Excerpt for The Midnight Farm Adventure by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




About the Book

What is hidden in the old spoil tip by the disused Midnight Mine? Two men have permission to dig there, but they don't want anyone watching -- especially not Jessica and James, the Two Jays. And where is Granfer Joe's old tin box, full of what he called his treasure? The Easter holiday at Midnight Farm in Cornwall isn't as peaceful as James's parents planned. An early morning bike ride nearly ends in disaster, and with the so-called Hound of the Baskerville running loose, things turn out to be decidedly dangerous. This is the fourth Two Jays adventure story. You can read them in any order, although each one goes forward slightly in time.


The Midnight Farm Adventure

The Fourth Two Jays Story

by

Chris Wright

© Chris Wright 2018


This eBook ISBN: 978-1-9997899-1-6


Also available in paperback

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5497148-3-2


Published by

White Tree Publishing

Bristol

UNITED KINGDOM


Website: www.whitetreepublishing.com


More books by Chris Wright on

www.rocky-island.com


Email: wtpbristol@gmail.com


The Midnight Farm Adventure is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents concerning the Two Jays are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. However, Billy Bray and William Haslam were real people, as are the events told about their lives. The areas and buildings in Cornwall connected to these two men are well worth a visit.


All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this story.


The Bible verses in this story are taken from "The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers."


(See also www.youversion.com for free downloads of over a thousand Bible translations, with over a thousand languages supported, on your phone, tablet, and computer.)




Table of Contents


Cover


About the book


Chapter 1


Chapter 2


Chapter 3


Chapter 4


Chapter 5


Chapter 6


Chapter 7


Chapter 8


Chapter 9


Chapter 10


Chapter 11


Chapter 12


Chapter 13


Chapter 14


Chapter 15


More books by Chris Wright


About White Tree Publishing


Chapter 1


Thursday

The journey in the car to Midnight Farm in Cornwall was taking ages. The roads on the Thursday before Easter seemed to have nothing but minor accidents and hold-ups on them.

James Cooper knew not to ask his father the old question, "Are we nearly there yet?" Their destination, in the south part of Cornwall called the Lizard, was still many miles away. But this remote part of Devon they were passing through fascinated him. He just hoped Cornwall would be as interesting.

"What are those things that look like volcanoes?" he asked, pointing out of the car window to some peaked hills on the left.

His cousin, Jessica Green, answered before his father had a chance. "They're called tors," she said. "Haven't you heard of the Hound of the Baskervilles? It's a Sherlock Holmes story about a wild dog that scares people to death on Dartmoor. This is where it used to live."

"As long as it's not here now," James said, making sure his window was firmly closed.

His father, Clive Cooper, who was driving, turned his head slightly. "It lives in Cornwall now," he said. "Behind Midnight Farm."

Jessica looked at James and laughed. "Then you'd better buy some dog biscuits. But watch your fingers when you feed it."

"Quiet, everyone, please," Mrs Cooper said. She was Aunty Amy to Jessica. "Jessica, I've been looking forward to seeing Midnight Farm where your mother and James's dad used to go when they were children. He's told me so much about it, and now everyone's spoiling it for me by talking about some wild dog."

"I was joking about it being at Midnight Farm, Amy," Clive Cooper said. "Mind you, it was a bit scary there. There's an old tin mine on the farm called Midnight Mine. Jessica, I used to tell your mum that skeletons came out of it at night and danced on a large spoil tip from the mine, so she had to keep her bedroom window and curtains tightly shut."

"My mum is older than you, Uncle Clive, so I can't think she believed you."

Mr Cooper laughed. "Not in the daylight, but when it's dark at Midnight Farm you can almost believe anything. Your mother and I believed all the crazy stories Granfer Joe told us."

"Granfer Joe?" James and Jessica said together. They were often referred to as the Two Jays. James had thick dark hair that covered his ears, and Jessica had long fair hair that hung free, parted in the middle.

Mr Cooper waited in the busy traffic waiting to enter a large roundabout. "There was this old character at Midnight Farm called Granfer Joe."

"What sort of a name is Granfer?" Jessica asked. "I've never heard of it."

Her Uncle Clive said it was a Cornish word.

"What," James asked in alarm, "does everyone in Cornwall speak another language? This is going to be like Aunt Judy's village of Abergair where everyone speaks Welsh!" [See The Cliff Edge Adventure.]

The large roundabout was safely negotiated. "They don't speak it now, James," his father said. "Welsh and Cornish languages are similar, because they're based on the old Celtic language. A lot of the place names are the same or similar. The Cornish language died out for a time, but people are revising it, and you can get Cornish English dictionaries. But you won't find people speaking it in the shops."

"Or in the chapel, I hope," James added, thinking of their time in the Welsh chapel in Abergair -- Capel Betel.

"Very unlikely I'm sure," his father said, "but granfer is Cornish for grandfather."

"So is Granfer Joe related to us?" James asked. "You've never mentioned him before."

His father laughed. "He's the grandfather of Mrs Treloggan who keeps Midnight Farm. He was old when we stayed there when I was young, so I can't think he'll be around anymore. He was a marvellous old character. He'd been in the merchant navy in the war and had brought back lots of souvenirs. Old coins and little carvings and pottery. All of them interesting rather than valuable. Jessica, your mum and I would listen to his stories for hours. He liked to pretend he'd been a pirate. Talked about the Spanish Armada such a lot that I almost believed I'd been there with him."

"The Spanish Armada was in 1595," Jessica said. "Surely you and Granfer Joe couldn't have been that old, Uncle Clive."

"Of course not." Mr Cooper thought for a moment. "Hey, how old do you think I am, Jessica? No, don't answer that!"

"So what's all this about the Spanish Armada?" Jessica asked. "Granfer Joe was joking, right?"

