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The Valley of Adventure, Page 3

Enid Blyton

  The boy soon grew sleepy too. He lay down close to the others, quite glad of his coat, for it was very cold. Soon he was asleep. Only Kiki kept awake, cracking her beak now and again, puzzled and wondering what this strange night adventure meant.

  The plane flew on in darkness, passing over towns and villages, fields, rivers and woods. It passed over the sea to where the lights of ships shone dimly. Lights of the towns twinkled up, and here and there the flare path of an aerodrome shone up to the sky. But the plane did not fly down. It swept over them all, heading east, to the dawn.

  Then, just before dawn, it began to circle round more slowly. It dropped as it circled, and once banked so steeply that the children almost rolled over. It awoke them and they sat up, wondering where they were. They remembered at once and looked at one another with wide eyes.

  ‘We’re going to land. Where shall we find we are? Look out for a quick escape as soon as we get the chance,’ they whispered to one another. ‘Down we go – we’re landing!’


  Wherever can we be?

  The aeroplane landed with a slight bump that shook the children and made them gasp. Then it ran along a little way on its huge wheels, and stopped. They had arrived.

  But where? Dawn had come, and light came in at the windows, but it was not full morning yet. One of the men switched off the throbbing engines. At once a great quiet and peace came into the cabin. How marvellous not to have that enormous noise flooding into their ears any more! The children were glad.

  They heard the men’s voices. ‘We’ve made good time – and a good landing too. You brought her in well, Juan.’

  ‘We’ve not got much time to spare,’ said Juan. ‘Come on – let’s get out and stretch our legs. We’ll go to the hut and have a meal.’

  To the children’s enormous delight the men clambered out of the plane and disappeared. They hadn’t even gone round to the back of the crate and seen the children! Maybe they could escape and get help at once. Anyway they would be able to send word to Bill and Mrs Mannering telling them not to worry.

  ‘Come on,’ said Jack, getting up cautiously. ‘Let’s squint out of the window and see where we are. On an aerodrome, I hope. We’ll probably see a mechanic or two, and ask them to direct us to someone in authority.’

  They all crowded to the nearest window. But what a shock when they looked out!

  They were not on an aerodrome at all. They were on a broad flat piece of grassland in a valley – and that valley seemed to be surrounded on all sides by towering mountains.

  ‘Gosh!’ said Jack. ‘Where are we? Back of beyond, I should think.’

  ‘We’re in a valley,’ said Philip. ‘With mountains all round – awfully beautiful – but awfully lonely! How can we get help here? There won’t be a plane to take us back, that’s certain.’

  There wasn’t a house or any kind of building to be seen. The view from the other side of the plane was exactly the same – mountains on every side. They seemed to be at the bottom of them, in a green valley. It was very strange. Why should the men come there?

  ‘What are we going to do?’ asked Dinah. ‘Do we get out – or stay in – or what?’

  ‘Well – I don’t know what you think, Philip,’ said Jack, ‘but I don’t like any of this. I don’t like those men, I don’t like the way they flew off in the middle of the night after what sounded like a lot of shooting – and I don’t like this lonely valley either. But all the same I think it would be a good idea if we got out and snooped round a bit. There must be people somewhere about – shepherds, perhaps – somebody like that.’

  ‘What country are we in?’ asked Lucy-Ann. ‘Shall we be able to speak their language?’

  ‘I don’t suppose so for a minute,’ said Philip. ‘But we’ll just have to try and make ourselves understood.’

  ‘I wonder what those men have come here for,’ said Dinah thoughtfully. ‘It seems a funny lonely place to come to. I don’t think they are up to any good. I think it would be just as well to get out now, whilst we can, and hide, and then see if we can’t find someone to help us. We can report everything to Bill when we get back.’

  ‘That’s the best idea,’ said Jack at once. ‘I’ll be glad to be in the open air again. This plane’s jolly stuffy.’

  They looked cautiously out of every window to see if they could spot the two men. But there was no sign of them at all.

  ‘Better get going,’ said Jack. ‘What about our suitcases – and rugs – and Kiki?’

  ‘Don’t leave them here,’ said Philip. ‘We don’t want the men to guess we’ve been passengers in their plane. Take them with us.’

