which came through the entrance to the passage. He was tempted the rush back up the steps, but realised that, as Chief of the Pontyrabad Secret Society, he had to carry on with his investigation. He pause deep in thought for a moment and then decided on a desperate plan. He would crouch down and shine his torch into the room. If the men were there they would be dazzled long enough for him to make his escape.


Titch shone his torch into the dark cellar but could see no one.

    He crouched down with his thumb placed on the switch of his torch. He quickly pressed it and the powerful beam lit up the whole interior of the cellar, but, to his astonishment, all he could see were a few large lumps of old masonry. He wheeled quickly around and shone his torch behind him thinking that the men might be there, but all he could see was a blank stone wall. Very puzzled he walked further into the cellar shining the beam into every corner, but the place was absolutely empty. He turned around and bolted back up the steps as fast as he could go.

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