Ben Fletcher

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Chapter Fourteen


An Exciting Opportunity To Transform Your Life


However worried they might have been about Quigley, in the weeks that followed, it seemed as though they didn’t need to be. While Quigley did appear to be looking more and more ill as the days went on, Grape strolled around the school with even more hostility towards any student who wasn’t in his own house than usual, which surely had to mean Quigley hadn’t given in and told him what he wanted to know yet.

Whenever they passed nearby, Billy, Ed, and Elahoraella would take a small detour, so they could press their ears up against the door to the proscribed passageway and check that Waddles was still on the other side, guarding the trapdoor.

Elahoraella was worrying about a lot more than just the Bewitched Brie, however. Their exams were fast approaching, and she had decided now was the time to start writing up all her notes and planning out her revision for the weeks ahead.

“It’s only two months until our exams,” she told Billy and Ed one evening when they asked her why she was spending so much time doing school work. “You should both be doing the same.”

Unfortunately for Billy and Ed, all their teachers were thinking the same way as Elahoraella, and they now never failed to finish a lesson without giving them all extra homework first. On the last day before the Easter holidays, they had been given an extensive list of subjects likely to come up in their exams and told to spend their two weeks off doing extra research on their own. This meant that rather than going out to the Frogsports pitch with Chad and Larry, as they had planned to do, Billy and Ed found themselves spending every day from breakfast until dinner in the library with Elahoraella, failing to keep up with her pace of work.

“This is pointless,” said Ed, pushing away the book he was reading. “They can’t possibly fit all this in one exam, it’d be a week-long.”

“It wouldn’t be a very good exam if they told us exactly what was going to be in it, would it?” said Elahoraella.

“Why not? Are they supposed to be testing our memory or how adept we are at the actual subject? If it’s just about remember things, teachers shouldn’t be allowed notes or answer books,” Ed countered as he sat back in his chair and gazed longingly out the window at the welcoming clear blue sky outside.

Billy, who was reading about the best way to shuffle a deck of cards, didn’t look up until he heard Ed say, “Barry! What are you doing up here?”

“Don’t shout, Ed, or we’ll get kicked out,” said Elahoraella.

Barry walked over to them, hiding a book under his arm. As usual, he was wearing his giant coat, but for some reason his hair seemed much neater and cleaner than usual. As if to imply that people like him didn’t have the intelligence to read books, he looked as though he didn’t belong in the library.

“Ah wor jus’ lookin’ summa’ up in a book,” he said in a voice that made them all feel certain he was up to something. “Wha’ all theur up t’? Ah ‘ope theur workin’ n’ not still lookin’ f’ stuff on Émile Arquette.”

“Oh, we’ve already found out who he is,” said Ed casually. “We know what that two-headed duck is guarding on the second floor as well. It’s Arquette’s Bewitched Br —”

“Dunt finish tha’!” said Barry, panicking. “Does theur want ‘ole library t’ start singin’ song?”

Ed apologised.

“There were a couple of things we wanted to ask you about actually,” said Billy. “We were wondering what else is guarding the Brie other than Waddles —”

“Shurrup!” said Barry, loud enough that a few of the people sat at nearby tables looked over at them. When they had all turned back to what they were doing, Barry leant in and whispered, “Come n’ see me later, reight. Ah’m not promisin’ theur owt, bur we can’t talk ‘ere — theur not supposed t’ know owt ‘bout this. People will think ah’ve told theur.”

“We’ll come and see you after dinner then,” said Billy.

Barry walked off shaking his head.

“I wonder what he’s trying to hide under his arm,” said Elahoraella, as she watched Barry leave the library with an inquisitive look on her face.

“I’m going to go see which books he was looking at,” said Ed, and he got up and walked over to the shelves Barry had appeared from. After a moment, he returned with a handful of books and dropped them onto the table.

