Excerpt for Cobweb Curtains by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Cobweb Curtains

Barry Freeman

Copyright © 2017 Barry Freeman

Edited and Published by Spellbrooktales at Smashwords


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



Tale of Rusty Nail

Springaling Springs into Action

The Sally Race

Mr P Verny Arrives

The Best Garden Shed in the World

Welligog Green Comes to the Rescue

Party Time

Gearoni Industriano

The Rise and Fall of a Pilchard

Welligig Blue Flies in

The Tale of the Two Faced Nut

The Committee

The Friendum

Desperate Times

The Long Journey

Journey's End and New Beginnings


Free Book


Let's follow the gravel path by the orchard fence, where young Morris Wainwright once searched for fossils among the polished stones, to an old garden shed with a green pitched roof.

It's half hidden by moss and ivy and sheltered from the summer heat by the overhanging apple boughs. The window looks onto a garden of tall yellow weeds where a line of shirts and socks flutter gently in the breeze.

However, if we move a little closer to the lichen speckled glass we may be surprised to see a spider spinning curtains of delicate silk and chatting to a rusty nail while a pinion from a mangle and a sprocket from a butcher's bike are playing marbles with a wingnut on the bench.

There's the spring from a Jack in a Box bouncing up and down and a grumpy looking Welligog hanging from a nail; even a Vernier who speaks rather 'posh' who has just stepped out to take his daily stroll. He's chatting to a Two Faced Nut, whose faces constantly disagree on which colour marble to roll.

"He's doing it just to wind me up!" shouts the impatient looking face that's painted on the other side.

The sudden rattle of a latch sends them scurrying out of sight and the spider back inside her broken pot.


Tale of Rusty Nail

You may well be wondering how such strange characters came to be living in Morris Wainwright's garden shed. Even Mister Cullip next door would often say 'wherever did you get that thing from Morris, tell me what possible use is a cross threaded wing nut or that old rusty nail'. Rusty Nail, however, had not always been rusty; she had once worn a coat of bright metallic silver and lived with friends of her own age inside a varnished box in Mister Haylock's hardware shop.

Haylock's was a neat little shop smelling of paraffin and firelighters, where all the little polished drawers and boxes had pink and green cardboard labels. The card fixed to the front of Rusty's box read LARGE NAILS, and in brackets, 'Can be sold in ones'.

One Saturday morning, before Rusty had even finished her breakfast, she was dropped into a brown paper bag and carried away by the churchwarden who wanted a strong nail to secure one of the oak shutters high in the bell tower.

"The darn thing's blown loose again in the wind." he grumbled as he replaced his bicycle clips. "Still, this little beauty should fix it."

However, after wriggling through a narrow gap in the slats and balancing precariously on the sill, the churchwarden only managed to strike his thumb with the large claw hammer, sending the nail tumbling down onto the roof below to a chorus of strange sounding words. Rolling faster and faster down the steep roof Rusty closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable plunge into the graveyard below.

She could hardly believe her luck when instead, she dropped into a gap between the old red brick tiles on the chancel roof and there she remained for many years, slowly turning a deep orange colour, apart from during some very damp seasons when she took on a green mossy hue.

She soon became accustomed to life on the church roof, often cold and wet, or roasting in the afternoon sun, but always alone with no real friends to talk to except for the odd pigeon, or perhaps a death watch beetle or two.

On Sundays she could hear the choir singing hymns and the sound of the organ seeping through cracks in the tiles but often had to block up her ears when the bell ringers were practicing.

Then one autumn after a group of elderly ladies had complained about water dripping onto their Sunday hats, some workmen arrived to replace the cracked tiles above the chancel.

It was then that Rusty Nail, along with the broken roof tiles, was sent hurtling down a long dark chute into the rubbish skip. Scrambling through the dust and broken laths she managed, at last, to leap over the side of the skip and hide in the long grass by the church door.

Rusty enjoyed living in the churchyard, strolling among the gravestones and talking to the mice and crickets and often hearing the familiar voices of people she'd once heard in Mister Haylock's hardware shop. But unfortunately things were about to change. A brand new motor mower had just been delivered to the caretaker, Mr Henry Slowly and soon became his pride and joy.

