The Secret of Killimooin tss-4Enid Blyton
The Secret of Killimooin
( The Secret Series - 4 )
What a wonderful, exciting adventure they have—Nora, Mike, Peggy and Jack—on their summer holidays. They go to Prince Paul's magnificent castle at Killimooin, high up in the mountains of Baronia. Little do they suspect that these mountains hold a dangerous band of robbers who are intent on capturing them and Prince Paul!
The Secret of Killimooin
The Secret Series
A Fine Surprise
Three excited boys stood on a station platform, waiting for a train to come in.
“The train’s late,” said Mike, impatiently. “Five minutes late already.”
“I’m going to tell the girls the news,” said Jack.
“I’m going to tell them!” said Prince Paul, his big dark eyes glowing. “It’s my news, not yours.”
“All right, all right,” said Mike. “You tell Nora and Peggy then, but don’t be too long about it or I shall simply have to burst in!”
The three boys were waiting for Nora and Peggy to come back from their boarding-school for the summer holidays. Mike, Jack and Prince Paul all went to the same boys’ boarding-school, and they had broken up the day before. Mike was the twin brother of Nora, and Peggy was his other sister, a year older than Mike and Nora.
Jack was their adopted brother. He had no father or mother of his own, so Captain and Mrs. Arnold, the children’s father and mother, had taken him into their family, and treated him like another son. He went to boarding-school with Mike, and was very happy.
Prince Paul went to the same school too. He was a great friend of theirs, for a year or two back the children had rescued him when he was kidnapped. His father was the King of Baronia, and the little prince spent his term-time at an English boarding-school, and his holidays in his own distant land of Baronia. He was the youngest of the five.
“Here comes the train, hurrah!” yelled Mike, as he heard the sound of the train in the distance.
“The girls will be sure to be looking out of the window,” said Jack.
The train came nearer and nearer, and the engine chuffed more and more loudly. It ran alongside the platform, slowed down and stopped. Doors swung open.
Prince Paul gave a yell. “There they are! Look! In the middle of the train!”
Sure enough, there were the laughing faces of Peggy and Nora, leaning out of the window. Then their door swung open and out leapt the two girls. Nora was dark and curly-haired like Mike. Peggy’s golden hair shone in the sun. She had grown taller, but she was still the same old Peggy.
“Peggy! Nora! Welcome back!” yelled Mike. He hugged his twin-sister, and gave Peggy a squeeze too. All five children were delighted to be together again. They had had such adventures, they had shared so many difficulties, dangers and excitements. It was good to be together once more, and say, “Do you remember this, do you remember that?”
Prince Paul was always a little shy at first when he met the two girls. He held out his hand politely to shake hands, but Peggy gave a squeal and put her arms round him.
“Paul! Don’t be such an idiot! Give me a hug!”
“Paul’s got some news,” said Mike, suddenly remembering. “Buck up and tell it, Paul.”
“What is it?” asked Nora.
“I’ve got an invitation for you all,” said the little prince. “Will you come to my land of Baronia with me for the holidays?”
There was a shriek of delight from the two girls.
“PAUL! Go to Baronia with you! Oh, I say!”
“Oh! What a marvellous surprise!”
Paul beamed. “Yes, it is a fine surprise, isn’t it?” he said. “I thought you’d be pleased. Mike and Jack are thrilled too.”
“It will be a real adventure to go to Baronia,” said Mike. “A country hidden in the heart of mountains — with a few beautiful towns, hundreds of hidden villages, great forests — golly, it will be grand.”
“Oh, Paul, how decent of your father to ask us!” said Nora, putting her arm through the little prince’s. “How long will it take us to get there?”
“We shall fly in my aeroplane,” said Paul. “Ranni and Pilescu, my two men, will fetch us tomorrow.”
“This is just too good to be true!” said Nora, dancing round in joy. She bumped into a porter wheeling a barrow. “Oh — Sorry, I didn’t see you. I say, Mike, we’d better get our luggage. Can you see a porter with an empty barrow?”
