Archive for May, 2012

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 16

May 26, 2012

CHAPTER 16

Exploring the tunnel

 
 “Old Louis the artist!”

“Eh? What’s he doing down here at this time of night? He can’t be painting.”

“That’s for sure,” Titch replied. “Well, he’s shown us that there are two doors in the walls of the cellar. We’d better not follow him, but we can have a look at the one he came out of.”

Realising that there was no one else in the cellar, Titch shone his torch on the wall to his left. He noticed that there was some upright moulding on that wall also. “Start pressing on this moulding Miff. It might open the door, same as the other side.” Both boys ran their hands up and down pressing as they went. Suddenly Miff felt the stone give but nothing happened.

“I think this is it Titch.” he whispered. They both pressed heavily in the same spot and were rewarded by a steady slow rumble as a stone door opened inwards before them.

“Wow!” breathed Titch in amazement. “Look Miff. A secret passageway.” They both shone their torches inside and could see a narrow stone-lined tunnel beyond. Slowly they entered.

“Shall we see where it goes?” asked Miff.

“Good idea,” returned Titch. “But we’d better see if we can shut the door first then, if those men come they won’t know we’re in here.” He shone his torch all around the edge of the doorway. One of the stones was painted red. He pressed hard on it and the door rumbled shut.

“Why is that stone painted red?” asked Miff.

“I suppose they realise that only people who know about the passageway would use it. They couldn’t paint the one outside could they?”

Because of the narrowness of the passageway the boys had to walk in single file. Titch led the way flashing his torch ahead as he went. To begin with the walls on each side were quite dry but as they made their way further along, they noticed trickles of water running down the stonework. After they’d walked a hundred metres or so the twisting passage became wider so that they could walk side by side. They also noticed that the top of the passage was higher. Then they walked around a sharp corner and were amazed that right in front of them was a flight of stone steps leading steeply upwards. They started climbing and when they reached the top a curved landing led them in another direction towards another flight of steps.

“Wonder where this place leads to?” queried Titch.

“Dunno! We’ve turned so many corners I don’t know where we are.”

“Let’s have a look at my compass,” replied Titch. He shone his torch on it. “That flight of steps in front of us is pointing due North Miff,” he said. “That means we are climbing up inside the hill. I wonder what’s on top of us?”

“If we carry on climbing we’ll be able to find out,” Miff replied.

At the top of the steps they emerged onto another curved landing which was quite wet under their feet. They rounded two more corners in quick succession and were met by another flight of steps. This time when they reached the top there were no further steps in sight but the passage sloped upwards. After what seemed ages it flattened out again and narrowed.

“We must have walked a quarter of a mile from the entrance by now,” announced Titch in a breathless voice. “Let’s see what’s around that corner.”

As they rounded the corner they noticed that the roof sloped steeply up above them and they emerged onto a flat area of rock about the size of a boxing ring. On the far side they could see a short flight of stone steps with iron railings on the sides.

The boys walked over and stood on the bottom step shining their torch all around. “Strange!” exclaimed Titch. “The top step ends at a blank wall.” They mounted the steps but discovered that, when they stood on the top step, the roof was so low that they were unable to stand up.

“This is weird Titch! Really weird!” exclaimed Miff. “There doesn’t seem to be a way out of this place.”

“There must be one somewhere,” stated Titch. “If old Louis got into this tunnel he must have come through a door somewhere.”

“Can’t see any moulding on this rock like there was down below,” remarked Miff.

“No,” agreed Titch. “But let’s push it and bang on it to see what happens.”

Crouching low to avoid hitting their heads they both pushed and knocked the blank wall all over but nothing happened. Frustrated by their lack of success, the pair sat down on the top step to think about their next move.

“Best turn our torches off,” suggested Titch. “The batteries must be getting low by now.” Instantly they were plunged into darkness.

“What d’you think happened to Bunny, Gogs and Smudgie?” asked Miff.