Henry, or Holy Slowly as they called him behind his back, would polish its crimson wheels and bright green grass box every day until they glistened, then carefully buff the golden coat of arms on the side with a yellow duster; even the engine shone like a silver sixpence in the sunshine. Henry Slowly's one ambition was to manicure every part of the churchyard using his new toy by cutting each blade of grass to within an inch of the ground and over the next few days, the sound of the mower's engine and the fumes from the exhaust became a constant feature of churchyard life.

Just before lunchtime on the following Monday Rusty was casually strolling over the mounds, eager to read the labels tied to some flowers by a new grave when Holy Slowly and his mower came roaring over the hill and down the slope. Rusty desperately tried to leap clear as the mower swept over her, but it was all too late. There was a horrible crunching sound and the bang of the exhaust as the engine choked to a sudden stop and Rusty found herself jammed tightly in between the cutting blades.

Holy Slowly's face turned from pink to crimson as he stamped up and down the slope puffing on his pipe like a steam engine.

"Wherever did that confounded thing come from!" he screamed. "A rusty nail in a church yard! I don't believe it! Just look at my mower!" he howled, gazing in disbelief at the twisted cutting blades and almost bursting into tears. But nobody did look at his mower, or even stop. People just strolled past carrying bunches of flowers and watering cans, trying their hardest to ignore the strange man puffing clouds of smoke from his pipe and walking round and round in circles. Except, that is, for the churchwarden who happened to be passing at the time and glanced knowingly at the bent nail sticking from between the cutting blades.

"Take it to the blacksmith Henry - he'll know how to fix it," he mumbled, before hurriedly walking on whistling a familiar hymn tune.

It took several weeks to repair the mower and even then Henry Slowly said that it never cut quite the same again so he only ever bothered to mow the bits by the path at the front of the church after that and used his old scythe on the rough ground.

For several days the blacksmith kept the bent nail in his overall pocket to show it to his mates at the Rose and Crown, where they all found the story of Holy Slowly's mower quite hilarious, becoming even funnier with each telling.

"Sounds to me like there's somebody up there getting their own back on him," said the landlord.

"Why should that be then" chirped Bill.

"Well, for looking down on those of us who enjoy a glass of the Lord's good beer, that's why," and they all laughed.

But quite soon Rusty Nail was thrown onto the pile of scrap iron by the forge gate, forgotten and half buried by old horseshoes and broken window latches. Forgotten that is, until one day some months later, Morris Wainwright parked his motorbike by the wall outside the blacksmith's.

"Uncle!" he shouted above the noise of iron being hammered, "Have you got something I can use to get this stone out of my front tyre?"

"Or do you mean your 'orses 'oof" shouted the smith grinning mischievously at his nephew.

"No, my front tyre! It keeps clicking," replied Morris.

"Have a dig around in that scrap lad," replied his uncle, "I'm far too busy to start messing around with motorbike wheels; you'll find something there to hook it out with, I'll be bound."

It was then that Morris picked up Rusty.

"This old nail will probably do!" he shouted as he tried to flick out the stone. "Look, it's out!"

"Told yer!" shouted his uncle "Put that nail in yer pocket lad you never know when it might come in handy - and leave the fiver on the wall!" quipped the smith, grinning from ear to ear as Morris started up the bike and roared off down the road.

A few days after that Morris Wainwright was emptying his pockets before popping his jeans into the washing machine and found the old rusty nail,

His first thought was to throw it into the rubbish bag by the sink, but for some strange reason he put it to one side thinking to himself, 'I'll keep that in the shed, uncle was right you never know when it might come in handy'.

Springaling Springs into Action

However, let's begin our story one warm autumn day. The apples in next door's orchard had slowly turned to glorious colours of amber and scarlet before one by one dropping into the tall grass below the straggly old trees, to be devoured by wasps.