"Jessica, your mum is two years older than me, so I think she knew Granfer Joe was joking, but she didn't let on to me. At the time, I believed him. You could say he was obsessed with the Spanish Armada. Pretended he'd served with the famous sea captain Sir Francis Drake, but said the Cornish sailors were braver than Drake who came from Devon."

"Were they?" James asked.

Mr Cooper stayed silent for a moment as he eventually got to the front of the queue for the next roundabout. He checked his sat-nav which had taken them onto a diversion to avoid a major holdup.

"Second exit," he repeated to himself as he found a gap in the traffic. "A lot of Cornish people don't consider themselves to be English. So anyone from Devon, even though the counties of Devon and Cornwall are joined, they think of as foreigners. So of course Cornish sailors have to be braver than the Devonshire ones. I'm going to miss old Granfer Joe if he's not still around, but I can't believe he will be. He was one of the main reasons I loved coming to stay at Midnight Farm with the Treloggan family, just to listen to all his stories of the sea."

"Even though he made a lot of them up?" James said.

His father laughed. "Yes, even though he made a lot of them up. He had a way of making them seem real, so it was easy to believe him, and even be a bit scared at times."

"Tell us about the Treloggans," Jessica said.

Mr Cooper tucked in patiently behind a line of slow moving traffic. "Mr and Mrs Treloggan will be getting on a bit now. When your mum and I used to stay at Midnight Farm, they had two children, Conan and Jenna. Conan was about my age, and his sister Jenna was a bit younger. We got on well together."

"Will they be there now, Uncle Clive?" Jessica asked.

"I shouldn't think so," Mr Cooper called back over his shoulder, not taking his eyes off the road for a moment in the busy traffic, as dozens of red brake lights came on ahead. "They'll probably have families of their own, but I'd like to see them again."

"What sort of things did you do, Dad?" James asked.

His mother laughed. "Got up to some sort of mischief, I expect."

"We were impeccably behaved," his father said. "You can ask Mr and Mrs Treloggan if you like. The thing I remember most is the tree house that Granfer Joe built for Conan and Jenna in the large sycamore tree. He made a rope ladder to get up there, and it seemed ever so high off the ground. We used to pretend it was a pirate ship, sailing to the lands that Granfer Joe had told us about." He laughed at the memory. "Those were the days."

"Do you think the tree house will still be there?" Jessica asked.

"Quite possibly, but don't go climbing up into it without Mr or Mrs Treloggan saying it's safe. After all, it was a long time ago."

"The time of the Spanish Armada," James said.

His father would probably have come back with some clever retort, but he had to brake quickly to miss the oncoming car of an impatient driver who was overtaking a line of slow traffic.

Whatever it was his father said under his breath, James didn't catch it. "What did you say, Dad?"

"If you must know, James, I was thanking God that he'd saved us from a nasty accident, and praying that the driver of that car will have a safe journey and learn more patience on the road."

"Really, Dad?"

"Leave your father alone, James," his mother said quickly. "And give thanks yourself that we've been kept safe." She looked at the sat-nav. "I can't believe we're only just entering Cornwall. We stopped too long at the service area. It will be dark by the time we get there."

"Just in time for Jessica to see the skeletons dancing," James said. "Anyway, what's happened to the old tin mine? Did it blow up?"

"Yes, in a way it did," Mr Cooper said. "Midnight Mine is about three hundred years old. All that's left is a spoil tip of stuff the miners dug out back then. About fifty years ago people thought they could start mining in Cornwall again, and some miners tried to blast their way back in. But everything collapsed, and all you can see are some rocks by the spoil tip that mark the entrance. And no, before you say anything, James, no one was killed."

"There you are, James," Jessica said. "No dancing skeletons."

James took a deep breath and shook his head sadly. "That's what you think now, Jessica. Look out of your bedroom window tonight at midnight, and see if you still believe that." He smiled. "At least we won't be tempted to explore an old mine. You know how I hate being under the ground in tight tunnels." [See The Dark Tunnel Adventure.]

"I wouldn't be too sure about that," Jessica said, laughing. "You might be walking along in one of the fields at Midnight Farm, and suddenly fall down a mineshaft that's hidden in the long grass."

Mrs Cooper sounded worried. "Clive, there aren't really any mine shafts in the fields, are there?"

"Definitely not, Amy. The old mine went down at a steep angle following a vein of minerals. But it's completely collapsed and closed now. The only thing anyone could fall down is an old well hidden in a clump of trees. It has a low wall around it and nobody could fall down it by accident."

"Except James," Jessica said quietly.

Mrs Cooper gave a deep sigh. "That's enough now from you two," she said, turning in her seat. "I know you enjoy joking with each other, but, Jessica, let Uncle Clive concentrate on the driving. We all want to get to Midnight Farm in one piece."

"And you can watch the skeletons dancing when we arrive," James said quietly to Jessica.

"And you can get eaten by the Hound of the Baskervilles," Jessica added with a giggle, before turning quickly to look out of the window at the wild moors.


Mrs Cooper was right, and it was nearly dark by the time they arrived at Midnight Farm. James had no idea where they were, except that they seemed to be in the back of beyond.

"Come in, you weary travellers," Mrs Treloggan said in a deep Cornish accent. She seemed a lot older than James was expecting. "We've been hearing on the news about the traffic. It seems everyone wants to be in Cornwall for Easter."

Mr Cooper said it certainly looked that way.

They introduced themselves to Mrs Treloggan, and she explained that Mr Treloggan would be back soon from Helston where he was at a farmers' meeting.

"It's good to be here again after all these years," Mr Cooper said, looking around the large farmhouse kitchen.

"Oh, I remember you well enough, my dear," Mrs Treloggan said to him. "A right scamp you was. You had a sister, if I remember correctly. She seemed a lot more sensible than you."

