|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||7 - 12 Years|
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Read an Excerpt
By Marian Cockrell, Olive Bailey
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2013 Amanda Cockrell
All rights reserved.
THE HIDDEN TUNNEL
If she hadn't gone exploring in the deep, dark forest, Lucy might never have met the little dog at all. She had always played in the bright woods near her home, and when she wandered very far, and the woods turned into thick forest with deep, black shadows, she always turned back before she got too far into it — that is, she always had before.
Lucy was nine years old and lived with her grandmother in a little white house on the mountainside above the village. She liked living high up where she could look down at the houses, which seemed so little, down at the bottom of the mountain. Some days she went to play with her friends who lived down there, and other days she went up the mountain and wandered about in the woods.
This summer morning she dressed quickly and ran downstairs. "I think I'll go exploring, Grandma," she said while she was eating breakfast. "Could I take some lunch?"
"Why not?" said Grandma. She fixed Lucy some sandwiches and wrapped them in waxed paper. "Be sure and come back before dark," she said.
"I will," Lucy said. "Goodbye, Grandma." She took her lunch basket and started off. Lucy liked the woods, the smells and sounds, the little animals that scuttered about in the leaves. She had practiced sitting very still, so that now and then a rabbit or squirrel would come up to her and not be afraid. Usually when she ate lunch she found she had several guests.
But it wasn't time for lunch yet. Lucy slipped along, silently, searching for adventure. Of course if there was any adventure she would have to make it up. She couldn't really have much of an adventure on a mountain where there were no wild animals to be bitten by, no deep streams to drown in, and no steep precipices to fall over.
So she went right on until she came to the dark forest, because how could anybody be an explorer in a place she knew all about already? She had been a little way into the dark forest once before. Today she would go a little farther.
Soon the trees grew more thickly as she went along, the woods became darker as the branches met overhead, shutting out the sunlight, and Lucy began to wonder whether, after all, she really liked exploring.
She found she was walking a little more slowly, in fact she had almost stopped, when a little white dog ran out of the trees in front of her, and stopped and looked at her, wagging his tail.
The little dog had appeared so suddenly that Lucy jumped back before she saw what it was. Then she stood very still, hoping it would stay, because she had wanted a dog for a long time. This one was a round little dog, with a black ear, and a black nose, and bright black eyes. Lucy had never seen him before and was surprised to see a dog this far up the mountain.
"Here, pup! Here, pup!" she called. He didn't have a collar on. Maybe he didn't belong to anybody. Maybe she could take him home ...
The little dog came a few steps toward her, gave a friendly little yip, and then turned and trotted off, right into the dark forest. Lucy followed him eagerly.
He turned and looked back every few steps. He didn't seem afraid of her, but he wouldn't come to her. Deeper and deeper into the forest he went, with Lucy after him.
After a while she noticed that they were following a faint path. She didn't remember any path leading into the forest, but here one was. As she went on the trees grew closer and closer together. The forest became darker. Only once in a while did sunlight fall upon the ground.
"I hope I don't get lost," she thought.
She could hear the wind pushing through the tops of the trees. Except for that everything was silent and still. "It's very dim and swishy," she thought. "Maybe I ought to go back."
She looked behind her, and there was the faint trail winding through the trees the way she had come. She looked ahead, and the little dog was almost out of sight. Lucy hurried to catch up with him. "There's no sense in being afraid just because it's dark," she told herself.
All of a sudden the little dog disappeared. Lucy looked everywhere for him, but he was nowhere in sight. Nothing moved but the wind in the trees.
"Here, pup!" she called. "Oh, please come back!"
She heard a sound, a little whine. It was the little dog, saying, "Come on, come on!" But she couldn't see him anywhere.
Then a clump of vines and bushes moved, and a little white head stuck out. Lucy laughed.
"What are you doing in there?" she said.
The little dog whined again, and as Lucy walked toward him his head disappeared again. Lucy parted the vines and looked in.
"Oh!" she said. "Oh, I never knew about this!"
She went in after the little dog, and the vines and branches fell back into place, and from the outside no one would have dreamed that ...
There was a tunnel into the mountain!
Lucy stood still. It was very dark. It didn't exactly look like a good place to go into. "But I wonder where it goes," she said to herself.
Only a little light came through the screen of leaves and vines that hid the entrance to the tunnel. It was just barely high enough for Lucy to stand up in. The little dog whined again.
"But where are we going?" Lucy protested. The little dog stood up and put his feet on her dress, then ran into the tunnel, then came back impatiently.
"Well, if you insist," Lucy said. She untied her sash and took it off. "Here, come here."
He came this time. He seemed to know that she was going to do what he wanted her to. Lucy tied one end of the sash around his neck. "Go on, then," she said. "But don't go too fast."
The little dog trotted happily into the tunnel, with Lucy behind him. In a moment everything was dark as pitch. Lucy looked back and could just see the faintest glimmer of light where she had come into the tunnel.
