Jacques Cousteau is watching nervously on the bridge of his ship Calypso as it slowly makes it way through a maze of razor-sharp coral tow
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Charlie Lupton and the Cavalier’s Treasure
Charlie Lupton Adventures , Book 2, 2014,
- CHAPTER 1 -
The velvet carpet
There was chaos in the classroom.
`Look out, Charlie! It’s behind you!’ said Emma Appleyard.
Charlie glanced behind him. Sure enough, not for the first time, the model helicopter swooped over their table. He ducked his head and watched it fly overhead.
Some children were laughing. Some were crying. Most were under the tables looking up with fear.
Charlie hadn’t hid beneath the table. He decided it was best to try and remain cool. But even he felt a little nervous. Today’s Show-and-Tell was very dangerous.
Charlie looked across the table at Geraldine Primrose. She had already presented her Show-and-Tell. She had shown the class her model of a rainforest. It had lots of cardboard trees with lush green leaves made from crepe paper. It was constructed on top of an old bread board. She had the model on the table in front of her and she was trying to protect it. But some of its trees were already broken. She leant over it with her arms around it. `I took ages to make this, but now it’s ruined,’ she said. `I told everybody that the rainforests were endangered. I was right.’
`Never mind, you can soon repair it,’ said Emma.
`I’m sure Mickey didn’t mean to damage it,’ said Charlie.
`Look at him,’ said Geraldine. `He hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing.’
Charlie looked at Mickey. He was standing at the front of the class holding a remote controller. His tongue was sticking out the corner of his mouth as he moved the joysticks with his thumbs. Meanwhile, the chaos continued. Geraldine was right, thought Charlie. Mickey hadn’t got a clue what he was doing. He hadn’t got a clue how to fly a model helicopter.
But then the helicopter levelled out and started to fly in a straight line. Mickey seemed to be getting the hang of it. There was only one problem. It was now flying straight towards Mrs Drake.
`Mickey, I think you need to turn,’ said Mrs Drake.
Mickey kept moving the joysticks. The helicopter kept flying towards Mrs Drake.
`Mickey, turn!’ said Mrs Drake.
`I’m trying,’ said Mickey.
It was now only a metre from Mrs Drake. She shut her eyes and turned her head away. Charlie had never seen a teacher attacked by a helicopter before. This was a first. But then, at the last second, the helicopter swerved away. It hovered over the table in front of Mickey and landed gently. Its motor stopped and there was silence.
`It’s safe now, children,’ said Mrs Drake.
All around the classroom children appeared from under their tables.
`Perhaps, Mickey Dewhurst, it would have been better if you had carried the helicopter to the front rather than fly it from your table,’ said Mrs Drake. `Now, can you tell the class all about it?’
`This,’ said Mickey, sounding like an expert, `is a single blade, radio controlled, fully armed, ground attack helicopter, complete with built-in camera.’
`It has a camera?’ asked Mrs Drake.
`Yes,’ said Mickey. He removed a small plastic card from the helicopter. `It records the video on this card and you can play the video back on a computer,’ he said.
`You didn’t have the camera on just now, did you Mickey?’ asked Mrs Drake, sounding worried.
`Only at the very beginning, just as it took off,’ said Mickey. `But then I accidently switched it off. All I got was the bit when it crashed through the rainforest. It will only be a short video, but it will be majorly epic.’
`You mean majorly horrible,’ said Geraldine. `You ruined my model.’
`Now, now,’ said Mrs Drake. `It was only an accident. You didn’t mean to, did you Mickey?’
Mickey just grinned.
`I know it was an accident,’ said Geraldine. `He is such a bad pilot he couldn’t hit a forest if he tried.’
`Has anybody got any questions for Mickey?’ asked Mrs Drake. Darren put his hand up. `Yes, Darren,’ said Mrs Drake.
`You said it is fully armed,’ said Darren. `But where are the missiles? I can’t see any.’
`Well,’ said Mickey, as he coughed, `they are hidden.’
