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Mountain of Adventure (Enid Blyton's Adventure Series), Page 2

Enid Blyton

  ‘You are very lonely here,’ said Bill. ‘I can’t see a single house or farm anywhere.’

  ‘My brother lives on the other side of that mountain,’ said Mrs Evans, pointing. ‘I see him at the market each week. That is ten miles away, or maybe eleven. And my sister lives beyond that mountain you can see there. She too has a farm. So we have neighbours, you see.’

  ‘Yes – but not next-door ones!’ said Dinah. ‘Don’t you ever feel cut-off and lonely here, Mrs Evans?’

  Mrs Evans looked surprised. ‘Lonely? Indeed to gootness, what iss there to be lonely about, with Effans by my side, and the shepherd up on the hills, and the cow-herd and his wife in their cottage near by? And there iss plenty of animals, as you will see.’

  Hens wandered in and out of the open door, pecking up crumbs fallen from the table. Kiki watched them intently. She began a warm, clucking noise, and the hens clucked back. A cock came strutting in and looked round for the hen that had a cluck he didn’t quite know.

  ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’ suddenly crowed the cock defiantly, catching sight of Kiki on Jack’s shoulder.

  ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’ answered Kiki, and the cock immediately jumped up on to the table to fight the crowing parrot.

  He was shooed down and ran out indignantly, followed by a cackle of laughter from Kiki. Effans held his sides and laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks.

  ‘That is a fine bird, look you!’ he said to Jack, quite losing his heart to Kiki. ‘Let her help herself to the raspberries again.’

  ‘She’s had enough, thank you very much,’ said Jack, pleased at Effans’ praise of Kiki. People sometimes didn’t like the parrot, and when she went away with him Jack was always anxious in case anyone should object to her.

  They all wandered out into the golden evening air, happy and well satisfied. Bill and Mrs Mannering sat on an old stone wall, watching the sun sink behind a mountain in the west. The four children went round the farmhouse and its buildings.

  ‘Pigs! And what a marvellous clean pig-sty,’ said Dinah. ‘I’ve never seen a clean pig before. Look at this one, fat and shining as if it’s been scrubbed.’

  ‘It probably has, in preparation for our coming!’ said Philip. ‘I love these little piglets too. Look at them rooting round with their funny little snouts.’

  ‘Kiki will soon have a wonderful collection of noises,’ said Lucy-Ann, hearing the parrot giving a very life-like grunt. ‘She’ll be able to moo and bellow and grunt and crow and cluck

  ‘And gobble like a turkey!’ said Dinah, seeing some turkeys near by. ‘This is a lovely farm. They’ve got everything. Oh, Philip – look at that kid!’

  There were some goats on the mountain-side not far off, and with them was a kid. It was snow-white, dainty and altogether lovely. Philip stood looking at it, loving it at once.

  He made a curious little bleating noise and all the goats looked round and stopped eating. The kid pricked up its little white ears, and stood quivering on its slender legs. It was very young and new.

  Philip made the noise again. The kid left its mother and came leaping to him. It sprang right into his arms and nestled there, butting its soft white head against Philip’s chin.

  ‘Oh, Philip – isn’t it sweet!’ said the girls, and stroked the little thing and rubbed their cheeks against its snow-white coat.

  ‘I wish animals came to me like they come to you, Philip,’ said Lucy-Ann enviously. It was amazing the attraction that Philip had for creatures of any kind. Even a moth would rest contentedly on his finger, and the number of strange pets he had had was unbelievable. Hedgehogs, stag-beetles, lizards, young birds, mice, rats – you never knew what Philip would have next. All creatures loved him and trusted him, and he in turn understood them and loved them too.

  ‘Now this kid will follow at his heels like a dog the whole time we’re here,’ said Dinah. ‘Well, I’m glad it will be a kid, not a cow! Do you remember that awful time when Philip went into a field with a herd of cows in, and they all went to him and nuzzled him and followed him about like dogs. They even tried to get over the gate and through the hedge when he went out. I was awfully scared they would.’

  ‘You ought to be ashamed of being afraid of cows,’ said Philip, stroking the kid. ‘There’s no reason to be, Di. It’s surprising you’re not afraid of this kid. I bet you’d run if the goats came near.’

  ‘I shouldn’t,’ said Dinah indignantly, but all the same she moved off hurriedly when the herd of goats, curious at seeing the kid in Philip’s arms, began to come nearer to the children.

