The Sword In the Grotto

Chapter Eleven


????I just knew it had to be good old Aunt Tabby. It was Aunt Tabby who had been pulling the string, not some horrible mon- ster, and she was coming to rescue us. "Aunt Tabby, Aunt Tabby!" I shouted. "We're here!" "Help, help!" Wanda yelled, just to make sure.

????But there was no reply. Q "It might be Dad, " said Wanda. "Dad, Dad--it's me. I'm here, Dad!" "I'm here too, " I told Wanda. "Don't forget about me. " "Ha!" Wanda gave a funny kind of laugh. I ignored her and just kept on watching the green light flickering at the far end of the tunnel. It was moving slowly, but it was defi- nitely coming down toward us. Wanda said nervously, "It's a weird light for a flashlight. It's not very bright, is it?" I had been thinking that too. "No, " I said, "it's not. . . . " "Dad!" Wanda shouted. "Dad!" We lis- tened for Barry's reply, but there was noth- ing. All we could hear was the slip and slop of the water washing around us.

????"It's not Dad, is it?" Wanda whispered mis- erably. "No, it's not, " I said. "I think it's--" "It's the monster, isn't it--the one that ate the string? And now it's going to come and--" "Shut up, Wanda, " I said. "It's not a mon- ster. It's Edmund. " The greenish light was floating along the tunnel toward us in just the way that Edmund floats. As it got closer, I could see that it had a definite Edmund shape to it, right down to the silly haircut. "It is, " gasped Wanda. "It's Edmund. He's come to rescue us!" "Wanda, " I said, "how exactly do you expect a weedy little ghost like Edmund to rescue us? Or even a big strong ghost? No ghost can lift up the portcullis and let us out, can it?"

????But Wanda wasn't listening. "Edmund, Edmund, help! We're trapped! Help, help!" she yelled. Edmund's hollow, ghostly voice came echoing along the tunnel. "Waaan-da, " he called out. "Aramin-ta. " I shivered. Maybe it was the creepy sound of Edmund's voice in the dark, maybe it was the weird green light, or maybe it was the really cold water, which was splashing up to our waists by now--but I started to shiver and I just couldn't stop. Edmund floated up to the portcullis and stared at us. "There's no need to gape like we're in a zoo or something, " I told him. "We've got to get out of here. W-we're going to drown if we don't. "

????"I know . . . " said Edmund in his hollow voice. "Well, thanks a lot, Edmund, " I snapped at him. "We feel a whole lot better now. " "I know . . . " said Edmund, "because I drowned here. With Sir Horace . . . " "Drowned?" Wanda squeaked. "Drowned, " Edmund repeated gloomily. I must say I didn't think Edmund was exactly being helpful just then. "Edmund, " I said,"will you please go back as fast as you can to the house and tell Aunt Tabby where we are? She'll know what to do. Please. Hurry. " "It is too late to return to the house, " said Edmund. "What are we going to doooo?" Wanda wailed.

????"Be quiet, Wanda. " "Do not fret, Wanda, " said Edmund. "We Q will take the other way out. There is just enough time before the water becomes too deep. " Edmund floated through the portcullis easily, as if it wasn't there, and hovered beside us, lighting up the horrible little grotto with his ghostly glow. Now I was glad that we hadn't had our flashlights for a while, because what we saw was scary--the grotto was almost full of dark, deep water. And every time a wave hit the rocks, more sea swirled in and the water rose a little bit more. I looked up at Wanda's piece of seaweed on the ceiling, and I knew she had been right. The water was just going to keep on rising. Right to the top . . .

????-117-??"Follow me. " Edmund's voice interrupted my thoughts, which was a good thing, as I had been about to throw a Wanda-sized panic. He floated away toward the pile of rocks where the sea was coming in. Wanda wailed, "We can't follow you. We'll drown. " I was thinking the same thing. I was also thinking, how come Edmund thinks he can rescue us when he obviously couldn't rescue himself all those years ago? Edmund's voice echoed around the cav- ern. "The water is not yet too deep, Wanda. You must trust me. " "Ooooh!" wailed Wanda. Edmund came back toward us.

????Then he started sinking down through the water until he was up to his neck in seawater. "Don't go, Edmund!" yelled Wanda. "I am not going, Wanda, " he said. "I am showing you how deep the water is. But soon it will be deeper. You must hurry. You must get down from the portcullis and follow me. " "Come on, Wanda, " I said. "We've got to do this. " I started to climb down the portcullis, which was not a nice thing to do, as the water was freezing cold and came to way above my waist. I grabbed hold of the sword and hung on to it to stop myself from falling over. Wanda hadn't moved. She looked down at me and said, "But I'm shorter than you. It will be almost up to my head. " "All the more reason for getting a move on, " I told her briskly.

????"You sound just like Aunt Tabby, " she said. But she began to climb down the portcullis and soon, after a bit of squeaking, she was standing next to me. And then a really big wave came in and knocked her over. Wanda disappeared under the water. "Blermphh!" Wanda came up for air and waved her arms about like a crazy windmill. "Hurry, hurry, " said Edmund anxiously. Wanda was still doing her windmill impression, so I grabbed hold of her with my other hand and towed her along behind Edmund until he stopped at the big pile of rocks that blocked the grotto off from the rest of the cave. Now it was getting really difficult to stand up, as the water was up to my chin, and it was still coming in. Wanda tried to put her feet down and disappeared right under again. I pulled her up and said, "Just keep on swim- ming, Wanda. " "B-but I can't swim without arm floats. " "You just have been, in case you hadn't noticed. " Edmund had floated to the top of the pile of rocks. "Climb up here, " he said.??"How?" spluttered Wanda. "Just do it, Wanda, " I told her. "Just grab hold of a rock and climb. " So Wanda did. She heaved herself out of the water and climbed right up. I dragged the sword out of the water and followed her, although I didn't really see the point. We'd looked everywhere for a way out before, and we hadn't see anything. And then our worst nightmare happened. Edmund disappeared. "Ed-mund, " Wanda wailed in the dark. "Through here, Wanda, " came Edmund's hollow voice from the other side of the rocks. And then we saw it. Right at the very top of the rock pile, hidden behind a large flat rock, was the way out. It may have been narrow, and it may have -122- been full of a weird boy ghost called Edmund, but who cared? All we had to do was squeeze through the gap behind the big flat rock and we would be free. Which is what we did. And we were. Free.

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