  So the four of them left the plane and handed down their cases and rugs to one another. Kiki uttered a few words of annoyance at being lifted about like luggage, but only in a very low voice.

  Soon all the children were standing outside the plane, wondering which way to go. Jack suddenly nudged Philip and made him jump.

  ‘Look! Look over there!’

  They all looked and saw a thin spire of blue smoke rising into the air.

  ‘The men have made a fire down there, I should think,’ said Jack in a low voice. ‘Better not go in that direction. We’ll take this path here – if it is a path.’

  The little procession wound round some big rocks, and came to where a stream burbled down the hillside. It gushed out not far off as a spring, and became a little stream almost at once.

  ‘We could drink from that,’ said Philip. ‘I’m thirsty. But I’m not hungry yet. Funny!’

  ‘Well, we’re all a bit tired and worried and puzzled,’ said Jack. ‘Let’s get some water into our hands and lap it up. I’m thirsty too.’

  The water was cold and crystal clear. It was delicious. All the children felt better for a drink. Dinah dipped her hanky into the stream and wiped her face. She felt much fresher then, and Lucy-Ann did the same.

  ‘The thing is to find a good hiding place for ourselves and these cases,’ said Jack. ‘I’m afraid if those two men start wandering about they may come across us. Where can we go?’

  ‘Let’s go straight on,’ said Dinah. ‘Up the hill here. If we keep up a little we shall be able to see the plane down in the valley and keep our sense of direction a bit. Keep among those trees.’

  ‘That’s a good idea,’ said Philip, and they made their way slowly towards the trees. They felt safer among them. The men could not spot them there. On the other hand, they found that they could no longer see the plane.

  ‘We can always spot it by climbing up a tree,’ said Jack. ‘I say – look there – is that a house?’

  Set in a clearing was what looked like a house. But when the children got near they found that it was almost burnt out – just a blackened ruin, empty and deserted.

  ‘What a pity,’ said Philip. ‘We could easily have asked help from the people who lived there. I wonder how the house got burnt.’

  They went on a little higher, through a copse of silver birch trees. They saw another building a little higher up – but to their astonishment and dismay that too was a blackened, scorched ruin. There was no sign of life anywhere about it.

  ‘Two burnt houses – and nobody to be found anywhere,’ said Jack. ‘Very curious. What’s been happening in this valley?’

  Higher up still they could see yet another house – would that be burnt out too? They laboured up to it, and gazed on it in despair.

  ‘Quite burnt out,’ said Dinah. ‘What an awful thing! What’s happened to the people who lived here? There must have been war here, or something. I do wonder where we are.’

  ‘Look – that cowshed, or whatever it is, isn’t very much burnt out,’ said Jack. ‘Let’s go over and see if the roof is still on. If it is, we could put our things there.’

  They made their way to the broken-down cowshed. It seemed as if the flames had got hold of one half of it but had left the other half. The roof was almost off, but at the back was a sheltered place, with stalls where cows had once been put.

  ‘This is all right,’ said Jack, making his way into the last stall of all. ‘The roof here will keep out the rain if it comes – and there are some jolly big clouds about. We can put our things here.’

  ‘The floor’s dirty,’ said Lucy-Ann, turning up her nose in disgust.

  ‘Well, we may perhaps be able to find a broom or something to get it clean – and we’ll spread it with grass or bracken for a carpet,’ said Dinah. ‘Then, if we spread out our rugs on it, we could even sleep here. We may not be able to find anyone to help us today. We could spend the night here.’

  They put their cases in the corner and draped the rugs over them. Kiki was put down on top in her basket. She gave a squawk of protest.

  ‘Do you think it would be safe to let her out?’ said Jack. ‘She’ll sit on my shoulder for hours now, I’m sure, if I tell her to. She must be so uncomfortable cooped up in that box.’

  ‘Yes – let her out,’ said Philip. ‘If she does fly off for a bit and the men see her they won’t know what she is or who she belongs to. She’ll give them a fright if she begins to talk.’

  Kiki was set free. She was overjoyed. She clambered out of the basket and flew to Jack’s shoulder. She nibbled his ear fondly.