The sun shone through the window most afternoons and Rusty Nail and Sprocket would often settle into their deck chairs and read comics, or just lay back and watch Young Pinion and Wingsey playing marbles. Sometimes Pinion would get bored and start teasing the old spider who lived under the flower pot, making Rusty to put down her comic and tell him to behave himself,

'Remember' she'd shout 'you'll be old yourself one day.'

However, on this particular occasion, it was something very different that made Rusty and Sprocket sit up with a start.

Crash! Bang! A large red apple landed on the bench sending the old spider scurrying back under the flower pot.

"Whatever was that!" shrieked Rusty "What are you up to now Pinion?"

But Pinion and his friend Wingsey had scurried behind the scrap box looking most alarmed.

"It was that big apple!" exclaimed Sprocket pointing along the bench; "It's just fallen through that hole in the roof. It strikes me you're not safe anywhere" he went on.

"It's a jolly good job it didn't strike you" replied Rusty with a wry smile.

"How can an apple make all that noise" began Wingsey Nut, peeping from behind the scrap box, "it sounded more like thunder."

Wingsey had such large ears that even a tiny sound was like a thunderclap to him.

"It just dropped through the hole in the roof," said Rusty "isn't it beautiful?"

"And it almost hit me on the head!" snapped Sprocket.

"Well it didn't, so stop whinging," replied Rusty "and think yourself lucky."

"Shush you two!" began Wingsey looking rather puzzled, "I think I can hear a baby crying."

"A baby crying?" repeated Rusty "I can't hear it."

"Nor me," said sprocket putting his hands behind his ears.

"There it is again" insisted Wingsey "and it's coming from somewhere very close."

"From inside this apple" shouted Pinion who had his ear pressed against it, "I can hear lots of babies crying."

Soon, everyone including the Two Faced Nut had their faces pressed against the apple.

"It's the pips!" said Wingsey "Apple pips! And they're upset because the apple fell into the shed."

"Why?" blurted Rusty "looking puzzled, "I think that it's a very nice shed."

"That's because you're not an apple." replied Wingsey, "Apples live in orchards, not sheds."

"So what's so special about orchards?" interrupted Sprocket "as far as I remember they're just full of grass and old trees."

"But then the pips can grow into new trees" replied Wingsey appearing to be quite knowledgeable about seeds, "can't you see, that's why they're so upset?"

"Well if that's why they're crying," said Rusty thoughtfully, "we must find a way to get them into the orchard."

They all agreed that this was a good idea; even the old spider popped out her head and nodded approval.

"How can we do that?" asked the Two Faced Nut "That apple looks far too heavy for us to lift."

"Only because you're a weakling" replied the Nut's sad face.

"If we had a key for the shed door we could roll it out," said Sprocket

"But we haven't" replied Rusty

"Then I know what we can do" blurted the happy face with a big grin, "We can eat it."

"Eat it!" gasped Sprocket, "What, all of it?"

"Why not?" continued the Nut "all of it except the pips of course. I know how to make apple pie, and there's apple tarts, apple pudding, apple fritters, apple chutney, and apple….."

"Don't forget apple poodles" shouted Young Pinion.

"Oh don't you start Pinion" snapped Sprocket "and you mean apple strudels, not poodles!"

"Stop talking about cooking," interrupted Rusty "what about the pips? They're the ones we should be thinking about."

"Well" began Sprocket "the pips live in the core, so if we eat our way to the middle then we can let the pips out."

"And then what do we do?" replied Rusty "We can't expect baby pips to find their own way into the orchard."

"Of course we can't" replied Sprocket "I've already thought about that, but if you don't mind I think I'll keep that bit as a surprise."

They began at once cutting slices from the apple and soon discovered it was very juicy and sweet. Rusty could fill tumblers with delicious golden juice whenever they were thirsty just by poking a stick into the soft flesh.

Each day Rusty or Sprocket would try cooking another apple recipe until one morning Young Pinion suddenly burst into tears saying that he never wanted to see or eat another apple ever again and could he please, he went on, sobbing, have sausages or pancakes for his supper.

But Sprocket told him that it was all for a good cause and he should try to be patient a little longer for the sake of the pips.

