Archive for the ‘Titch’s Secret Society’ Category

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.

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Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 12

April 28, 2012

 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.

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 11

April 21, 2012

CHAPTER 11

FUNGUS EXPLAINS

“Yes,” said Bunny. “I’ve been thinking. We don’t really know a lot about the old abbey do we? It might help us if we knew a bit more.”

“Old Benny told us there was a ghost,” said Gogs referring to one of the local coastguard team who was an old friend of the boys.

“Yes, I know that,” returned Bunny. “But all that might be a lot of nonsense. As we have to go back to school the day after tomorrow, why don’t we ask old ‘Fungus’ about it in our history lesson? He seems to know a lot about Pontyrabad and he’s always willing to answer questions.” The others agreed that this was a good idea so Titch was appointed to ask ‘Fungus’ about the abbey during their history lesson.

Seeing his opportunity, Gogs quickly asked: “What’s in your book you want to tell us about Titch?”

“Well, there are a few ideas in this book about being prepared, especially in case of emergencies. For instance it says that when engaged in any activity it’s a good idea to have some useful equipment handy.”

“Equipment? What sort?” pursued Smudgie.

“There’s quite a long list here,” Titch continued.   “But it suggests that, instead of carrying around a parcel of items, each member of the society keeps a few in his pocket. It says it’s better to keep a mobile phone in a separate pocket. It says a screwdriver often comes in useful and things like a penknife, a few paper clips, elastic bands, a pen or pencil and a couple of sheets of paper, a length of electric cable . . .”

“I’ve got a Swiss Army knife,” blurted out Bunny. “That’s got all sorts of things on it. I could keep that in my pocket.”

This idea led to all sorts of offers by all five to carry in their pockets an assortment of paper clips, wire ties, elastic bands, drawing pins, nails and many other items, some of which didn’t seem particularly useful.

“O.K! O.K!” said Titch, raising his hands eventually to quell the barrage of offers. We can all have a look around at home and write down a list of what we can carry in our pockets. Then at the next meeting we can decide who is going to carry what.” They all agreed that this was an excellent idea and would avoid everyone carrying around the same things.

After this decision, Titch declared the meeting closed.

*     *     *     *     *

   For the first time since they’d been attending secondary school, Gogs and Miff were glad when the time came round for history. ‘Fungus’ entered the room carrying a large pile of exercise books under his arm and stroking his wide handlebar moustache with his free hand. He put the pile of exercise books down on his desk with a loud thump. This was a trick he often used to gain the instant attention of the class.

He spent the first quarter of an hour giving out the exercise books and criticising some of the essays on William the Conqueror. After this the exercise books were put away and ‘Fungus’ leaned forward on his desk, stroked his moustache in opposite directions with his forefinger and thumb, which always indicated that he was thinking, and then launched into his lesson.

“Now then, this morning we’re going to move on from the Battle of Hastings to see what was happening in England when everyone started to settle down more or less in peace. The Normans who came over here were fine builders and it was about this time that many beautiful buildings, churches and the like were put up.”


Titch saw his opportunity and, like a flash, his hand shot up.

    At this point Titch saw his opportunity and, like a flash, his hand shot up. “Yes, Roger. What is it?” asked ‘Fungus’ slightly annoyed at being interrupted just as he started his story.

“Did they build abbeys too sir?” asked Titch innocently.

“Er . . . yes, as a matter of fact they did,” replied ‘Fungus’ seeming rather puzzled at the question. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, sir, I wondered whether it was the Normans who build Pontyrabad Abbey on the common.”

‘Fungus’ gave Titch a strange sort of look and then said, “Pontyrabad Abbey . . . mmm . . . well, I believe work was started on the Abbey somewhere about 1100 or so. As a matter of fact it’s quite an interesting ruin. There’s not much left of the church itself I know, but the bottom of the refectory walls are still in good condition. That was where the monks used to eat of course, and the warming room is still almost intact. That’s the place where the monks used to warm themselves on cold winter days. The rooms at the bottom of the steps near the cloisters are the cellars where the food was stored.”

Here, ‘Fungus’ paused for a moment as though in thought, and then asked, “Do any of you ever go near the abbey?”

Gogs, who was sitting next to Titch, put up his hand. “Yes sir, we were there on Friday evening.” ‘Fungus’ showed signs of interest.

“Oh yes, I remember seeing you having your picnic there. Er . . . I take it you had a look round the abbey later on. Did you see anything of . . . er . . . interest?”

Gogs, in his enthusiasm started to blurt out the whole story. “Yes sir, Roger knocked Bernard’s cricket ball for six right into the abbey ruins . . . oh!” A sharp kick on the shins from Titch  stopped him short. Realising that he had almost given the game away he finished lamely. “and  . . . and we never found it sir.”

‘Fungus’ smiled. “Well, I shouldn’t think that would have been very interesting my boy. Rather annoying I should say. What?”

Titch, wishing to divert attention away from Gogs put up his hand once more.

“Is it true that the abbey’s haunted sir?”

‘Fungus’ smiled broadly. “That’s rather a tricky question Roger, I must say. Er . . . what ghost stories have you heard about it?”

“Well sir, my sister told me that some people say that on moonlight nights they’ve seen ghostly shapes walking around the abbey grounds. And others say they’ve seen ghostly shapes sailing on the sea just a short way from the abbey cliff.”

“Ye.. .es,” said ‘Fungus’ slowly stroking his moustache and gazing intently at the whole class. “You see, it’s all based on an old story about the place. Can’t say whether or not it’s true, of course. Anyway the story is this: the abbot in charge of the abbey was an ambitious sort of chap in some ways – full of big ideas and so on – and apparently he borrowed rather a lot of money from a certain important and powerful man. We don’t know who he was, but the abbot wanted to carry out some new project or other that he was rather keen on.

Later on the lender wanted the money back in a hurry. Unfortunately the abbot couldn’t repay it at that time. In the year 1177 the man who loaned the money was himself having to borrow from friends. This, he thought, made him look rather foolish, so he threatened the abbot that if the money was not returned by the full moon in a certain month he would take drastic action.