“I think it’s pretty obvious now that those men must have captured them and taken them somewhere. My guess would be down that other passage we saw Louis go down. They certainly don’t seem to have come this way.”

“What I don’t understand is why old Louis would be in this passage if it doesn”t lead anywhere.”

“I think there must be a door somewhere quite near to us. Otherwise why make these steps?”

“But we pressed all over this blank rock and nothing happened,” returned Miff.

“That’s what puzzles me,” groaned Titch.  He looked towards Miff. “If only . . .” he stopped in mid sentence.

“What’s wrong?”

“Miff, I can faintly see your face.”

“Yeah! I can see yours too.”

“But it should be totally dark in here. There must be light getting in somewhere,” Titch exclaimed. He instinctively looked above his head. “Look! Look, Miff!! Up there!” He pointed to the roof less than a metre above their heads. They could both see a distinct but very faint circle of light about the size of a football.

“That might be the way out Titch!” exclaimed Miff excitedly. “Let’s have a look.” He put his hand on the railing near him and tried to haul himself up. But the railing seemed to give way and move towards him. At the same time there was a hollow rumble above their heads as the circle was suddenly uncovered and admitted a beam of light.

Titch was first on his feet and put his head and shoulders up through the hole. “Wow!” He ducked back down to look at his companion. “You’ll never guess where we are.”

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Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 15

May 19, 2012

CHAPTER 15

Smudgie Vanishes

Just before six o’clock that evening the boys were gathered in great excitement in their underground headquarters. Titch, in a very business-like manner, was checking on the equipment.

“Now, have we all got our torches?” A chorus of yeses assured him that they had, and a series of flashes assured him that they were all in good working order. Bunny had a torch that fixed around his head with a strap thus leaving his hands free.

“Have you got your axe, Bunny?”

“Yes, Titch.”

“Good! That might come in handy. How many penknives do we have?” All except Miff showed that they were the proud owners of penknives.

“Mmmm . . . good. And I’ve brought my rope,” said Titch. After other items, such as mobile phones, were checked Titch looked at the others with a smile of satisfaction. “We’ve collected a handy lot of equipment. We might need it or we might not, but it’s best to be on the safe side. It’s starting to get dark so we’d better get moving.”

On the way to the ruins Titch outlined his plan. “This time Miff and I will climb up on the wall where we were last time. We’ll be able to keep a sharp watch all around from there. You other three go down into the cellar and have a good look round for a secret passage. Tap and push the walls all over to see if you can find one. If we see that car coming we’ll run down and warn you so that you can come out again before the men arrive.”

Bunny, Smudgie and Gogs waited by the ruined church wall until Titch and Miff had climbed above their heads. It was by then almost dark. Titch scanned the Straight Mile as far as he could but there was no car in sight. “Nothing about!” he shouted to the others. “You can go down now.”

Gogs hesitated. “W . . . W . . . Would you like me to stay and help you Titch?” he asked hopefully.

“Don’t be a cissy,” broke in Bunny before Titch could answer.

“But what if those men come again?” asked Gogs.

“Don’t worry Gogs,” reassured Titch. “We’ll be down to give you plenty of warning if they come.”

“Come on Gogs,” ordered Bunny. “We don’t have any time to lose.” The three boys were watched by Titch and Miff as they disappeared into the gloom.

When they reached the entrance to the passage which led to the cellar, the three boys halted.

“I’ll go first,” announced Bunny. “You come next Gogs, and Smudgie can come last.” He shone his torch down the passage and the boys advanced cautiously examining the wall as they went. They saw nothing.

There was a clatter of footsteps as they went down the worn stone steps. At the bottom Bunny looked around the corner into the dark depths of the cellar. He swept the beam of his torch around to examine their surroundings.

