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The Castle and Stumps

At half past five in the morning a crowing cockerel woke us both up from a very deep sleep.

" Well." I said. " It looks as if we've beaten the challenge."

" Do you reckon it was all a wind up." said Joe.

" What you mean." I said.

" I wonder if Fogget knows all about the clock and will come in having a good laugh about it." said Joe.

" They were all in rather a jovial mood last night." I said. " Weren't they? "

" And we fell for it." said Joe.

" Mind you, that panel has not been opened for a very long time, it made a fresh scratch on the floor where there was not one before."

" You mean perhaps it's never been opened since they took the bells out." said Joe.

" Possible." I said.

" Shall we tell them about it." said Joe.

" If we do." I said. " And it's not a big joke on their part, we will probably miss out on the fifty quid."

" We deserve that fifty quid after last night." said Joe. " I've aged at least ten years."

" Lets switch the clock back on and see what they say. If it is a joke we'll just laugh, if not we take the money and cycle away heroes." I said.

We reset the clock and closed the panel that hid it, then rubbed some dirt into the fresh scratch on the floor where the panel had scraped the boards. Having done that you couldn't tell it had ever been moved.

Fogget arrived at half past seven amazed that we had lasted the night. Several other villagers arrived as word got around about our success at staying a whole night in the tower. We were given a good breakfast, even a champagne toast was given to our success.

At nine o clock, Colonel Randolf himself turned up to give a little speech and ask us if we had heard the ghost, we said we had, which was true. With all the fuss we were getting we would not have dared say it was really just the clock and ruin a peace of village folklore.

Colonel Randolf personally gave us the money, but not the framed banknote which stayed where it was with our names added below as having survived the bet. Joes stories about the ghosts that floated about the room and rattled chains, were beginning to get so ridiculous I thought he was going to blow our credibility, it was time to go.

We waved good bye to every one as they all lined up outside the Castle and Stumps, mounted out tandem and rode quietly in the morning sunshine out of the village. We were much richer and feeling somewhat like Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson .

The only small shadow that remains even to this day about the event is about the sound we heard after switching the clock chimes off, the sound of the wind blowing through the rope on the flagpole.

I never did tell Joe but just before turning away from the village for the last time, I glanced back at the pub and noticed something rather odd.

There was no flagpole on the Castle and Stumps or in fact anywhere near.

Very strange.


Short Story Series - Abridged from the book - The Tatty Nickers Tony on the Moon