  ‘Where’s your handkerchief?’ she said. ‘How many times have I told you to . . .’

  ‘All right, Kiki, all right,’ said Jack. ‘Not so loud, there’s a good old thing.’

  ‘Shhhhhhhhhh!’ said Kiki at the top of her voice. Then she said no more, but just sat and cracked her beak.

  ‘Well – what are our plans?’ said Philip, sitting on his suitcase. ‘Shall we go exploring a bit further and see if we can find anyone to help us? Or shall we keep an eye on those men and see if we can find out why they’ve come here? Or shall we just stay here and hide?’

  ‘I think we’d better go exploring,’ said Jack. ‘The most important thing really is to find help. We simply must get back home at once if we can. Aunt Allie and Bill will be worried to death about us.’

  ‘This is such a lovely valley,’ said Dinah, looking out of the tumbledown cowshed. ‘I can’t think why it isn’t packed with houses and cattle and sheep. But I can’t see a soul. I can’t even see any smoke anywhere – except for that bit over there, where the men are. It’s very mysterious. Why are all those houses burnt, and why isn’t there anyone here?’

  ‘Well, we’ve only seen just a bit of the valley and hillside,’ said Philip. ‘We may go round a corner and come on a whole village. Aren’t those mountains enormous?’

  ‘Yes. They make a ring all round this valley,’ said Lucy-Ann. ‘I wonder where the way out it. Mountains always have passes through them, don’t they?’

  ‘Yes,’ said Jack. ‘But I shouldn’t care to go looking for one if I didn’t know the way. See that mountain over there? It’s got a white tip. I bet that’s snow. It shows how high it must be.’

  It certainly was a beautiful valley, and the mountains that guarded it were magnificent. But it had a deserted lonely air about it, and even the few birds that flew by every now and again seemed silent and cautious.

  ‘There’s something mysterious here,’ said Jack. ‘You know – I believe – yes, I really do believe – we’re in for another adventure.’

  ‘Rubbish!’ said Philip. ‘We shall find a farm near by, get help, have a message sent somewhere, find a car road, go to the nearest town by car, and from there to an aerodrome. And I bet you we’ll be home by tomorrow.’

  ‘I bet we won’t,’ said Jack. Lucy-Ann looked alarmed.

  ‘But what about meals?’ she said. ‘We’ve only got Aunt Allies picnic packet – and few biscuits and some chocolate. We’ll starve if we don’t get home quickly. There’s nothing to eat here.’

  Nobody had thought of that. It was a nuisance. An adventure was one thing – but an adventure without anything to eat was quite another thing. That wouldn’t do at all.

  ‘I don’t think we’ll make this an adventure after all,’ said Jack. But an adventure it was – and they were only at the beginning of it too.


  A little exploring

  The four children went to the broken-down door and gazed out at the towering mountains around them. They seemed to hem the valley in and make it a green prison. None of the children had seen such high mountains before. Clouds hung about halfway up two or three of them, and their tops showed now and again as the clouds shifted and parted.

  ‘It’s a very lonely kind of place,’ said Jack. ‘I bet there’s all kinds of strange birds here – but I’ve only seen one or two so far. It’s funny that those men should have known where to land in this valley – that smooth strip of grass makes a splendid landing ground. It looks as if they’ve been here before. But why should they come here ? There doesn’t seem anything to come for at all – no hotel, not even a cottage that isn’t burnt, as far as we can see.’

  ‘Oh, there may be,’ said Philip. ‘Hey, look at that little lizard! I’ve never seen one like that before. What a pretty little fellow!’

  The lizard ran close by Philip’s feet. The boy bent down quietly and his left hand caught the tiny creature by the neck. If he had caught it by the tail it would probably have snapped off, and the lizard would have run away without it.

  ‘Oh, put it down, Philip, do!’ said Dinah. ‘Horrid creature!’

  ‘It isn’t,’ said Philip. ‘Look at its dear little feet with fingers on. Do look, Dinah.’

  Dinah gave a squeal and pushed Philip away. Lucy-Ann and Jack looked at the tiny lizard with interest.

  ‘It’s like a very, very small dragon,’ said Jack. ‘Open your hand and see ifit will stay with you, Philip.’

