The Cowley Avenue Apaches, Part Three.
Our gang name is The Cowley Avenue Apaches, we like the brave Red Indian’s in the Saturday Morning Pictures. Because so many kids have the same first name, we use nicknames, mine is Wegsy, there are two Teddy’s, one is Bruno, the other is Wadie, Donald is called Siki after a boxer and Tony is called Goldilocks, he has very fair curly hair.
We are trying to think of a way to reach our headquarters in The Dingle, without letting a couple of pesky girls know what we are going to do. It sounds quite easy, but these girls are mind-readers. They seem to know before we do where we are hoping to go.
Johnny, although he is a bit older than the rest of us, always comes with his brother Bruno. He has a clever idea; he says the Home Guard march past the girl’s house on their way to The Dingle to practice their drill most afternoons. If we march along with them the girls won’t see us.
We wait till we hear the men coming along Pyrcroft Road and we join them, they are not very happy about us doing this but it’s only for a few yards.
Once we are safely up the hill, we spend some time messing about on the little bridge that goes over our pond, and then we watch The Home Guard doing their drill. They are mostly men that are either too old or too young to join the Army. They are all shapes and sizes and it’s funny to see them trying to do their drill. We shouldn’t laugh but it’s hard not to do so.
We decide to go up to the lookout that is above the Dingle, but as we start to climb up the slope, we see those two pesky girls standing on the lookout shouting and calling us all sorts of names. We drift back to the bridge to work out what to do next.
Johnny, as always has a good idea. he spends a lot of his time in the Town hall Library, and he starts to tell us about an old map he had found inside a book. It was a sort of poem or maybe a religious chant, he said.
His brother Bruno quickly put his hand over Johnny’s mouth to shut him up. This of course made the rest of us want to know what was so secret. He said it wasn’t important, but then after lots of shouting, he started to tell us about Johnny’s find. The manuscript was hardly readable, it was in Latin, or some such old language.
Johnny had taken it home and had worked out what it was about. He found that it was a sort of prayer to a person called Stangarthe. It asked for a sacrifice of an animal or something of value at a well near the top of a hill.
Bruno went on to say that his clever brother had worked out that the place we know as St Ann’s Hill, was originally called Stangarthes Hill, and the name was later shortened to what it is called now.
The two brothers knew that the only well up the top of the hill was the Nun’s Well or the Wishing well. They had secretly been exploring the area nearby, which had been laid bare by the Lumber Jacks who had recently been chopping down all the big Chestnut trees for the war effort.
The brothers had found a deep hollow and had begun to dig around it hoping to find the grave and maybe some treasure. After digging down a couple of feet they found some large tree trunks laid down in a row as if it was bridge or even the roof of a chamber. One of the tree trunks had rotted and they were able to chip it away, but it is taking for ever.
Now that we all knew about it, we were eager to have a look, but those girls were still shouting, so we decided to wait till they had gone home. It was dusk by the time we went up to the Nun’s Well, and a bit creepy, Johnny was very nervous, he said he could sense that something or someone was watching us, and then there was that funny sound coming from the well, a sort of gurgling sound, first very quiet and then much louder.