"This is a lovely place, Dick" said Lucy-Ann, "I've never walked through here before."
"I discovered it quite by accident, actually," replied Dick, "but it is lovely. I like to come from a wander when I can."
They walked in comfortable silence for a while, each sneaking glances at the other and smiling at each other when they made eye contact. Then Lucy-Ann stopped suddenly and frowned.
"What's up?" asked Dick, feeling slightly worried. The date had being going well, hadn't it?
"I thought I heard something. Yes, there it is again."
Dick listened carefully. "Oh, yes. There must be a cat nearby."
They carried on walking for a short time, the sound of the cat becoming louder and more plaintive as they went.
"There!" cried Lucy-Anne who had been anxiously scanning the trees for the animal, "it's up that tree. It must be stuck!"
Dick shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other as Lucy-Ann looked beseechingly at him. "Cats are almost never stuck. Every time someone goes up to rescue one, the cat jumps down on its own!"
"Pooh," said Lucy-Ann, "we can't leave the poor thing stuck there. It's obviously distressed!"
With that, she moved closer to the tree to try and coax the animal down to a lower branch. Unfortunately, she was not looking where she was putting her feet, and stepped into a rabbit hole. With a sudden cry, she stumbled sideways.
Dick fairly leapt forward to steady her.
"Are you OK?" he asked.
"I think so," replied Lucy-Ann with a watery smile. "I've twisted my ankle slightly, though."
"I think we'd better get you home then," said Dick.
"But what about the cat?" said Lucy-Ann.
Dick sighed. He helped Lucy-Ann to sit on a tree stump and eyed the tree critically. Grabbing a shoulder-height branch he hoisted himself up into the tree. Standing up, he put out his arms to lift the cat down. The cat turned its back on Dick, flicked its tail, and quickly made its way to a broken branch trailing almost to the ground on the other side of the tree. With total ease, the cat walked down the branch, jumped lightly to the ground and sauntered off through the trees.
"Right then," said Dick. "That's that done then."
Lucy-Ann stifled a laugh. "Sorry, Dick. You did very well. I guess the cat wasn't stuck after all."
"No, but you look like you might need a bit of rescuing," replied Dick, dropping down from the tree.
"I know just the chap for the job," said Lucy-Ann looking up at him.
Before Philip could step forward to open the restaurant door, George grabbed the handle and held it open for him.
"Er, thanks" he muttered. "Reservations for two, under Mannering?" he said to the waitress standing at the podium.
Philip and George followed the waitress to a quiet corner table, where George's glare sent Philip quickly to his own seat without helping George into hers. The waitress pretended not to notice before handing out menus and informing them of the specials.
"You really don't let men do anything for you, do you?" Philip asked George as he read the menu.
"I don't need men to do anything for me," replied George. "I'm as good as a man any day."
Deciding not to push the issue, Philip steered the conversation to less controversial topics, and soon had George laughing about some of the things he and Jack had got up to at school. George had some fairly amusing anecdotes herself, and any awkwardness has disappeared before the main course arrived.
As they left the restaurant, utterly stuffed after three courses, Philip reached out to take George's elbow on the stairs. George immediately pulled her arm away starting to say "I don't need…" before breaking off and grimacing as her foot landed in something warm and squishy on the next step.
"I know," smiled Philip. "It's just I noticed the spilt take-away food there and thought you'd rather not stand in it. But I guess if you're 'as good as a man', you don't mind."
"No." sniffed George. "It's not a problem" she said, discreetly trying to scrape congealing gravy off the side of her shoe.
"George's boat is being painted, but I know how much you wanted to see Kirrin Island," said Julian, "so I thought we'd take the under-sea tunnel, if that's OK with you?"
"Of course," replied Dinah. "I'm quite used to secret tunnels and passages. Do you have torches?"
"What are we waiting for then?"
Julian led the way to the old quarry and admired the way Dinah fearlessly scrambled down the steep sides. "Uncle Quentin had a steel door put over the tunnel entrance, to keep out trouble-makers," he explained to Dinah. "I've got the key here, though."
Julian opened the low door which squealed in protest. "I'll go first," he said before handing Dinah a torch and crawling in to the tunnel.
Dinah easily kept up with Julian through the long sea-tunnel, and seemed unperturbed by the booming sea above. On the island Julian showed her the wreck, the ruins and the cave. They sat dipping their feet in the rock-pools outside the cave, and Julian picked up a starfish to show Dinah. Dinah wrinkled up her nose when he offered it to her to hold.
Eventually the light grew dimmer and the evening turned chilly. The two headed back into the dungeons to walk back through the tunnels. Julian was just thinking how nice it was to date a girl who wasn't afraid of dark tunnels and 'creepy' wrecks when Dinah stopped abruptly.
"What was that?" she asked, her voice sounding slightly unsteady.
Julian listened carefully, and identified the source of the scrabbling and squeaking.
"Oh, there are probably a few rats in these tunnels," he said airily. "But don't worry, they're more afraid of you, than you are of-"
He didn't finish his sentence before Dinah shrieked and ran off down the tunnel. "Hie, Dinah, wait!" he called. When she didn't stop he started jogging after her. Quickly he realised she'd taken a wrong turn and he stopped. Shouting after her again, he realised he could barely hear her footsteps.
Retracing his steps, he raced down the right tunnels and back to Kirrin Cottage. Luckily George and Timmy were there, and after panting out his story, they accompanied him back to the tunnels. Timmy quickly found Dinah, and led everyone safely out to the quarry.
George didn't say anything to Dinah, just gave Julian a look and took Timmy home.
"I guess I should have told you I was a bit afraid of some animals," said Dinah, not meeting Julian's eyes.
"Well, I suppose you can't be brave about everything," he replied, giving her a hug.
"This is the life," said Jack contentedly, sitting back in his chair.
"Mmmmmmm" Kiki agreed, diving into the marmalade on the sideboard for another beak-full.
"You'd better not let Anne catch you doing that, old thing. She made that marmalade herself."
"Mmmmmmm" Kiki said again, flapping over to Jack's shoulder as the kitchen door opened.
"It's apple-pie for afters" said Anne, eyeing Kiki's sticky beak suspiciously. "I hope that's OK."
"Definitely," said Jack.
"Definitely," repeated Kiki.
"I've brought some for Kiki too," said Anne, producing a small plate with a small slice on it.
"Mmmmmmm" said Kiki.
After dessert, Jack took the dishes through to the kitchen. When he returned Anne led him through to the lounge, leaving Kiki in the dining-room. They spent a pleasant hour chatting before Jack suddenly wondered about Kiki.
He went into the dining-room, but couldn't see her anywhere. The door to the kitchen was open, however.
"Anne," called Jack. "I'm ever so sorry, but I think Kiki got into the pantry."
"Oh that's OK," replied Anne. "She can't have done much harm."
"Are you kidding?" said Jack, "She'll have eaten everything she could get her greedy beak on!"
Anne just smiled, and opened the pantry door.
Kiki flew to Jack's shoulder, and Jack peered into the almost empty pantry, looking more and more confused as his eyes scanned the shelves.
"Mother emptied out the pantry yesterday to have new shelves fitted," explained Anne. "We used up what we could, the rest is in a kitchen cupboard… all that I put in there was a small dish of marmalade and one of sunflower seeds…"
"God save Anne," said Kiki, and cackled.