"She's my mum," Jessica said, giving James a nudge. "Sounds like you and me, James."

"I protest," Mr Cooper said, laughing. "I'm sure I behaved perfectly."

James rolled his eyes and then laughed. "Well done, Dad. You're an example to all of us."

Mrs Treloggan joined in the laughter. "Now, my dears, would you like me to fix you some food?"

Mrs Cooper smiled. "That's kind of you, Mrs Treloggan, but we stopped for something at a service area on the way down. I'm afraid that's one of the reasons we're late. It's very kind of you, but we didn't want to put you to any trouble. James and Jessica are looking rather tired. Perhaps you could show us to our rooms."

James gave a groan. "Not yet, mum. Jessica and I want to go outside and look around a bit and explore the area."

"You need to wait until it's daylight," his father said. "Midnight Farm is very isolated, and there are lots of little lanes around here that you could get lost in."

"You don't need to worry about that, Uncle Clive." Jessica sounded quite excited. "Our new car has sat-nav built in, and Dad's given me the phone he used in the car. It's got a really good sat-nav app on there. As long as we've got my phone with me we'll be sure to find our way back here."

Mrs Treloggan nodded. "There's some bicycles in the barn that will suit you two young ones perfectly. Mr Treloggan has already got the tyres blown up on two of them, ready for you. You can adjust the saddles in the morning. And there are some helmets there. We keep them for our guests, so you're welcome to use them."

"Great," James said, nodding to his father. "Is that okay, Dad?"

His father looked at James's mother and they both nodded. "Just be careful on these narrow lanes," his father said. "There's not a lot of room for bicycles and cars to pass each other safely, and there are some sharp bends. Make sure you ride in single file, and keep an ear open for vehicles."

"In front and behind," his mother added.

"Can we go out for a ride in the morning before breakfast?" Jessica asked.

"Just for a quick ride," Mr Cooper said. "Don't forget, it's Good Friday tomorrow, and we'll be going to the local chapel. I've checked on the internet. The service is at eleven. Then we'll go down into Porthleven, explore the harbour, and have some lunch."

"You enjoy yourselves, my dears," Mrs Treloggan said. "Ah, here's Mr Treloggan now. Let's see if he remembers you, Mr Cooper."

James's father pulled a face. "Perhaps it will be just as well if he doesn't. You've embarrassed me enough as it is, in front of my family." And he laughed.

"I can't think what those two daft men are doing at this time of the evening," Mr Treloggan said as he entered the kitchen. He had taken off his boots at the outside door and dropped his old trilby hat on the table. "They've got lights on their heads, and they're digging away at...." He broke off when he saw the visitors. "Ah, you've come then." He looked at James's father. "It's young Clive, isn't it? I remember you, my lad. A right bundle of mischief you was. And the way you teased your sister.... Welcome to Midnight Farm."

Jessica smiled and turned to James. "It must be something in the Cooper DNA that makes you like that."

James shook his head. "I've no idea what you're talking about. I treat you with the greatest courtesy."

It was Jessica's turn to roll her eyes. Then she turned to Mr Treloggan. "What two men are you talking about? It sounds very mysterious."

Mr Treloggan laughed. "Don't you worry about them, my dear. Two men with metal detectors have rented our old cottage along the lane. Only been here two days. They say they're looking for tin and copper ore, but they both look shifty to me."

"Are they miners?" James asked.

Mr Treloggan shook his head. "There's no mines round here anymore, young man. Not for many a long year. By the cottage there's a spoil tip from the old Midnight Mine." He laughed. "They was poking around here last year, and think they're going to make their fortune out of bits and pieces of ore the old miners missed."

"I remember the old cottage," Mr Cooper said. "We were told to keep well away from it, in case it fell down. Have you done it up as a holiday let?"

Mr Treloggan shook his head. "Same as it ever was, if not worse. That's why I called them daft. They insisted on renting it, even though I wouldn't want to keep a rat in there. And there's probably plenty of rats in there anyway. They've agreed to go halves on the value of all the tin and copper ore they find, which will probably be half of not very much!"

"Where are Conan and Jenna?" Mr Cooper asked, when there was a pause in the conversation. "I'd like to see them again."

Mrs Treloggan shook her head, rather sadly. "Oh, they've got families of their own now. Fine young families. But Conan is living in London at the moment. Don't ask me what he sees in that big city, but that's where he is with his family now."

"And Jenna?" Mr Cooper asked.

"Her husband has a job up in Manchester of all places. Right up in the north somewhere. What those two are doing living in foreign parts, I can't make head nor tail of. They was born and bred here in Cornwall, and that's where they should be living."

James remembered how his father had said that to anyone born in Cornwall, even someone from the next county of Devon, was considered to be a foreigner.

"I expect they come back to see you often, don't they?" Mrs Cooper said. "It's important for families to stay close."

"They comes back when they can," Mrs Treloggan said with a sigh. "But it's not that often I'm afraid. We keep in touch on our farm computer with a thing called Skype, but it's not the same as seeing them face-to-face, my dear. It's been mighty quiet here lately, with Granfer Joe and the family gone."

"Dad says he remembers playing in the tree house," James said, trying to change the subject before everyone became too sad. "Is it still there?"

"Long gone," Mr Treloggan said. "That sycamore tree blew down in the gale twenty odd year back." He thought for a moment. "Mind you, if Conan and Jenna comes back to live in the area, I can reckon I could soon fix one up in another tree for our grandchildren. I've still got the rope ladder up in the loft in the tractor barn."

"I've no doubt you could soon fix them up another tree house, Mr Treloggan," Mrs Treloggan said. "It would be just like old times here. Maybe it will happen soon."

Mr Treloggan nodded. "Happen it will," he said slowly. "Happen it will. One day soon, God willing."

