The River of AdventureEnid Blyton
Enid Blyton, who died in 1968, is one of the most successful children’s authors of all time. She wrote over seven hundred books, which have been translated into more than forty languages and have sold more than 400 million copies around the world. Enid Blyton’s stories of magic, adventure and friendship continue to enchant children the world over. Enid Blyton’s beloved works include The Famous Five, Malory Towers, The Faraway Tree and the Adventure series.
Titles in the Adventure series:
1. The Island of Adventure
2. The Castle of Adventure
3. The Valley of Adventure
4. The Sea of Adventure
5. The Mountain of Adventure
6. The Ship of Adventure
7. The Circus of Adventure
8. The River of Adventure
First published 1955 by Macmillan Children’s Books
This edition published 2007 by Macmillan Children’s Books
This electronic edition published 2010 by Macmillan Children’s Books
a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited
Pan Macmillan, 20 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RR
Basingstoke and Oxford
Associated companies throughout the world
ISBN 978-0-330-52076-8 in Adobe Reader format
ISBN 978-0-330-52075-1 in Adobe Digital Editions format
ISBN 978-0-330-52077-5 in Mobipocket format
Text copyright © 1955 Enid Blyton Limited. All rights reserved. Enid Blyton’s signature mark is a trademark of Enid Blyton Limited (a Chorion company). All rights reserved.
You may not copy, store, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
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Four miserable invalids
What a surprise!
Away they go!
What part of the world is this?
Away down the river
A surprising morning
The snake-charmer again
At lunch time
Oola and his present
Good news for Oola
Back to the boat
Mr Raya Uma
Away through the night
The river is very peculiar
The mystery is solved
An astounding sight
A strange and wonderful find
Is there a way out?
‘The gods! They come!’
Uma is in trouble
End of the adventure
Four miserable invalids
‘Poor Polly!’ said a small sad voice outside the bedroom door. ‘Poor Polly! Blow your nose, poor Polly!’
There was the sound of loud sniffs, and after that came a hacking cough. Then there was a silence, as if the person outside the door was listening to see if there was any answer.
Jack sat up in bed and looked across at Philip in the opposite bed.
‘Philip – do you feel you can bear to let Kiki come in? She sounds so miserable.’
Philip nodded. ‘All right. So long as she doesn’t screech or make too much noise. My head’s better, thank goodness!’
Jack got out of bed and went rather unsteadily to the door. He and Philip, and the two girls as well, had had influenza quite badly, and were still feeling rather weak. Philip had had it worst, and hadn’t been able to bear Kiki the parrot in the bedroom. She imitated their coughs and sneezes and sniffs, and poor Philip, much as he loved birds and animals, felt as if he could throw slippers and books and anything handy at the puzzled parrot.
Kiki came sidling in at the door, her crest well down. ‘Poor thing,’ said Jack, and she flew up to his shoulder at once. ‘You’ve never been kept out before, have you? Well, nobody likes your kind of noises when their head is splitting, Kiki, old thing. You nearly drove Philip mad when you gave your imitation of an aeroplane in trouble!’
‘Don’t!’ said Philip, shuddering to think of it. ‘I feel as if I’ll never laugh at Kiki’s noises again.’ He coughed and felt for his handkerchief under the pillow.
Kiki coughed too, but very discreetly. Jack smiled. ‘It’s no good, Kiki,’ he said. You haven’t got the flu, so it’s no use pretending you have.’
‘Flue, flue, sweep the flue,’ said Kiki at once, and gave a small cackle of laughter.
‘No, we’re not quite ready yet to laugh at your idiotic remarks, Kiki,’ said Jack, getting back into bed. ‘Can’t you produce a nice bedside manner – quiet voice, and sympathetic nods and all that?’
‘Poor Polly’ said Kiki, and nestled as close to Jack’s neck as she could. She gave a tremendous sigh.
‘Don’t – not down my neck, please,’ said Jack. You are feeling sorry for yourself, Kiki! Cheer up. We’re all better today and our temperatures are down. We’ll soon be up and about, and I bet Aunt Allie will be glad. Four wretched invalids must have kept her hands full.’
The door opened cautiously, and Aunt Allie looked in. ‘Ah – you’re both awake,’ she said. ‘How do you feel? Would you like some more lime juice?’
‘No, thanks,’ said Jack. ‘I tell you what I suddenly – quite suddenly – feel like, Aunt Allie – and that’s a boiled egg with bread-and-butter! It came over me all at once that that was what I wanted more than anything else in the world!’
Aunt Allie laughed. ‘Oh – you are better then. Do you want an egg too, Philip?’
‘No, thanks,’ said Philip. ‘Nothing for me.’
‘Poor boy, poor boy’ said Kiki, raising her head to look at Philip. She gave a small cackle.
‘Shut up,’ said Philip. ‘I’m not ready to be laughed at yet, Kiki. You’ll be turned out of the room again if you talk too much.’
‘Silence, Kiki!’ said Jack and gave the parrot a small tap on the beak. She sank down into his neck at once. She didn’t mind being silent, if only she were allowed to stay with her beloved Jack.