All the porters had been engaged, so the five children had to wait. They didn’t mind. They didn’t mind anything! It was so marvellous to be going off to Paul’s country the next day.
“We thought we were going to the seaside with Daddy and Mummy,” said Nora.
“So we were,” said Jack. “But when Paul’s father cabled yesterday, saying he was sending the aeroplane to fetch Paul, he said we were all to come too, if we were allowed to.”
“And you know how Daddy and Mummy like us to travel and see all we can!” said Mike. “They were just as pleased about it as we were — though they were sorry not to have us for the holidays, of course.”
“We are not to take many clothes,” said Jack. “Paul says we can dress up in Baronian things — they are much more exciting than ours! I shall feel I’m wearing fancy dress all the time!”
The girls sighed with delight. They imagined themselves dressed in pretty, swinging skirts and bright bodices — lovely! They would be real Baronians.
“Look here, we really must get a porter and stop talking,” said Nora. “The platform is almost empty. Hi, porter!”
A porter came up, wheeling an empty barrow. He lifted the girls’ two trunks on to it and wheeled them down to the barrier. He got a taxi for the children and they all crowded into it. They were to go to their parents’ flat for the night.
It was a very happy family party that sat down to a big tea at the flat. Captain and Mrs. Arnold smiled round at the five excited faces. To come home for holidays was thrilling enough — but to come home and be told they were all off to Baronia the next day was almost too exciting for words!
Usually the children poured out all the doings of the term — how well they had played tennis, how exciting cricket had been, how fine the new swimming-pool was, and how awful the exams were. But today not a word was said about the term that had just passed. No — it was all Baronia, Baronia, Baronia! Paul was delighted to see their excitement, for he was very proud of his country.
“Of course, it is not a very big country,” he said, “but it is a beautiful one, and a very wild one. Ah, our grand mountains, our great forests, our beautiful villages! The stern rough men, the laughing women, the good food!”
“You sound like a poet, Paul,” said Peggy. “Go on!”
“No,” said the little prince, going red. “You will laugh at me. You English people are strange. You love your country but you hardly ever praise her. Now I could tell you of Baronia’s beauties for an hour. And not only beauties. I could tell you of wild robbers…”
“Oooh,” said Peggy, thrilled.
“And of fierce animals in the mountains,” said Paul.
“We’ll hunt them!” Mike chimed in.
“And of hidden ways in the hills, deep forests where no foot has ever trodden, and…”
“Oh, let’s go this very minute!” said Nora. “I can’t wait! We might have adventures there — thrilling ones, like those we’ve had before.”
The little prince shook his head. “No,” he said. “We shall have no exciting adventures in Baronia. We shall live in my father’s palace, and wherever we go there will be guards with us. You see, since that time
I was kidnapped, I am never allowed to go about alone in Baronia.”
The other children looked disappointed. “Well, it sounds grand to have a bodyguard, I must say, but it does cramp our style a bit,” said Mike. “Are we allowed to climb trees and things like that?”
“Well, I have never been allowed to in my own country,” said Paul. “But, you see, I am a prince there, and I have to behave always with much dignity. I behave differently here.”
“I should just think you do!” said Mike, staring at him. “Who waded through the duck-pond to get his ball, and came out covered with mud?”
“And who tore his coat to rags squeezing through a hawthorn hedge, trying to get away from an angry cow?” asked Jack.
“I did,” said Paul. “But then, here, I am like you. I learn to behave differently. When you go to Baronia you, too, will have different manners. You must kiss my mother’s hand, for instance.”
Mike and Jack looked at him in alarm. “I say! I’m not much good at that sort of thing!” said Jack.
“And you must learn to bow — like this,” said the little prince, thoroughly enjoying himself. He bowed politely from his waist downwards, stood up and brought his heels together with a smart little click. The girls giggled.