Mrs Cooper was looking at the large round clock on the kitchen wall. "If it's all right with you, Mrs Treloggan, I really think we should be unpacking and getting ready for an early night. Come on, Jessica and James, let's find your rooms."

"Don't forget to look out of your window for the dancing skeletons before you go to sleep," James whispered to Jessica, as Mrs Treloggan led the way up the wide, creaking staircase.


Chapter 2


Good Friday

James and Jessica were up early the next morning, but not as early as Mr and Mrs Treloggan who had cows to see to on the farm. It was still nearly dark outside, and rather cloudy. But at least it was dry.

The cousins heard a noise from the yard outside, and saw Mr Treloggan herding black and white cows into the cowshed for milking. Mrs Treloggan caught sight of James as he stood there gazing in wonder, never having seen cows this close-up before.

"Early today, then? I expect 'tis the bicycles you're after, I shouldn't wonder. I can't stop now, but you'll see them in the barn over there."

Jessica was already halfway to the barn before James could get his thoughts together. Mrs Treloggan was indeed right when she had said the bicycles were ready for them. The tyres felt fully inflated and two red helmets were there, one hanging on each of the handlebars. There was even a suitable spanner to adjust the saddle heights. Everything seemed perfect for an early morning ride in the rising sun.

Jessica held her phone and examined the map on the screen. "I'm setting Midnight Farm as Home, so we can be sure of getting back. I can see a large lake marked on the map. Have a look." She handed the phone to James.

"Okay, Jessica, let's get going. My parents won't be up for ages, and we'll be back in plenty of time for breakfast."

"And chapel," Jessica added. "Don't forget, it's Good Friday today."

James nodded. "Race you to.... What's it called?"

"Loe Pool. L-o-e, but I don't know how you pronounce it. And no racing. We have to be careful of traffic." She looked again at the sat-nav on her phone. "We go this way." She pointed to the left. "Past the old cottage where the two men are digging with their metal detectors."

They rode towards the rising sun. The old cottage was only a couple of hundred yards along the narrow lane, and it certainly looked old. A battered piece of wood painted white had the name Midnight Cottage badly written on it in black.

The land in the whole area was flat, and the only thing to break the flatness was a large mound by the cottage. James looked at his watch as they stopped at the gate. It was only just after 6:30, and there was no sign of anyone around. Dirty sheets pinned up at two upstairs windows probably meant that the men were still sleeping. Sleeping with the rats, if Mr Treloggan was right.

An old and battered blue Land Rover covered in mud was parked close to the cottage. It looked too old to be used anymore, but the tyres weren't flat, so James thought it was probably roadworthy.

"I wouldn't fancy going out in that," Jessica said. "It looks on its last legs."

"Last wheels you mean. It could certainly do with a good clean. There's more mud on there than there is in the field opposite."

James decided that the large mound, close to the cottage, must be the spoil tip that the men were excavating for tin and copper ore, which the miners had overlooked when digging out Midnight Mine. From the lane, it looked as though part of the top had been dug away, but the rest was covered in bracken and clumps of gorse.

The spoil tip was in a small patch of waste ground. A large pile of rocks, overgrown with bracken and brambles, must mark the sealed entrance to the old Midnight Mine.

James pointed to a group of trees across the adjoining field. "That could be where the well is that my dad told us about."

"You mean the one you're going to fall down?" Jessica said, laughing. She pointed to the spoil tip. "If they're going to dig that lot away, rather them than me." She slid forward from the saddle to put her feet fully on the ground. "We should have brought the spanner. My saddle feels a bit high. Never mind, these mountain bikes will be perfect if we can find a place to ride off the road."

James felt impatient to find Loe Pool. "Can you wait until we get back to fix it?"

Jessica nodded.

"That's good. Come on, let's find that lake. Which way next?"

Jessica didn't need to look at her phone. She had a good memory for finding places, and she pointed ahead. "Next turning, and it looks very narrow. There doesn't seem to be anyone around, but let's be careful and keep well into the side, and be prepared to stop if we hear a car."

As they pulled away, a dog barked fiercely from inside Midnight Cottage. Gravel crunched under their tyres. James pressed his pedals hard to make the back wheel spin.

"Just be careful you don't fall off," Jessica warned. "I don't want to be the only one with a bike for the rest of the holiday."

The lane made its way between high stone and earth banks that were already colourful with wild flowers, mostly blue, purple and yellow -- bluebells, violets and primroses.

"Look over there," Jessica said suddenly, coming to a halt. "I didn't notice it when we arrived. It was too dark. Miles and miles of open sea. We must be ever so close."

"Later," James said. "We need to find this lake now. If we go to the beach, we'll be there for ages and miss breakfast."

Soon, the lane ran downhill and they glimpsed the early morning sunlight shining on the water of Loe Pool beyond a border of trees. They stopped for a moment and looked for a way to cross the rough scrubland to get closer to the water. A narrow track seemed to be the best route, and it was exactly the sort of trail that mountain bikes were designed for.

After a bumpy ride, they stopped in amazement. They must be down at sea level by now. The lake was quite narrow but very long. Their side of the lake had a row of old trees, some of which were dead and hanging in the dark water.

"Wow, if we had a boat we could explore it properly," Jessica said, her hand to her eyes to shield the bright morning sun. "It looks safe."

"Apart from the crocodiles," James said.

"Well, yes, apart from them. I think we ought to be starting back soon. It's uphill for a lot of the way back, and I want to have another look at the spoil tip. I want to see what's under all the bracken and gorse that's covering most of it."

James nodded. "Me too. I'm surprised those men haven't cleared the whole top of the mound first. But I can't really believe the old miners threw good pieces of ore away. It must have been hard work digging the mine, so why not pick through everything carefully?"

