Titch’s Secret Society Chapter20

CHAPTER 20

Trapped in the cave

    The boss looked at his watch. “Come on! Francois may be waiting with the yacht by now. We’ve got to move.”

“Everything’s ready boss,” said Mason eagerly trying to pacify him. “I’ve got a few flasks of tea in case we have to wait for the yacht. It’ll be cold tonight.”

“Good!” snapped the boss. “Let’s test those parcels before we go. I want to be sure.”

Titch held his breath as the men grabbed the ropes laden with parcels and tied them to the stern of each boat. Then they threw the parcels into the water where they immediately sank.

“They’re OK boss,” said Lefty beginning to haul one of the strings of parcels back into the boat. Mason, in the other boat, did the same.

“Don’t forget, throw them out just after we leave the mouth of the cave,” snapped the boss. “Now, before we go I’m going to go up and close the archway door. We’ve got to make sure of these kids.” He walked up the slope behind the pile of packing cases.

There was a rumble and a thud. “That should keep them here,” he said grimly as he walked back towards the boats. He jumped into the second one, the engines roared and they began to move in the direction of the tunnel. Slowly they disappeared into the darkness and all the boys could hear was the low murmuring echo of the engines.

The other four boys looked at Titch. Whenever an idea was needed he was usually the one to supply it, and they certainly needed a good one at the moment.

“What do we do now Titch?” asked Bunny.

“Well, for a start we’ll get out of these ropes. That shouldn’t be very difficult. Put your hand in my pocket Gogs and get out my penknife.” Gogs struggled around until his back touched Titch. Then he forced his hand into Titch’s pocket until he felt the knife. He quickly drew it out.

“Good!” said Titch. “Now cut my hands free and be careful not to cut my fingers.” Gogs, with many grunts, as last cut through one of the ropes which tied Titch’s hands. With a few jerks Titch freed them. A couple of slashes and his feet were free. Then he went around the others cutting their ropes as fast as he could go. In a few minutes they were all free.

“That’s better!” exclaimed Smudgie. “I was getting quite stiff sitting there.”

Bunny took out his mobile phone. “Let’s try to contact the police.”

“I doubt whether we’ll get any signal down here,” said Titch with a sigh. “You can try, but there are probably 50 metres of rock above us.”

“No chance!” sighed Gogs sinking down onto a large wooden crate.

“I’ll try with my mobile,” volunteered Miff, but he couldn’t get any signal either. “There’s no way of letting anybody know where we are.”

“Let’s see if we can open that door,” said Titch walking up in the direction of the archway. “That looks like our only chance.” The door seemed to be made of smooth solid rock.

“Miff and I noticed that the doors to the other passages had a red painted stone that opened the door when it was pushed. Can’t see any red stone here.” All five tried banging and pushing but to no avail. The door remained shut.

“We seem to be out of luck!” exclaimed Titch with a sigh of resignation. “But unless we can get this door open and run back up the tunnel we’ll all be drowned. That man said the sea water would get to the roof in four hours.”

“It’s about a metre below the ledge now,” said Bunny, “and it’s rising fast.”

“How about using the tunnel those men used. There’s a lot of wood around. We could hang on to that,” suggested Smudgie.

“I think it’s pretty long,” said Titch. “You can still faintly hear those boats. We’d be too slow. We might even have to swim for it and in another hour or so the tunnel will be full of water. It’ll take much longer to fill this place.  I don’t fancy the tunnel much. Even if we get through it we’d end up floating on the sea. Nobody will think of looking for us there. If we stay here we might get out through that door if we can only find a way to open it.”

Gogs grabbed Titch’s arm nervously. “What about when the water comes up over the ledge and keeps rising?”

“These planks and bits of wood will float on it,” replied Bunny. “We’ll have to cling on to those. Luckily we’re all pretty good swimmers.”

“W . . .W . . .What about when the water reaches the roof?” asked Gogs now looking really scared.

They all looked grimly at their Chief. Titch, for once, was lost for an idea. “We’ve got to get out before then. If only somebody knew we were here. But nobody does, not a soul!”

*     *     *     *     *

   Meanwhile, out in the coastguard station sat old Benny looking out to sea. He was leisurely smoking his pipe and dusting the lens of his ancient telescope. Suddenly a flash of light near the foot of the abbey cliff attracted his attention. He sighed. “Hm! There they are again.” In leisurely fashion he put his telescope to his eye but could see nothing else.

Several more flashes further out to sea attracted his eye, but again he could see nothing. He gazed at the flashes and drummed his fingers impatiently on the table before him. Then he saw something which made him lean quickly forward and stare hard. He put his telescope to his eye. Yes, he could distinctly see some silvery objects bobbing up and down on the water.

Instantly he remembered what Titch and his friends had told him about seeing silvery shapes on the sea. Quickly he lifted the telephone receiver on the table before him and made an urgent phone call

Mr Leyshon, the new history teacher at Pontyrabad school, commonly known as ‘Fungus’ by the children, hurried into the hall as his phone bell rang. He seemed almost to be expecting it. As he replied to the caller his voice rang with urgency.

“You what? So that’s it! Yes, good. Right! I’ll phone the station and organise the launch. We’ll pick you up at the jetty. Yes, they were there earlier tonight. See you in a few minutes.”

Shortly after, a police car picked up Mr Leyshon on the Straight Mile. It stopped only a few seconds before tearing on around onto the coast road. When they arrived above the jetty they got out and ran down the steps and into a powerful launch in which were old Benny with another coastguard and two customs men. The engine roared into life as the launch swung out to sea.

One of the customs men spoke to Mr Leyshon. “We’ll cut out across the back of the sandbank sir. They’ll have to go right around it so we’ll stand a chance of heading them off.”

“Good show!” shouted Mr Leyshon above the roar of the engine. Then, turning to the other man he said, `”Get the searchlight ready.” The launch sped rapidly out to sea.

The launch sped rapidly out to sea

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