Bunny looked around the corner into the dark depths of the cellar

    “Now we’ve got to search quickly,” he said in an urgent whisper. “I’ll try that far wall. Gogs, you search this one and Smudgie, you . . . Smudgie!” Bunny whirled around and shone his torch. Their companion was nowhere to be seen. Both boys ran to the foot of the steps but the beam of Bunny’s torch revealed nothing. Smudgie had completely disappeared.

“That’s funny Gogs!”

“Wh . . . Wh . . .  What’s happened?” quivered Gogs clinging on to Bunny. “Wh . . . Wh . . . Where’s he gone?”

“No idea,” returned Bunny flashing his torch in every direction in the vain hope of finding their lost friend. “Perhaps he went back out for something, Gogs.”

“He might have. But I know he was behind me when we were at the top of the steps. Let’s go and look for him.”

“We’ll have to,” replied Bunny. “He must be about somewhere. Come on!”

They went back up the steps and along the passage. They looked around outside but could see nothing. Bunny flashed his torch around in the darkness in the hope of finding Smudgie. Meanwhile, up on the wall, Titch and Miff had been keeping watch. They saw no approaching car and heard and saw nothing of their friends until, suddenly, the darkness near the cellar was illuminated by Bunny’s flashing torch.

This puzzled Titch who immediately called out, “What’s the matter? Found anything?”

“No!” came Bunny’s reply through the darkness. “Smudgie’s disappeared. We can’t find him anywhere. Have you seen him?”

“No,” Titch replied. “We haven’t seen anything.”

“We can’t find him anywhere Titch,” put in Gogs.    “He’s just gone.”

Titch frowned at Miff, then looked in the direction of the cellar once more.

“When did you last see him?” he shouted. There was no reply.

“Hi! Bunny!” Still no reply. Titch looked distinctly worried.” Something odd is going on over there Miff. I don’t like it. Let’s go over to the cellar and see what’s happened.” Using Titch’s rope the pair were soon down the side of the wall and making their way silently through the grass. When they reached the entrance to the passage they stopped and listened. Titch whispered to Miff.

“We’d better not use our torches. Try not to make any noise.” They went down the steps on their toes to avoid making any sound and felt their way along the wall. Eventually Titch’s hand reached the end of the wall and he knew they were at the bottom of the steps. He slowly peered around the corner but all he could see was inky blackness.

“Ssssh!” whispered Titch. “Listen!” They heard a slight tapping sound from the wall around the corner to their left. “What’s that noise?” They stood riveted to the spot. Suddenly a faint ray of light swept across the floor of the cellar. Titch cautiously peered around the corner to see where it was coming from and was amazed at what he saw. A man with a torch was emerging from a stone doorway. There was a rumble as the door was closed, then the man started to cross to the other side of the cellar. When he reached the wall Titch watched as, in the torchlight, he saw the man’s hand press on a section of stone moulding. A door swung inwards and the man went through it. He turned to close the door and the light of his torch momentarily lit up his face. Titch let out a gasp as he recognised it. The door closed with a thud.

Titch turned to whisper to Miff. “Did you see who that was?”

“No. You were in the way,” replied Miff. “Who was it?”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 14

May 12, 2012

 CHAPTER 14

 Old Benny’s Story

Excitement and wonder were high in the boys’ secret underground headquarters the following morning. Gogs, Bunny, Miff and Smudgie were already in the room discussing what they had seen the previous evening, when, suddenly Titch arrived. He gave the secret knock followed by the password and was duly admitted by Gogs.

Titch sat on the camp stool and got down to business immediately. “First of all we must record all the evidence. Are you ready Bunny?” He was.

“Put down the place where you three were hiding and then write what you saw,” said Titch. Bunny wrote as fast as he could go. When he’d finished, Titch and Smudgie once more told the other three what they had seen. The written evidence was then handed to Titch who, as Chief, read it out to the meeting. He closed the book, handed it back to Bunny and then looked around at his companions.


Titch read out the evidence and then handed the book back to Bunny

    “It’s still mighty mysterious but we seem to be getting somewhere at last.”