`It hasn’t got any missiles,’ said Geraldine. `This is a waste of time. I could be in the school library doing something useful.’
`It is fully armed,’ said Mickey. `If I flew it outside now and hovered over the playground I could blow up every classroom. And especially the library.’
`That’s terrible,’ said Geraldine.
`Of course, you wouldn’t really wish to do that, would you Mickey?’ said Mrs Drake.
Mickey just grinned.
`Are there any more questions?’ asked Mrs Drake.
There were no more questions.
`Well, thank you, Mickey,’ said Mrs Drake. `Give him a round of applause everybody.’
Everybody clapped, except Geraldine, who folded her arms and looked fed up.
`Right, Mickey, if you could return with the helicopter to your table,’ said Mrs Drake.
Mickey picked up the remote controller and pointed it at the helicopter.
Everybody dived for cover.
`No, Mickey, carry it!’ said Mrs Drake.
`Just kidding,’ said Mickey, as everybody came back out from under the tables.
At break time they went out onto the grass to play.
`So, Charlie, what did you think of my flying?’ asked Mickey.
`I think you need more practice,’ said Charlie.
`Give me chance,’ said Mickey. `I’ve only had it since my birthday last week. I need a big room to practise in, that’s my problem.’
`Why can’t you practise outside?’ asked Charlie.
`A sudden gust of wind might damage it. And it might fly out of range and just keep going.’
`I think most of the class would be cheering if it did,’ said Charlie.
`Very funny,’ said Mickey. `Right, where’s the football?’
`I saw Emma carrying it out,’ said Charlie. `She said something about a girls versus boys match.’
`Great,’ said Mickey, sounding fed up.
`Look,’ said Charlie, `They’re all over there by the fence. The ball has probably gone over. Come on, let’s go and see.’
They soon reached the others by the fence.
`It’s my fault,’ said Emma, who sounded upset. `I tried to kick it on the volley and it just flew over the fence. I’m going to be in big trouble. It’s gone onto the care home lawn.’
Charlie and Mickey looked over the fence. Sure enough, there was the football right in the middle of the lawn.
`That’s the care home where my grandpa lives,’ said Charlie. `Mrs Eagleton is the manager. She doesn’t let anybody near that lawn.’
`Why not?’ asked Mickey.
`Her care home won the Best Care Home Garden competition last year. I mean, look at the place. It’s got all those fancy flower beds and the lawn at the front is her pride and joy. It’s in better condition than Centre Court at Wimbledon.’
`What are we going to do?’ asked Emma, who was starting to cry. `The owner will tell Mr Metcalfe. I know she will.’
`I don’t think she will,’ said Charlie.
`He’s the head teacher,’ said Emma. `Of course she will.’
`Someone needs to go over and get it quick,’ said Charlie. `Mickey, it’s time for you to go on one of your missions.’
`Uh, well, I can’t.’
`Why not?’ asked Charlie.
`It’s break time. I’m off duty. Pilots need their downtime just like everybody else.’
`Mickey, don’t be ridiculous. No one else is going to be brave enough.’
`Daft enough, you mean,’ said Mickey. `It’s open ground, it’s right by the care home in full view of everybody and the owner is majorly scary. Discussion is the greater part of valour, as they say.’
`Discretion,’ said Geraldine, who had joined them at the fence.
`What?’ said Mickey.
`Discretion, not discussion,’ said Geraldine. `Discretion is the greater part of valour. Your English is as bad as your flying.’
Charlie looked at Emma. She had tears rolling down her cheeks. He looked across at the rest of the class. Nobody was making a move. He looked back at the football. He took a deep breath and grabbed the top of the wooden fence.
`No, Charlie,’ said Emma. `It’s not worth it.’
Charlie didn’t say anything. He was too busy looking to see if anybody was around. It wasn’t just Mrs Eagleton he was worried about. There was also Mr Craddock, the gardener. Whenever Charlie visited his grandpa he would see Mr Craddock plodding in the grounds and pushing a wheelbarrow. He always wore a long overcoat, he never smiled and he shouted at anybody who went anywhere near the lawn.