Nearly another week passed and each day they could hear the pips cries growing a little louder, sometimes they sounded very sad, but most of the time they just squabbled and shouted rude names at each other like spoilt children.

Then one afternoon as Rusty was cutting a large piece of apple she intended to bake for supper, she noticed a tiny brown face peeping through a hole.

"Goodness me!" she cried "Are you a pip?"

"Certainly not" replied the face "I'm a seed."

Rusty shouted to Sprocket to come quickly,

"Look! It's a pip, I mean a seed" she began.

But before she could utter another word a second face appeared then a third and a forth until she lost count.

Soon all the pips began squabbling, pushing and slapping each other as they scrambled to get through the hole.

"Now you can stop that at once!" shouted Rusty pointing her finger at one large pip.

"That's the way, one at a time." said Sprocket sounding like a schoolmaster, "Now the next."

Soon all the pips had climbed from the apple core and were jumping up and down excitedly on the bench.

"They seem happy enough," said Sprocket.

"Yes" replied Wingsey who turned up just as the pips started singing and dancing round and round in circles, "But why do they have to make so much noise?"

"Because they're happy to be free at last." replied Rusty, "Remember, they've been stuck inside that apple core for week. I suppose that's why they got so ratty with each other."

However, it wasn't very long before the pips got tired of jumping about on the hard bench top and began talking about soft grass and shady orchards.

"We heard you say you'd take us to the orchard," shouted one of the pips.

"Yes we did, so why are we still in this old shed?" shouted the others.

"You'll just have to be a little patient" replied Rusty "and give me a chance to think about it."

"Don't forget, Sprocket did say that he had a plan" interrupted Pinion.

"Oh yes, so he did." replied Rusty looking somewhat relieved. "Remember Sprocket, you said you had a plan but you wanted to keep it as a surprise? Well go on, surprise us."

"Yes, tell us what the surprise is Mister Sprocket!" shouted the big pip.

Sprocket looked rather sheepish as all the pips gathered around him, and started shouting "come on Mister Sprocket tell us your surprise plan."

How he wished he hadn't boasted about having a plan because at this moment he hadn't the faintest idea how to get the pips into the orchard. However, before he had time to say anything there was a loud pinging sound as Springaling landed on the bench next to him swinging gently from side to side and quivering all over like a jelly.

"Oh hello Springaling," said Rusty who had not seen him for a while, "you're just in time to hear Sprocket tell us his surprise plan."

"A surprise plan did you say? Gosh.. osh… osh that sounds very exciting Rusty, whatever can it be for," he went on bouncing up and down with excitement.

Springaling didn't have many real friends and just bounced around on his own, stopping from time to time to say hello and hear the latest gossip. He was once the working part of a little girl's Jack in a Box until she grew too old to play with toys, then one day, broken and discarded, he was thrown in the rubbish skip. How lucky it was that Morris Wainwright happened to be passing at the time and thought that a large spring from a Jack in a Box may just come in handy, and that's how Springaling came to be living in the garden shed.

Now, seeing Springaling suddenly gave Sprocket an idea.

"How very fortunate that you decided to visit" began Sprocket in a matter of fact sort of way, "Only I was just about to mention to the others that Springaling may be able to help us if of course, he is happy to go along with my plan?"

"Springaling" gasped Rusty "whatever can Springaling do that we can't, after all, he lives inside the shed the same as the rest of us."

"But if he will play his Jack in a Box game" replied Sprocket sounding as though this had been his plan all along "we can sit the pips on his hat and shoot them back through the hole in the shed roof."

"Jack in a Box…a box…box" quivered Springaling.

"You mean like space rockets!" blurted Wingsey?

"More like space pips if you ask me" Rusty replied smiling.

"Now you just wait a minute" began the big pip called Micky who looked rather concerned about being shot through such a small hole, "maybe we should wait a little while and see if somebody can think of a better idea."

But after about an hour or so nobody had, apart from Young Pinion, who was thinking that sausages would be nicer than apple pie for supper.

"If we don't think of something soon," said Rusty sounding a little agitated "someone may come along and repair the shed roof."

