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The Ship of Adventure, Page 2

Enid Blyton

  ‘She can be awfully quiet if she wants to,’ said poor Jack. Kiki chose that moment to have a fit of hiccups. She hiccuped very well, and it always annoyed Mrs Mannering.

  ‘Stop that, Kiki,’ she ordered. Kiki stopped and looked reproachfully at Mrs Mannering. She began to cough, a small but hollow cough, copied from the gardener.

  Mrs Mannering tried not to laugh. ‘The bird is so idiotic,’ she said. ‘Quite crazy. Now, where did I put that list of things that I’ve got to do before we go?’

  ‘One, two, three, GO!’ shouted Kiki, and Jack just stopped her making a noise like a pistol shot. Mrs Mannering went out of the room, and Jack spoke solemnly to Kiki.

  ‘Kiki, I may have to go without you, old bird. I can’t upset all the arrangements at the last minute because of you. But I’ll do what I can, so cheer up.’

  ‘God save the Queen,’ said Kiki, feeling that it must be a solemn moment by the look on Jack’s face. ‘Poor Polly, naughty Polly!’

  The last few days went by slowly. Lucy-Ann complained about it. ‘Why is it that time always goes so slowly when you’re wanting something to happen quickly? It’s sickening. Thursday will never come!’

  Jack was not so excited as the others, because a letter had come saying that parrots could not be taken on board. All four children were very sorry about it, and Jack looked really worried. But he did not grumble about it, or worry Mrs Mannering. She was sorry for him and offered to arrange with a woman in the village to look after Kiki for him.

  ‘She used to have a parrot of her own,’ she said. ‘I expect she’d enjoy having Kiki.’

  ‘No, thanks, Aunt Allie. I’ll arrange something,’ said Jack. ‘Don’t let’s talk about it!’

  So Mrs Mannering said no more, and even when Kiki sat on the tea table and picked all the currants out of the cake before anyone noticed, she did not say a word.

  On Wednesday all five went off in Mrs Mannering’s car to Southampton, followed by another with the baggage. They were in a great state of excitement. Everyone was in charge of something to carry, and Lucy-Ann kept looking at her package anxiously to make sure she still had it.

  They were to stay at a hotel for the night and embark on the ship at half past eight in the morning, to catch the tide. They would be away at eleven o’clock, steaming steadily towards France – what an excitement!

  They all had a very good dinner at the hotel, and then Mrs Mannering suggested going to the cinema. She felt sure that not one of the children would go to sleep if she sent them to bed at the usual time.

  ‘Do you mind if I go and hunt up a school friend of mine, Aunt Allie?’ said Jack. ‘He lives in Southampton, and I’d like to spring a surprise on him and go and call.’

  ‘All right,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘But you’re not to be late back. Do you want to go and see him too, Philip?’

  ‘Who’s this chappy, Jack?’ asked Philip, but Jack was halfway out of the room. A mumble came through the door.

  ‘What’s he say?’ said Philip.

  ‘Sounded like “Porky” to me,’ said Dinah.

  ‘Porky? Who does he mean, I wonder,’ said Philip. ‘Somebody mad on birds, I expect. I’ll come to the cinema. I’d like to see the picture – it’s got wild animals in it.’

  They went off to the cinema without seeing Jack again. He was home when they came back, reading one of the guidebooks Mrs Mannering had bought.

  ‘Hello! See Porky?’ said Philip. He got a frown from Jack, and was puzzled. What was Jack up to? He changed the subject quickly, and began to talk about the picture they had seen.

  ‘Now, to bed,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘Stop talking, Philip. Off you all go – and remember, up at seven o’clock sharp in the morning.’

  Everyone was awake long before seven. The girls talked together, and Philip and Jack chattered away too. Philip asked Jack about the night before.

  ‘Why did you shut me up when I asked you if you’d seen Porky?’ he said. ‘And anyway – who is Porky?’

  ‘He’s that fellow called Hogsney,’ said Jack. ‘We called him Porky. He left ages ago. He was always wanting to borrow Kiki, don’t you remember?’

  ‘Oh, yes, Porky, of course,’ said Philip. ‘I’d almost forgotten him. Jack, what’s up? You look sort of secretive!’

  ‘Don’t ask me any questions, because I don’t want to answer them,’ said Jack.

  ‘You’re being jolly mysterious,’ said Philip. ‘I believe it’s something to do with Kiki. You kept putting us all off when we asked you what you’d done with her. We thought you were feeling upset about it, so we didn’t press you.’

