Frognapped (Araminta Spook #3)

Chapter 8




    I could see why Wanda thought the old ruins were just a pile of old stones because that's exactly what they looked like, but of course I wasn't going to tell her that. The only reason that I knew they weren't a pile of stones was because once, as a special treat on Halloween, Uncle Drac had let me come with him when he delivered the bat poo to the mushroom farm.

    Uncle Drac used to sell organic bat poo but he lost a lot of customers because he would only deliver it at night. I think he scared people too, although I don't know why, because Uncle Drac is the sweetest per- son you could ever wish to meet. But the night that I helped Uncle Drac deliver the bat poo Uncle Drac really scared Old Morris because he and I were both wearing our vam- pire teeth and we had a lot of fake blood on as well. Old Morris yelled and ran away when he saw us. We waited forever in case he came back but he didn't, so we left the bat poo by the gate and then Uncle Drac whispered, "Would you like to see the old ruins, Minty? They are very spooky. " Well, of course I had said yes.

    Uncle Drac was right, the ruins were extremely spooky– almost as spooky as Spookie House. It was as if all the knights and ladies and princesses and pages from hundreds of years ago were still floating around and had nothing better to do than stare at you. But I didn't tell Wanda that because I needed her help to lift up the heavy iron bar that someone had put across the door since Uncle Drac and I had been there. Although Wanda is small she is quite strong and together we managed to lift off the iron bar. "It's a bit like a prison–or a dungeon, " Wanda whispered as we crept inside. "It's not a dungeon, silly, " I told her. "That is underneath the ticket office–in the old gatehouse. "

    Uncle Drac had told me that the ruins were the keep, which is the little round part in the middle of a castle that you retreat to if your enemies have knocked down your walls and are swarming all over the place. I suppose the idea is you can keep safe there. I switched on my flashlight and Wanda switched on hers because she is a copycat. We shone the light all around the keep and Wanda kept going "Ooh" and "Aah, " as if she had seen something interesting. But it wasn't interest- ing; it was full of junk. Old Morris had put all the stuff from the mushroom sheds in there, and there was a huge pile of Uncle Drac's bat poo sacks piled up against the far wall. They were beginning to fall apart and the bat poo was falling out, which is why the place smelled so horrible.

    Personally I think old bat poo smells more disgusting than new bat poo, and that is saying something. Then Wanda screamed–right in my ear. "Shh!" I said. What Wanda does not under- stand is that if you are a detective you can't go screaming all over the place. I mean, when did you last hear a detective scream? "But something poked my leg, " she hissed. "What poked your leg?" "I don't know, " wailed Wanda. "Shh! Well, have a look and see. " "I don't want to, it might be horrible, " Wanda whispered. "I'll look then. " I swung my flashlight around, and there it was. "Great!" I said. "You just walked into Sir Horace's wheelbarrow. " Sir Horace did not look happy in his wheel- barrow. His arms were jammed in along the -118- sides and his top half had come away from his bottom half. "Sir Horace, are you okay?" I asked. He did not reply. "Hello, Sir Horace, " said Wanda. "We've come to rescue you. " But there was still no reply. It was most odd because Sir Horace is a well-mannered ghost, which is why Aunt Tabby likes him, and he would never ignore you like that, even when he was in pieces. Something was wrong. "Something has happened to him, " whis- pered Wanda. "Something horrible. " I flipped open Sir Horace's visor and looked inside. It felt a bit rude really, like looking inside someone's head. "Is he there?" whispered Wanda anxiously.

    "I don't know, " I said. "I'm not sure how you can tell. " "Why did you look then?" Wanda said grumpily. But all the same she peered inside too. "He's not there, " she said, sounding very sure. The thing is that Sir Horace is not the kind of ghost you can see, not like his page, Edmund, who is a weird sickly-green color and shimmers in an irritating way. Sir Horace lives inside his armor and that is all you see of him, just his shell. "He can't not be there, " I said. "That's where he lives. " "Not anymore, it isn't, " said Wanda. "Maybe he's gone to live somewhere else. " "Don't be dumb, Wanda. Where would he go? Come on, let's get him out of here. "

    I picked up the wheelbarrow handles. Sir Horace was surprisingly heavy. "Oof, " I said, "push the door open, Wanda. " "But Nosy Nora will see us, " said Wanda. "Nosy Nora won't see anything, " I told her. "We'll take Sir Horace across the field and tip him into the ditch by the road. We can cover him up with leaves and stuff and no one will see him. Then we can come back later and pick him up in the van. " "You can't put Sir Horace in a ditch, " exclaimed Wanda. "Well, it's better than him being stuck in the keep. And it won't be for long, will it?" Wanda sighed but she opened the door, and I wheeled Sir Horace out. The sun seemed really bright after our being in such a gloomy place, and I was really happy to be back outside.

    "Can you see Nosy Nora?" whispered Wanda, her little eyes blinking in the sunshine. "Of course not, " I said. "I told you it would be all right. " But it wasn't. Nora FitzMaurice jumped out from behind a rock and screeched, "Hey! What are you doing with my dad's new suit of armor? I'm going to tell on you!" Then she shot off, her pigtails flying, yelling, "I'm going to tell on you!" "uick!" I said. "Let's get Sir Horace over to the ditch. " Together we ran across the field with Sir Horace rattling in the wheelbarrow as we bumped over the grass.

    We pushed through the hedge to the roadside and threw Sir Horace into the ditch. SPLASH! It was a pity that the ditch was full of water, but I figured it was better than being old Morris's prisoner any day. "We'll dry him out later, " I told Wanda. "Now all we have to do is rescue the frogs. "


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