‘How are the two girls?’ asked Jack.
‘Oh, much better,’ said Aunt Allie. ‘Better than you two are. They are playing a game of cards together. They wanted to know if they could come into your room this evening and talk.’
‘I’d like that,’ said Jack. ‘But Philip wouldn’t, would you, Phil?’
‘I’ll see,’ said Philip grumpily. ‘I still feel awfully bad-tempered.
‘It’s all right, Philip,’ said his mother. ‘You’re on the mend – you’ll feel yourself tomorrow!’
She was right. By the evening of the next day Philip was very lively, and Kiki was allowed to chatter and sing as much as she liked. She was even allowed to make her noise of an express train racing through a tunnel, which brought Mrs Cunningham up the stairs at once.
‘Oh no ! she said. ‘Not that noise in the house, please, Kiki! I can’t bear it!’
Dinah looked at her mother, and reached out her hand to her. ‘Mother, you’ve had an awful time looking after the four of us. I’m glad you didn’t get the flu too. You look very pale. You don’t think you’re going to have it, do you?’
‘No, of course not,’ said her mother. ‘I’m only just a bit tired racing up and down the stairs for the four of you. But you’ll soon be up and about – and off to school!’
Four groans sounded at once – and then a fifth as Kiki joined in delightedly, adding the biggest groan of the lot.
‘School!’ said Jack, in disgust. ‘Why did you remind us of that, Aunt Allie? Anyway I hate going back after the term’s begun – everyone has settled down and knows what’s what, and you feel almost like a new boy’
You are sorry for yourselves!’ said Mrs Cunningham, with a laugh. ‘Well, go on with your game – but do NOT let Kiki imitate aeroplanes, trains, cars or lawn-mowers.’
‘Right,’ said Jack, and addressed himself sternly to Kiki. ‘Hear that, old thing? Behave yourself – if you can.’
‘Mother does look a bit off-colour, doesn’t she?’ said Philip, dealing out the cards. ‘I hope Bill will take her for a holiday when he comes back from wherever he is.’
‘Where is he? And hasn’t anyone heard from him lately?’ asked Dinah, picking up her cards.
‘Well, you know what old Bill is – always on some secret hush-hush job for the Government,’ said Philip. ‘I think Mother always knows where he is, but nobody else does. He’ll pop up out of the blue sooner or later.’
Bill was Mrs Cunningham’s husband. He had married her not so very long ago, when she was the widowed Mrs Mannering, and had taken on Dinah and Philip, her own children, and the other two, Jack and Lucy-Ann, who had always looked on her as an aunt. They had no parents of their own. All of them were very fond of the clever, determined Bill, whose job so often took him into danger of all kinds.
‘I hope Bill will come back before we return to school,’ said Jack. ‘We haven’t seen him for ages. Let’s see – it’s almost October now – and he went off into the blue at the beginning of September.’
‘Disguised!’ said Lucy-Ann, remembering. ‘Disguised as an old man, do you remember? I couldn’t think who the old, bent fellow was who was sitting with Aunt Allie that night he left. Even his hair was different.’
‘He had a wig,’ said Jack. ‘Buck up, Dinah – it’s your turn. Have you got the king or have you not?’
Dinah played her card, and then turned to the radio nearby. ‘Let’s have the radio on, shall we?’ she said. ‘I feel as if I’d like to hear it tonight. Philip, can you bear it?’
‘Yes,’ said Philip. ‘Don’t pity me any more. I’m as right as rain now. Gosh – when I think how miserable I was I really feel ashamed. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d burst into tears at any time!’
‘You did once,’ said Jack, unfeelingly. ‘I saw you. You looked most peculiar.’
‘Shut up,’ said Philip, in a fierce voice. ‘And don’t tell fibs. Dinah, that set’s not tuned properly. Here, let me do it – you’re never any good at that sort of thing! Dinah – let me do it, I said. Blow you!’
‘Aha! Our Philip is quite himself again!’ said Jack, seeing one of the familiar brother-and-sister quarrels beginning to spring up once more. You’ve got it, now, Philip – it’s bang on the station. Ah – it’s a skit on a burglary with John Jordans in it. It should be funny. Let’s listen.’
It was funny, and Aunt Allie, having a quiet rest downstairs, was pleased to hear sudden roars of laughter upstairs. Then she heard a loud and prolonged whistle and frowned. That tiresome parrot!
But it wasn’t Kiki. It was John Jordans in the comical play. He was the policeman, and was blowing his police whistle – pheeeeeeee! Then someone yelled, ‘Police! Police!’ and the whistle blew again.
‘Police, police!’ yelled Kiki too, and produced a marvellous imitation of the whistle. ‘PHEEEEEEEE! Police! Police! PHEEEEEEEEEEEE!’
‘Shut up, Kiki! If you shout and whistle as loudly as that you’ll have the real police here!’ said Jack. ‘Oh, my goodness! – I hope Kiki doesn’t start doing this police-whistle business. She’ll get us into no end of trouble! Kiki – if you shout “Police” once more, I’ll put you down at the very bottom of the bed.’