“Yes,” agreed Bunny. “I was reading all the other evidence in bed last night. On Thursday five men arrived, went down into the cellar, and one went away again. Last night one man arrived, went down the cellar and five went away.”

“You’’e thinking the same as I am I expect,” hastily added Titch. “Those four men must have stayed  in the abbey all Thursday night and all day yesterday and left last night.”

“Cor! Fancy staying all night in an old ruin,” exclaimed Miff.

“D’you really think that’s what happened?” asked Gogs in amazement, gaping at Titch and Bunny in turn.

“Well, I know it might sound a bit odd,” admitted Bunny, “and I can’t think where they could have stayed but it is some sort of an explanation.”

“And, if your explanation is true, I think I know how they managed it,” added Titch.

“How?” chorused the other four.

“Well, as you know, Gogs and I saw the five men go down into the cellar. Only one came out, so, if my arithmetic is correct that left four in the cellar, but when I went down to look there was no one there. That can only mean one thing: there must be a secret passage leading out from the cellar.”

“Cool idea! A secret passage!” burst out Miff.

“But how is it you didn’t notice it?” asked Bunny.

“Well, I was looking for four men at the time. The thought of a secret passage didn’t occur to me then.”

“You’re right though Chief,” said Gogs. “That’s the only way they could have disappeared like that.”

“Anyway there’s always one way to find out,” resumed Titch. “We’ll all go and have a look at the cellar when those men aren’t there.”

At this Gogs stood up and flapped his hands in great excitement. “Now Titch? Now?” he cried.

“Sit down!” yelled Smudgie and Miff in unison.

“We’ve got things to do first,” stated Titch calmly. I’m wondering whether those ghostly shapes we saw on the sea, and those flashing lights, are connected with those men.”

“Don’t forget they said they were investigating the ghost,” said Smudgie.

“I certainly don’t believe that story now,” said Bunny in a contemptuous voice. “Do you think they might be pretending to be ghosts to keep people away?” he asked Titch.

‘Mmmm . . . Shouldn’t think so. Not many people would have seen anything last night. We wouldn’t have if we hadn’t been perched right up on the wall near the sea end of the ruins.”

“Yes, that’s right” agreed Bunny. “I hadn’t thought of . . .”

“I’ve got an idea,” interrupted Titch. “There is one person who might have seen something.”

“Who?” asked Gogs.

“Old Benny at the coastguard station.”

“Of course,” agreed Smudgie. “He always a keeps a sharp lookout.”

Old Benny, one of the coastguard team, was a friend of the boys. The coastguard station was situated on a short peninsular which jutted into the sea near the coast road. This overlooked the sea in every direction and the boys often waved their greetings to Benny as they bathed in the sea immediately below the station.

“He’s often down there late at night,” stated Gogs. “My father sometimes goes down to have a chat with him about boats and things.”

“Well, I think we ought to go and have a chat now,” said Titch. “There’s nothing much we can do here. We’ve written down all the evidence we’ve collected. Come on, let’s go and see if he’s at the station.”

The five boys blinked as their eyes, accustomed to the darkness of their underground room, now met the bright morning sunlight. They walked quickly along the coast road in the direction of the coastguard station.

“He’s there boys!” shouted Gogs, seeing the portly figure of their jovial friend moving about just outside the door to the station. Old Benny pushed back his peaked cap and scratched his very thin crop of hair as he regarded his approching visitors.

“Ahoy there!” he shouted. The boys chorused their greetings and were soon standing with their friend who beamed around at them.

“And to what do I owe the honour of this visit by you five young gentlemen?” he asked.

Titch, true to character, came straight to the point. “Well,” he began, “you believe in the story of the old abbey being haunted don’t you?”

“Haunted?” replied Benny. “Perhaps I do . . . I don’t really know that I’ve made up my mind about it. But one thing I’m certain of . . . there’s queer happenings takes place there.”

“Have you ever seen anything?” asked Titch.

