Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 17

CHAPTER 17

The Secret of the Pillars

    “Where?” asked Miff eagerly.

“Right underneath the old shell house.” Titch once more put his head and shoulders through the opening and hauled himself up. Miff followed in quick succession.

Strong moonlight shone through the windows of the shell house but the boys’ torches were soon in operation. “We’ve often been in here,” said Titch, “but never through that entrance.”

“This is how old Louis got into the passage,” stated Miff.

“But he’d have to have a key to this place to do that,” added Titch. “I wonder how he managed that.”

Miff shone his torch on the hole near their feet. “Look Titch! What’s that?” He pointed at the floor. They both crouched down and noticed a thin trail of white powder. Miff touched it with his finger.

“It’s in a line. Where does it go?” asked Titch. They stood up and flashed their torches on the powder. It was in a straight line leading to one of the six pillars on which the tree house was built.

 “This line of powder stops at the bottom of this pillar.” said Titch

    “D’you remember Titch, when we came here for a school visit, the guide told us that these pillars were old trees that had been covered with shells, just like the ceiling?”

“Yes,” Titch replied as he followed the white line. “This line of powder stops at the bottom of this pillar.” He knelt down. “This bottom shell is broken. There’s just a dark patch by the side of it.” He rubbed it with his finger and immediately a narrow section of the pillar swung open revealing a number of narrow shelves. It looked like some sort of secret cupboard.

“There’s white powder on some of these shelves too,” observed Miff. “Wonder what it is.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s drugs of some sort,” suggested Titch. “Let’s have a look at the other pillars.” By the light of their torches they discovered that every one of the pillars could be opened in the same way. But every one was completely empty.

“We’d better close these doors and get back down the tunnel,” advised Miff.

Titch looked puzzled. “If those men are drug smugglers, why would they bring their drugs half way up the hill and store them in this shell house? I don’t get it.”

“Strange thing to do,” added Miff.

As he started to close the last door he hesitated. “Just a minute Titch,” he said, “there’s something different in this one. There’s a bit of metal sticking up out of the bottom.”

Titch, full of curiosity went over to have a look. In the beam of Miff’s torch he could clearly see a piece of dark metal rather like a short cricket stump. He knelt down and put his hand around it. “It feels like iron or steel or something,” he said. He tried pulling to see if it would come out, but all it did was to move towards him. Then they heard a low rumble near the wall of the shell house the other side of the pillar. They both flashed their torches and looked around the pillar to see what had caused the noise.

“Look!” cried Titch. “Underneath that old chair. There’s another hole like to one we came through.”

They dashed over to take a closer look and shone their torches down the hole. The beams revealed a flight of steel steps leading down into the darkness. These too had railings down both sides.

“Perhaps it’s another way into the tunnel,” suggested Miff. “Let’s have a look.”

Titch sat on the edge of the hole and placed one foot on the top step. “That doesn’t make much sense having two entrances to the same passage.” Slowly he made his way down the steps and shone his torch all around. Miff followed close behind him. They appeared to be in a small dark cellar with a dark entrance on the far side.

“There doesn’t seem to be any connection with the other tunnel,” observed Miff. “That small hole over there seems to be the only way out. They moved towards it. Because it was so narrow they had to walk in single file. The passage was low with a flat base and carried on for well over fifty metres before it started to rise.

“We must still be under the hill,” said Titch and now we’re going higher up. I still can’t see any sense in having these tunnels but let’s see where it goes.” They doggedly carried on, using just one torch to preserve their batteries. The tunnel continued to be narrow and they had to continue for hundreds of metres with their climb until, quite suddenly, they emerged into another small cellar-like room with a flight of iron steps just like the one they’d come down and, again, there were iron railings each side. They clambered up the steps and, once again encountered a low ceiling. But this time they knew what to do. Miff grabbed to top rail and pulled and pushed it. They heard the rumble as before and were not at all surprised to see another round hole appear above them. Miff stuck his head and shoulders through the hole and shone his torch around.

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