THE DOOR PART 4
Feeling more than a little confused, I took the bag proffered by Romo and said,
” But what will I need ? ”
My voice sounded wobbly and I coughed, to clear my throat and play for time. The Grey Rabbit walked towards me,
” Your bag already contains everything you will need, except for personal things. Hairbrush” he glanced at my tangled locks, “ Toothbrush; and toothpaste; sensible shoes; and, of course, your magic locket !” the Grey Rabbit uttered. Rather tetchily, I thought.
Magic locket ? Magic locket ? what the he……. And then I remembered, paused and held my throat. Yes ! I was wearing the locket my Aunt had given to me two days before she died. But, MAGIC ? No, surely not ?
” Keep this by you at all times, Rosie. You may be needing it someday. I love you dearly …..” And then she had lapsed into a coma and never recovered.
I had wondered, at the time, what on earth she meant. But now I was beginning to understand. I only wish she had told me everything.
As I obediently gathered the suggested items, I thought about my Aunt’s wonderful stories. I had always been puzzled about where she got her inspiration. Now I was starting to see, I think !
The Grey rabbit had said that everything else I would need, was already in the sackcloth bag. But when I opened it to pop my bits and bobs inside, it was empty. I thought better of asking anymore questions. The Grey Rabbit was tapping his fingers, impatiently. Bomo handed me the cloak and proceeded to usher me towards the wardrobe. I knew the house was securely locked up, so, with a wistful backwards glance, I stepped into the wardrobe and down the stone steps.
As we entered the tunnel, Romo switched on a bright flashlight that illuminated the whole passage. It was then that I almost paused and turned back. I was sure I must be dreaming. I mean, look at me. I was about to set forth on a journey with a talking rabbit, for god’s sake ! The whole thing was completely ridiculous. Evil trolls and cats being captured ? But not just any cat, for heaven’s sake ….. Oh no, a cat who could save the world !! People popping through wardrobes ? It’s all ridiculous. Absolutely farcical !
I pinched myself —- Nothing.—- I shook my head, vigorously, but that only made me dizzy. No, this was really happening, no matter how weird it seemed. I truly was in a tunnel with two midgets and a talking, flipping rabbit; a bag that had nowt in it and a folded, old-fashioned cloak over my arm.
We were quite a way down the tunnel now. I could see daylight in the distance and hear the sea. The waves were louder than before. The tide was coming in. I had a brief, panicky thought that maybe this tunnel flooded, but when we reached the entrance, the water was still only halfway up the beach. A tiny mop of a dog came running up to us, barking joyfully. It was a cute little thing, mostly white, with grey ears and a black, button nose. It ran round in circles, barking and then jumping up on it’s hind legs, as though it was dancing.
” Hello cutie. What is your name ?
” It’s Betty,” snorted the Grey Rabbit, and three pairs of eyes swiveled and looked at me as though I must be crazy; expecting a dog to talk. Pah ! The whole thing was really, most confusing.
We proceeded down the beach, Betty in the lead, barking excitedly; Bomo; me; Romo and the Grey Rabbit, all in single file. We must have looked like a weird version of the cover of ” Abbey Road”, I thought. Flipping heck, I was going crazy !
The little rowing boat was still there, bobbing at the water’s edge. It looked somewhat dilapidated and I hoped it was water-tight. We scrambled in, Romo and Bomo taking the oars, with Grey Rabbit sitting, regally at the tiller and Betty snuggled next to me, The next wave caught us and lifted the boat up and, voila, we were afloat. I shaded my eyes with my right hand and looked out to the large ship, that was approximately half a mile out in the bay. It must have been a trick of the light, because it appeared to be hovering above the waves. But the sun was sinking into the gold of the west and everything seemed to shimmer and float in the last few rays of the sun.
We soon reached the ship, which resembled a pirate ship even more, the closer we got. Even though they were rowing against the tide, Romo and Bomo made short work of the trip and soon we were tying up, alongside the vessel. A rather tattered rope ladder hung over the side. Why did everything about this experience seem so slip-shod and old ? Like a cut-price, rescue from some pound shop. Before attempting to climb the rope, I scooped up Betty and popped the squirming little body into my bag. She was only the size of a very hairy, chihuahua and so she soon settled down in the capacious carrier.
Grey Rabbit went up the rope ladder first and I marvelled at how he managed to maintain an air of superiority while performing such an ungainly action. I could hear him talking to someone, but the wind whisked the words away. However, a few seconds later, a figure leaned over the side of the ship and offered his help.
“Oh, it’s the Knave !” chortled Bomo, ” He’s always around to help a pretty damsel in distress “
Blushing, I began the climb, my bag firmly over my shoulder. The Knave’s handsome face looked down at me and, catching my trembling hands in his strong ones, he pulled me up and swung me around before placing me safely on deck.
“There we are, m’lady” he smiled and gave me a polite bow.
I felt my cheeks burning, as I straightened my clothes and opened the drawstring fastener of my bag, to release the yapping Betty. Romo and Bomo clambered on board and looked around, eagerly.
” Are the cards here ?” Bomo asked the Knave
“Oh yes, they’ve just flown in and I have them here, in my pocket “ he replied.
The Knave was tall, well over six feet, with an unruly mop of dark hair. He wore a white, cable-knit sweater with a big, red heart motif on the front. Long, knee-high leather boots over black trousers and, ridiculously, I thought, a jewelled diadem on top of his dark curls.
Knave ? cards ? Seriously ? This was becoming stranger by the minute . In fact, I only just stopped myself from uttering “ Curiouser and curiouser!”
“Well, when we are all ready, I suggest we make a start,” began the Grey Rabbit. “ Romo and Bomo, unfurl the mainsail and set a course for Jamaica. We must pick up the Dormouse and, of course, he just had to be on holiday at a time like this !”
The two little guys jumped into action, clambering and scrambling here and there, industriously.
” I’ll make supper” suggested the Knave, “ Rosie, you’d better go below and get sorted out. Then come to the galley, there’s bound to be something you can do “
Romo rushed over and picked up my belongings and I followed him; still confused and certain I was dreaming. Or was that just wishful thinking ?
My bunk was in a tiny cabin and I almost climbed into the comfy looking bed, I was so tired. But, instead, I wandered in the the direction of, what I guessed, was the galley. Delicious aromas were filling the air and I suddenly realised I was hungry.
“Can I do anything ?” I mumbled, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a huge yawn.
“You look dead on your feet. Why don’t you sit down ? You’ve had a tiring day “replied the Knave, who was peeling a large red apple.
I sat in a rocking chair and watched him. He peeled the apple with the thinnest knife I’ve ever seen. The peel came off in a long, slim, unbroken strip. Round and round went the knife. Longer and longer , the red peel spiralled down and down, hypnotically. Round and round went the peel; back and forth rocked the chair; round and round. Apple peel dreams curled into my mind and I slept ………
(To be continued)