“Seen anything?” echoed Benny. “I should just think I have. Many’s the time I’ve seen flashing lights. Why, only last night . . .”

“Last night!” gasped Gogs.

“Did you see anything last night?” asked Titch as the others gazed expectantly at the old coastguard.

“I certainly did. Not long after it got dark I saw a flash over by the cliff, just below the abbey there. Then I saw another one out at sea. Later on there were several flashes all in one place.”

“What did you think it was, Benny?” asked Smudgie.

The old man rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “That’s a very difficult question you know. There was a time, a year or so ago, when I’d have said they were smugglers’ signals. Now . . . well, I’m just not sure. I’m just not sure.”

“Why do you say there was a time when you would have said they were smugglers’ signals?” pursued Titch.

Benny chuckled at this. “You really are interested in all this business I must say. I suppose I might as well tell you. You see, about a year ago I noticed some lights out on the water one night. At first I took no notice thinking they might possibly have been fishermen, but, after three or four times, I began to get suspicious. I informed the customs men, and for some nights they kept watch. They saw lights too, so one night they decided to investigate. They went out in a launch and found a yacht anchored right out the other side of the sandbank. They searched it but found nothing on board except a French man and his wife. About a month later they waited longer and intercepted a small launch. Another search was made, but once again nothing was found. The men told them that they had had engine trouble and only succeeded in getting the motor going after they’d drifted round the headland. The customs men were suspicious so they searched further out to sea and came upon the same yacht occupied by the same two French people. Again their search was in vain. As they could prove nothing they’ve since let the matter rest.”

Benny sighed and looked wistfully out towards the sea. “Myself . . . I’m still a bit suspicious. Whenever I see those lights they set me wondering. I often put my telescope on them, but I haven’t seen anything.”

“We saw those lights last night. Benny,” said Titch. “We . . . er . . . we just happened to be walking along the top of the cliff and we saw the flashes out at sea. The moon was shining at the time and we could see some silvery shapes kind of shining.”

“Oh!” said Benny. “Silvery shapes eh? Can’t say I’ve seen anything like that myself. What were they like?”

Titch and Smudgie looked at each other. “Er . . . well, it’s difficult to say,” Titch said hesitantly not knowing quite how to describe them.

“Do you think they were ghosts?” burst our Gogs.

Benny chuckled. “I very much doubt it young sir. Ghosts don’t usually carry lights with them. Could have been the moon shining on a few breakers I suppose.”

Titch looked doubtful. “Mmmm . . . I suppose it could have been. Anyway, we won’t waste any more of your time Benny. Thanks for telling us about the lights and so on. Cheerio!”

They all wished Benny goodbye and made their way back in the direction of the coast road. “What do you make of all that, Titch?” asked Smudgie.

Titch was deep in thought. “I don’t know exactly. But we definitely saw those shapes. They certainly weren’t breakers. We might find out more tonight. We’ll all grab some early tea and go straight down to the cellar. Now, we might need some equipment. Let’s go back to our headquarters and plan our search properly.

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 13

May 5, 2012

CHAPTER 13

Ghosts

 

“But four men can’t just disappear into thin air Titch,” protested Bunny.

After recording the report of Titch and Gogs on their previous night’s vigil, the five members of the Pontyrabad Secret Society were discussing the matter in great earnest.

“That’s exactly what I keep thinking,” replied Titch. “But the fact still remains that Gogs and I saw five men go into the old passage. Only one came out, and yet, when I went down into the cellar to investigate, there was no sign of them.”

“Coo . . .’samazing,” muttered Miff frowning at the earthen floor beneath his feet.

“It was very dark,” pursued Smudgie. “Perhaps only one of the men went into the cellar.”

“No,” replied Titch. “The five men definitely went into the passage that leads to the cellar.”

“That’s right.” added Gogs. “I saw the lights from their cigarettes. They went in all right.”

“And you’re sure you examined all the cellar with your torch Titch?” asked Bunny searching for some sort of answer to the mystery.