“Multi-level marketing,” he whispered. “Barry was looking stuff up on multi-level marketing. Look at some of these books: Recruiting Downline for Beginners; Is It a Pyramid Scheme?; Inside The 2016 Presidential Election; and Running Your Own Business Made Easy.

“Barry’s always wanted to run his own business, he told me so the first time I met him,” said Billy.

“You don’t think he’s taken this whole catalogue thing too far and joined a pyramid scheme now, do you?” said Elahoraella.

“He can’t have done, it’s against the law,” said Ed. “And he’ll end up in even more trouble if he starts trying to recruit students to join him.”

“But what else could he be up to?” said Billy.

As they walked across the castle grounds towards Barry’s hut that evening, they thought at first he had all his curtains shut. But as they got close, they saw that piled high on the other side, and completely blocking the view, were what appeared to be brown cardboard boxes.

When they knocked on the door, Barry seemed reluctant to open it until he first knew for certain it was them. He looked through a tiny gap to check they were alone, then hurried them inside and quickly closed the door behind them.

Even though it was still light outside, the inside of the hut was dark. Cardboard boxes weren’t just piled up in front of the windows, but also in the usually lit fireplace, under the bed, next to the bed, and even on top of the bed. They were also taking up most of the space on the chairs, forcing Billy, Ed, and Elahoraella to perch on the edges as Barry made them all tea, seemingly oblivious to their discomfort.

“So — theur said y’ wanted t’ ask me ‘bout summa’?”

Billy decided to waste no time. “We were wondering what else is guarding the Bewitched —”

“Dunt seh name o’ it in ‘ere,” said Barry. “Ah dunt want t’ knock owt over.”

“We were wondering what else is guarding the Brie other than Waddles?”

Barry frowned at them all.

“Even if ah knew me sen — which ah dunt — y’ know ah couldn’t tell theur owt ‘bout tha’,” he said. “n’ anyway, by sound o’ it, theur all know too much already. Ah still dunt know ‘ow theur foun’ out ‘bout thin’ in first place. Ah suppose y’ worked out why it’s ‘ere, though? Nearly got stolen from Sino Pauper Edo Recondo Mammonas — the thievin’ lyin’ bastards!”

“Oh, come on, Barry, you must know. You helped protect the Brie when it was moved to Frogsports,” said Elahoraella, smiling at him. “We don’t want to know exactly what the protections are, just who else was responsible for helping put them there.”

“Well, ah guess if tha’ all theur want t’ know ah dunt see no ‘arm in telling theur… let’s see… Crumbleceiling did most, ‘course, n’ then ‘e borrowed Waddles from me… n’ then it wor other teacher who did rest o’ it… Professor McDouglass… Professor Millbrook… Professor Quigley… oh, n’ Professor Grape did summa’ too.”

“Grape did something?” said Billy, a little more aggressively than he meant to.

“‘course ‘e did — good magician is Grape,” said Barry, then, off their expressions, he continued, “Theur dunt still reckon e’s’ out t’ steal it do theur?”

They didn’t answer.

“None of the teachers know how to get past anything any of the other teachers did, though, right?” said Billy.

“None of ‘em even know wha’ t’others did, except f’ Crumbleceiling.”

“And no one knows about Waddles, do they?” said Elahoraella.

“Couple o’ teachers ‘elp me t’ feed ‘im, bur other than tha’, nah. No ‘un knows ‘ow t’ gerr’ past ‘im anyway — well, except f’ me n’ Crumbleceiling.”

“Well, that’s good at least,” Billy whispered to Ed and Elahoraella. “Barry, why is it so dark in here? What are all these boxes for?”

“Oh, they only jus’ arrived this mornin’,” said Barry. “They’re me ‘air products.”

“Your what?”

“Me ‘air products. Ah washed me ‘air wi’ ‘em earlier t’ test ‘em out.”

“We can see,” said Elahoraella.

“But why do you need so much of it?” asked Billy.

Barry laughed.