“It will be fun to see Mike and Jack doing things like that,” said Nora. “You’d better start practising now, Mike. Come on — bow to me. And, Jack, you kiss my hand!”
The boys scowled. “Don’t be an idiot,” said Mike, gruffly. “If I’ve got to do it, I will do it — but not to you or Peggy.”
“I don’t expect it will be as bad as Paul makes out,” said his mother, smiling. “He is just pulling your leg. Look at him grinning!”
“You can behave how you like,” said Paul, with a chuckle. “But don’t be surprised at Baronian manners. They are much better than yours!”
“Have you all finished tea?” asked Captain Arnold. “I can’t imagine that any of you could possibly eat any more, but I may be wrong.”
“I’ll just have one more piece of cake,” said Mike. “We don’t get chocolate cake like this at school!”
“You’ve had four pieces already,” said his mother. “I am glad I don’t have to feed you all the year round! There you are — eat it up.”
There was very little packing to be done that evening — only night-clothes and tooth-brushes, flannels and things like that. All the children were looking forward to wearing the colourful Baronian clothes. They had seen photographs of the Baronian people, and had very much liked the children’s clothes. They were all so thrilled that it was very difficult to settle down and do anything. They talked to Captain and Mrs. Arnold, played a game or two and then went off to bed.
Not one of them could go to sleep. They lay in their different bedrooms, calling to one another until Mrs. Arnold came up and spoke sternly.
“One more shout — and you don’t go to Baronia!” After that there was silence, and the five children lay quietly in their beds, thinking of the exciting day tomorrow was going to be.
Off to Baronia
It was wonderful to wake up the next morning and remember everything. Jack sat up and gave a yell to wake the others. It was not long before everyone was dressed and down to breakfast. They were to go to the airport to meet Ranni and Pilescu, the big Baronians, at ten o’clock. All the things they were taking with them went into one small bag.
“Mummy, I’m sorry I won’t see much of you these hols.” said Peggy.
“Well, Daddy and I may fly over to Baronia to fetch you back,” said her mother. “We could come a week or two before it’s time for you to return to school, so we should see quite a bit of you!”
“Oh — that would be lovely!” said Nora and Peggy together, and the boys beamed in delight. “Will you come in the White Swallow?”
The White Swallow was the name given to Captain Arnold’s famous aeroplane. In it he and Mrs. Arnold had flown many thousands of miles, for they were both excellent pilots. They had had many adventures, and this was partly why they liked their children to go off on their own and have their own adventures too.
“It doesn’t do to coddle children too much and shelter them,” said Captain Arnold many a time to his wife. “We don’t want children like that — we want boys and girls of spirit and courage, who can stand on their feet and are not afraid of what may happen to them. We want them to grow up adventurous and strong, of some real use in the world! So we must not say no when a chance comes along to help them to be plucky and independent!”
“If we can grow up like you and Mummy, we shall be all right!” said Peggy. “You tried to fly all the way to Australia by yourselves in that tiny plane — and you’ve set up ever so many flying records. We ought to be adventurous children!”
“I think you are,” said her mother, with a laugh. “You’ve certainly had some marvellous adventures already — more than most children have all their lives long!”
When the car drew up at the door to take the children to the airport, they all clattered down the steps at once. “It’s a good thing it’s a big car!” said Mike. “Seven of us is quite a crowd!”
Everyone got in. The car set off at a good speed, and soon came to the big airport. It swept in through the gates. Mike, who was looking out of the window, gave a loud shout.
“There’s your aeroplane, Paul! I can see it. It’s the smartest one on the air-field.”
“And the loveliest,” said Nora, looking in delight at the beautiful plane towards which they were racing. It was bright blue with silver edges, and it shone brilliantly in the sun. The car stopped a little way from it. Everyone got out. Paul gave a yell.
“There’s Pilescu! And Ranni! Look, over there, behind the plane!”
The two big Baronians had heard the engine of the car and they had come to see if it was the children arriving. Pilescu gave a deep-throated shout.
