chapter 1
chapter 2
chapter 3
chapter 4
chapter 5
chapter 6
chapter 7
chapter 8
chapter 9
chapter 10
chapter 11
chapter 12
chapter 13
chapter 14
chapter 15
chapter 16
chapter 17
chapter 18
chapter 19
chapter 20
chapter 21
chapter 22
chapter 23
chapter 24
chapter 25
Chapter 12

It was an early Saturday morning, at Puck Farm. An open backed truck sat in the yard, with an impatient Farmer Jones at the wheel and Blake in the seat next to him. Rebecca was perched on a bale of hay in the back, together with sacks of potatoes, turnips and beetroots. Aitch was standing on a sack of turnips peering down to the ground, where his mistress, Elké, and Mrs. Jones were saying their tearful farewells.
    Farmer Jones hooted the horn and leaned out of the cab window. "Hurry up you two. I've got to get this produce to market."
    Elké gave Mrs. Jones one last hug, before hopping up and sitting next to Rebecca. And then they were off. The two girls in the back waved frantically to Jack and Mrs. Jones who stood in the yard with the two border collies, Chip and Spike, milling about their legs.
    It was a fine morning. The mist still clung to the fields and hollows, but the dampness in the air only served to enhance the smells of the surrounding countryside.
    Presently, they arrived at a stone bridge spanning the river Avon.
    "Look!" called out Rebecca, pointing to a large building on the opposite bank. "The Shakespeare theatre."
    The town of Stratford was still asleep and the little group passed through almost unnoticed. Up and up they drove into the hills, until the river Avon, far below, was but a silver twine threading its way through the valley. Then down and down, to cross the Avon once again close to where the mighty Warwick Castle rose amongst an ancient forest. And so into Warwick town itself, finally coming to a halt at the edge of 'The Market Square'.
    Almost immediately, totally ignoring Rebecca and Elké, several young lads jumped onto the back of the truck and proceeded to pass the sacks of vegetables down to waiting hands below.
    Farmer Jones was already central to the throng of activity on the ground, directing what sack should go where. This sack of potatoes to Ray Buckles stall, that sack of beets for Mr. Stoat and so on and so on.
    The two girls stood on the cab roof with Elké holding Aitch under her arm, to get a better view of the hustle and bustle taking place in the square. Boys pushing loaded trolleys ran hither and thither; women and their daughters, sitting in groups trimming cabbages, laughed and joked, and men and their sons assembled market stalls that had been in their families for generations.
    Elké and Rebecca jumped to the ground eager to be amongst the excitement and were soon joined by Farmer Jones beaming with pleasure.
    "I've managed to find you a lift to Birmingham," he said. "Mr. Buckle, a stallholder friend of mine, is going that way tomorrow and says that you are quite welcome to stay at his mothers place tonight."
    Farmer Jones clapped his hand on the shoulder of a young lad that stood next to him. "This is Mr. Buckle's nephew Mark, and he will show you where the house is. Why don't you go there now, drop off your gear and spend the whole of today exploring Warwick?"
    It was a rickety, three storied Elizabethan house and young Mark seemed to have the run of the place, for he even possessed his own key. The girls followed him up many equally rickety stairs to the very top and into an attic room, where the sun beamed in through a little, triangular window. The room was clean and bright, with two single beds, and smelled wonderfully of lavender polish.
    Warwick is a very interesting town, steeped in history, with many ancient buildings and cobbled streets to explore, and Elké and Rebecca spent the morning doing just that. Aitch was sometimes carried by Elké and at other times by Rebecca, but what he really preferred was to romp along on his own.
    The two girls decided on a picnic lunch and bought some French bread, cheese, ham, tomatoes, butter and plenty to drink. An ideal picnic spot was found down on the banks of the river Avon, with a glorious view of Warwick Castle.