“It ain’t all f’ me sen,” he said. “Nah, ah got it t’ sell on t’ students.”

“To sell to students?” said Elahoraella, sounding shocked. “But where did it all come from?”

“It came from me distributor, ‘course.”

“Your distributor?”

“Yeh. Ah wor down in village las’ week ‘avin a drink, n’ ah got talkin’ t’ this stranger, n’ ah asked ‘im if e’ might want t’ buy his sen a kayak from me book, because ah’ve only sold the one, see. Anyway, ‘e said ‘e knew summa’ much better than sellin’ from book if ah wanted me own business, n’ so ‘e signed me up as downline distributor for ‘im. Offered me good price on all this stock t’ gerr’ me goin’ n’ all.”

“Barry, are you sure he hasn’t just signed you up to a pyramid scheme?” said Elahoraella.

“Ah thought tha’ me sen at first, bur ‘e said it ain’t a pyramid scheme, jus’ a scheme that’s pyramid shaped.”

“Pyramid shaped?” said Billy.

“Yeh, bur ery’thin’ is when theur stop n’ think ‘bout it, ain’t it? Ah mean, tek school f’ example — that’s pyramid wi’ students at bottom, then teachers above ‘em, n’ Crumbleceiling reight at top.”

“But what are you going to do with all this stuff?” said Elahoraella.

“Ah already said, ah got it t’ sell t’ students.”

“But what are students going to do with it? Even if everybody bought some, there’s enough here to last until Christmas.”

“Well, they ain’t goin’ t’ use it, are they?” said Barry, laughing to himself. “They become distributors n’ sell it on t’other students f’ profit.”

“Barry, this is definitely a pyramid scheme.”

“Nah. It’s an exciting opportunity f’ all involved — maybe theur would be interested in becoming part-time independent distributors y’ sens? Ah mean, ’aven’t theur always wanted financial freedom?”

“Barry, we’re eleven,” said Billy.

“Never too early t’ start livin’ lifestyle theur deserve. Tell theur wha’, give me a couple minutes o’ y’ time n’ ah’ll tell theur ‘ow this could transform y’ lives…”

Half an hour later, they had eventually got away by promising Barry they would consider it, but as they walked back up to the castle, Elahoraella tuned to the other two and said, “I don’t care what he says, Barry has definitely joined a pyramid scheme.”

Over the next few days, they did their best to avoid Barry whenever they could. This wasn’t too difficult during the week when they had lessons, and most of their leisure time was taken up with revision, but at meal times they had to make sure to keep a low profile and eat quickly, so they could avoid him noticing them and coming over to talk. By the weekend, however, it became simply impossible to ignore him any longer.

At breakfast on Saturday, Yodel had brought Professor Millbrook a note addressed to Billy. It was a good thing Barry had made sure to fold the note before sending it, because when Millbrook gave it to Billy, it read:



“Do you think he’s ever going to stop?” said Billy, handing the note to Elahoraella, so she could read it too.

Billy looked up at the teacher’s table where Barry was sat waving at them. He gave a half-hearted wave back.

“At least he’s only asking us and not any of the other students. He’d be in real trouble if they reported him to one of the teachers,” said Elahoraella, passing the note to Ed.

“Yeah, but how long until he does start asking other students if we keep ignoring him?”

“Maybe we should go see him?” Ed suggested.

“We don’t have the time, Ed,” said Elahoraella, as though this was a ridiculous idea. “We’ve got revision to do today, remember.”

“We’ve been working late every night this week,” said Ed. “It’s the weekend, surely we can have a little time off? We can make up for it tonight or tomorrow.”

“But what are we even going to say to him? We don’t want to join his stupid pyramid scheme.”

“Finding out more couldn’t hurt —”

“Shut up!” Billy whispered to them.

Austin was walking past, but he had just stopped dead to listen. How much had he overheard? Billy didn’t like the look of the smile on his face.

