Clem was hiding under the table in the kitchen. She didn’t want Johnny to find her. That would be a disaster. Who knows what the seven-year-old might do to her this time. Yesterday, he tried to tie his remote-control car to her tail. Mrs MacDougal rushed to rescue her and told Johnny off. Not that that made much difference. He didn’t listen.
And he wasn’t listening now. Johnny was looking for adventure and he was fascinated by the stories of the smugglers and pirates who had used the nearby caves to hide their treasure. Dougal MacDougal carefully explained why the caves in the cliffs were dangerous and therefore out of bounds.
Johnny’s family had come from Leicester to stay at the holiday cottage for one week. His baby sister was just two months old and his parents were very busy looking after her. So Johnny was bored. Very bored. Unfortunately, his conversation with Mr MacDougal only made him more determined to explore the caves.
Johnny started to make plans. First, he hid his school backpack in his bedroom. Next, he found a torch and put that in the backpack. (Pirates need to see where they are going.) He secretly took three KitKats, a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, and an apple from the kitchen cupboard. (Pirates need lots of food.) He packed his blue Leicester City cap. (Pirates need warm heads especially when they have to do a lot of thinking.) Finally, he drew a map of the cliffs and the caves, using a lot of imagination. (Every serious pirate must have a treasure map.)
Now all he needed was a companion. (Pirates like their mates.) He couldn’t tell his parents as his adventure was a secret. His sister was much too small. Who could he take?
That evening, Clem was exploring the garden at the back of the cottages, finding lots of exciting smells. She heard a noise from the holiday cottage and looked up to see Johnny climbing cautiously out of his ground floor bedroom window. Clem quickly hid under a large bush before Johnny saw her.
‘Here, kitty. Here, Clem,‘ called Johnny in his sweetest voice.
‘No way,’ thought Clem.
Just at that moment, who should saunter round the corner of the cottage but Stanley!
‘Oh no,’ thought Clem. She tried to get his attention. Too late!
Johnny spotted the hamster and quickly scooped him up.
‘Well hello, Stanley, you’re just the friend I need. C’mon, pirate Stanley. Time for an adventure.’
Stanley remembered his previous adventure. ‘Oh dear,’ he thought.
With that, Johnny slipped Stanley into the pocket of his backpack. They set off across the field towards the edge of the cliffs. Clem followed at a safe distance.
Inside the bag, Stanley was jiggling up and down and felt quite queasy. ‘I don’t like this at all,’ he thought. ‘Help, Clem, get me out of here. Help!’
Johnny reached the cliff. The wind was blowing and the evening was growing darker. He used his little torch to peer over the edge but couldn’t see very much.
Then he saw two narrow paths winding precariously down between the rocks in different directions. He decided to consult with his mate.
So he carefully took off his back pack and undid the zip of the pocket. Stanley’s worried face peeped out and the wind ruffled his fur, shook his whiskers and made him shiver.
‘Which way, pirate Stanley?’ asked Johnny.
Stanley so wished he could talk. In his head he shouted at Johnny: ‘Turn back now – go back home – it’s not safe!’
‘Yep, I think you’re right, pirate Stanley. That path over there.’
Johnny started to zip up the pocket and quickly swung the bag over his shoulder. He made his way over the edge and down the steep winding path. By now it was so dark he could barely see his feet.
Clem had followed carefully to the edge of the cliff. She peered over. It was a long way down to the sea. Then, to her relief, she saw Stanley’s head poking out of the pocket of the bag – Johnny hadn’t zipped it up fully. ‘Stanley, you alright? she called. There was no reply.
Johnny carried on down the path, desperately trying to see his way using his feeble torch and stumbling over rocks and stones. In the pocket of the backpack, Stanley was feeling quite seasick. He didn’t dare jump from the bag because he couldn’t see where he’d land. The noise of the waves crashing on the beach far below was deafening and Stanley felt the salty spray on his nose and whiskers.
A gust of wind whirled around Johnny and blew his Leicester City hat up and away.
‘Nooooo!’ said pirate Johnny. He twisted round in the darkness to try and see his hat. It was precious and he didn’t want to lose it.
At that moment Johnny’s foot slipped, he lost his balance and skidded, then tumbled forward, then rolled, landing with a horrible thud against a huge rock.
Clem watched helplessly from the top of the cliff. ‘Stanley, look out!’ she yelled.
Johnny lay still. There was no sign of the little hamster.
‘Oh no. Oh no,’ whispered Clem to herself.
In the rough and tumble, Stanley was thrown from the pocket of the back pack.
‘I don’t want to go on any more adventures,’ thought Stanley as he flew through the air.
He landed with a tiny thud at the side of the path and lay there as still as Johnny.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
©Jane Hendra June 2018