“Well, as the poor old abbot had no money at the time he still was unable to repay the loan even after such a threat. And so the story goes that, one moonlight night, a party of armed men came silently sailing up the coast in a small boat. They landed on the sands, climbed the cliffs and made their way into the abbey. There they grabbed a monk and made the poor fellow take them to the abbot’s room. They burst in and confronted the startled man demanding repayment of the money on the spot, otherwise they said they would kill him. The abbot pleaded with them saying that, if given a little time, he would pay back all he had borrowed. But the men refused to give him any more time. They murdered both the abbot and the monk, and, quickly grabbing anything which they thought might be of value, they hurriedly left.

“As they were climbing the abbey wall near the coast another monk, who had been walking in the cloisters, saw them and raised the alarm. The dead bodies of the abbot and their fellow monk were discovered and the enraged monks rushed in pursuit of the murderers. But by that time they were safely in their boat, or so they thought, and once more sailing along the coast.

“The monks ran up to the top of the cliff where the coastguard station now is, and when the boat sailed along underneath they hurled down large rocks and boulders. The boat below was smashed to pieces, and all the occupants were drowned.

“And that is why, so we are told, ghostly figures of the abbot and the monk are seen on moonlit nights walking in the abbey grounds, and also why, sometimes, also on moonlit nights, ghostly shapes can be seen sailing on the water.

“And it was in memory of their abbot that the monks named the bridge at the end of the common ‘Pontyrabad’ which in English means ‘Abbot’s Bridge’. In those days of course it was just a wooden bridge. And when the town was established here it took on the name of Pontyrabad.”

The whole class had listened enthralled and in absolute silence as ‘Fungus’ had related his story. The silence was broken by Smudgie’s question: “Please sir, have you ever seen the ghosts?”

‘Fungus’ laughed aloud at this. “No Philip, I must confess I never have, but whenever I pass the ruins on a moonlit night I always keep a careful watch out for them.”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 10

April 14, 2012

   CHAPTER 10

 KEEPING WATCH

On the day Mr Francis’s shed was to be erected, Bunny was told not to bring his friends around as they might get in the way of the workers. They had no objection to this arrangement as it meant that the roof of their new headquarters was being put in place. They therefore decided to go up to the old tower where there was always room to kick a ball around.

One of their favourite games was scoring goals through the doorway of the tower while one of them acted as goalie standing just outside the door. Much to their disappointment, as they arrived at the door they saw Louis sitting inside, painting at his easel.

“Sorry Louis!” they chorused as they were about to enter. “Didn’t know you were painting in here.”

“Is all right,” muttered the artist. “I finish soon, then I go home.”

“We can’t kick for goals with him in there,” muttered Miff as they walked further along the ridge.

“Let’s go down to the shell house,” suggested Smudgie. “We can put our coats down as the goal and kick against one of the walls.”

The others agreed that this was a good idea so they walked down the path along the side of the hill. As the shell house was only open to the public at weekends there was no one there to interrupt their play. They each took it in turn to be goalie and kept a score of who kept out the most goals. After well over an hour, feeling slightly tired, they sat down on the grass to chat. Titch looked idly up towards the tower.

“No sign of Louis finishing his painting yet,” he said wearily.

“I finish soon, he told us,” said Gogs trying to imitate the French accent of the artist.

“Perhaps ‘soon’ to old Louis means a couple of hours,” laughed Miff.

“Tell you what,” suggested Titch, “let’s go back up to the ridge and have some races across the top.”

“Good idea!” they all agreed.

When they were on their feet Titch said: “O.K. now get in line. Last one to touch the old tower is in goal when Louis is gone. Right! Go!”

They all dashed up the hill arriving at the tower in quick succession but with Gogs slightly ahead. After slapping his hand against the tower he peered inside and then turned to look around.

“Where’s Louis gone?”

The others peered through the doorway. “Strange!” said Titch. “He said he was going home. We didn’t see him walking down the hill and he certainly didn’t come down the path past the shell house.”

“Doesn’t matter,” added Bunny. “We can use the door of the tower as goal now.”

After another session each as goalkeeper, they decided they’d had enough and sauntered down the hill back home. As they neared the bottom, Miff, who was in the lead, stopped in his tracks.

“Look! There’s old Louis coming from the abbey,” he cried.

The others stopped in surprise. “P’raps he’s been doing a painting of the old abbey ruins,” suggested Gogs.

“He really does flit about,” added Miff.

“Anyway,” said Titch, changing the subject. “How about a game of cricket on the common after dinner?”

“Great!” enthused Gogs.

“Two o’clock on the common?” suggested Titch.

“Right!” they all agreed.

*     *     *     *     *

Bunny was last to arrive for their cricket practice but was smiling broadly as he approached the others. “Hey boys! Good news! The men erecting Dad’s shed say they will have it finished by 4-o-clock, so if we cut our practice short we can go to my place before we go home to tea and see our new secret room.”

The others shouted their approval of this news and Gogs clapped his hands excitedly. “Great!” he yelled.

It was not uncommon for the boys to arrive home late for tea after their cricket matches, but today was an exception. Just after half-past three, Bunny suggested that they finish and go along to his house to see whether the new shed was in place. When they arrived they walked around the house into the garden at the rear. They were delighted to see the bright new shed entirely covering the large hole they had dug. All that was visible of it was just over a metre of the passage showing at the side of the shed.

“Come on in boys,” said Bunny leading them into the new building. “I’ve got something to show you.” He led the way to a corner at the back of the shed and held up a rectangle of wood made of two planks battened together underneath.

“What’s that for?” asked the puzzled Gogs

“Trap door to fit over our passage entrance,” replied Bunny triumphantly. “One of the men who put the shed up made it for me dinner time.”

“Good old Bunny!” exclaimed Titch. “Will it fit?”