After breakfast, Ed and Elahoraella continued to argue all the way up to the library (“But Ed, you won’t make any money from it unless you sign up other students!”; “But I could sign you up, and Billy would do it too, wouldn’t you, Billy?”). Eventually, Elahoraella agreed to go down and see Barry with the other two during lunch, if only so she could tell him she definitely wasn’t interested in signing up.

It wasn’t easy for Barry to let them in when they knocked on his door. The number of boxes seemed to have grown since their last visit, and they had to squeeze their way through a small gap to get inside his hut. There was now only one chair that wasn’t being used as a shelf, so Billy and Elahoraella shared it while Ed sat on the floor.

“Ah’m glad theur all came — that’s it, mek y’ sens comfortable,” said Barry without a single shred of recognition that this couldn’t have been any less possible.

“Listen, Barry,” Elahoraella began, “we have thought about, but I don’t think we’d have any time to do any selling or sign anybody else up. We’ve got all our school work to do, and our exams are coming up. And besides that, if anybody found out, we’d all be in a lot of trouble, and so would you.”

Barry didn’t seem to be listening to anything Elahoraella was saying, and Ed wasn’t helping her by humouring Barry and showing interest in the product list he was now showing him.

“So theur see, this is all t’ stuff theur can get. There’s ‘air products n’ facial creams, tha’ sort o’ thin’, bur also ‘ealth stuff like shakes n’ bars. Bur if theur want summa’ a bit different, y’ can currently gerr’ some o’ these on special offer.”

Barry reached into the nearest box and pulled out a souvenir mug with a drawing of the Loch Ness Monster on the front.

“Ah know it ain’t completely accurate n’ tha’ — Nessie ‘as a bigger nose n’ it’s pierced in real life, n’ they missed out ‘er mohawk — bur ah reckon students might like ‘em as summa’ they can send back t’ family at home, see, n’ teachers could use ‘em in staff room.”

“Barry, how many of these have you bought?” said Billy, looking around and trying to count the boxes.

“Ah got twelve boxes, n’ there’s summa’ like ‘hundred in each o’ ‘em.”

“You’ve bought over a thousand of these mugs?” said Elahoraella, doing the maths.

“Aye, bur ah got me sen best discount ah could o’ got on ‘em, so ah can mek good profit when ah sell ‘em on.”

“Oh, but Barry, who are you going to sell them to? There aren’t even a thousand students at Frogsports.”

“Ah explained this t’ theur before — students buy more than one n’ then they sell ‘em on.”

“This is definitely a pyramid scheme.”

“Complete cobblers! It’s nowt o’ sort.”

“But what do you do with the mugs you can’t sell?” said Billy. “Are you able to send them back?”

“No returns allowed. Bur ah dunt mind keepin’ ‘em f’ me sen. Tiptop quality n’ all, n’ they’ll go grand wi’ the Nessie planes, glasses, n’ table mats ah’ve got comin’ t’morrow.”

“You’re going to keep them?” said Elahoraella. “But how will you ever make your money back if you can’t sell them or return them?”

“Easy,” said Barry. “When ah bought all these, they counted as unencumbered units, see, so ah became an ‘igher ranked distributor. It means next time ah can buy more cheaper than normal, n’ mek more profit when ah sell ‘em on.”

Elahoraella was shaking her head, she couldn’t believe what Barry was saying.

“Never mind ‘bout numbers anyway,” said Barry. “av’ y’ sen a look at quality o’ printing on these mugs.”

“I’m sold,” Ed joked.

“Grand,” said Barry, not noticing Ed’s tone. “So ‘ow many mugs do ah put theur down f’? These will all be encumbered units f’ theur, ‘course, so they won’t contribute t’ theurs’ distributor rank. Anyway, mugs cost me six euro each n’ they sell f’ ten, so ‘ow ‘bout theur buy five ‘undred off me f’ eight euro each, n’ theur can mek y’ sen n’ easy thousan’ straight away…”

“Barry —”

“Ah’ll even throw in fifty f’ free —”

“I was joking,” said Ed.”