The dog led her along with little tugs and jerks. The floor of the tunnel was covered with what felt like soft dust, and their footsteps didn't make any noise at all. There was a damp, chilly, musty feeling in the air, and Lucy felt her heart begin to beat a little faster.
She stopped suddenly and started to turn back. The little dog wouldn't budge. She pulled at the sash. The little dog pulled the other way.
Lucy shivered and went on again. "This is an adventure," she thought. "You can't have an adventure if you stop in the middle." Besides, she didn't want to lose the little dog.
She thought they would never come to the end of this black, cold, creepy tunnel, when all at once she saw in the distance a faint glow of light.
"There's the end!" she thought. The little dog was going faster and faster, so that she was almost running to keep up with him.
Just then they came to a place where the tunnel divided into two passages. The little dog took the left one, and Lucy stopped to look curiously into the one leading off to the right.
The little dog tugged at the sash, and whined. "Hurry, hurry," he seemed to be saying.
"Wait a minute," Lucy said. Now that she was almost at the end she wasn't in such a hurry to get out. "Let me look." She took a step into the right-hand passage. She was almost sure — she — saw — something —
She did see something. It was coming toward her!
"Ooooooh!" She jumped back quickly as the little dog pulled hard on the other end of the sash. Then with a sudden, fierce growl he leaped at the entrance to the right-hand tunnel, landing just in front of Lucy and barking threateningly. Whatever was there ran back with a faint squeal.
Then the little dog was pulling frantically at the sash again, and they were running, running, for the daylight at the mouth of the tunnel. Lucy sped along wildly, her heart pounding. She was sure she had felt something pull at her arm, trying to drag her into the other passage.
They burst out into the daylight, and Lucy stumbled over a stone and sat down on the ground, breathing heavily and looking over her shoulder again and again. There was nothing to be seen in the black tunnel. The little dog faced back the way they had come, growling softly in his throat.
"What — was — it?" Lucy panted. "What was in there?" The little dog wagged his tail and touched her cheek with his cold nose. "I guess it won't come out," Lucy concluded in relieved tones, after watching for a few minutes longer. She began to look around.
There wasn't much to see from her position on the ground. Everywhere about her was tall, tall grass. Even when she stood up it was just over her head, and all she could see were waving green stalks and the sky overhead. They were in a narrow path that led from the tunnel they had just left and twisted on ahead of them.
Lucy followed the little dog down this path. "Where on earth am I?" she thought uneasily. "And how am I ever going to get home again through that tunnel?" She glanced back over her shoulder, but the path had turned and she couldn't even see the hole in the mountain where the tunnel was. She could see nothing but tall grass.
There was something strange about the place. The air seemed unreal, as though they were walking through water. There was a soft greenish-blue haze over everything.
She looked up at the sky. It looked solider than usual. The sky seemed to be piled on itself, like clear greenish-blue clouds with the light shining through, beautifully. It was queer, like a dream. The tall grass rustled and whispered softly as she passed through it along the narrow path.
Then all at once, around a turn, they came into the open. Lucy stopped and looked around her. She was in a valley, which was shaped like a huge bowl, with very steep sides. High mountains, covered with forest, rose on all sides, encircling the valley. She saw that the tall waving grass through which she had just come extended all around the edge of the valley, at the foot of the mountains.
The level valley itself was all short, smooth, green grass, with scattered trees and a few large rocks. As she gazed out over this smooth, green lawn, about halfway across the valley on the left side, she saw — a castle!
It was a very large, old, dark, dim castle, made of stone. The forest rose behind it, but its highest towers and turrets stood out against the strange bright sky that seemed to shift and move slowly.
Lucy stared through the clear, unearthly light in a kind of dreamy wonder. A castle, right on, or maybe in, her own mountain where she had lived all her life, and never dreamed of its existence!
Suddenly she realized that the little dog was tugging at the sash she still held in her hand, trying to pull her off to the right. She took her eyes off the castle and turned to see where the little dog was trying to take her now.
She had been so absorbed in looking at the castle that she hadn't even noticed that there was someone else in the valley. Off to the right, not far from the tall grass, was a large flat rock.
On this rock sat a young man.
He had on brown trousers and a bright-green leather jacket exactly the color of the grass, and his hair was red and curly.
The little dog barked and he looked around.
"Hello!" he exclaimed. "How on earth did you find your way in here?" He jumped up from his seat on the rock and grinned at Lucy, as though he were very happy about something.
Lucy came a few steps nearer. "I followed him," she said. She leaned down and unfastened the sash from the little dog's neck and tied it around her waist again. The little dog jumped into the young man's arms and tried to lick his face.
The young man shook his finger at the little dog and said, "And what were you doing outside?"
"He was in the wood," Lucy said. "He wanted me to come, so I did. But there was something in there!" She looked back toward the tunnel. "He barked at it, and — we ran, fast."
