Chapter Twelve


    EDMUND

    We may have been free, but we were still stuck. We were now sitting high up on the ledge inside the cave--the same ledge where we had stood that morning and looked down at the sword. But of course the cave was still full of water. "You are safe, " said Edmund. "Now you must wait for the tide to go out. " "How long will that take?" we both asked.

    "It will take two hours and fifteen minutes, " said Edmund. "Farewell, I must be gone. " "Gone?" squeaked Wanda. "You can't go and leave us here all alone. " "But Wanda, you are safe. The sea does not reach up here. All you have to do is wait for the water to recede. I have left my post for too long. I must return to my duties in the tunnel. " "What duties in the tunnel?" I asked him, wondering what on earth Edmund had to do that was so important. Polish the dust? Vacuum up the spiders? "I guard the way. I must stop anyone from passing from the house and suffering the same fate that Sir Horace and I did so many years ago. But today, " said Edmund sadly, "I failed in my task. " "No you didn't, " I told him.

    "You came and saved us. Thank you, Edmund. " "Thank you, Edmund, " said Wanda. And then, because she is nosy, Wanda asked, "But what were you and Sir Horace doing in that horrible grotto?" "We were escaping our ene- mies, the FitzMaurice family. It was a cowardly attack. There were more than twenty of them and two of us. "  "One and a half, more like, " I said. "You're only a boy, Edmund. And quite weedy. " "No he's not, " said Wanda. "I think he's really strong. What happened then, Edmund?" "We fled to the grotto beneath Sir Horace's castle. Many years before, Sir Horace had placed a portcullis trap to keep our enemies from the caves under his castle, and he had fashioned a cunning maze to confuse them. But the trap sprung on us, leaving us at the mercy of our pursuers. " "Oh, Edmund, how awful. "Wanda sounded thrilled. "Indeed it was, Wanda. We fought hard but Sir Horace was injured. Then our enemies piled up the rocks and trapped us in the grotto, leav- ing us at the mercy of the sea. "

    "Oh, Edmund, " breathed Wanda. Edmund bowed. "Farewell Wanda. Araminta. " But as he began to disappear, I remembered something I wanted to ask him. Something that had been bugging me ever since he told us that he had drowned in the cave. "Edmund, " I said. "I must be gone. . . . " "Edmund--I just want to know--you knew the way out, so why didn't you escape when you were trapped?" "Sir Horace was injured. He could not climb to the top of the rocks, " he said. "And a good and faithful page stays by his master. At all times. " "Even if he will drown?" I asked. "He will stay at all times, " Edmund repeated solemnly.

    And then he was gone. Q "Wow . . . " said Wanda after a while. "He's so brave. " I didn't say anything. I tried to imagine what it must have been like all those years ago for Edmund, stuck in that ghastly grotto with Sir Horace and deciding not to escape-- but I couldn't even start.

    It was dark when Wanda and I at long last got out of the cave. The full moon was rising over the sea and the beach was empty. I was glad, as I didn't want anyone to ask stupid questions about how come we were soaking wet and dragging a great big rusty sword behind us. I had a feeling that once we got home, we were going to be asked enough stupid questions to keep us going for quite a while.

    As we walked up the steps from the beach, Wanda suddenly yelled out, "Dad!" and shot off. I slowly dragged the sword up the rest of the steps. I didn't believe that Barry was there. I mean, how would he know where to find us? But he was there! Good old Barry gave a loud whoop and ran toward us. He scooped Wanda up in his arms and swung her around, then he rushed over to me and did the same. "You're here!" he gasped. "I don't believe it. You really are here--just like it said. " "Like what said, Dad?" asked Wanda. "Well, you won't believe this, " said Barry with a big grin, "I didn't believe it either, but I knew it was worth a try. " "What was worth a try, Dad?" asked Wanda.

    "Well, about half an hour ago, Tabitha Q found some writing in the coal dust on top of the boiler. Which was odd, as you know how clean Mom keeps the boiler. Anyway, the writing--which was very peculiar and hard to read--said `W & A Be Upon the Beach. ' Tabitha had a screaming fit, as she thought it was a ransom note, but I calmed her down and said I would go and find you. And here you are. . . . " Barry shook his head as though he did not believe it.

    Wanda and I were both in the van and Barry was about to drive off when I remembered something. "The sword! We're not going without the sword. Not after all the trouble we've had getting it. " So Barry got out and picked up the sword.

    "Where did you find that rusty piece of junk?" he asked as we drove past the mush- room farm and took the road home. "You don't want to know that, " I told him. "Oh, yes I do, " said Barry. "And I can think of a few other people who do, too. "

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