“Oh, ah see,” said Barry, sounding downhearted. “Well, why dunt theur all tek a mug each n’ use ‘em on trail basis f’ a bit?” He handed them each a mug. “Theur can see if anybody says owt n’ wants their own.”

Over the next week, they took it in turns to spend what little free time they had trying to convince Barry to quit before he was caught out, but Barry wasn’t interested in hearing anything any of them had to say. Instead, he just kept getting more and more things delivered until his hut began resembling a warehouse rather than a home. On Thursday night, Billy and Elahoraella were sat working in the common room, waiting for Ed to return. It had just gone eleven o’clock when the door opened, and Ed came in wearing Billy’s translucency tree. He was in a bad mood.

“Look at this!” he said, showing them his hand, which was bright red and covered in blisters. “He’s got this new hand cream, and he told me to try it out, only he put it on my hand before I could say anything, and now I’ve come out in a rash. I’m telling you, none of that stuff is safe. This feels like I’ve spilt acid on it.”

There was a sudden tap on a window behind them.

“What’s that?” said Elahoraella as they all turned to look.

“It’s a pigeon,” said Ed. “But it doesn’t look like Yodel.”

“What’s a pigeon doing here at this time?” said Elahoraella.

Billy rushed over to the window and opened it to let the pigeon it. It landed on the table where they were sat and dropped a note in front of Elahoraella.

“It’s from Barry,” she said. “Ouch — it bit me.”

As she had gone to pick up the note, the pigeon had attacked her hand, then started pecking at an ink stamp on the bottom of the note that read: Reverse charge postage, recipient to pay.

“I can’t believe Barry,” said Ed, pulling a coin from his pocket and giving it to the pigeon.

Once the pigeon had flown back off through the open window, Elahoraella picked up the note and read it aloud. “You were right, I need to do away with everything. Quickly.”

“What’s gone wrong?” said Billy.

“It doesn’t say,” said Elahoraella.

“But how can he just discard everything?” said Ed. “His whole hut is full of boxes. Even if he tried to use it all himself, it would take years to get through that much.”

Billy looked down at the mug he’d been drinking water from all night; it was one of the mugs Barry had given them as a sample. Then it came to him. “Nessie,” he said quietly.

“What?” said Ed.

“Nessie.”

“What about her?”

“That’s the answer. We can just dump all those boxes into the loch. No one will ever find them in there. They’ll be too scared of Nessie eating them to search.”

“And what if Nessie eats us while we’re trying to put them there?”

“We’ll just have to use a boat,” said Billy. “And we can wear the translucency tree to make sure no one sees us doing it.”

“Trees can’t row, though,” said Ed.

“We can do it at night then,” said Billy. “Saturday would be good. There are no lights on the loch, so even if somebody looked out of a window right at us, they’d never make us out.”

Ed was sold on the idea, but Elahoraella had reservations (“It’s going to cause a lot of pollution in the loch, and what if Nessie tries to eat any of it? It could make her very ill!”). Even so, she eventually agreed to help, because as Ed said, what other ideas did they have?

Next morning, to Billy’s surprise, it was Ed, not Elahoraella, who backed out of the plan. The rash on his hand had now spread up his arm, and worse than that, both his hands and face had gone puffy. It looked as though he was allergic to whatever had been in the hand cream. He managed to make it to the end of breakfast before deciding he needed to go up to the hospital wing and get it checked out.

At the end of their final lesson, Billy and Elahoraella rushed to the hospital wing to check Ed was going to be okay, and to deliver the news that Professor Grape was taking five credits from Osphranter house because Ed hadn’t had the courtesy of at least dying if he was going to be ill enough to miss his class. After reassuring Ed they would be fine on their own, they went down to visit Barry and explain Saturday’s plan to him.