The young man gave a low whistle and frowned angrily in the direction of the tunnel. Then he smiled at Lucy and said, "What's your name?"
"You can call me Michael, and his name," pointing to the little dog, "is Flumpdoria."
"Flumpdoria," Lucy said. "What a peculiar name. Is he yours?"
"Yes. Do you like him?"
"I think he's wonderful," Lucy said. "I've never had a dog."
"Never had an animal to play with?"
"Oh, yes, I've had lots of animals to play with, but not to keep. I play with the rabbits and squirrels in the woods."
"So you're a friend of the little animals?"
"Yes," said Lucy. "I'm in the woods all the time, but I never knew about this."
"I see," said Michael.
"It feels — queer — in here." Lucy stared at the tall grass. "It whispers," she said.
"Yes," said Michael.
"Do you live there?" Lucy nodded toward the castle.
"I have, for a long time," Michael said. The happy, excited look came on his face again.
"It looks so dark. Is it — haunted?"
"In a way it is," he answered. "Would you like to go in?"
"Er — not very much," Lucy admitted. "I'd go with you, though."
"There's nothing there to hurt you," Michael said. "Just dust and shadows. I'll take you through. It will make the time pass more quickly while I'm waiting."
"What are you waiting for?" Lucy asked, but Michael didn't answer.
They walked across the grass toward the castle. Lucy didn't want to go very much, hardly at all in fact, but at the same time she felt she simply had to know what was inside. Flumpdoria waggled along behind them.
When they were close to it, the castle towered above them and looked larger than ever. They entered a great, high-ceilinged hall, so high that Lucy could hardly see the ceiling at all. Some light streamed in through small, narrow windows high in the wall. Cobwebs hung from great beams and shone where the shafts of light from the windows hit them. Lucy edged closer to Michael.
"It would take too long to show you the whole thing." Michael said. "The only really interesting part of it is up here."
He opened a small door on the right, and they passed into a bedroom that looked very old but was clean and neat, as though the owner had just stepped out. Lucy thought that this must be where Michael lived.
They didn't stop, though, but went across the room to a little door. It was painted greenish-blue, and queerly shaped iron hinges held it to the wall. Michael shot back a bolt and tugged at the door. It didn't budge.
"I haven't been up here in years," he said, straining to force the door open. "Stubborn thing!" He stood for a moment quietly, then suddenly yanked at the handle and the door flew open, almost throwing him to the floor. "There!" he said triumphantly. "He was holding it closed for spite."
Lucy wondered if there had been someone on the other side of the door, holding it closed. There was no one there now. Then she noticed the handle.
"What a queer door handle," she said. "It looks like a goblin's head."
"It is," said Michael. "That's a Nit-goblin. They're very unintelligent. He doesn't like to be disturbed."
"Oh, was he holding the door? Is he alive?"
"Yes, more or less. Stupid idiot!"
Lucy was almost sure she saw the goblin make a horrible face at Michael as they passed through the doorway. They were at the foot of a steep, circular stairway.
At first it was so dim that she couldn't see anything at all, but after her eyes became accustomed to the faint light she saw that the stairs were dusty and covered with cobwebs and barely wide enough for them to go up in single file. It was impossible to dodge all the cobwebs that swung slowly from the walls, and she kept having to brush them off her face. The stair wound up and up.
They climbed and climbed, and the steps seemed endless.
"We're in the tallest tower," Michael said. "I'm glad you came. I haven't had any company for some time."
"Is there any way out except through the dark tunnel?" Lucy asked.
"Don't you worry about the tunnel," Michael said. "I won't let them hurt you."
"Who?" she asked, but they had at last arrived at the top and Michael didn't answer. They were standing before another little greenish-blue door, just like the other one, with a goblin's-head handle. This goblin had its eyes closed, however, and the door swung half open.
"Anyone could get in here!" Michael said angrily. "Lazy thing."
"He seems to have a better disposition than the other one," Lucy remarked.
"He'd be just as disagreeable if he could stay awake long enough to take the trouble," Michael said, slamming the door hard. "Let's sit over here."
He led Lucy to a long, low seat, covered with soft, dusty velvet, with tarnished gold tassels at either end. They sat down and Flumpdoria flopped at their feet.
Excerpted from Shadow Castle by Marian Cockrell, Olive Bailey. Copyright © 2013 Amanda Cockrell. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1 The Hidden Tunnel,
2 The Magical Rescue,
3 The Enchantment,
4 Goblins Underground,
5 In the Goblin Caverns,
6 Pursuit Through the Darkness,
8 The Visiting Princess,
9 Something Wrong,
10 Robin Stirs Up Trouble,
11 The Mystery Explained,
12 Robin and Bluebell,
14 Kill the Dragon!,
15 Branstookah Besieged,
16 The Shadow Room,
19 On the Witch's Mountain,
20 The Worm,