“Yep! Come outside and I’ll show you.” He led the way to the side of the shed and placed the square of wood over the entrance to the passage. The workman had recessed the edges of the hole a few centimetres so that the wood was a perfect fit. The top was exactly level with the ground.

“Wow! That’s smashing!” gasped Miff as Bunny walked to and fro over the wood to demonstrate its strength.

“Great work!” agreed Smudgie.

“Come on boys. Let’s go down inside our new headquarters,” suggested Titch. The others needed no second bidding and a minute or two later all five members of the Pontyrabad Secret Society were standing in the semi-darkness of their underground room, blinking as their eyes grew accustomed to the dim light.

“The only trouble with it,” stated Bunny, “is that it’s a bit dark. The only light is coming from the gap at the side of the shed.” Although their eyes were by now becoming a little more accustomed to the gloom, the others were forced to agree.

“Yes, and we’ll need a few things to sit on,” added Smudgie.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” said Bunny, “I’ve collected a few boxes and things and a camp stool from the house and my Dad says we can keep them down here. If a few of us go and get them we can hand them down now.”

While collecting their crude furniture, Bunny asked his father whether there was any way they could put some light in the room. His father took him into the garage and they emerged with an old paraffin lamp. It was dirty but in good condition and there was still some paraffin in it. They took some time lighting it but eventually got it going and took it  down to their headquarters. They were all delighted with this despite the rather unpleasant smell it gave off.

The boys sitting in the lamp light

    “I expect a good many secret societies have smelly lamps like this if they meet in caves and things,” stated Miff.

“Come on then boys. Let’s all sit down and start our meeting,” said Titch in a voice of authority. seating himself on the camp stool. Miff and Gogs sat on a plank resting between two bricks and Bunny and Smudgie were mounted  on an old apple box. In the centre of the room they arranged a long orange box, not strong enough to sit on but which served admirably as a table. Bunny produced his secretary’s notebook and a pencil which he placed on the improvised table.

“I’m ready, Chief,” he said. “Let’s start.”

“Me too Chief,” added Gogs quickly feeling rather disappointed that he hadn’t been the first member to address Titch by his proper title.

Titch glanced around at the other four. “First of all,” he began, “we must remember that the main aim of our society is to investigate those men. I think we should draw up a plan of campaign now.”

“What’s that?” enquired the enthusiastic Gogs with some relish.

“What I mean is, we must think of a way of getting more evidence about what those men are doing,” resumed Titch. “I don’t know what you others think about it, but, as far as I can see, there’s only one way to do it.”

“How?” asked Gogs eagerly jumping up excitedly, only to duck very quickly when he realised how near his head was to the floor of the shed above.

“We must keep watch on the old abbey every night,” stated Titch.

“Wow! Every night?” exploded Bunny.

“That’s a tall order Chief,” cried Smudgie. That means we won’t be able to play any more cricket, or go bathing or . . .”

“Course we will,” interrupted Titch. I’m talking about evening time. Remember, those men didn’t come until it was pretty nearly dark. Stands to reason they won’t do anything in the light when everyone can see ‘em. It doesn’t get dark until just after eight o’clock, so we’ll only have to watch for an hour or two, and if we work in twos we’ll still have plenty of spare time. And in the day time, when we’re not in school, we can carry on as usual.”

“Yes, I hadn’t thought of it like that,” said Bunny.

“And remember, we did say that one of the things our secret society would do was play cricket,” blurted out Gogs with some urgency. The others muttered their agreement on this.

“Right!” said Titch in a very business-like manner. “We’ll vote on it. All those in favour of my plan put their hands up.” They all raised their hands in approval.

“Good.” said Titch.

“Do I write that down in my book, Chief?” asked Bunny who was anxious to perform his secretarial duties.

“Yes. Put that voting was unanimous.”

“I thought that’s what they put at the end of a poem when they didn’t know who wrote it,” put in Miff with a puzzled frown.

“That’s ‘anonymous’ nitwit!” laughed Titch. The other three also laughed to try to convey the idea that they also knew the meaning of the word.

“How do you spell it?” asked Bunny.

Titch obliged and then resumed: “We’ll start tomorrow night. We don’t want to waste any more time.”

“Shall I write a list of all those on watch?” asked Bunny.

“Yes, good idea,” said Miff.

“We’ll have a rota,” said Titch. “We’ll all make a copy of it like we did of the rules, so that we’ll all know when we’re on watch. If any of the watchers see anything of the men they must tell me and I’ll call a meeting here so that we can write it all down. Now Bunny can write down our rota.”

“Who’s on tomorrow night?” asked Bunny with his pencil poised at the ready.

“Any volunteers?” asked Titch. Instantly four hands shot up.

“Right then, Smudgie and Miff, you go on tomorrow and Gogs and me’ll go on the day after and Bunny and Smudgie can go on the day after that.”

They waited until the Secretary had written down all the names and dates and then Titch asked: “Anything else we’ve got to do now about our investigation, because I’ve got something interesting to tell you about my book on organising a secret society?”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 9

April 7, 2012

CHAPTER 9

 The Secret Room

  “Where?” asked Gogs eagerly.

“If Bunny’s father is willing, we can put it underneath his new shed.”

The others looked momentarily mystified. Smudgie broke the silence: “Underneath?”

“But we can’t Titch,” said Bunny. “There’ll only be a space of one or two inches underneath. We couldn’t possibly get under there.”

“No, not with the earth there,” answered Titch. “But we could dig a room underneath . . . that is if your Dad will let us.”

The frowns on the faces of the other four changed to smiles of delight as they finally understood Titch’s plan.

“Wick . . .ed!” shouted Miff.

“Brilliant idea!” yelled Gogs as he jumped up and waved his fist in circles above his head now that his curiosity had finally been satisfied.

“Sit down Gogs!” ordered Titch as he turned to a page in his volume marked with a slip of paper. “Look, it tells you exactly how to do it in this book.”

The others gathered round eagerly as Titch pointed to a series of sketches and diagrams, and read out the instructions.