  ‘Well, don’t press me now, ’ said Jack. ‘I don’t want to say anything at the moment.’

  ‘All right,’ said Philip, giving it up. ‘I know you’re up to something, though. Come on – let’s get up. It’s not seven yet, but we can’t lie in bed on a morning as fine as this.’

  They were all on the boat at just after half past eight. Mrs Mannering found their cabins. There were three in a row – a single one for her, and two double ones for the others.

  Lucy-Ann was delighted with them. ‘Why, they are just like proper little rooms,’ she said. ‘Jack, is your cabin like ours? Look, we’ve even got hot and cold water taps.’

  ‘We’ve got an electric fan going in our cabin,’ said Philip appearing at the door. ‘It’s wizard – lovely and cool. You’ve got one too.’

  ‘The water is only just below our porthole,’ said Dinah, looking out. ‘If the sea got at all rough it would slop into the hole!’

  ‘It would be well and truly screwed up before that happened!’ said Philip. ‘I’m glad we’re at the waterline – it will be cooler in this warm weather. I say, isn’t this super! I’m longing to sail off.’

  They all went to see Mrs Mannering’s cabin, which was the same as theirs but smaller. Then they went to explore the ship. She was quite big, but not tremendous, and was white from top to bottom – white funnels, white rails, white sides.

  Her name was on each of the white lifeboats slung at the sides of the deck – Viking Star. Lucy-Ann read it a dozen times over.

  ‘We shall have lifeboat drill tomorrow, I expect,’ said Mrs Mannering, joining them on their exploration.

  ‘There are big lifebelt jackets in our cabin cupboards,’ said Lucy-Ann. ‘I suppose you tie them round you.’

  ‘You slip them over your head, so that half the jacket is at your front and half behind – and then you tie it firmly round you with the tapes,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘You’ll have to put it on tomorrow for lifeboat drill.’

  It all sounded very exciting. They went round the ship, thrilled with everything. There was the sports deck, where someone was already playing quoits with thick rings of rope, and two others were playing deck tennis. ‘Fancy being able to play games like this on board ship!’ said Dinah.

  ‘There’s a cinema down below, ’ said Mrs Mannering, ‘and a writing room, and library and lounge, and an enormous dining room!’

  ‘And gosh, look – here’s a swimming pool on the ship itself!’ cried Jack in amazement as they came to a beautiful pool at one end of the ship, shimmering blue with water.

  The ship’s siren suddenly hooted twice very loudly. Lucy-Ann almost fell into the swimming pool with surprise. Mrs Mannering laughed.

  ‘Oh, Lucy-Ann – did it make you jump? It made me jump too.’

  ‘What a terrific noise!’ said Lucy-Ann. ‘My goodness, it’s a good thing Kiki isn’t here. If she began to hoot like that siren she’d be impossible.’

  ‘Shut up, idiot,’ said Dinah in a low voice. ‘Don’t remind Jack we’re going off without her.’

  Lucy-Ann glanced round for Jack, but he wasn’t there. ‘Where’s he gone?’ she asked Dinah. But nobody had seen him go.

  ‘He’s somewhere about,’ said Philip. ‘I say, we must be sailing soon. Look – they’re taking up the gangways. We ’ll soon be off!’

  ‘Let’s stand at this side and wave to all the people,�
�� said Lucy-Ann. She leaned over the rail and watched the people crowded together on the dockside below. They were shouting and waving. Suddenly Lucy-Ann gave a squeal.

  ‘Look! Look! There’s somebody with a parrot just like Kiki! Honestly, it is. Where’s Jack? I must tell him. Blow, he’s nowhere to be seen!’

  The engines of the ship had now started up, and the children felt a vibration under their feet. Lucy-Ann strained her eyes to look at the parrot that was so very like Kiki.

  ‘It is Kiki!’ she cried. ‘Kiki! Kiki! Goodbye! I’m sure it’s you!’

  The parrot was chained to a young man’s wrist. Whether it was making a noise or not the children could not tell because of the hullabaloo going on. It certainly was remarkably like Kiki.

  ‘We’re off! We’ve moved away from the quay!’ cried Philip. ‘Hurrah, we’re off!’ He waved madly to everyone. Lucy-Ann waved too, and watched the parrot. It was getting smaller as the ship moved away towards the open water. Its owner seemed to be having trouble with it. It was flapping its wings, and pecking at him.