  ‘Of course it will!’ said Philip, who always seemed to exercise a strange spell over any creature he picked up. He opened his hand and let the lizard lie on his open palm. It made no attempt to escape at all.

  ‘See? It wants to stay with me,’ said Philip. ‘And so it shall. What’s your name, little thing? Lizzie? Well, of course, I might have known that.’

  Lucy-Ann giggled, forgetting her worries for a moment. What a lovely name for a lizard! Lizzie. Just like Philip to think of that.

  ‘I’ll see if I can catch a few flies for you, Lizzie,’ said Philip, and went to a sunny patch where flies were buzzing. He caught one and held it in finger and thumb over the lizard’s head. In a trice the fly was gone, and the lizard blinked with pleasure.

  ‘Now I suppose you’ll let the lizard live in your pocket or somewhere about you for ages,’ said Dinah in disgust. ‘I shan’t go near you. If you haven’t got a mouse down your neck you’ve got a toad in your pocket or a baby hedgehog crawling about you, or a few beetles. I think you’re an awful boy.’

  ‘Don’t let’s squabble now,’ said Jack. ‘We’ve bigger things to bother about than lizards.’

  The lizard popped into Philip’s sleeve. Kiki had been watching it with her head on one side. She was not fond of Philip’s pets, and was often jealous of them.

  ‘Pop goes the lizard,’ she said, making one of her unexpected apt remarks. The others roared with laughter. Kiki was pleased. She swayed herself from side to side and cracked her beak.

  ‘Shhhhhhhhhh!’ she said.

  ‘Oh, Kiki, I’m glad we brought you,’ said Jack. ‘Now, everybody, what are our next plans?’

  ‘Well, we simply must do a bit of exploring and see if there is anyone living in this valley,’ said Philip. ‘If there is, we’re all right. If there isn’t – well, it’s just too bad. We’ll have to stay here till we’re rescued.’

  ‘Rescued! And how do you think anyone is going to rescue us if they haven’t the foggiest idea where we are?’ demanded Dinah. ‘Don’t be silly, Philip.’

  ‘Well, do you propose to live here in this valley for the rest of your life, then?’ said Philip. ‘Oh, here’s Lizzie again – coming out of my other sleeve. Lizzie, you’re a jolly good explorer, I must say. I wish you could tell us the way out of this valley.’

  Dinah went as far from Philip as she could. She simply could not bear his pets. It was a pity because they were really amusing and friendly.

  ‘You know, we’ll have to be careful we don’t get lost,’ said Lucy-Ann anxiously. ‘This valley and these mountainsides are so enormous. We must keep together always.’

  ‘Yes, we must,’ agreed Jack. ‘And we must always be able to get back to this shed too, because our things are here. At least we shall have shelter here, and our rugs to lie on. If only we had plenty to eat! Those biscuits and chocolate won’t last long.’

  Your compass will come in jolly useful, Jack,’ said Philip, remembering it. ‘Look here – what about setting off now, and doing some more exploring, making this shed a kind of headquarters to come back to?’

  Yes, we will,’ said Dinah. ‘But let’s cover up the suitcases and things with something in case those men come here and see them.’

  ‘They won’t,’ said Philip. ‘What could they possibly want to come snooping round an old burnt cowshed for? We can leave the things here all night.’

  They went out of the shed. The sun was just over the mountaintops now, shining into the valley. The children saw the spire of smoke rising straight up from the fire the men must have made.

  ‘So long as we keep away from that direction, we should be all right,’ said Jack. ‘Come on – let’s take this path. It really looks as if it was once a proper path from this place to somewhere else. We’d better notch the trees here and there as we go, to make sure we find our way back.’

  Lucy-Ann liked the idea of that. It reminded her of pioneers and trackers and their ways. Jack and Philip each took out his knife. They made a cut on every fifth tree until they came out of the little wood and found themselves on a flower-strewn, grassy hillside.

  ‘It’s lovely, isn’t it?’ said Lucy-Ann, looking round at the carpet of flowers. ‘I’ve never seen such bright colours. Look at that blue flower, Jack – it’s bluer than the sky itself. And oh, look at this tiny pink flower – masses of it!’