“Excellent idea Titch,” said Bunny. “It says the underground room must be dug before the shed is put up. Mmmmmm, I wonder whether my Dad would let us do it. We’ll have to get moving pretty fast because the shed is being put up on Monday.”

“Is your father in now?” asked Titch.

“Yes, he hadn’t finished his coffee when I came out,” Bunny replied.

“Go and ask him now,” urged Gogs.

“OK,” agreed Bunny. “Oh, there’s just one thing though, suppose he asks why we want a room underneath the shed? What’ll I say Titch?”

“Er. . . tell him we have a kind of club or something. After all it is a kind of club.”

“Right, I’ll see what he says,” and with that Bunny disappeared along the path and up the drive to the house.

The other three examined the instructions in Titch’s book.

“How are we going to get down into the room with a shed on top of it Titch?” asked Smudgie.

“It tells you here,” Titch replied indicating one of the diagrams. “We must have a small passage which ends outside the side of the shed. On top of this you put a trap door sunk an inch or two into the ground. It’s kept up by being a bit bigger than the passage.”

“Oh, I see,” said Smudgie. “Yes . . . it says you can even walk on it.”

“Look out!” cried Miff who had looked through the greenhouse doorway. “Here’s Bunny and his Dad’s with him.”

The others stood up to see.

“Oh dear!” groaned Smudgie. “I bet Bunny’s put his foot in it.”

“I hope he hasn’t spoilt everything,” said Titch apprehensively.

“Well, at any rate he’s smiling,” said Gogs hopefully.

Mr Francis and Bunny came along the path to the greenhouse. The four boys went outside to meet them.

“Hello lads!” said Mr Francis smiling. What’s all this about? Bernard’s just been telling me you want to dig a hole under my new shed.”

“Well, you see Mr Francis,” began Titch, “we have a sort of club . . . just the five of us . . . and we thought it would be nice to have a room to meet in; one of our own I mean.”

Mr Francis looked at the vacant ground prepared for the shed. “Er . . . tell me,” he asked, “how do you propose to get into this hole when the shed is on top of it?”

Titch explained about the trap door. At this Mr Francis looked doubtful.

“Mmmm . . . doesn’t sound very safe to me. Can’t say I like that part,” he said.

The five boys looked glum, and Gogs’ face wore the expression of someone who’s just been sentenced to death.

“It’’l be all right, honest Dad,” pleaded Bunny.

“Oh, you might think so,” returned his father, but if it wasn’t safe and one of you should get hurt, I’d feel responsible.”

“But it says in the book that it’s quite safe,” put in Titch.

At this Mr Francis seemed more interested. “Book? What book’s that Roger?”

Titch, seeing a ray of hope, handed his book to Mr Francis and indicated the diagrams and instructions. At length he said, “Oh . . . so this is where the idea came from. Well, I must say it seems safe enough in here. Do you think you could manage to do it properly?”

The boys assured him in unison of their undoubted ability in this direction. Mr Francis, once again, looked at the plot of ground and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

“Yes, all right. You go ahead and dig the hole, but, remember, I want to inspect it before the shed goes on top of it. I want to be absolutely certain.”

“Oh, thanks Dad!” cried Bunny amidst a chorus of gratitude from his friends. Mr Francis turned to go.

“That’s all right lads. Come to think of it, it’s the sort of thing I’d have liked when I was a boy. By the way, you’ll have to work jolly hard. I want the shed up on Monday.”

“We’ll manage it,” answered Titch. Then, turning to his friends he said, “We’ve only got today to do it. Come on boys, let’s start now.

Never before in their lives had the five members of the Pontyrabad Secret society moved so fast and worked so hard in one day. Ordered by their Chief, Titch, the boys had run quickly home to their various houses to bring back any tools which they thought might be useful for digging their underground room.

Twenty minutes after dispersing, they were reassembled in front of the shed plot regarding the weapons with which they were going to make their assault. Altogether they had assembled between them two shovels, one spade, an old pick, a large stone hammer, three small ones, two iron bars and one garden fork. Titch had also brought a tape measure. He took this out of his pocket and spoke to Bunny.

“Do you know how big the shed is going to be Bunny?”

“Yes, my Dad said it will be five metres long and three metres wide.”

“Doesn’t look that big,” said Gogs doubtfully, looking at the pegged out rectangle of earth.

“Foundations never do look as big as the building,” said Titch. “Five by three,” he mused looking at the diagrams in his book. “Mmm . . . let’s see . . . yes. . . mmm. I think we can dig a hole about two and a half metres long and one and a half metres wide. That means the passage leading to the room will be about one and a half metres by a bit over half a metre.”

“Can we start now Titch?” asked Gogs who was becoming rather impatient with Titch’s preliminary calculations.

“Yes, as soon as we’ve marked it out,” Titch replied.

With the aid of some long bamboo canes, a piece of string and Titch’s tape measure, they marked out the rectangle.

“Right boys,” said Titch taking off his coat. “We can’t all dig at the same time, so we’ll have to relieve one another in turns. One of us will have to carry the earth away in buckets or the wheelbarrow and scatter it over other parts of the garden.”

“Oh, where’d we better put it I wonder?” queried Bunny. “I’ll ask my Dad before he goes out.”

“Bags me first to dig,” shouted Gogs.

“And me!” echoed Miff and Smudgie together.

“All right,” said Titch. “You start with the shovels and spade. When Bunny comes back he can help me to mark out the passage.”

Luckily the boys were able to dig down a good way before coming to clay. From then on it was harder going and the pick was in constant use. But despite this they had soon dug a hole half a metre deep, and Titch and Bunny were kept busy distributing earth over certain obscure parts of the garden as instructed by Bunny’s Dad. From time to time they all changed jobs.

They worked on and on gamely, all perspiring freely in the warm sun, until stopped by Titch.

The boys worked on gamely digging their hole

    “O.K. boys. Let’s knock off now,” he panted throwing up a final shovelful of earth.

The others, although game, welcomed this rest.

“How’s the time Bunny?” asked Titch.