“Paul! My little lord!”
Paul raced over the grass to Pilescu. The big red-bearded man bowed low and then lifted the boy up in his strong arms.
“Pilescu! How are you? It’s grand to see you again,” said Paul, in the Baronian language that always sounded so strange to the other children.
Pilescu was devoted to the little prince. He had held him in his arms when he was only a few minutes old, and had vowed to be his man as long as he lived. His arms pressed so tightly round the small boy that Paul gasped for breath.
“Pilescu! I can’t breathe! Let me down,” he squealed. Pilescue grinned and set him down. Paul turned to Ranni, who bowed low and then gave him a hug like a bear, almost as tight as Pilescu’s.
“Ranni! Have you got any of the chocolate I like so much?” asked Paul. Ranni put his hand into his pocket and brought out a big packet of thick chocolate, wrapped in colourful paper. It had a Baronian name on it. Paul liked it better than any other chocolate, and had often shared it with Mike and Jack, when a parcel had arrived for him from Baronia.
Ranni and Pilescu welcomed the other children, beaming in delight to see them all, and Captain and Mrs. Arnold too. They had all shared a strange adventure in Africa, hidden in a Secret Mountain, and it was pleasant to be together again.
“Look after all these rascals, Pilescu,” said Mrs. Arnold, as she said goodbye to the excited children. “You know what monkeys they can be!”
“Madam, they are safe with me and with Ranni,” said Pilescu, his red beard flaming in the sun. He bowed from his waist, and took Mrs. Arnold’s small hand into his big one. He kissed it with much dignity. Mike felt perfectly certain he would never be able to kiss anyone’s hand like that.
“Is the plane ready?” asked Captain Arnold, climbing into the cockpit to have a look round. “My word, she is a marvellous machine! I’ll say this for Baronia — you have some mighty fine designers of aircraft! You beat us hollow, and we are pretty good at it, too.”
All the children were now munching chocolate, talking to Ranni. The big bear-like man was happy to see them all again. Nora and Peggy
hung on to him, remembering the thrilling, dangerous days when they had all been inside the Secret Mountain in Africa.
A mechanic came up and did a few last things to the engine of the great aeroplane. In a minute or two the engines started up and a loud throbbing filled the air.
“Doesn’t it sound lovely?” said Mike. “We’re really going!”
“Get in, children,” said Pilescu. “Say your goodbyes — then we must go.”
The children hugged their parents, and Paul bowed, and kissed Mrs. Arnold’s hand. She laughed and gave him a squeeze. “Goodbye, little Paul. Mind you don’t lead my four into trouble! Jack, look after everyone. Mike, take care of your sisters. Nora and Peggy, see that the boys don’t get up to mischief!”
“Goodbye, Mummy! Goodbye, Daddy! Write to us. Come and fetch us when the hols are nearly over!”
“Goodbye, Captain Arnold! Goodbye, Mrs. Arnold!”
The roar of the aeroplane drowned everything. Pilescu was at the controls. Ranni was beside him. The children were sitting behind in comfortable armchairs. The engine roared more loudly.
“R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r! R-r-r-r-r-r-r —!” The big machine taxied slowly over the runway — faster — faster — and then, light as a bird, it left the ground, skimmed over the hedges and the trees, and was up in the sky in two minutes.
“Off to Baronia!” said Mike, thrilled.
“Adventuring again,” said Jack. “Isn’t this fun?”
“The runway looks about one inch long!” said Nora, peering out of the window.
“In half an hour we shall be over the sea,” said Paul. “Let’s look out for it.”
It was grand to be in the big aeroplane once more. All the children were used to flying, and loved the feeling of being high up in the sky. Sometimes clouds rolled below them, looking like vast snow-fields. The sun shone down on the whiteness, and the clouds below the plane became almost too dazzling to look at.
Suddenly there was a break in the clouds, and Mike gave a yell.