“Positive!” declared Titch. “There wasn’t room in there to hide a decent sized cat let alone four men. The walls are all flat. There are no corners to hide behind.”

Silence reigned in the underground room for about half a minute while the five boys thought harder than they’d ever done before. Gogs crossed and uncrossed his lanky legs, and Bunny read the evidence in his book again and again. It was Miff who finally broke the silence.

“I don’t suppose they were ghosts were they?”

“Nitwit!” ridiculed Gogs in great disgust. “Ghosts don’t arrive in cars and smoke cigarettes.”

“There’s only one thing to do,” stated Titch with an air of finality. “We must all go to the ruins tonight and investigate.”

“That’s the only way, Chief!” agreed Gogs.

“Yes, and as tomorrow is Saturday there’s no school so our mothers and fathers won’t mind us being out an hour or so extra,” added Bunny.

Titch stood up on his toes to look out through the gap at the bottom of the shed. “It’s getting dark,” he said. “We’ll go now.”

The boys made their way down the coast road, planning as they went. A cool wind blew in from a choppy sea making the boys tuck up their collars. “I hope we won’t have to wait long tonight, Titch,” said Gogs. “It’s jolly cold now.”

“Don’t be a cissy!” jeered Miff.

Titch tactfully put in a word before the two could attack each other. “It’’l be warmer when we get away from the sea a bit more and onto the common.”

“Where are we going to hide Titch?” asked Bunny.

“I think the best place will be somewhere in the cloisters. If those men come again they’re certain to go down into the cellar, and we’ll get a good close view from the cloisters.”

“Good idea,” added Smudgie. “There’s plenty of high lumps of stone and weeds to hide behind there.”

They made their way from the coast road to the east end of the church ruins. They stopped behind a buttress and gazed through the quickly gathering gloom towards the Straight Mile. “There’s no sign of anything so far,” stated Bunny peering out from behind their stout hiding place.

The others suddenly noticed that Titch was gazing up above his head studying the ruined buttress and wall intently. Gogs’ curiosity, as usual, got the better of him. “What are you looking at Titch?” he asked. The other four now gazed up at the wall.

“I’ve got an idea,” said Titch. “At this point the wall is pretty high – over seven metres I should think. Now if two of us could get up there and lie flat on top of the wall, we’d have a marvellous view of most of the ruins on this side of the cellar. The other three could watch from the other side of the cloisters.”

“Fantastic idea!” exclaimed Miff.

Bunny was cautious. “But how could we get up there? The wall’s fairly smooth. There aren’t many footholds.”

“We don’t need to climb the wall,” replied Titch simply. “If we walk down to that ruined archway we can easily get up there. All we’ve got to do then is to walk along the top up to this end. The top of the buttress is a bit higher than the wall. That would help to hide us. In any case it’ll soon be dark and we won’t be seen then.”

“That’s a really good idea Titch,” enthused Gogs. The others showed their whole-hearted agreement.

“Good, then you come with me Smudgie. We’ll get up on the wall and the rest of you can hide in those high weeds the other side of the cloisters.”

The others were soon lost in the gloom as Titch and Smudgie started their climb. The going was fairly easy as the top of the wall was wide. But as they made their way up higher and higher they felt less sure of themselves until, as last, they went along on hands and knees for safety’s sake.

Smudgie glanced over the side. “It’s a long drop from here Titch. It seems a lot higher from up here than it did from down there.”

“I know. It always does. Come on along a bit further so that we’re both behind the top of the buttress.”

Smudgie shivered. “You can feel that breeze coming in from the sea now we’re up here. It’ll be jolly cold.”

“Mmm You’re right,” agreed Titch. “I hope we don’t have to stay up here for long or we’ll freeze.”

“Wish I’d brought my thick coat,” said Smudgie, lying down flat on the cold stones.

Titch propped himself up on his elbow and gazed in the direction of the Straight Mile. A car was coming down the road and seemed to be slowing.