"Well, if the two men are there, we can ask them. Come on, let's get going. I want my breakfast."

The men weren't on the tip, but the old sheets had gone from the upstairs windows. "Let's climb up and look for ourselves," Jessica said.

James laid his bike down next to Jessica's by the gate. "I'm not sure. Aren't we trespassing?"

Jessica laughed. "The field and cottage belong to Midnight Farm. We're staying at the farm, so surely we can go anywhere we like. As long as we don't leave gates open or do any damage."

James had to agree. He unlatched the large metal gate to the lane, and it opened with a loud squeak. He glanced back at the cottage as a huge black dog started to bark loudly. It looked like a cross between some sort of Mastiff and an equally large German Shepherd, with thick black hair. To their relief it was chained by the collar to an iron ring in the cottage wall.

"Dad was right. It is the Hound of the Baskervilles," James said. "I hope you've got the dog food ready."

"It's not funny. I liked Aunt Judy's dog, but I don't like large dogs like this, even if they are safely chained up. And that chain doesn't look very safe to me."

They waited a moment, but there was no sign of the men. Anyway, it didn't matter. Surely the men would be happy to talk about what they were doing with the spoil tip.

Jessica was already at the top of the mound. It was about twelve feet high, almost circular, and about fifty feet in diameter. [Four metres by fifteen metres.]

"Come up, James, and see the hole. They must have only just started, because they've not gone down very far yet."

James joined Jessica at the top, going up a well-worn path that the men must be using through the bracken. They could now see that the top had bare patches where nothing would grow. It must have been like this since the last bucket of spoil from the mine had been tipped here three hundred years ago.

The sides of the hole, which was about six feet [two metres] across, held a mix of brown grit and broken pieces of rock. Strangely, the bottom of the hole was earth, unlike the sides. Below the mound was the material the men had dug out.

"I wonder if they've found anything good yet," Jessica said, kneeling down and feeling one of the broken rocks that stuck out from the side of the hole. A scatter of brown grit came loose and fell to the bottom of the hole, taking the rock with it.

"Just what are you two kids doing here?" a man's voice said behind them.

The Two Jays had been so busy examining the hole that they'd not heard anyone approaching. They turned to see a tall man wearing dirty blue jeans and a torn black leather jacket, standing with his arms folded. "This is private property," he said. "You've no right to be here."

Jessica put on her friendly smile. "We're staying at Midnight Farm," she explained. "Mrs Treloggan told us what you're doing and we just came to look. We haven't done anything wrong."

"Have you found anything valuable yet?" James asked, deciding to change the subject.

The man kept his arms folded. "What you mean by that?"

"Well," Jessica said, "Mrs Treloggan said you're looking for copper and tin ore that the olden days' miners missed."

The man unfolded his arms and ran his fingers through his dark, messy hair, and folded his arms again, looking hostile. James glanced round and could see a second man standing in the doorway of the cottage. He had a shaved head, and tattoos up both arms, which were also folded.

"Oh, that. Yes, one or two bits and pieces."

"Are they valuable?" James asked.

The man shook his head, scattering his hair. "Not as such, but we smelt the ore and recover enough copper and tin to sell to a jeweller. We're hoping to find some silver ore, because that's often found in the mines round here, but only in very small pieces."

"Any gold?" Jessica asked.

The man seemed taken aback by the question. Then he quickly shook his head. "Not here. Why d'you want to know?"

"It must be hard work digging out this mound," Jessica said, shocked by the man's reaction. "I thought there might be gold here. So what does the jeweller do with the copper and tin?"

"And the silver," James added. "That is, if you find any."

The man seemed to have calmed down. "He uses it to err ... well ... make pieces of jewellery and ornaments that he sells in St Ives to tourists. People like to take something genuinely Cornish home with them as a souvenir."

"I'd like to take something like that back for my mum," Jessica said excitedly. "Especially silver. I'm sure we'll be going to St Ives. What's the shop called?"

The second man had now made his way over to the mound. "What's going on?" he asked, not sounding at all friendly. Fortunately, he'd left the large black dog chained outside the cottage where it let out the occasional unpleasant howl.

"Just a couple of kids staying at the farm," the first man said. "They're going now."

Jessica was not to be put off. "What's the name of the shop in St Ives that sells the jewellery?"

"St Ives?" the second man said, looking puzzled.

"The shop where the jeweller sells bits and pieces made from local tin and copper," Jessica said. "Where is it in St Ives?"

The second man still looked puzzled, but the first man said quickly, "You know, the jeweller who smelts the ore we find." He turned to Jessica. "Sorry, kid, that's confidential."

"But if he wants to sell it, surely it can't be a secret," she protested.

The second man came closer. "This is private property, so it's time you're going," he muttered.

"But this is all part of Midnight Farm," Jessica said. She had no intention of missing out on taking something back for her parents, especially her mum. Finding something suitable to take back for them had always been a problem for her.

The second man looked angrily at Jessica. "Yes, this is part of Midnight Farm, but we're renting this cottage and this spoil tip, so that makes it private. See? So now it's time you two nosy kids were off, and don't come here again."

"Come on," James said, catching hold of Jessica's arm, "it's time we were going anyway, or we'll miss breakfast. There's nothing interesting to see here." He turned to the first man, who had seemed the slightly more friendly one of the two. "Are you going to dig the whole mound away?"

It was the second man who answered. "We're going to do what we're going to do, kid, and now you're going to clear off. And don't come back. Next time you come, that dog might not be chained up."

As the Two Jays rode away they stopped their bikes for a moment and looked back. The two men were going into the cottage, and seemed to have lost interest in the "two nosy kids".

"It's strange what the man said," said James, rubbing his chin. "First of all he said that they smelt the ore before taking it to the jeweller, and then a few minutes later he said that the jeweller smelts it. I don't know exactly what you need to smelt ore, but it must need a large furnace. There's nothing like that here."