“Quarter past five.”

“Teatime!” cried Miff. “Come to think of it, I’m feeling pretty hungry.”

“Me too!” agreed Smudgie wiping a grubby forehead with the back of an even grubbier hand.

“Yes, we’d better go home for tea now,” agreed Titch. “We’ll measure the depth and then go,” he said jumping into the hole with his tape measure. “That’s a fair bit over a metre he announced. That’s good. Well done boys.”

“That’s good going,” added Bunny.

They all hurried home for tea and rushed through that meal as never before. Their haste invited many enquiries from older brothers and sisters and even grownups, but all these were casually evaded.

Gogs’ mother looked rather worriedly after him as he dashed down the garden path after refusing a second cream puff. Her son had never been known to do such a thing before, and she wondered whether he was sickening for something.

Forty-five minutes after leaving Bunny’s garden the four were re-entering the gate and, on looking in the direction of the hole, they noticed that Bunny was already at work with the pick. The others joined in and worked hard for well over two hours until stopped again by Titch.

“Hang on a bit boys. I think we might have gone down deep enough in that one corner.” He took out his tape measure to check. “Not far short of two metres. That should be plenty deep enough. We’ll level off the bottom and smooth the walls and passage and we’ll be finished.”

By the time they had finished doing that, darkness was closing in fast. Titch put the finishing touches to the four steps he had cut in the clay at the entrance to the passage, then called on the others to walk up them to try them out.

This they did, then the five diggers stood around the edge of their newly dug headquarters, perspiring, tired, but very proud of their day’s work.

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 8

March 31, 2012

CHAPTER 8

A VERY SECRET MEETING PLACE

As the boys walked home to dinner, the impatient Gogs did all he could to get Titch to explain his idea, but he refused, saying that he would reveal it only at the meeting.

Gogs thought that his mother had never taken so long to prepare his dinner, and during the meal his appetite was only a meagre shadow of its usual enormous self. He could not get his meal over quickly enough. He abandoned his usual procedure of calling on Miff and Smudgie first, but made his way straight to Titch’s house. He was asked in by Mrs Bolton. To Gogs’ great disappointment Titch was still eating his dinner.

Gogs looked on with great admiration as his friend calmly finished his pudding. He wondered how anyone could look so cool and collected when containing so great a secret. Gogs was almost bursting with anxiety, but with Mrs Bolton and Titch’s older brother and sister in the room he knew he dare not breathe a word about the matter.

After what seemed like hours to Gogs, Titch put on his jacket and, going to a bookcase in the corner of the room, took out a large red volume which he succeeded in cramming inside his coat.

“S’long Mum!” cried Titch.

“S’long all!” echoed Gogs as he exploded through the door.

“Now, what’s your idea Titch?” he burst out. “How do we make a meeting place? What’s that big book for?”

“Calm down Gogs,” replied Titch. “I’m not going to say till we start our meeting.”

“Oh, c’mon Titch,” pleaded Gogs. “I won’t tell the others, honest.”

“Well, I’ll tell you something,” said Titch wearily, knowing that he would not get a moment’s peace until Gog’s curiosity had been at least partially satisfied. “My idea is how we can make a really first class meeting place. I remember reading all about it in this book a few months ago.”

“Oooh! Jolly good!,” cried Gogs starting to flap his hands again as they walked quickly in the direction of Miff’s house. “Will it cost much? How’ll we do it?”

“It won’t cost anything to make,” stated Titch. “At least I don’t think so, though there might be one small thing we’ll have to buy, but we’ve already got five pounds in the funds. That’ll cover it easily. As to how it’s done, I’ll tell you that at the meeting.”

This morsel of information only heaped fuel onto the already fiercely burning fire of Gog’s curiosity, but, despite further questioning, Titch was adamant. He would reveal nothing more until the meeting started.

After calling for their two friends they made their way for the second time that day to Bunny’s house. They found him getting in some bowling practice with a tennis ball by bowling at three cricket stumps placed against a wall at the side of his house.

Shouting to them to go on over to the greenhouse, he collected the stumps and ball and soon joined them.

“Do we all have to give the secret knock and password?” asked Miff.

“No, we won’t bother with those until we’ve all got a copy of the rules and we start to meet in our new place,” said Titch. “Besides, we can see everybody who comes to the greenhouse through the glass.”

The boys made their way inside, Bunny threw the stumps in one corner, and each boy made himself as comfortable as possible on the improvised seats available. Titch immediately drew out his large red book, lay down on an old potato sack and, propping the book up in front of him, got down to business.


Titch propped the book up in front of him
and got down to business 

    “Now that we’ve formed our Secret Society we must have a meeting place and I think I’ve got an idea where we can put one.”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 7

March 24, 2012

CHAPTER 7

Pontyrabad Secret Society

    Bunny’s hand shot up. “I have an idea! As we live in Pontyrabad, I suggest we call ourselves The Pontyrabad Secret Society.”

“Cool idea!” exclaimed Gogs jumping up again and flapping his hands about until pulled down unceremoniously by Smudgie.

“Makes sense,” added Titch. “In my book it says we have to vote. If you agree just put your hand up.” Five hands shot up. Titch wrote down the name on a new page of his notebook.

Having done this he turned to the centre of his book and tore out two pages which he ripped into a number of small rectangles. He handed a few to each boy.

“Now then,” he said “we must elect the officers.”

“What do we do?” asked Smudgie.

“First of all we must write down the name of the one we would like to be chairman or chief.”

“Let’s call him Chief,” said Bunny. “I think it sounds more like a secret society.” The others agreed.

“All right,” agreed Titch. “Just write one name, and remember, you can’t write your own.”

There was silence for a few moments broken only by the occasional scribble of a pencil. Then Titch announced: “Now fold them up and put them in this pot.” The pot was handed around the circle and then back to Titch who took out the papers, unfolded them and read out the result.

“There are four for me and one for Bunny. That means I’ve been elected Chief.”