"Then it will all be too late," remarked Sprocket.

"Yes and the pips will just have to live in the shed forever!" exclaimed Pinion "Whether they like it or not."

Meanwhile Springaling had been thinking about the old days, the joy on the children's faces as he popped out of his box and how the old toys in the nursery, the wooden soldiers and teddies who were once his friends would fall about laughing as the little boys sat marbles on his hat and watch him shoot them up to the ceiling.

Glancing at the anxious little faces of the pips all staring up at him he said,

"If you will trust me and be my friends I'll play my Jack in a Box game and send you all safely into the orchard."

The pips started jumping up and down excitedly clapping their hands and shouting "Good old Springaling, you can be our bestest friend ever!"

Rusty and Sprocket stood Springaling directly below the hole, while Young Pinion and Wingsey made the pips all stand in line, ready to take their turn.

Then Rusty asked him to crouch down as low as he could while Sprocket helped Micky Pip, who had been volunteered to go first, to climb onto Springaling's hat.

"Now sit very still Micky," said Rusty before asking Springaling if he was ready, then she shouted, "Okay Springaling now, do a Jack in a Box."

After a little quiver, he suddenly sprung to his full height and Micky Pip with his hands pressed tightly over his eyes disappeared through the hole in the shed roof to the cheers of his excited friends.

"Well done Springaling!" shouted Sprocket "that was brilliant."

"It certainly was," cried Rusty feeling she ought to give him a big hug.

But Springaling was still wobbling so she decided that it was better not to. Instead, she asked the pips to give him a big clap.

"Whose turn next" shouted Wingsey, but the pips were all scrambling to climb onto Springaling's hat, impatient to get into the apple orchard.

"One at a time!" he kept shouting as Springaling kept shooting the happy little pips through the hole while the rest of the Pinion and the others stood by the window cheering loudly each time another pip landed in the long grass.

The last few pips were standing quietly waiting for their turn when a ladder suddenly appeared outside the window before clattering against the shed.

"Is there no peace anywhere?" grumbled the old spider, popping her head from under the flower pot and opening one eye, "if it's not apple pips clapping and singing or springs pinging then it's workmen hammering."

"Gosh!" gasped Rusty "So it is! Look, the workmen are here to repair the shed roof!"

Pippin had just climbed onto Springaling's hat and was frantically waving goodbye, when the chap on the ladder slapped a piece of plywood over the hole and shouted at the top of his voice.

"Chuck me up that hammer Fred!"

"Oh no! What do we do now?" gasped Sprocket glancing first at Rusty and then at Springaling.

"Do… do… what do we do..do!" shouted Springaling who was thoroughly enjoying every minute of this Jack in a Box game, "I will tell you what we jolly well do my friends."

"Quick Pippin, jump down" he began, vibrating all over with excitement, "Now balance that big brass weight on my hat" he went on, pointing to a set of old shop scales at the end of the bench.

"Brass weight!" gasped Rusty "Are you sure?" she went on looking first at the big brass weight and then at the quivering Springaling.

"Sure… sure I'm sure" he replied impatiently "so hurry!"

Rusty, Sprocket and Wingsey dragged the large brass weight across the bench and with Young Pinion's help they managed to lift it onto Springaling's hat squashing him almost flat.

Only his big toe could be seen poking from under the brim of his hat.

"Are you OK" shouted Sprocket?" but the spring just grunted something that sounded a bit like, 'what do you think?'

"OK Springaling, do a Jack in a Box" they all shouted into his ear.

But nothing happened.

So they shouted again and this time the pips joined in,

"Do a Jack in a Box Springaling."

But still, nothing happened.

The old spider, who'd been watching all this going on and was just waiting for a bit of peace and quiet shouted.

"For goodness sake tickle his toes with a feather!"

So they did, and Springaling began to quiver, and the more they tickled the more he quivered. Then with one enormous PING Springaling shot to his full height sending the big brass weight crashing through the hole in the roof, knocking the plywood patch high into the air.