Mr. Buckle seemed to be in no hurry to leave the next day and it was not until well after one o'clock that the three of them clambered into the cab of his Lorry and headed off. It is not a great distance from Warwick to Birmingham but Mr. Buckle drove at a leisurely pace, so it was over an hour before they arrived at the city centre.
    "We are lucky it is a Sunday," remarked Mr. Buckle. "Any other day would see these roads chock-a-block with traffic."
    He headed north for a while but eventually stopped after passing a narrow lane. Mr. Buckle turned in his seat. "The lane back there leads into a road called 'The Avenue'," he explained. "Go to the bottom of The Avenue, turn left and the place you're after is some three hundred yards up on the right."
    The two girls thanked him very much and got down from the cab. There was no traffic in the lane, so Elké was able to put Aitch down and he happily trotted on ahead.
    Rebecca turned to her friend and gave her a big smile. "Congratulations, Elké" she said. "You've done it. You've finally made it to Birmingham."
    But Elké was not so enthusiastic. "I'm afraid the closer I get to my journeys end the more nervous I become."
    Rebecca frowned. "Why? What's wrong?"
    "Well, for the last two months all I have been thinking about is getting to Birmingham and finding my father. But now that I am here, I worry that he might not be pleased to see me."
     Rebecca slowly shook her head and gave her friend a gentle hug. "This is not like you," she said. "Don't worry. Everything will work out in the end. You'll see."
    The two of them were now following Aitch along The Avenue. Rebecca looked ahead and noticed a slight commotion. Three boys were gathered in a group. One of them disappeared into a garden, followed a few moments later by another.
    As the girls got closer the boy that was left behind grinned at them, bent down and scooped Aitch up into his arms. It was Gobbie. "I love dogs, me," he said, gripping Aitch tightly to stop him from struggling.
    Elké was not at all happy. "Will you please put him down," she said. "He does not want to be picked up by you."
    Gobbie took no notice. "I seem to recognize this dog," he said. "You didn't buy him here in Birmingham by any chance, did you?"
    "No, I didn't" replied Elké, trying to control her temper. "We've only just this minute arrived in Birmingham."
     "Oh! Are you sure?" continued Gobbie, annoyingly "because my sister owns a kennel close by and sells puppies just like this. Maybe you know my sister?"
    "No, I do not know your sister. We know nobody in Birmingham. Now if you don't put my dog down at once, I will kick you where it hurts!"
    A look of triumph appeared on Gobbie's face. He turned to look through the open gates of Impala Lodge. "Did you hear that, Kenny," he called out with a sneer. 'We've only just arrived and we don't know nobody in Birmingham.' Here, catch!"
    With that he threw Aitch high into the air, causing the puppy to yelp with both pain and fear. Monkaster caught Aitch cleanly enough and was off like a rabbit. He raced up the drive and disappeared around the side of the house.
    Elké was simply furious. She screamed out with rage and chased after him, stopping only to give Gobbie a nasty kick on the shin. Gobbie squealed and hopped about in pain but still managed to hobble up the drive, cursing all the while.
    Rebecca was left standing alone, shocked at the sudden change of events.
    "Elké, come back," she yelled out.
    But all was silent. Gradually, Rebecca overcame her fear and tentatively began to creep up the drive, but had only got as far as the front porch when there came a loud clang from behind. She turned and to her horror saw that the two wrought iron gates had closed shut. Rebecca rushed back and shook them violently. But it was no good. They were firmly locked. She anxiously bit her lip and looked up and down the road. The street was empty. Instinctively, she looked up at the top of the gates and fence and saw nasty jagged spikes. She was trapped.
    "Elké," she yelled out again. But there was still no reply. Rebecca slowly made her way up the drive once more and this time reached the side of the house. She could now see into the back garden. Two small dogs were playing on the lawn, but neither of them was Aitch. Everything seemed quiet. Too quiet.
    Rebecca edged her way slowly to the back of the house. Suddenly a hand shot out and grabbed her by the arm. Rebecca screamed and turned to run but the strong hand held her back. Then something horrid covered her mouth and nose. Rebecca struggled at first but gradually her efforts grew weaker and weaker, until she finally sank into unconsciousness.
It seemed to Rebecca that just a moment later she found herself lying on top of a bed. Slowly she became aware of someone calling out her name. She opened her eyes. Elké was leaning over her, smiling.
    Rebecca smiled back. "What happened?"
    "You were given some sort of anaesthetic. Chloroform probably. You will feel O.K. in a few minutes. I had the same thing done to me."
    Rebecca glanced around the room. It was quite small and plain. There was another bed in the opposite corner, some nondescript pictures on the wall and a window with a raised Venetian blind.
    "Where are we?" she asked.
    "Don't you remember? We are inside that big house." Elké sighed, deeply. "Rebecca, we have been kidnapped. I don't know for what reason but we are sure to find out soon enough. I could kick myself really. A woman warned me this could happen a few weeks ago. I should have been more careful."
     "And what about Aitch?"
    "Oh, him! He's outside in the garden, playing happily with two other dogs."
    Rebecca smiled, weakly. "Traitor."
    Elké laughed. "Yes, that's just what I thought. But I'm not going to call out to him. I'd rather he was playing than worrying about us."
    Rebecca sat up slowly. A damp flannel fell from her forehead. She picked it up and handed it to Elké. "Did you put that there?"
     Elké nodded. "Yes, when I came to you did not look at all well. I was a bit worried."
    Rebecca swung her legs to the floor, stood up and gingerly walked to the window. Yes, she could remember now. She was on the first floor, looking out into the back garden. Aitch was indeed having a good time. He had his nose down a mole hole. Now he was digging frantically.
    Rebecca cast her eyes around the inside of the room once again and noticed for the first time that there were two doors.
    "Hello! What's behind these?" she said, opening one.
    Rebecca found herself in a sitting room with two armchairs, a coffee table, a dining table and two upright chairs.
    Elké followed her in. "Not bad for a prison, eh!" She said, with a grin. "The other door in the bedroom leads into a toilet and shower. And that door over there is locked. I've tried it. I presume it leads to the outside world."
     At that moment they both heard the unmistakable sound of a key being pushed into a lock and turned. The door swung open and a huge gorilla of a man filled the doorway. It was Mr. Fugg.

chapter 13