The others clapped their hands at this as they always looked to Titch for a lead in all things. Gogs once more stood up and waved his fist in the air until pulled down by Smudgie.

“Now we must have a secretary,” said Titch. Another period of silence followed, the papers were collected and amidst more general applause, and flapping by Gogs, Bunny was pronounced Secretary.

Again they went through the same procedure for the post of treasurer and by two votes to three Smudgie was elected. Suddenly Gogs flopped onto his stone seat and looked miserably around the circle.

“What’s the good of having a Treasurer?” he said. “We haven’t got any money.”

The others looked doubtful and Titch frowned thoughtfully. It was Bunny who saved the situation.

“I know,” he said, “we can put the five pound note that man gave me into the Society’s funds.”

“Wicked! You’re a real brick Bunny,” exclaimed Miff appreciatively.

“That’s jolly good of you,” added Titch with a broad smile.

“Oh, good! What do we do next?” asked Gogs, his enthusiasm having been revived by Bunny’s generous offer.

“Now that we’ve formed our Pontyrabad Secret Society,” resumed Titch, “the next thing is to make the rules.”

“Yes, what rules’ll we have?” enthused Gogs.

“All the secret societies I’ve heard about always had a password,” stated Bunny. “Shouldn’t we have one Titch?”

“What a great idea,” said Titch. “A password is jolly useful.”

“How can a word be useful?” asked Smudgie.

“Well, a password is a special sort of word that only the members of a society know,” answered Bunny. “It’s the same as the password you use on a computer to see certain files and so on.”

“Yes,” agreed Titch. “It says in this book that when the secret society has a  meeting, everyone has to give the password before they are allowed in. And it also says that we should also have a secret knock so that we’ll know whether it’s a member or someone else knocking at the door.”

The others agreed that a secret knock would also be most useful and for the next few minutes nothing could be heard but a barrage of tapping with various stones. After considerable argument about the merits of the various knocks suggested, the five decided to adopt the one suggested by Bunny.

“Listen, all of you!” ordered Titch in a voice full of authority and most suited to the Chief of the Pontyrabad Secret Society. “Do the knock again, Bunny. It’s jolly good.”

The others listened as Bunny demonstrated. He gave one knock followed by a silent count of two, then three more knocks in quick succession, another silent count of two, and one final knock. This was practised by all five for a few moments to make sure they had it right, and then Titch handed his notebook over to Bunny, as Secretary, to write down the secret knock.

“And now we want a password,” stated Titch. “It’s got to be a special sort of word, not one that people use a lot.”

“How about influenza?” suggested Miff.

“Don’t be daft, that’s a disease,” said Smudgie with a look of disgust.

There was a period of silence eventually broken by Gogs who sprang up with a shout. “I’ve got one! How about ‘Cavalier’?”

“Yes . . .that’s not bad. In fact it sounds really good,” said Titch.

“Fancy old Gogs thinking up a big word like that,” said Smudgie in surprise.

“Yes, you’re a cool dude Gogs,” said Bunny.     “Where’d you get that word from?”

“Our lounge at home,” replied Gogs. “We’ve got a picture of a man in a big hat hanging on the wall, and underneath it says ‘Laughing Cavalier’.”

“Well done Gogs,” said Titch. “Write it down in the notebook Bunny.”

“Got it! Any other rules now Titch?”

“Yes, I think we should write down the object of our Secret Society,” replied Titch. “But we’ve already agreed on that. Just write down that we are going to investigate the activities of the men we met at the old abbey.”


Bunny asked Titch to look at his notebook

    When he’d finished writing, Bunny asked Titch to look at his notebook in case he’d made any mistakes. Then he handed the notebook to Titch for his inspection.

“Mmmm . . . yes, I think that’s all” said Titch with an air of finality. “Now each one of us will have to write out these rules on a piece of paper and keep it safe. And whatever happens don’t tell anyone and don’t let another living soul see it.”

The others agreed most emphatically that their rules should be kept absolutely secret. They would tell no one.

“And now I declare this meeting closed,” said Titch. “We’ll meet again at half-past two this afternoon to make more plans for investigating. Can we meet in your greenhouse Bunny?”

“Yes, of course.”

“And while we’re having dinner,” added Titch, we can all think of a good place to hold our meetings.” Suddenly he stopped in his tracks and looked thoughtfully at the ground. “Yes! I think I know of a really secret place we could meet, but we’ll have to make it.”

“Make it?” queried Miff. “How do we do that?”

“It’s only an idea at the moment but I think it might be possible. I’’l tell you all about it this afternoon.”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 6

March 17, 2012

CHAPTER 6

The book arrives

    “How do we do it Titch? How do we do it?” yelled Gogs warming to the idea.

“I’ve got it!” shouted Titch jumping up off his flower pot and banging his fist into the palm of his hand. “Listen! Those men belong to a society that investigates ghosts, or so they say. Our secret society will investigate them. Right?”

“How cool is that?” exclaimed Miff giving Titch a hearty slap on the back.

“Wizard idea!” added Gogs suddenly realising the possibilities of Titch’s suggestion.

“Yes, and we can have this greenhouse as our headquarters,” said Smudgie, and then added “Er . . . that is if Bunny’s father will let us.”

“Oh he won’t mind,” said Bunny. “But if it’s going to be a secret society, this won’t be a very good place will it? I mean, this place is made of glass.  Everyone can look in here when we have our meetings.”

“Yes, I hadn’t thought of that,” said Smudgie dismally.

“Never mind that!” cried Gogs jumping up and down excitedly with his hands and dark hair flapping about in the breeze of his enthusiasm.      “When do we start? What do we do Titch?”

“Hang on a minute Gogs,” laughed Titch. “We haven’t formed our society yet. That’s our first job.”

“When can we do it?” asked Gogs.

“Look! Sit down Gogs and listen!” ordered Titch. “The book I sent for should arrive on Monday. I’m hoping it’ll tell us all we need to know. Right? So if you all come around to my place on Monday I can tell you whether the book has arrived. If it has we can go up to the old tower and have a meeting inside.”