The man on the ladder gasped out loud as he tumbled back into the branches of the apple tree before dropping into the long grass below a shower of ripe apples.

"Now's our chance!" boomed Springaling full of confidence "Jump up Pippin - and you three." he went on, pointing at the last three pips waiting in a line "Now Rusty, tickle my toes with that feather."

Springaling wobbled and quivered and shook and shivered and then he went PING and the last four little apple pips all waving and blowing kisses sailed through the hole in the shed roof into the lush green grass of the apple orchard.

Rusty, Sprocket and Young Pinion stood for some moments just gazing up at the patch of clear blue sky, before the man slapped a piece of plywood over the hole and hurriedly nailed it down.

"Right Fred, let the flippin' wind blow it off this time if it can" he shouted.

Smiling, Rusty turned to thank Springaling for his help but he had already bounced away singing a pretty little song that Wingsey said sounded rather like a nursery rhyme.

As for the old spider, she just sighed and closed her eyes, mumbling

"Thank goodness that's over."

Rusty and Sprocket settled back into the deck chairs feeling rather pleased with themselves.

"That really was a stroke of genius, Sprocket" began Rusty "thinking of a plan like that. No wonder you wanted to keep it a secret."

"Well, you know how it is. I didn't want you all to think I was trying to be clever," replied Sprocket in a matter of fact sort of way, "after all it was such a simple plan"

"Oh we would never think that, would we Rusty?" interrupted Wingsey. "That you were clever I mean." And they all laughed.

"But more to the point," shouted Wingsey "what shall we have for supper?"

"Not flippin' apples again I hope" blurted Young Pinion.

The Sally Race

Over the next few weeks, the weather became very unsettled, with warm, humid nights and thunderstorms followed by heavy rain.

"It's a jolly good job they repaired that hole in the roof," said Wingsey one morning "the thunder wakes me up in the night but at least the rain doesn't pour in anymore."

"And apples can't fall in either" replied Young Pinion.

"That's if there's any still left on the tree after that storm," said Rusty as she cleared away the breakfast dishes. "Anyway, I can hear the birds singing so it's going to be a nice day and I've decided to knit a bobble hat with this nice orange wool I found."

She sat by the shed window from where she could see a very young ladybird taking its first flying lesson, smiling to herself as it tumbled head over heels from the top of an empty snail shell and lay on the gravel with its legs waving frantically in the air.

Watching the ladybird had given her the idea of adding some big black dots to the hat, and all she needed now was some peace and quiet and a couple of panel pins for knitting needles.

Morris Wainright had stopped hammering things and throwing bits of his motorbike all over the workbench and for the first time in several days the old spider had popped its head out of the flower pot.

"Thank goodness that confounded noise is over. Maybe now I can get some sleep," she mumbled.

Rusty was also getting rather tired of Wingsey and Young Sprocket who were sitting by the vice shouting at each other.

"Stop that arguing at once, it's doing my head in!" shouted Rusty.

"We are not arguing, we are discussing," replied Wingsey.

"Discussing what, may I ask?" enquired Rusty, puckering her lips and applying a layer of luminous orange lipstick.

"How we can stop Morris Wainright killing himself on Saturday, trying to win that bet?"

"Surely he's not that stupid is he?" said Rusty a little surprised at Wingsey's concern.

"Oh yes, he is Rusty" replied Sprocket "very stupid when it comes to racing that Red Menace! To even think he can win on that cranky old motorbike of his proves it."

"Well he has spent the last few weeks tinkering with it to make it go even faster," interrupted Pinion.

"Yes and now it sounds more like a moon rocket than a motorbike," blurted Wingsey.

"Well," continued Pinion feeling some sympathy for Morris, "he wants to beat that Red Menace once and for all."

"You remember that bet they made?"

"I'll say," chipped in Rusty, "fifty pounds or shillings or something wasn't it, for the first one to get to the Sally Lighthouse and back."

"And don't forget the Menace shouted 'No, make it sixty whatever it was, and you're on.'" blurted Wingsey.

"Yes I remember, and they shook hands," sniggered Sprocket. "But I didn't think they would be stupid enough to go through with it."