  Then it suddenly rose into the air – the chain parted – and the parrot sailed right over the stretch of water between quay and ship, screeching madly.

  ‘It is Kiki, it is, it is!’ yelled Lucy-Ann. ‘Jack, where are you? JACK!’


  Everyone settles in

  Dinah, Lucy-Ann and Philip rushed to find Jack. The parrot had reached the ship, and they had lost sight of it. They were all certain it was Kiki, and Philip had a shrewd idea that Jack would not be quite so surprised about it as they themselves were.

  Jack was nowhere to be found. It was most exasperating. They hunted for him everywhere, and at last Lucy-Ann thought of his cabin. ‘He might be there,’ she said. ‘Though why he wants to go and shut himself up there just at the exciting moment when the ship is leaving Southampton, I really can’t imagine! And where’s the parrot? She seems to have disappeared too.’

  They went down the stairs to the cabins and found their way to the passage where theirs were. They flung open Jack’s door and crowded in. ‘Jack! Are you here? What do you think we’ve just seen?’

  They stopped in surprise at what they saw. Jack was sitting on his bed in the cabin, and Kiki was on his shoulder, making a curious crooning noise into his ear, pulling at it gently.

  ‘Gosh!’ said Philip. ‘So she found you. I suppose it is Kiki?’

  ‘Of course, idiot,’ said Jack. ‘What a bit of luck, wasn’t it? Old Porky brough her down to the quay to see me off, chained to his wrist – and she broke the chain and flew over to me! Came into my porthole too – brainy old bird!’

  ‘Porky? The boy you used to know at school! Did you give Kiki to him to mind for you?’ said Lucy-Ann, amazed. ‘But – how did she get down here?’

  ‘I brought her in the car yesterday,’ said Jack, putting one hand over his ear so that Kiki could not nibble it. ‘She was in the picnic basket I was carrying, as quiet as a mouse. I was terrified one of you would ask me to open the basket and get you out something to eat!’

  ‘But I say – won’t Porky be upset to have her escape like that?’ said Dinah.

  ‘And how did she know you were here, if you were down in your cabin?’ wondered Lucy-Ann. ‘Perhaps she heard me call her. That must have been it – she heard me yelling “Kiki! Kiki!”, broke her chain in her excitement and flew over – and by a lucky chance she chose your very porthole!’

  ‘You’d better tell Aunt Allie all that,’ said Jack, with a grin. ‘It makes a very fine story – better than mine!’

  The three stared at him in silence. ‘You’re a determined old fraud, Jack,’ said Philip at last. ‘You arranged it all; I bet you did! Yes, even arranged for the chain to snap and for Kiki to see or hear you at your porthole.’

  Jack grinned again. ‘Well, I think Lucy-Ann’s idea is very good – shouting to Kiki like that and making her so excited that she flew across to the ship. Anyway, she’s here, and here she stays. I’d better keep her down in the cabin, I think.’

  They all made a fuss of old Kiki, who enjoyed it very much indeed. She couldn’t understand the noise the vibration of the engines made, and kept cocking her head on one side to listen. She tried an imitation, but not a very good one.

  ‘Now don’t you do any funny noises,’ Jack warned her. ‘You don’t want to be hauled up before the Captain, do you?’

  ‘Pop goes the weasel,’ said Kiki, and pecked his ear. Then she suddenly gave a most realistic sneeze.

  ‘Don’t,’ said Jack. ‘Use your handkerchief! Gosh, Kiki, I couldn’t have gone without you.’

  Everyone was pleased to know that Kiki was safely with them. They broke the news as gently as possible to Mrs Mannering. She listened in annoyance, but it did not seem to occur to her for one moment that Kiki’s arrival was anything but an unfortunate accident. She sighed.

  ‘All right. If she’s here, she’s here. But for goodness’ sake, Jack, keep her locked up in the cabin. You really will get into trouble if the passengers complain about her, and she may be sent to the crew’s deck and put in a cage if you don’t keep a firm hand on her.’

  So Kiki was locked into the cabin, and passed the first day wondering whether she was giddy, or whether there was a slight earthquake going on all the time. She had no idea she was in a big ship, and could not understand its movements, though she had many a time been in small boats.

  The first day seemed lovely and long. The Viking Star slid easily through the calm, blue water, her engines purring sweetly, leaving behind her a creamy wake that seemed to have no end, but to stretch right back to the horizon itself. England was soon left behind. The first stop was to be Lisbon in Portugal.