“Ah won’t let theur in,” he said through a crack in the door. “There ain’t a lot o’ space in ‘ere at mo’.”

When they told him about their idea to dump everything in the loch when it’s dark, he nodded and said, “Well, ah guess it’s f’ best — maybe ah should tek up crypto or summa’ like tha’ next time.”

“Barry, why do you want to throw everything away anyway?” said Billy. “You didn’t say anything in that note you sent us last night. What changed your mind?”

“Oh, theur dunt need t’ know details o’ it. Wha’ matters, is we av’ plan t’ fix it.”

“I’m still worried, though,” said Elahoraella. “What if Nessie tries to eat any of it? I mean, look at what’s happened to Ed, and that’s just from getting it on his hand.”

“Dunt worry y’ sen ‘bout tha’,” said Barry. “Nessie will be fine.”

“But how can you be sure?”

“Well, she’s a fictional creature f’ one thin’,” he said. “So it’s jus’ magic, ain’t it? Anyway, speaking o’ Ed, theur do promise not t’ tell anybody wha’ really ‘appened dunt they? Seh it wor Grape or summa’ — y’ always saying ow’ theur dunt like ‘im anyway.”

“What do you think changed his mind?” Billy asked Elahoraella as they walked back into the castle five minutes later. “Barry doesn’t seem to want us to know.”

“I don’t know,” said Elahoraella, “but it doesn’t matter right now. We just need to do away with everything tomorrow night, and then all this will be over.”

Some brushed past them. It was Austin, and he turned back to give them both a knowing smile, then — SMACK!

Too busy glancing back at Billy and Elahoraella to notice where he was going, he had walked head first into one of the Banquet Hall’s double doors.

“Do be careful where you’re going, Mr Hickinbottom,” said a passing Professor McDouglass.

“How much do you reckon he just overheard?” said Billy, once Austin had continued into the hall.

“I don’t know,” said Elahoraella. “But we can’t change the plan now. If we don’t get this done on Saturday, Barry might change his mind before we get another chance.”

Billy agreed, and they went for dinner.

Once the common room had emptied on Saturday night, Billy and Elahoraella pulled the translucency tree over their heads, then set off down to Barry’s hut. They didn’t come across anyone else on the way until they reached the entrance hall, where the sudden noise of footsteps made them stop dead.

A moment later, Professor McDouglass appeared from the staircase that led down to the dungeons, but she wasn’t alone. Looking annoyed about something, Austin was following behind her.

“Detention for you, Mr Hickinbottom,” she said, sounding just as angry as he looked. “And I think we shall have fifty credits from Crocodilian house as well. There is no reason for you to be wandering around at this sort of hour —”

“But Professor, you don’t understand. Billy Smith is coming down here — he’s trying to destroy evidence of something.”

“And that shall be another fifty credits for your havering. How dare you try sproutin’ aye ma auntie! Come on, and make no mistake, the headmaster will be hearing about this — well, he will when I work out where he is this evening anyway.”

Billy and Elahoraella held their breath as Professor McDouglass stopped as she passed by. She looked at them for a moment, then said to herself, “I see the trees are migrating back outside for the summer early this year,” and continued walking.

They waited until Professor McDouglass and Austin’s footsteps had faded away before continuing. Elahoraella seemed to move with a new-found joy in her step.

“Austin’s got detention!” she said gleefully. “And all because he thought he was on to us.”

Laughing about Austin all the way, they left the castle and made for Barry’s hut where they could see he’d left them a rowing boat by the water’s edge. They pulled off the translucency tree, then folded it up and placed it in a small nook under the hut for safe keeping.

“Ah’ve got all boxes ready f’ theur,” said Barry, as he opened the door. “n' ah’ve also added a bit o’ weight t’ sum’ of the lighter boxes t’ ‘elp ‘em sink a bit quicker, y’ know?”

“Aren’t you going to help us?” said Billy.