At that moment an ear-splitting roar filled the air as Morris Wainright roared up the gravel drive on a monstrous black motorbike. He screeched to a stop winding open the throttle until the noise was almost too much for poor Wingsey's ears to bear, before switching off.

The engine coughed and spluttered into silence and Morris, a frail, pimply looking fellow with a ginger goatee beard slid from the saddle. He leant the heavy machine against the garden wall and strode purposefully across to the garden shed, then rolling up his shirt sleeves, he turned and glanced back at the motorcycle.

"What a beauty," he murmured to himself, "That'll show that red ninny the way home, I'm sure."

"Look. Now he's talking to himself," said Rusty, squinting through the shed window. "He looks to me as if he's determined to go ahead with this race on Saturday."

"And win it!" shouted Pinion. "Either that, or he'll kill himself."

"Then we must make sure he does win, or at least, that he doesn't lose," said Sprocket "and comes back in one piece, or we may have to find a new shed to live in."

Rusty sat by the mirror combing her hair and thinking very hard about what they could do. It was beginning to look as though Morris would stop at nothing to win that money and prove that his motorbike could go faster than Red's. Rusty could just imagine Morris zigzagging through the traffic on the bypass and racing round the roundabouts with his ears almost scraping the road. She could visualise him laying flat on the petrol tank with just his goggles peeping over the headlamp and his ponytail flapping violently in the slipstream; even worse she had visions of him flying off the edge of the cliff on the twisty old coast road onto the rocks below.

"I have an idea that may just work," she blurted at last, "but only when they reach the halfway point."

"You mean the Sally lighthouse?" interrupted Sprocket.

"Yes," said Rusty "because that's where they'll put a race marshal to make sure that nobody cheats."

"So what do we do?" asked Sprocket.

"And more to the point, how do we get to the lighthouse?" interrupted Young Pinion excitedly,"We can't catch a bus, we haven't got any money."

"Be quiet Pinion!" shouted Rusty a little impatiently, "you'll just have to wait and see."

Saturday began warm and sunny with more than the usual chatter coming from the Scrap Box. Sprocket and the Two Faced Nut were helping Springaling cook the breakfast while Rusty was colouring her eyelids purple. Morris Wainright had popped into the shed earlier to collect some spanners and had picked Wingsey off the bench by his ear together with half a dozen ball bearings and tossed them back into the Scrap Box.

"How peculiar," he muttered to himself, "I tidy up at night, and it's just as bad in the morning, you'd think they'd all grown legs."

Suddenly woken by the shed door slamming as Morris left, Young Pinion jumped out of bed and asked Sprocket what time the race started.

"Noon, from the Duck Bill car park, so we must hurry!" replied Sprocket glancing at the old alarm clock. Wingsey still had a sore ear but managed to help Young Pinion wash his face and plaster down his hair with some axle grease.

"You look very pretty Rusty," said the Two Faced Nut. "Will you help me with my laces?"

Rusty flicked back her hair and just smiled at the nut, pretending she hadn't heard.

"Come on, we've got to hurry!" shouted Sprocket, his voice almost drowned by the roar of a motorcycle engine.

"That's Morris just leaving, so we'd better take the shortcut across the field to the Duck Bill."

They clambered over the stile by the church wall, Sprocket way out in front, dragging Young Pinion along by his hand. Wingsey and Rusty followed, chatting and giggling.

"Hurry you two!" cried Sprocket, stopping to look back, "Can you hear anything Wingsey, have they come out of the pub yet?"

"The Red Menace has," Wingsey replied excitedly, turning one of his large ears in the direction of the Duck Bill.

"He's calling Morris a wrinkly and asking what flowers he wants at his funeral!"

"Just as I thought," said Rusty "Things are beginning to get nasty. We'd better hurry!"

They soon arrived at the car park only to see the Menace prodding Morris with his finger. "I can only wait 'til Christmas for you to get back!" he was shouting.

"Oh yes!" sneered Morris "And you stay in the slow lane in case a tortoise wants to get past."

Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-20 show above.)