  It was fun to go down to meals in the big dining room and choose what they liked from the long menu. It was fun to go up on the sports deck and play deck tennis and try to keep their balance as they ran for the rubber ring. It was even fun to go to bed – because it meant snuggling down into a narrow, bunk-like bed, turning out the light, feeling the breeze from the electric fan cooling their hot bodies and hearing the plish-plish-plash of the water just below their portholes.

  ‘Lovely!’ said Lucy-Ann before she fell asleep. ‘I hope this trip doesn’t turn into an adventure. I like it as it is. It’s quite exciting enough without having an adventure.’

  It wasn’t quite so nice in the Bay of Biscay! The sea was rough and choppy there, and the boat pitched and tossed and rolled. Mrs Mannering didn’t like it at all. She stayed in her cabin, but the four children were as right as rain. They turned up to every meal in the dining room, and ate steadily right down the menu. They would even have gone up to try and play deck tennis on the sports deck if one of the stewards had not firmly forbidden them to.

  And then, quite suddenly as it seemed, everything changed. The sea grew blue and calm, the sun shone out very hotly indeed, the sky was brilliant, and every officer and man appeared in spotless white.

  Mrs Mannering felt all right again – and Kiki grew very, very impatient at being kept in the cabin. She was already great friends with the steward and stewardess who looked after the cabins. They had soon got over their astonishment at finding her in Jack’s cabin.

  They had not seen her at first. She was sitting behind the little curtain that hung at the side of the porthole, which Jack had to keep shut in case Kiki flew out. It was the stewardess who heard her first. She had come in to make the beds.

  Kiki watched her slyly from behind the curtain. Then she spoke in a firm and decided voice.

  ‘Put the kettle on.’

  The stewardess was startled. She looked round at the door, thinking that someone must be there speaking to her. But nobody was.

  Kiki gave a loud hiccup. ‘Pardon,’ she said. The stewardess felt alarmed. She looked all round. She opened the cupboard door.

  ‘What a pity, what a pity!’ said Kiki, in such a mournful voice that the stewardess could bear it no longer and flew to find the steward. He was a dour and determ
ined Scot with very little patience.

  He came into the cabin and looked round. ‘What’s to do, wumman?’ he said to the stewardess. ‘What’s scairt ye? There’s naught here.’

  Kiki gave a loud cough, and then sneezed violently. ‘Pardon,’ she said. ‘Where’s your hanky?’

  Now it was the steward’s turn to look amazed. He stared all round the cabin. Kiki gave a loud and realistic yawn. She had a wonderful collection of noises. She couldn’t resist looking round the curtain to see how her performance was going.

  The steward saw her and strode over to the porthole. ‘Now look ye here – it’s a parrot!’ he said. ‘Did ever ye hear the like? A fine and clever bird it must be to do all that! Well, Polly – you’re a clever wee bird, that’s what you are!’

  Kiki flew to the top of the cupboard and looked at the steward and stewardess, first out of one eye and then out of the other. Then she made a noise like the dinner-gong being beaten for the ship’s meals. At the end she went off into one of her cackles of laughter.

  ‘It fair beats ye, doesn’t it?’ said the Scots steward, amazed. ‘A rare, bonny bird it is. The laddie that owns it should think shame on himself to keep it shut up here.’

  ‘It scared me, right enough,’ said the stewardess. ‘I wonder if it would like a grape. My great-aunt’s parrot loved grapes. I’ll go and get some.’

  Pretty soon Kiki was enjoying some black grapes, and when Jack came along to see her, he found the cabin floor scattered with grape pips, and two admiring people gaping at Kiki in delight.

  ‘Dirty bird!’ said Jack sternly, looking down at the pips. ‘You come down off that cupboard and pick up these pips.’

  ‘Pips,’ said Kiki. ‘Pops. Pip goes the weasel.’

  ‘I hope she hasn’t been annoying you,’ said Jack to the stewardess.

  ‘Oh, she’s wonderful,’ said the woman. ‘I never saw such a clever bird. You ought to take her up and show her off.’

  It wasn’t very long before Jack did take her up to the deck above on his shoulder, much to the surprise and amusement of all the passengers. Kiki had a wonderful time showing off. The only thing she couldn’t bear was the hoot of the ship’s siren, which always startled her so much that she fell off Jack’s shoulder in fright every time she heard it. She didn’t know what it was or where it came from, and usually flew off to hide herself somewhere whenever she heard it.