"And why wouldn't they tell me the name of the shop in St Ives?" Jessica said.

"It's early in the morning, Jessica. They were probably half asleep. After all, we've seen the hole they're digging, and I don't think they're going to bury anyone in it. It's not the right shape, and it's too out in the open. Perhaps a cow?"

"You're horrible, you are." Jessica sat on her saddle and began to pedal. "Race you back to Midnight Farm!"

James stayed where he was. "No racing. Remember?"


Chapter 3


Mrs Treloggan was in the kitchen, bending over the large Aga cooker. She looked up as they entered. "There you are, my dears. Mr and Mrs Cooper are still upstairs. I told them it's their holiday, so they deserve to lie in bed a bit this morning. But there's no keeping you young ones in bed on holiday. There now, did you have a good look round the area?"

"We really did, Mrs Treloggan," Jessica said. "We found a large lake down one of the lanes. Loe Pool." (She said Loe as Low).

"That will be the Loe," Mrs Treloggan said, pronouncing it Loo.

James glanced at Jessica and they began to laugh. Fortunately, Mrs Treloggan joined in with him. "Yes, you may well laugh, my dears, as many a young family staying here have done. That's the Cornish language for you. Loe means lake or pool. Now, sit yourselves down and you can both start. James, I'm thinking your mother and father won't be down for a while yet."

"We saw the two men at the cottage," Jessica said as she pulled one of the heavy pine dining chairs back from the table and sat down. "They don't seem very nice. They have this really fierce dog, and they told us to go away."

"Perhaps they thought you'd fall into the hole they're digging," Mrs Treloggan said. "Anyway, it is best if you keep away."

"Have they found much yet?" James asked. "They say a jeweller in St Ives makes jewellery and stuff to sell."

"That's what they told us too, my dears. There are some pieces of tin and copper ore on the side over there. No, don't get up, I'll bring them over. I've washed the earth off, so they're clean. They look just like stones to me. The metal has to be got out by crushing and heating, so I've heard tell."

Mrs Treloggan put four pieces of rock on the table, each one about the size of a pack of butter. One was smooth and almost black in colour, and three had a greenish yellow tint all over them.

"They say they found these a couple of days ago. We're supposed to go halves on it, but these pieces of rock are no use to me and Mr Treloggan. I told them we'd wait until they'd finished, and have half the money they get from selling it."

James picked up the black piece. "It's much heavier than I expected."

Jessica picked up one of the green rocks and agreed hers was surprisingly heavy.

"That's because there's metal in there, my dears." Mrs Treloggan went back to the Aga. "Now, forget all about the rocks, and here's a good breakfast. James, your mother told me what you'd both like."

James turned in surprise as a loud crack came from the staircase in the hallway.

"Ah, I hear them coming down now. No one can get down that old staircase without it creaking. So, James, you'd better get stuck into your breakfast before your father takes a fancy to it!"

Jessica wasn't sure how Mrs Treloggan managed it so quickly, but soon everyone had a cooked breakfast in front of them. "Eat up, my dears," she said, going to the outside door. "I've just got to give Mr Treloggan a hand in the yard. Be back in just a moment. There's coffee on the stove, and milk and orange juice in the jugs. Just help yourselves." And she was gone.

"Have you asked about Granfer Joe?" James said as soon as they were alone.

"He died many years ago, soon after we stopped coming here for our holidays," Mr Cooper said. "Thinking about it now, I was silly to even think he might still be here. I've worked out he'd be about 110 now if he was still alive. It's a shame though. You'd have laughed at some of his stories. Ah, here's Mrs Treloggan again."

Mrs Treloggan went over to the large white stoneware sink and washed her hands. "Is there anything more I can do for you, my dears?"

"Uncle Clive was telling us about Granfer Joe," Jessica said. "I'm sorry he's no longer here. Uncle Clive says he was here with my mum when he was our age, and he used to believe the stories that Granfer Joe told about the Spanish Armada."

Mrs Treloggan smiled. "You would have loved him, my dear. Some of them stories almost sounded true, the way he could tell them."

"And I remember all the bits and pieces he'd brought back from his travels," James's father said. "I suppose you've still got them. I'd love to see them again."

Mrs Treloggan gave a deep sigh. "And so would we all, Mr Cooper. So would we all."

"What happened to them?" Jessica asked.

Mrs Treloggan gave another deep sigh. "Well, you see, it's like this. Granfer Joe was getting very muddled in his ways, and he started to believe his own make-believe stories himself. He thought the Spanish were really going to invade and take his treasure from him." She gave a small laugh. "Not that you could call it treasure, but it meant a lot to him. And to us too, of course. He said when the Armada arrived, they weren't going to get their hands on his treasure."

"So what did he do?" Jessica asked.

"I'm coming to that, my dear. Ah, here's Mr Treloggan now. He'll be wanting his breakfast too."

"Please tell us what Granfer Joe did with his treasure," Jessica said impatiently, as Mr Treloggan removed his boots and battered trilby hat at the outside door to the kitchen.

"If only we knew, my dear. There, Mr Treloggan, you go and wash and I'll have your breakfast ready in a moment."

"But what about Granfer Joe's treasure?" Jessica pleaded. "You said you were coming to that."

"Did I, my dear? Well, that's just it, nobody knows. One day he packed it up in a big, black tin box and said he was going to hide it from the Spanish when they invaded. And that's the last we ever saw of it. He said he couldn't remember where he'd hidden it, but he said something about it being well hidden, and then he laughed. We asked him what was funny, but he said he couldn't remember what he was even talking about."

"That's ever so sad," Jessica said.

"Perhaps that's what the two men are digging for," James said excitedly. "Perhaps they got a strong signal from their metal detector on the mound."