  Soon they were all round Philip, Lucy-Ann and Jack. Dinah watched from a distance. The kid bleated when it saw its mother, but as soon as Philip put the little thing down to run to her, it leapt straight back into his arms!

  ‘Well! You’ll have to take it to bed with you tonight, there’s no doubt about that,’ said Jack, grinning. ‘Come on – let’s go and see the horses. They’re the kind with shaggy hooves – I just love those!’

  The goats were shooed off, and the children went to look at the great horses standing patiently in the field. There were three of them. They all came to Philip at once of course.

  He had put down the little kid, and now it followed so close to his heels that, every time he stopped, it ran into his legs. At the first possible chance it sprang into his arms again. It followed him into the farmhouse too.

  ‘Oh! You have found little Snowy!’ said Mrs Evans, looking round from her oven with a face redder than ever. ‘He has not left his mother before, look you!’

  ‘Oh, Philip, don’t bring the kid in here,’ said Mrs Mannering, seeing at once that yet another animal had attached itself to Philip. She was afraid that Mrs Evans would object strongly to the kid coming indoors with Philip – and once it had felt the boy’s attraction nothing would stop it from following him anywhere – even upstairs!

  ‘Oh, it iss no matter if a kid comes into the house,’ said Mrs Evans. ‘We haff the new-born lambs in, and the hens are always in and out, and Moolie the calf used to come in each day before she was put in the field.’

  The children thought it was a wonderful idea to let creatures wander in and out like that, but Mrs Mannering thought differently. She wondered if she would find eggs laid in her bed, or a calf in her bedroom chair! Still, it was a holiday, and if Mrs Evans like creatures wandering all over her kitchen, the children would like it too!

  Lucy-Ann gave an enormous yawn and sank down into a big chair. Mrs Mannering looked at her, and then at the grandfather clock ticking in a corner.

  ‘Go to bed, all of you,’ she said. ‘We’re all tired. Yes, I know it’s early, Philip, you don’t need to tell me that – but we’ve had a long day, and this mountain air is very strong. We shall all sleep like tops tonight.’

  ‘I will get ready some creamy milk for you,’ began Mrs Evans, ‘and you would like some buttered scones and jam to take up with you?’

  ‘Oh, no,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘We simply couldn’t eat a thing more tonight, thank you, Mrs Evans.’

  ‘Oh, Mother! Of course we could eat scones and jam and drink some more of that heavenly milk,’ said Dinah indignantly. So they each took up a plate of scones and raspberry jam and a big glass of creamy milk to have in bed.

  There came the scampering of little hooves, and Snowy the kid appeared in the boys’ bedroom. He leapt in delight on to Philip’s bed.

  ‘Gosh! Look at this! Snowy’s come upstairs!’ said Philip. ‘Have a bit of scone, Snowy?’

  ‘I say – did we hear the kid coming up the stairs?’ said Lucy-Ann, putting her head round the door of the boys’ room. ‘Oooh, Philip! You’ve got him on your bed!’

  ‘Well, he won’t get off,’ said Philip. ‘As soon as I push him off, he’s on again – look! Like a puppy!’

  ‘Maa-aa-aa!’ said the kid in a soft, bleating voice, and butted Philip with its head.

  ‘Are you going to have it up here all the night?’ asked Dinah, appearing in her pyjamas.

  ‘Well, if I put it outside, it’ll only come in again – and if I shut the door it will come and butt it with its head,’ said Philip, who had quite lost his heart to Snowy. After all, Jack has Kiki in the room with him all night.’

  ‘Oh, I don’t mind you having Snowy,’ said Dinah. ‘I just wondered what Mother would say, that’s all – and Mrs Evans.’

  ‘I shouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that Mrs Evans has got a sick cow in her room, and half a dozen hens,’ said Philip, arranging Snowy in the crook of his knees. ‘She’s a woman after my own heart. Go away, you girls. I’m going to sleep. I’m very happy – full of scones and jam and milk and sleep.’

  Kiki made a hiccuping noise. ‘Pardon!’ she said. This was a new thing she had learnt from somebody at Jack’s school the term before. It made Mrs Mannering cross.

  ‘I should think Kiki’s full up too,’ said Jack sleepily. ‘She pinched a whole scone, and I’m sure she’s been at the raspberries again. Look at her beak! Now shut up, Kiki, I want to go to sleep.’