“This looks like their car Smudgie. Keep as low as you can.” The car slowed almost to a halt at the edge of the common. Then there was the violent movement of headlamp beams as the car mounted the grass. It finally came to a halt a few metres from the road. The headlamps were switched off, then the engine, and everything was quiet.

“It’s them!” whispered Titch urgently. There was the sound of a car door slamming.

“That’s funny,” murmured Smudgie. “I can only see one man.”

“Yes!” agreed Titch looking at the solitary figure silhouetted against the light of the road lamps. The figure came in their direction, around a pile of stones and then made straight for the cellar. They heard his echoing footsteps as he walked along the passage. Only when this sound had died away did Titch dare to speak.

“That was their chief, Smudgie. I wonder why he hasn’t brought the others.”

“P’raps they’ll come later.”

“Mmm . . . Yes, they might. We’ll have to wait and see anyway.”


Smudgie turned round to talk to his companion when his hair almost stood on end.

    At that moment the clouds parted and a full moon shone down on the boys. “Keep still,” said Titch. “If anyone’s watching they might see us in this moonlight.” Both boys shivered as they waited motionless on top of the high wall. After some five or ten minutes had passed, Smudgie turned round to talk to his companion when his hair almost stood on end.

“Titch! Titch! L . . .L . . . Look! Out on the sea!”

Titch looked around as well as he could in such an awkward position and almost fell off the wall in surprise at what he saw. Out on the sea, a few hundred metres from the shore, they could distinctly see some ghostly silvery shapes. The boys watched petrified for several minutes. Then they saw the flash of lights and, one by one, the shapes seemed to disappear. There was a final flash of light and then nothing more. For several minutes the boys stared hard at the moonlit water but could see nothing. Some more thick clouds covered the moon again and only inky blackness greeted their gaze.

“I wonder what that was?” mused Titch at length.

“It looked like ghosts to me,” stated Smudgie.     “Remember old ‘Fungus’ telling us about those monks and all that?”

“Yes . . . I remember his story . . . but . . . I wonder.”

“He said on moonlit nights Titch, and the moon was out a few minutes ago.”

“I’m jusy wondering what those shapes could have been. One minute they were there and then they gradually disappeared,” said Titch frowning hard at the stone wall he was lying on. Several more times the boys looked out to sea but saw nothing.

A sudden thud from the direction of the old cellar brought their attention back to their immediate surroundings. “W . . .W . . . What was that?” exclaimed Smudgie.

“Don’t know, but lie flat and keep still, it might be that man coming out again.”

Once more the clouds thinned as they passed across the moon and in the faint light which filtered through, the boys saw something which gave them their second shock that night. Not one, but five men came out from the passage which led from the old cellar. They quickly made their way between the piles of masonry and walked back to the waiting car. The slamming of four doors came across the still air to the waiting boys. The engine of the car coughed into life and it rolled over the grass onto the road and away.

A heartless hoaxer in Pontypool

May 3, 2012

We sometimes hear in today’s press and on TV about heartless hoaxers who spread rumours around. This is by no means something new as the following story shows.

 

On Friday 29th July 1927 many of the people of Pontypool and district were subjected to a cruel hoax by some senseless idiot. The culprit spread a rumour that there had been a terrible explosion in the largest colliery in the district , some three miles outside Pontypool, and that between 30 and 50 miners had been killed.

 

Colliery explosions were a real worry for every family who had relatives working underground so the story was believed and women folk hurried to the colliery offices to get news about their loved ones. Doubtless they were greatly relieved that in actual fact there had not been an explosion. The women who were first to arrive at the colliery and heard about the hoax returned to Pontypool and were able to inform others who were setting out on the three-mile trek that they needed to go no further.

 

Naturally there was a great and angry outcry about this thoughtless act and everyone wanted the man or woman who perpetrated the hoax to be brought to justice. The police made exhaustive enquiries but the hoaxer was never identified.