The Den Extract from Chapter 3
‘You know…I think we should build a den around here,’ suggested Rose, one hazy afternoon, as the children sat on the dusty grass of a clearing in the forest. ‘Oh that’s a marvelous idea Rose, it could be our secret place!’ cried George, jumping to his feet, ‘what about in there?’ he continued, pointing to some large bushes, ‘we could clear out some of the greenery and make it into a sort of hut?’
The others agreed that this was a good suggestion and they all set to work transforming the largest of the overgrown, densely leaved bushes into their new headquarters. Mabel brushed away the dry leaves below the bush to form a sandy floor, whilst Freddie collected some small logs to use as seats. George collected handfuls of supple wild grass, which he began to use as twine to secure some of the branches. This formed an entrance to their den.
Meanwhile, Rose decided that some shells, as ornaments, would add the finishing touch. She hurried to the steps down to the harbour and returned with the pockets of her dress bulging with pretty stones and pebbles. Then Rose arranged the shells on a group of logs which served as a shelf and the others laid out the stones in a pattern, to form a sort of marker to the entrance to the den.
When it was finally complete, all the children stood back to admire their work. ‘That was a great team effort,’ declared Freddie, brushing some dry leaves out of his hair. ‘And no one knows about it except for us!’ Mabel added, bouncing on the spot energetically, causing her plaits to swing like a skipping rope.
‘I think we ought to show Joe,’ said Rose, ‘after all, he showed us where to find treasure, it’s only fair.’ ‘I know,’ replied Freddie thoughtfully, ‘why don’t we surprise him?’ ‘Yes let’s! We could eat our food here, have a party in the den,’ cried George.
So, it was decided that Freddie and Mabel would spread out the ‘feast’, whilst the others would go to find Joe. They found him sitting cross-legged dangling a fishing rod over the harbour wall and encouraged him to follow them.
‘I think we should find a short cut,’ suggested George, impatient to show his friend the den. Instead of taking the familiar route at the top of the harbour steps, George led the others along a different path leading to two ancient looking wooden posts. The posts marked the beginning of a narrow footpath, cut through the trees. They were carved with strange symbols which none of the children could decipher, although Rose thought they looked a bit like some writing she’d seen at a museum back in London.
‘This looks ok…follow me!’ said George as he began to follow the sandy path. The others followed him cautiously and all at once they realized that something was different. By now they were used to the beauty of Cornwall, but what they saw ahead of them was enough to take their breath away.
The trees that formed a sort of canopy overhead had a pale, silvery bark that sparkled like glitter. Shards of sunlight danced on the forest floor illuminating large clusters of bluebells growing like a violet carpet under the trees. Small mushrooms raised their domed heads to the light. A soft cloud of mist floated above them giving everything a soft, dreamlike feeling.
‘It’s like FAIRYLAND!’ gasped Rose, walking slowly as if she were sleepwalking trying to take in everything she saw.
The path wound its way in a gentle curve, before disappearing behind an enormous tree that leant precariously towards the earth. As the children reached the tree, they expected the path to continue, but to their surprise it began to slope abruptly before unexpectedly revealing the astonishing sight of a hidden cove; a secluded beach entirely surrounded by strangely coloured purple, green and blue prehistoric rocks, larger than any they’d ever seen.
These rocks peeped out from the sand like groups of surfacing whales or sea monsters. The sea was crystal clear and reflected the rocks and cliffs around it like a mirror. The grass growing around the rocks was as green as an emerald and smelt as sweet as honey. But there was an odd atmosphere, the same dreamlike feeling they’d felt walking through the woods.
‘This is weird,’ said Joe; his eyes wide open with bewilderment. ‘I know everywhere around these parts but I’ve never been here before. I can’t understand it.’
By now the children had climbed down to the center of the cove and were standing in sort of trance, staring out to sea. As George gazed at the deep blue of the horizon, Aunt Alice’s mysterious remark came back to him: ‘Special things come to special people.’