  ‘Pop goes the weasel, look you,’ said Kiki solemnly and put her head under her wing. The girls disappeared. The boys fell asleep. What a lovely beginning to a summer holiday!


  The first morning

  The next day the two girls awoke first. It was early, but somebody was already about in the yard. Lucy-Ann peeped out of the window.

  ‘It’s Effans,’ she said. ‘He must have been milking. Dinah, come here. Did you ever see such a glorious view in your life?’

  The two girls knelt at the window. The sun was streaming across the valley below through the opening between two mountains, but the rest of the vale was in shadow. In the distance many mountains reared their great heads, getting bluer and bluer the further they were away. The sky was blue without a cloud.

  ‘Holiday weather – real holiday weather!’ said Dinah happily. ‘I hope Mother lets us go picnicking today.’

  ‘There’s one thing about this holiday,’ said Lucy-Ann, ‘we shan’t have any awful adventures, because Aunt Allie is absolutely determined to go with us, or send Bill with us, wherever we go.’

  ‘Well, we’ve had our share of adventures,’ said Dinah, beginning to dress. ‘More than most children ever have. I don’t mind if we don’t have one this time. Hurry, Lucy-Ann, then we can get to the bathroom before the boys. Don’t make too much row because Mother doesn’t want to be wakened too early.’

  Lucy-Ann popped her head in at the boys’ room on the way to the bathroom. They were still sound asleep. Kiki took her head from under her wing as she heard Lucy-Ann at the door, but she said nothing, only yawned. Lucy-Ann looked closely at Philip’s bed.

  Snowy the kid was still there, cuddled into the crook of Philip’s knees! Lucy-Ann’s heart warmed to Philip. What an extraordinary boy he was, to have every creature so fond of him, and to be able to do anything he liked with them. The little kid raised its head and looked at Lucy-Ann.

  She fled to the bathroom and washed with Dinah. They soon heard the boys getting up, and Kiki’s voice telling somebody to wipe his feet.

  ‘She’s probably teaching a few manners to Snowy,’ giggled Lucy-Ann. ‘Kiki always tries to teach things to all Philip’s pets. Oh, Dinah – do you remember how funny she was with Huffin and Puffin, the two puffins we found when we had our last adventure?’

  ‘Arr,’ said Dinah, making the noise the puffins used to make. Kiki heard them. Arrrrr!’ she called from the boys’ bedroom. ‘Arrrrr!’ Then she went off into a cackle of laughter, and Snowy the kid stared at her in alarm.

  ‘Maa-aa-aa!’ said the kid.

  ‘Maa-aa-aa!’ said Kiki, and the kid looked all round for another kid. The boys laughed.

  Kiki, always encouraged when people laughed, swelled up her throat to make the noise of a car changing gear, her favourite noise of the moment, but Philip stopped her hurriedly.

  ‘Stop it, Kiki! We’ve had enough of that noise. Do forget it!’

  ‘God save the Queen!’ said Kiki, in a dismal voice. ‘Wipe your feet, blow your nose.’

  ‘Come on,’ said the girls, putting their heads in. ‘Slowcoaches!’

  They all went downstairs just as Mrs Evans was setting the last touches to the breakfast-table. It was loaded almost as much as the supper-table the night before. Jugs of creamy milk stood about the table, warm from the milking, and big bowls of raspberries had appeared again.

  ‘I shan’t know what to have,’ groaned Jack, sitting down with Kiki on his shoulder. ‘I can smell eggs and bacon – and there’s cereal to have with raspberries and cream – and ham – and tomatoes – and gosh, is that cream cheese? Cream cheese for breakfast, how super!’

  Snowy the kid tried to get on to Philip’s knee as he sat down to breakfast. He pushed him off. ‘No, Snowy, not at meal-times. I’m too busy then. Go and say good morning to your mother. She must wonder where you are.’

  Kiki was at work on the raspberries. Mrs Evans had actually put a plate aside for Kiki’s own breakfast. She and Effans beamed at the bird. They both thought she was wonderful.

  ‘Look you, whateffer!’ said Kiki, and dipped her beak into the raspberries again. It was rapidly becoming pink with the juice.

  The children had an extremely good meal before Bill or Mrs Mannering came down. The Evans’ had had theirs already – in fact they seemed to have done a day’s work, judging by the list of things that Evans talked about – he had cleaned out the pigs, groomed the horses, milked the cows, fetched in the eggs, been to see the cow-herd and a dozen other things besides.