“Can’t lad, ah’ve ‘urt me arm. Doctor said ah ain’t t’ do any ‘eavy liftin’.”

“When did you have time to see a doctor?”

“Well, ah seh doctor, bur ah mean ah Googled it. Bur it also said ah only got three week t’ live, so gerr’ on wi’ job before ah find me sen six feet under.”

As Billy and Elahoraella began loading the heavy boxes into the boat, it was difficult not to wonder if Barry might not have been telling the truth about his arm.

“I think we’ll have to come back for the rest,” said Elahoraella once they had loaded half the boxes. “If we take too many at once, the boat might sink.”

“Agreed,” said Billy, and he helped her push the boat out onto the water.

They climbed aboard, then began rowing until they reached what they thought was the middle of the loch.

“I think this is the spot,” said Elahoraella. “The loch must be at its deepest here.”

Billy leant over the side of the boat to look at his own moonlight reflection staring back at him. Crumbleceiling was right, he thought — he must remember to pay him that bet.

He sat back up and nodded to Elahoraella. “Let’s do it.”

Box by box, they began throwing the evidence overboard. They had to admit, the extra weight Barry had added to some of them was doing its job. The moment they hit the surface, every box disappeared into the watery depths.

“That’s all of them,” said Billy, dropping the last box into the water. “Let’s go get the rest.”

When they returned to the shore, they were in for a surprise. Perhaps it was because he had just been thinking about him, but when he climbed out of the boat, Billy found himself face to face with Professor Crumbleceiling. He had to be imagining things. Maybe he was just hallucinating because of how tired he was.

Billy blinked. Crumbleceiling was still there. Now they were in trouble, he thought.

“Professor…” Billy began with panic in his voice, “we were just —”

“Never mind what you’re doing now,” said Crumbleceiling. “I came over to ask if I could borrow your boat? My kayak just sunk,” he continued. Crumbleceiling pointed over to the edge of the loch edge where a couple of stacks of paper were standing a little ahead of where the top of a kayak was sticking out the surface of the water.

“Er… sure,” said Billy.

Billy helped Crumbleceiling load his papers onto the boat, then climbed aboard.

“Ahoy there, matey!” Crumbleceiling said to Elahoraella as he joined them on the boat. Then he shouted out, “Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen!”

“Are you going to help us row, Professor?” said Billy.

“I’m afraid I can’t, dear boy. I hurt my arm earlier.”

“Did he have to come on the boat with us?” Elahoraella whispered to Billy. “He’s just adding extra weight”

“Well, I couldn’t say no, could I? He’s the headmaster.”

“We’re like pirates, aren’t we?” said Crumbleceiling as they started rowing back out to the middle of the loch. “Shall we sing a sea shanty?”

“Let’s not,” said Billy.

“Aye, aye, Captain!”

They stopped in roughly the same place as before, then began dumping the rest of the boxes overboard.

“Professor, what are all these papers for anyway?” Billy asked as he threw Crumbleceiling’s cargo into the water.

“Oh, just some old records the school no longer has any need to keep,” said Crumbleceiling. “We do pride ourselves on our data protection practises at Frogsports.”

Once they had thrown the last box over the edge, they saw a head appear above the water a little distance away. They watched as the head splashed back down as though toasting their cunning before it swam off to the other side of the loch, its mohawk giving it the appearance of a shark involved in the punk rock scene.

Back on dry land, there was another surprise waiting for them, but this one wasn’t so friendly. They had just pulled the boat out of the water when Kevin’s lantern-lit face appeared in the darkness ahead of them, and Billy felt a sudden need to swab the poop deck.

“Oh dear,” said Kevin, making no effort to hold back the smile on his face. “We do have some explaining to do, don’t we?”

“Shiver me timbers! It’s a scurvy dog,” said Crumbleceiling. Then he turned to the other two and continued, “Let’s cleave him to the brisket and feed him to the fishies. Dead men tell no tales!”

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