*     *     *     *     *

Bright and early on Monday morning the other four descended on Titch’s house. Gogs, of course, was first, but the others soon followed. They were all delighted when Titch told them that the book had arrived and that it was full of all sorts of useful information. But he refused to say anything else until they had their meeting.

They climbed the steep hill in record time, their noise putting to flight a large group of seagulls resting on the tower. Sitting in a semi-circle on the large stones, they all faced Titch as he drew the book out of his pocket. The very sight of the book overcame Gogs as he jumped to his feet and stared at the book over Titch’s shoulder. He was enthralled as Titch began to read.


Gogs stared at the book over Titch’s shoulder

    “In this book it says that to form a secret society you first of all have to give it a name, then elect officers from among the members, then you make the rules and then . . . well, you just carry on being a secret society.”

“What do you mean by ‘selecting officers’?” asked Smudgie. “Do you mean like they have in the army?”

“I didn’t say selecting, I said electing,” replied Titch.

“Will we have uniforms like in the army?” queried Gogs who was now really worked up to a high state of excitement.

“Oh, shut up Gogs!” yelled Bunny. “Titch will explain if you just give him half a chance.”

Titch leaned back against the tower wall and surveyed his new book with a sigh. “It’s like this,” he began, “all organisations have what they call ‘officers’ to see that things are done properly. They are a bit like army officers but not exactly. They generally have a chairman who is the chief. Everybody has to do as he says. Then they have a secretary who does all the writing and things like that, and they have a treasurer who looks after the money.”

“How do we know who’s going to do all these things?” asked Smudgie.

“Well, we each have a little piece of paper,” explained Titch patiently. “Then we write on it who we want to be chairman, or whatever officer we’re voting for. The one who has his name on most bits of paper is elected and he does that job.”

“Just like voting for councillors,” added Bunny.

“But first of all we’ve got to call ourselves something,” continued Titch. “Anybody got any ideas for a name?”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 5

March 10, 2012

CHAPTER 5

Collecting the Evidence

Although the boys had agreed to meet at 10 o’clock, Gogs, in a high state of excitement because of the forthcoming meeting, started to call on his friends shortly after nine, and by half past nine had succeeded in collecting Miff and Smudgie together. These three boys, who all lived in the same street, then walked around the block of houses to call for Titch.

On walking round to the back door of the house they found Titch sitting in a chair on the lawn writing in a small notebook. His thoughtful, frowning expression changed to a broad grin at the arrival of his friends.


They found Titch sitting in a chair on the lawn

    “Oh good!” he exclaimed. “I was hoping you’d be early.” He rose quickly out of the chair and ran to the back door of the house to tell his mother he was going. Then, ramming the notebook and pencil into the pocket of his jacket, he joined his companions, and the four of them made their way down to the coast road.

When they arrived at Bunny’s house they found him examining a large pegged out rectangle of earth which had been prepared the day before in readiness for the erection of the new shed.

“Hi boys!” he called as he came over to join them by the greenhouse. The five of them were soon inside seated on boxes and various large upturned earthenware pots.

Titch got down to business straight away by producing his notebook. “I was thinking about all yesterday’s happenings when I was lying in bed last night,” he said, “and after breakfast this morning I decided to make a few notes on the whole business.”

“Wicked!” exclaimed Miff in admiration as he looked over Titch’s shoulder at the pageful of neatly written notes. “What’s all that for?”

“Well,” replied Titch, “I’ve read in books that the best way to investigate any matter is to write down all the evidence and examine it.”

“That’s cool!” exclaimed Bunny. “How much evidence have we got up to now?”

“Yes, read out what you’ve written in your book, Titch,” said Gogs becoming very enthusiastic about the matter.

“Right,” replied Titch. “I’ll read out the main facts. You can all listen to see whether I’ve missed anything out.” Titch’s freckled face took on a business-like frown and he began to read.

“Friday. Bunny, Gogs, Miff, Smudgie and Titch play cricket on the common. Ball knocked into abbey ruins and is lost. We look carefully for it and find nothing. Suddenly, without being seen approaching, a man appears at entrance to old passage. He wants to get rid of us. Another man appears. Says he belongs to a society investigating story of abbey ghost. Says they have put scanning equipment in abbey. Seems anxious to get rid of us. Gives Bunny £5 for new ball.”

“Great!” exclaimed Miff in admiration. “Fancy writing all that without any help.”

“Bet it’s full of spelling mistakes,” claimed Smudgie.

“You wouldn’t be able to tell anyway,” returned Miff defending Titch’s talent.

Seeing that another brawl might start, Titch tactfully came in. “Never mind about spelling, it’s the evidence that matters. Do we all agree that what I’ve written down is correct? Have I missed anything out?”

“No, I think you’ve got it all there,” said Bunny. “It sounds jolly good to me. There’s only one thing though; it isn’t much evidence is it?”

“Oh no,” agreed Titch quickly. “I know that, and that’s why I wanted us to meet here today.”

“How will that help?” asked Smudgie.

“Well,” replied Titch, “we’ve got to get some more evidence. Right?”

“Where from?” queried Gogs.

“That’s what we’re going to decide now.”

“You mean we’ll sort of have to watch out for things,” drawled Gogs trying to be helpful. “Like we did when we saw that white van which was always outside the school with the driver always talking to the kids.”

“Oh yeah! I remember that,” chimed in Miff. When we told the Head that it looked suspicious, he contacted the police and they discovered the driver and his wife were drug pushers.”

“Dirty kid killers!” snarled Bunny in disgust.

“You weren’t one of their customers were you Gogs?” teased Miff.

“Huh!” returned Gogs. “I mightn’t be the sharpest pencil in the box, but I’m not dim enough to start taking drugs. You’ve got to be a right idiot to do that.”

“Right!” said Titch. “We did our bit to help to sort that out, but this time things are a bit different. We’ll have to do more than just watch out for things. We’ll have to go looking for ’em.”

“You mean we’ll have to investigate?” queried Bunny.