Charlie swung his legs over the fence. He winced as he landed. His artificial leg which he had been using since his bad go-kart accident had been giving him pain recently. The doctors said it was nothing serious. But it hurt all the same.
The rest of the class had gone very quiet.
Charlie crouched down and looked right and left. Nobody was in sight. He was on a narrow gravel path which went around the edge of the care home grounds. Right next to the path was a flower bed. The flowers tickled his nose and he nearly sneezed. Beyond the flower bed was the tarmac driveway. At the edge of the driveway by the flowerbed was a yellow, plastic box with a hinged sloping lid. It contained grit for when the paths and driveway were icy in winter. Beyond the driveway was the lawn. He looked round once more. It was now or never.
He got up and ran across the soil, trying not to damage any flowers. He ran past the box, across the tarmac and stepped onto the grass.
It was like walking on an expensive velvet carpet. He tried not to leave any footprints, but he had to move fast. Somebody could come at any second. He didn’t run, he just walked very quickly. At last, he reached the ball. He picked it up and started to go back. Then he heard voices. They were getting louder and louder. It was Mrs Eagleton and Mr Craddock. They must be walking around the side of the care home. They would come round the corner at any moment.
He kicked the ball as hard as he could back over the fence and signalled with his hands to tell everybody to move away. Meanwhile, the voices were getting louder and louder. There was no way he could make it back over the fence without being seen. He had no choice. He ran to the grit box, lifted up the lid and stepped inside. Thankfully, it only had a small amount of grit in it. He sat down and lowered the lid. He was now in complete darkness.
Charlie heard the voices getting closer. Then, once more, he felt he was going to sneeze. If he did they would hear him for sure. He got out his handkerchief and blew his nose gently. He breathed through his mouth and he felt his eyes watering. It sounded now as though they had stopped walking and were standing right by the box. Thankfully, blowing his nose had done the trick. He no longer felt like sneezing. Charlie hardly dared to breathe. They were so close he could hear every word they were saying.
`Mr Craddock, the lawn looks immaculate. I know it’s not easy with this clay soil. And to think that old dead tree was right in the middle of the lawn as well. I’m so glad you got rid of that. You have done a remarkable job. Yes, the lawn looks immaculate.’
`Thank you, Mrs Eagleton. As long as those school kids keep off, it should stay that way.’
`They wouldn’t dare go anywhere near it,’ said Mrs Eagleton. `I am more concerned about the residents. Even they are not allowed to walk on it. Visitors see this lawn first when they arrive at the home. First impressions count, Mr Craddock. Immaculate it is, and immaculate it shall remain.’
`Aye, you can rest assured about that, ma’am. Ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking, there are rumours that the home is short of money. Is that right?’
`As it happens, Mr Craddock, I have a meeting at the bank this afternoon. We need a loan to pay for urgent repairs. If they won’t give us the loan then we will have to close. However, I have every confidence they will lend us enough money.’
`So there is no need to worry?’ asked Mr Craddock.
`Mr Craddock, it would be wrong to say I am not worried. But I am sure they will lend us the money. I would ask you not to say a word about this to the residents.’
`No ma’am, not a word,’ said Mr Craddock.
`Now, Mr Craddock, I would like to show you what I have in mind for the grounds at the back of the home. I was thinking about having a Japanese-style garden.’
`Sounds interesting, ma’am.’
Charlie listened as their voices got quieter and quieter. Eventually he couldn’t hear them at all. He waited a few more seconds then decided it was safe to get out. He was about to push the lid open when he froze.
He could hear footsteps. The footsteps got louder and louder. He held his breath. He hoped the person would walk straight past. But the footsteps stopped. Whoever it was must be standing right by the box. Charlie cowered in the darkness. He listened for the person to start walking away, but there were no footsteps.
The seconds ticked by.
Then the lid began to lift up.