"What's this?" Mr Treloggan asked, as he sat down at the large kitchen table. "Those two men have found Granfer's treasure?"

Mrs Treloggan laughed. "No, no, Mr Treloggan, the lad thinks those two men are digging for Granfer's old tin box."

Mr Treloggan roared with laughter. "What, on that old mound? That's rich, that is. Granfer could never have dug a hole there in his old age. It's nothing but bits of rock and grit from the mine. Mighty hard work digging that lot out, even when you're fit!"

"Have you really hunted everywhere?" Jessica asked.

"High and low, my dear," Mrs Treloggan said, shaking her head. "Such fine old memories were shut up in that tin box."

"We'll keep a lookout for it," Jessica promised.

"That's very kind of you, my dear. Now, get that good breakfast inside all of you, or you'll not be fit to do anything. You too, Mr Treloggan. Eat up."

Mr Cooper looked up at the large kitchen clock on the wall. "If that clock is right, we've got plenty of time before the chapel service. Family, is there anywhere you'd like to go first?"

"We could go and see the men with the metal detectors," James suggested. "They'd have to be polite if you were there with us."

His mother shook her head. "We haven't come all the way to Cornwall to watch two men digging a hole in the ground," she said. "You know the area better than us, Clive. What do you suggest?"

James's father shrugged. "It's years and years since I was here, and I can hardly remember the area at all, except that it was good. Let's just get in the car and explore for an hour. And then we can be in plenty of time for the chapel."

Mrs Cooper was looking into the marmalade jar. "Ugh, there's butter all over the place in here. James, you've been told before about using your butter knife in the marmalade."

"Not me," James protested. "I haven't even had any marmalade yet." He looked at Jessica. "You?"

While Jessica was shaking her head, Mr Cooper looked rather embarrassed. "I think maybe...."

Everyone laughed, and James said, "Good one, Dad. Join the club. Pass me the jar, please, Mum."


The chapel was a square building with a high ridge roof. The walls had been rendered with cement, and the building blended in well with the rugged countryside. Even though they were a bit early, several people stood outside the entrance porch, talking. They smiled and moved aside as the family entered, giving them a warm welcome as visitors.

James was surprised they had to go upstairs, because he hadn't been expecting to sit in the gallery. Jessica caught hold of his arm at the top of the steep wooden stairs. They seemed to be back on the ground floor. The sloping floors faced a flat floor at their level. So what was underneath?

Mrs Cooper must have seen their surprise, because she said quietly, "A lot of chapels round here have done this. Instead of having two floors half full, they now have meeting rooms and a kitchen area and toilets down below."

"Makes sense," James said quietly. "I like it. Will there be refreshments after?"

"Trust you," Jessica whispered. "Just sit down and remember why we're here."

James let his parents and then Jessica go into an empty row. He wanted to sit on the outside where he could stretch his legs. They were already aching after the cycle ride back up the hill from Loe Pool. He'd found it difficult at times to keep up with Jessica. The only possible reason he could think for feeling like this was because he'd not been using the right gears on the bike. No way was he not as fit as Jessica.

A long black cloth had been draped across the arms of a small wooden cross that stood below the raised platform and pulpit. This was Good Friday, the time when Christians remembered that Jesus had been crucified at midday nearly 2000 years ago. James knew that when they came back on Easter day, everything would be bright to celebrate Jesus rising again from the dead.

The service wasn't what Jessica had been expecting. Instead of lots of hymns and prayers and a long sermon, they were given time to think about what Easter meant. She perked up her ears when she heard the Minister mention someone called Billy Bray. She'd heard about him in her own Bible class at home, but all she could remember was that he was Cornish and had lived a long time ago. Oh yes, and he was also a tin miner.

Outside again, in the cool spring air, Jessica turned to her uncle Clive. "Isn't Billy Bray the man who was became a Christian while preaching his own sermon?" she asked.

Mr Cooper shook his head. "You're thinking of William Haslam. Those two men lived close to each other. When they first met, William Haslam had a very formal religion and was very much against Billy Bray who danced and shouted in chapel because he was so excited to be going to heaven. William Haslam had only become a clergyman because he needed a job, and he didn't understand what it meant to be a Christian. One day he was preaching, and he suddenly stopped, and realised what he was saying was really true. Jesus had died for him, and Jesus wanted him for his own. And that's when he gave his life to Jesus right there in the pulpit. A visiting preacher sitting at the back of the church shouted out, 'Halleluiah, the parson is converted!'"

Jessica smiled and shook her head. "That's amazing."

"How did Billy Bray find out?" James asked. "I thought church and chapel didn't mix in those days."

"Billy Bray was excited to hear about it," his father said. "Of course they didn't see eye to eye on everything, but the two men certainly got to know each other. I'll tell you what: Billy Bray didn't live too far from here. It's a place called Twelveheads. We'll go there on Monday and see the chapel he built at Kerley Downs."

"He built a chapel?" James said in surprise. "I thought he was a tin miner. That's what the minister said."

Mr Cooper nodded. "Billy built three chapels altogether, as well as working full-time down the mines. Now then, I know we had a big breakfast, but this sea air is making me hungry. We'll go down to Porthleven, have a look round the old harbour, and find something to eat. Does that sound like a good plan?"

The others said it certainly did. As they drove away, Jessica said, "I can't stop feeling sad about Granfer Joe's old tin box. I know Mr and Mrs Treloggan would love to get it back."

"And I can't stop wondering what those men are doing on that spoil tip." James said. "I just know they're up to something bad."

Jessica opened her eyes wide. "We know they can't be looking for Granfer Joe's treasure, so we've got two mysteries to investigate. What are those two men really digging for in that spoil tip, and where is Granfer Joe's old tin box?"