“Exactly! We’ll have to investigate those men investigating the abbey ghost.”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 4

March 3, 2012

CHAPTER 4

Titch is Suspicious

The group stared at each other dumbfounded for a few moments. It was Bunny, greatly excited by his sudden gift, who broke the silence.

“Well, I must say, that was very generous of him.”

Titch was staring hard after the distant figure now getting fainter in the dim light. “I wonder why he did it?” he mused.

“So’s Bunny could get a new ball of course,” stated Gogs simply, seeing nothing complicated in the situation at all.

“We’d better collect all our gear before it gets dark,” said Miff.

The boys walked away from the abbey ruins in the direction of their cricket gear which was just a grey heap in the quickly gathering dusk. Each took his own equipment and they walked slowly along the common away from the Straight Mile in the direction of the coast road which led to Bunny’s house.

The other four noticed that Titch was very quiet as they walked along. He appeared to be deep in thought.

“Why do you think he gave me the five pound note, Titch?” asked Bunny.

“I don’t know,” replied Titch slowly, “but it struck me that he wanted to get rid of us mighty quick.”

“Yes, I suppose he did really,” admitted Bunny, half agreeing.

“But he didn’t want us messing up their equipment,” put in Smudgie. “If they paid a lot of money for it, I don’t blame him.”

“The five of us searched those ruins pretty well for the cricket ball,” stated Titch. “How much equipment did we find? None!”

“But he told us it was carefully hidden,” persisted Smudgie.

“So he said,” replied Titch. “But if it was as carefully hidden as all that, there wouldn’t be much chance of us damaging it would there?”

“No, I suppose not,” agreed Smudgie who could see the sense in Titch’s argument.

“Yes, I hadn’t thought of that,” said Bunny. “We looked around quite a bit for my ball and we didn’t see any sign of any equipment nor any wires or anything.”

“And another thing that puzzles me,” said Titch, “is where that first man came from. I could see the whole of the common between the Straight Mile and the ruins; he didn’t  walk across that way.” He turned to Smudgie and Gogs. “You two were the first to see him. Which way did he come?”

Smudgie and Gogs looked at each other with puzzled frowns.

“I don’t know,” drawled Gogs. “I was looking on the ground for the ball just near the entrance to the old passage. Suddenly somebody grabbed me by the collar. I looked round and there he was. He had Smudgie too.”

“Did you see him approaching, Smudgie?” asked Titch.

“No, come to think of it, I didn’t. It all happened pretty sudden like and . . .”

“Then there’s only one place he could have come from,” broke in Titch snapping his fingers. “He must have been down in the old passage.”

“But why on earth should he have been down there?” asked Bunny.

“Perhaps that’s where they’ve put their equipment,” suggested Miff.

“Yes, and that’s why we didn’t see it,” said Gogs triumphantly with the air of one who has just solved a difficult problem.

“Don’t be such a nitwit,” said Titch. “He said it was all carefully hidden. That passage ends in the flight of steps that goes down into the cellar. There’s nothing down there at all except a few chunks of old stone. They wouldn’t be able to hide much down there.”

“My father told me that the monks used to store food down there,” added Bunny. “I expect that’s why it’s so bare.”

“Well, it all sounds very fishy to me,” continued Titch. “I think those men are up to something.”

“Up to something?” queried Smudgie. “What on earth could they be up to in a ruined old abbey? My dad says even I’m safe to be let loose in the abbey ‘cause all the damage that can be done was done years ago.”

“Oh, I don’t mean they meant to damage anything,” replied Titch. “But you don’t get a couple of grown men lurking around a place like that without good reason.”

“But remember that man said they belonged to some London society or other and that they were going to investigate the abbey ghost. I call that a good reason,” returned Miff.

“Yes, but as Titch says,” argued Bunny, “we didn’t see a sign of any equipment, so how do we know he was telling the truth?”

“Mmmm . . . I suppose that’s true,” agreed Smudgie.


Bunny led the way to the large greenhouse

    By this time the boys had reached the entrance to the drive which led up to Bunny’s house. It was a large building standing in its own grounds and Mr Francis had bought it only a few months previously. Bunny led the way to the large greenhouse near the garden hedge. It was in here that the boys kept all their cricket gear.

“My dad’s having a big shed built over there,” said Bunny. “We’ll be able to put our cricket stuff in there when it’s up. You can’t see it now it’s dark, but a man came today and cleared a patch of ground. Then he put some wooden pegs in it and…”

“Bernard! Is that you dear?” Bunny’s mother was calling from the back door of the house.

“Yes, Mum. It’s only me and the boys.”

“Come along then. It’s time to come in now,” she called.

“Huh!” exclaimed Miff. “Isn’t it funny how mothers want you in just when it gets dark?”

“I suppose I’d better go,” said Bunny grudgingly. “Otherwise I’ll only get a row from my Dad. Just wait till I tell them about the five pound note though.”

“Don’t tell them!” burst out Titch.

“Why ever not?”

“Well,” said Titch in a low confidential voice, “I’ve been thinking.” The other four gathered round curiously. They knew that when Titch used that tone of voice he was going to say something interesting.

“I think the little matter of those two men and their ghost investigations wants looking into and I think we ought to do it. If grownups get to hear about it they’ll want to stop us straight away – you know what they’re like. So, if you don’t say anything about the five pounds, Bunny, they won’t ask any questions.”

“No. All right,” agreed Bunny. I won’t say a word for the time being.”

“But what are we going to do?” asked Gogs quivering with expectation.

“Well, I suggest we meet here in the greenhouse tomorrow and talk the matter over. We’ll have more time to make our plans. It’s absolutely pitch dark now and we’ve got to go home.”

“That’ll be OK,” said Bunny. “The gardener is not working here tomorrow, so we can use the greenhouse. Suppose we meet here at 10 o’clock in the morning?”

The others mumbled their agreement.

“Then that’s all settled,” said Titch. “We’ll all meet here tomorrow morning at ten.”