George stood by his window expectantly with his torch in his hand. He checked his wristwatch. “Come on Freddy,” he whispered fervently under his breath. “Oh do hurry up.”
Soon enough, a plump figure appeared through the darkness of the elm trees. It was Freddy, with his knapsack hung cheekily over one shoulder and a torch in his hand.
“Come on George,” hissed Freddy excitedly from the garden. “We haven’t got much time!”
George climbed out his window and joined his chum on the ground.
“Hullo there,” chirped George. “Are you ready to go?”
“I don’t know,” stammered Freddy. “What if Farmer Giles catches us in his vegetable patch? He’ll string us up and that’s for sure!”
“Pish, Freddy!” exclaimed George. “We’ve simply got to get some vegetables to make a feast to celebrate finding that smuggler’s treasure cave last week!”
“I suppose,” conceded Freddy, blowing out his cheeks. “That was a jolly close scrape wasn’t it? Imagine if those smugglers hadn’t fallen for our trap!”
“Yes, and good thing Jackie’s dog Shep alerted Uncle Andrew in time,” reminded George.
“Too right,” agreed Freddy. “Where is Jackie anyway?”
“Oh, you know girls, Freddy,” chided George. “Always running late.”
Freddy chortled. Suddenly, there was a noise in the bushes. George switched on the torch in his hand.
A ruddy-faced, boyish girl emerged from the blackberry bushes. It was Jackie, along with her young sister Pip, and their Old English sheepdog, Shep.
“Oh, no!” exclaimed Freddy. “Not another girl! I don’t mind you bringing Shep, but this is a real adventure Jackie. We can’t have Pip slowing us down!”
“Pooh to you Freddy,” retorted Jackie. “Pip is braver than you!”
“Come on, you two,” advised George, pushing back his straw-coloured hair. “Do stop bickering so we can get on our way.”
Jackie and Freddy reluctantly switched on the torches in their hands and started walking. Before long they were at the entrance to Farmer Giles’ farm.
“The farm is awfully dark at night,” murmured Pip, holding firmly onto her sister’s blue overalls.
“Tosh, Pip!” ejaculated Freddy. “You’re just a scaredy-girl!”
“Why don’t you climb over first then?” scorned Pip, her cheeks burning fiercely.
“Yes,” proposed Jackie. “You go over first Freddy. If you can, with all your fat!”
“Now look here!” Freddy exploded.
“Settle down you two!” interjected George. “I’ll go first. Freddy, you follow, then Pip, then Jackie, then Shep.”
So the four young chums and their sheepdog made their way stealthily across Farmer Giles’ cabbage patch. When they were halfway across, Freddy’s torch went out.
“Crumbs!” he yelped. “My batteries have failed!”
“Shh!” hushed George. “Farmer Giles will hear us!”
Just then, they heard footsteps behind them.
“Quick!” George uttered hurriedly. “Everyone turn their torches off!”
They all lay low in the dirt as the huge shape of Farmer Giles appeared to their left. He wore big black gumboots, and had a shotgun cradled in the crook of his arm. In his right hand he held a leash. The leash was attached to his fearsome black hunting dog.
“Damned rabbits,” muttered Farmer Giles to his fearsome dog. He swung his torch over the cabbage patch.
Just then, Freddy got some dirt up his nose and sneezed. “AAAA-CHOOO!”
Farmer Giles swung around to where the four pals were hiding. George could hear his footsteps coming closer.
“Okay everyone,” George whispered urgently. “On the count of three, run!”
“Okay, George,” they replied.
“One ... Two ... Three ... RUN!”
The four chums got up and ran as fast as they could back to the gate. George helped Jackie and Pip climb back over it, but Freddy was still some way behind.
“Come on Freddy,” shouted George. “Hurry up or the dog will catch you.”
Sure enough, George could see the black dog bearing down on his portly chum. Just as the dog was about to reach Freddy, the white shape of Shep cut between them and distracted the black dog just long enough for Freddy to get over the fence. George scrambled over after him and went to find the others, after switching on his torch.
The four chums eventually found each other, and sat in a clump of blackberry bushes, out of breath and ruddy-faced from their escape.
“That was a close scrape,” observed Freddy.
“Too right,” agreed George.
“But what about the vegetables?” asked Pip.
“And what about Shep?” inquired Jackie, with a hint of boyish anger to her voice.
Just then, Shep came bounding through the bushes, covered with leaves and dirt.
“Shep!” exclaimed Jackie. “You saved us!”
“Looks like he led Farmer Giles’ dog a merry chase,” japed Pip. “And look at all the vegetables that are tangled in his coat!”
Sure enough, Shep had cabbages, carrots, potatoes and leeks all through his shaggy fur.
“You’re right,” laughed George merrily. “We’ve got enough vegetables here for thirty feasts!”
“I think you’d better thank Shep for saving you from that dog, Freddy,” urged Jackie.
“All right,” conceded Freddy, going over to Shep. “Thank you for saving me Shep.”
Shep licked Freddy’s face, leaving it covered with dirt and mud.
“Ha ha!” joked George. “Now you look like a bally Golliwog, and no mistake!”
They all chortled and went home to tea, with their torches in their hands.