Before Kiki could make any reply, a knock came on the bedroom door – a most imperious knock that made them all jump. A loud voice came through the door.
‘Who wants the police? They’re here. Open in the name of the law!’
The door opened slowly, and the startled children watched in amazement. What did this mean? Had the police really come?
A face came round the door, a smiling face, round and ruddy and twinkling, one that the children knew well and loved.
‘BILL!’ cried four voices, and the children leapt out of bed at once, and ran to the tall, sturdy man at the door. ‘Oh, Bill – you’ve come back! We never heard you come home. Good old Bill!’
What a surprise!
Bill came right into the room and sat down on Jack’s bed. Kiki gave a loud cackle of pleasure and flew to his shoulder, nipping the lobe of his ear gently. Aunt Allie came in too, smiling happily, looking quite different now that Bill had arrived.
‘Well, what’s this I hear about four miserable invalids?’ said Bill, putting an arm round each of the two girls. ‘You’ll have to get up now I’m back, you know. Can’t have you lazing in bed like this!’
‘We’re getting up tomorrow at teatime,’ said Lucy-Ann. ‘Bill, where have you been? Tell us!’
‘Sorry, old thing. Can’t say a word,’ said Bill.
‘Oh – very hush-hush then!’ said Dinah, disappointed. Are you going to stay at home now?’
As far as I know,’ said Bill. ‘I sincerely hope so. It looks to me as if somebody ought to look after your mother now. She’s gone thin. WHY did you all have to have flu together, so that she couldn’t have any of you to help her?’
‘It was very selfish of us!’ said Jack. ‘And even you were away too, Bill. Never mind – everything seems all right when you’re here – doesn’t it, Aunt Allie?’
Mrs Cunningham nodded. ‘Yes. Everything!’ she said. ‘Shall we all have a picnic meal up here in the bedroom, children, so that we can have a good old talk with Bill?’
It was a very hilarious meal, with Kiki more ridiculous than usual, blowing her police-whistle whenever she felt like it. Everyone got tired of this new trick very quickly, even Bill.
‘Bill! Bill, pay the bill, silly-billy, silly-bill!’ shouted Kiki. She got a sharp tap on the beak from Jack.
‘No rudery’ said Jack. ‘Behave yourself, Kiki.’
Kiki flew down to the floor, very hurt. ‘Poor Kiki, poor, poor,’ she muttered to herself and disappeared under the bed, where she found an old slipper and spent a pleasant half-hour pecking off a button.
Everyone talked, asked questions, laughed and felt happy. The flu was quite forgotten. But about half-past nine Lucy-Ann suddenly went pale and flopped down on the bed.
‘We’ve overdone it!’ said Bill. ‘I forgot they’d all had a pretty bad time. Come on, Lucy-Ann, I’ll carry you to bed! Dinah, can you walk to your room?’
Next day the doctor came as usual, and was pleased with all four. ‘Up to tea today – up after breakfast tomorrow,’ he said. ‘Then up the same time as usual.’
‘When can they go back to school, Doctor?’ asked Mrs Cunningham.
‘Not yet,’ sai
d the doctor, much to the children’s surprise. ‘They must go somewhere for convalescence – ten days or a fortnight, say. Somewhere warm and sunny. This flu they’ve had is a bad kind – they will feel very down all winter if they don’t go away somewhere. Can you manage that, Mrs Cunningham?’
‘We’ll see about it all right,’ said Bill. ‘But I’m not letting my wife go with them, Doctor. She needs a holiday herself now after so much illness in the house – and it wouldn’t be much of a holiday for her to be with these four live wires. Leave it to me.’
‘Right,’ said the doctor. ‘Well, I’ll be in on Saturday, just to see that everything goes well. Goodbye!’
‘A holiday!’ said Dinah, as soon as the door had closed. ‘I say! What a bit of luck! I thought we’d have to go straight back to school!’
There was a conference about what was best to be done. ‘It’s October tomorrow,’ said Bill, ‘and the weather forecast isn’t too good. Rain and wind and fog! What a climate we have! It’s a pity they can’t go abroad, Allie.’
‘They can’t go abroad without anyone responsible in charge,’ said his wife. ‘We’ll have to find somewhere on the south coast, and send them there.’
But all the plans were altered very suddenly and dramatically. On Friday night, very late, the telephone-bell shrilled through the house, and awoke Bill and his wife, and also Kiki, whose ears were sharper than anyone’s. She imitated the bell under her breath, but didn’t wake the boys. She cocked up her crest and listened. She could hear Bill speaking in a low voice on the telephone extension in his bedroom along the landing. Then there was a clink, and the little ping that sounded whenever the telephone receiver was put back into place.
‘Ping!’ muttered Kiki. ‘Ping pong! Ping!’ She put her head under her wing again, and went to sleep, perched comfortably on the edge of the mantelpiece. The children all slept peacefully, not guessing what changes in their plans that telephone call was going to mean!