Chapter 4


It started to rain slightly in Porthleven, but it didn't stop them taking an interest in the inner harbour. Mr Cooper explained that this was protected from the waves during storms by large wooden beams lowered in slots between the two stone entrance walls.

Mr Cooper said, "The waves were so big in 2014 that the beams were smashed, and many of the boats in the harbour were wrecked."

Jessica said, "Let's hope it doesn't happen again," as she took a series of photographs, mostly around the famous harbour.

When she enlarged each one on the screen, she could see just how sharp the lens on her father's old phone was. Surely better than many cameras!

She bought a large fridge magnet of Porthleven harbour for herself, to fix onto the radiator in her bedroom at home. It would be a great reminder of this holiday. But she still needed something for her parents. Maybe they could find the shop in St Ives that sold things made of local tin and copper.


Saturday

The next morning, the Two Jays were up early again, but not as early as Mr and Mrs Treloggan who had farm animals to look after. Jessica looked up at the sky now as she and James walked to the barn in the early morning light to get their bikes.

The low sun was just catching the underneath of the high clouds, and the forecast was good for the rest of the day. "Come on, sleepy," she said, as she lowered her saddle slightly. "Pick up your bike."

"I've got a better idea," James said. "Let's go to the trees around the old well. I want to see it anyway."

"And?"

"And we can keep an eye on those men and see what they're doing."

Jessica shook her head. "They won't be up this early. I'm not going climbing on that spoil tip again with the Hound of the Baskervilles barking at us. It might not even be on its chain today. No, I want to go back down to Loe Pool. It was so peaceful there. No one around, just us and the wildlife. There might even be fish jumping in the water."

"Okay, but I still want to keep an eye on those two men. There's something very odd going on there."

Jessica got onto her bike, tested the new height of the saddle, and started to ride off. "Come on," she said. "I'm hungry already, and I want to be back here in plenty of time for Mrs Treloggan's amazing breakfast."

To their surprise, as they passed Midnight Cottage, the old sheets were not pinned up at the two upstairs windows. The man with the thick black hair was hard at work with a pickaxe on top of the spoil tip. The old blue Land Rover was no longer by the cottage, so it looked as though the man with the shaved head had gone out in it, which meant it couldn't be such a wreck after all. Maybe all it needed was a good clean.

The man standing inside the excavation watched as the Two Jays stopped their bikes.

The large black dog, which was still chained to the iron ring in the cottage wall, began to howl, pulling hard against its chain.

"Let's move on," James said quietly. "After breakfast we can go to the trees where the well is, and keep an eye on what's going on here. I know my dad brought his binoculars."

"I'm with you," Jessica said. "Just as long as your parents aren't planning to go anywhere."

James nodded thoughtfully. "They're going into Helston this morning, so Mum said last night. They want to look round the shops there, but we don't have to go with them. They can come back for us later, and we can all go to the beach somewhere this afternoon to poke around."

"There might be a cave in the cliffs to explore," Jessica said, laughing. "That would be fun!"

James looked up at the clouds that were now moving quickly in from the west. "Great idea. If this wind gets up and there's a storm, it will be just like being trapped in the cave in Abergair, with the water rising just as quickly." [See The Cliff Edge Adventure.]

As they rode away, James glanced back. The man was watching them. And he didn't seem to be watching them just out of interest. He looked angry.

On their way to the lake, two cars drove up behind them and the Two Jays quickly stopped safely at the verge to let them pass. The lane here was extremely narrow.

They didn't need to hurry. James had told his parents that he and Jessica were probably going out on the bikes before breakfast, and although the wind was getting up, the sun already felt warm.

Today they decided to find the far side of the lake, using the sat-nav on Jessica's phone. But it was a much longer route than they expected, and they decided not to stay there, but to get back for breakfast. Then, while James's parents went to explore Helston, they could keep an eye on the two men.

As they reached the road that led back to Midnight Farm, Jessica was a little way in front. James could hear a noisy vehicle behind and he moved well over to one side to give it plenty of room to pass, and he saw Jessica do the same.

The vehicle didn't slow. The driver sounded the horn, making James jump. It swept past him at speed, brushing against his leg, and kept going.

James lost his balance and fell into the hedge, and then sprawled out into the road. Jessica looked round in alarm as James shouted out. She turned her bike and hurried back to him. "Did it hit you?" she asked in alarm.

James lay where he was. "Only a bit, but it made me lose my balance. I think I've hurt my leg."

"Don't try to get up. Your leg might be broken. Oh no, I can hear something else coming!"

James tried to roll to the side, his leg felt sore but probably not broken.

Understanding the situation, Jessica stood well out in the road and waved her arms as a bright red Royal Mail van came to a rapid halt. The postman jumped out. "Do you need help?"

"It's my cousin," Jessica said, trying to keep her voice steady. "It was a blue Land Rover. It knocked him off his bike. It's only just happened."

James had now got to his feet. He limped cautiously across to Jessica who was standing with the van driver. "He didn't really knock me off, but it was his fault. I moved over when I heard him coming, but he sounded his horn when he was alongside me, and it made me wobble. The side of the Land Rover hit against my leg. Look, you can see the mud on my jeans. I fell into the hedge and then into the road." He went to pick up his bike and rest it against the hedge. "Ow, my leg!"

The Royal Mail postman took a deep breath. "I don't suppose you got the licence plate number?"

"I think I know who it is," Jessica said, calming down a bit now. "There's a muddy blue Land Rover belonging to two men staying in Midnight Cottage a little bit further along the road."

James looked down at his jeans. "It certainly looks like their mud." He pulled his phone from his pocket. "We're staying at Midnight Farm with my parents," he explained. "My dad can be here in a couple of minutes -- as long as he's up."

The van driver looked concerned. "Are you sure you don't want me to phone for an ambulance?"


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-40 show above.)