  ‘Mrs Evans, do you know where the donkeys are that we arranged to have, for riding in the mountains?’ asked Philip, when he had finished his breakfast and Snowy was once more in his arms.

  ‘Ah, Trefor the shepherd will tell you,’ said Mrs Evans. ‘It iss his brother, look you, that has the donkeys. He is to bring them here for you.’

  ‘Can’t we go and fetch them and ride them back?’ said Jack.

  ‘Indeed to gootness, Trefor’s brother lives thirty miles away!’ said Effans. ‘You could not walk there, whateffer. You go and see Trefor today and ask him what has he done about your donkeys.’

  Mrs Mannering and Bill appeared at that moment, looking fresh and trim after their good night’s sleep in the sharp mountain air.

  ‘Any breakfast left for us?’ said Bill with a grin.

  Mrs Evans hurried to fry bacon and eggs again, and soon the big kitchen was full of the savoury smell.

  ‘Golly, if I stay here and smell that I shall feel hungry all over again,’ said Philip. ‘Bill, we’re going up to see Trefor the shepherd to ask about our donkeys. Mother, can we have a picnic in the mountains as soon as the donkeys come?’

  ‘Yes – when I’m sure I can keep on my donkey all right,’ said his mother. ‘If mine’s a very fat donkey I shall slide off!’

  ‘They are not fat,’ Effans assured her. ‘They are used in the mountains and they are strong and small. Sometimes we use ponies, but Trefor’s brother breeds donkeys, and they are just as good.’

  ‘Well, we’ll go and have a talk with Trefor,’ said Philip, getting up and letting Snowy fall off his knee. ‘Come on, everyone! Kiki, do you want to be left with the raspberries? You greedy bird!’

  Kiki flew to Jack’s shoulder, and the party set off up the path that Effans had pointed out to them. Snowy bounded with them, turning a deaf ear to his mother’s bleats. Already he seemed one of the company, petted by them all, though Kiki was not altogether pleased to have another creature taking up so much of the children’s attention.

  They went up the steep little path. The sun was up higher now and was hot. The children wore only thin blouses or shirts, and shorts, but they felt very warm. They came to a spring gushing out of the hillside and sat down to drink, and to cool their hands and feet. Snowy drank too, and then capered about lightly on his strong little legs, leaping from place to place almost as if he had wings.

  ‘I wish I could leap like a goat,’ s
aid Jack lazily. ‘It looks so lovely and easy to spring up high into the air like that, and land wherever you want to.’

  Philip suddenly made a grab at something that was slithering past him on the warm bank. Dinah sat up at once. ‘What is it, what is it?’

  ‘This,’ said Philip, and showed the others a silvery-grey, snake-like creature, with bright little eyes.

  Dinah screamed at once. ‘A snake! Philip, put it down. Philip, it’ll bite you.’

  ‘It won’t,’ said Philip calmly. ‘It’s not a snake – and anyway British snakes don’t bite unless they’re adders. I’ve told you that before. This is a slow-worm – and a very fine specimen too!’

  The children looked in fascination as the silvery slow-worm wriggled over Philip’s knees. It certainly looked very like a snake, but it wasn’t. Lucy-Ann and Jack knew that, but Dinah always forgot. She was so terrified of snakes that to her anything that glided along must belong to the snake family.

  ‘It’s horrible,’ she said with a shudder. ‘Let it go, Philip. How do you know it’s not a snake?’

  ‘Well – for one thing it blinks its eyes and no snake does that,’ said Philip. ‘Watch it. It blinks like a lizard – and no wonder, because it belongs to the lizard family.’

  As he spoke the little creature blinked its eyes. It stayed still on Philip’s knee and made no further attempt to escape. Philip put his hand over it and it stayed there quite happy.

  ‘I’ve never had a slow-worm for a pet,’ said Philip. ‘I’ve a good mind …’

  ‘Philip! If you dare to keep that snake for a pet I’ll tell Mother to send you home!’ said Dinah in great alarm.

  ‘Dinah, it’s not a snake!’ said Philip impatiently. ‘It’s a lizard – a legless lizard – quite harmless and very interesting. I’m going to keep it for a pet if it’ll stay with me.’

  ‘Stay with you! Of course it will,’ said Jack. ‘Did you ever know an animal that wouldn’t? I should hate to go to a jungle with you, Philip – you’d have monkeys hanging lovingly round your neck, and tigers purring at you, and snakes wrapping themselves round your legs, and …’