Having reported their discovery, Bran and Bronwen return to their duty. Something about the boy had caught Bran’s beady eye, something that has been passed down through the bones of the Ravens over the centuries, wherever they have been posted to guard an important site. They have kept watch over many ancient places, Chertsey Abbey is just one of them—a place long since gone, now just a few stones in another field not far away.
Chertsey is one of those towns that have stories about stories, every little corner boasts its own version of history—and a ghost or two. This is not surprising; it is a very old town and in the words of the Music Hall song ‘It’s a town that Cromwell knocked about a bit’.
The Raven duo watch the boys in their camp, they can see that some of the stones although weathered by many years, still have the marks of a stone masons chisel. They are far too heavy for anyone to move without the knowledge or the tools to do so.
The real story of this odd pile of stones will never be known for sure, but like so many parts of Chertsey it has all the hallmarks of a haunted place. Some of the stones have deep scratches on them marking the passage of many years, and there are some faint drawings of gallows. From this it is thought to have been a place of imprisonment and execution—the perfect haunted place.
Listening from his perch high in the trees, Bran hears a familiar sound, it makes him homesick. Next door to the Wades, in number seven, lives Dai Rees, he is from South Wales. He is calling his son Tony in for his tea. The rich Welsh accent, honed by years of singing in a Male Voice Choir in the valleys, brings a tear to Bran’s solitary eye. Bronwen gives him an affectionate little peck, despite their differences the pair are devoted to each other.
Although Bran complains that nothing ever happens in Chertsey, it’s strange to think that the Ravens have never heard the noises that come from the waste ground in the dead of night. It is probably from Dummies stream as it flows under the bridge in Chilsey Green, but some sensitive souls living nearby are not so sure. Like Mrs Salmon—who lives next to the bridge and is one of those people who can read the tea leaves in your cup with uncanny accuracy. She says with a fearful catch in her voice.
“I can feel the spirits of the long ago dead who can’t escape from that terrible place. The stream dries up all the time and there is no water to make any sounds, yet we can still hear those ghostly noises late at night when all is deadly quiet. Just as it was many years ago when Chertsey Abbey would sound the Curfew Bell”.
Our gang has heard this all before and is not afraid of anything—unless it’s very frightening of course. We are named after the brave Red Indian tribe that we see in the Saturday Morning Pictures. We are ‘The Cowley Avenue Apaches’. There are six us, and because some of us have the same first name, we use nicknames. There are two Teddy’s, the surname of one is Bolts so his nickname has to be Thunder, and his older, rather awkward brother is Nutsan or Nutsy. Teddy Wade likes to be called Wadie, and Donald Balchin, who seems to be in charge most of the time is called Siki, after a famous boxer.
Tony Rees, who has fair curly hair, is called Goldilocks, he’s not very keen on it though. Lastly, I am called Trevor, it’s not my real name but one my mother sometimes calls me—Don tells me, we had a cat called Trevor, hardly a name for a cat, or a boy for that matter, we may as well have been called Roger.
While we are in our camp cooking our stolen potatoes, we try to think of a way to reach our headquarters without letting a couple of girls know what we are going to do. It sounds quite easy, but these girls are mind-readers. They live in the bungalows next to Pyrcroft House, leading to the Dingle. They seem to know before we do where we are hoping to go. It’s not that we don’t like the girls, but they always want to take control and boss us about, especially the eldest one, Sophia, although her younger sister Nikita, is a sweet little girl and just does what she is told.
Nutsan Bolts—now you can easily work out where his nickname came from— is a bit older than the rest of us and is rather slow and awkward. His brother says he can read your palm and tell your fortune. We ask him for the winner of the races at Ascot, but he says that would be against the rules—I have often wondered what rules he is being held to, perhaps it’s better not to know, but he has a clever idea; he says.
“Every afternoon, the Home Guard practice their drill in the Dingle, and they have to go past the girl’s bungalows next to Pyrcroft House, so, if we keep low and march along with them, the girls won’t see us”
. He is full of good ideas, is Nutsy, and we wait in his garden till we hear the men marching past. Keeping our heads down we join them, they aren’t very happy about us doing this but it’s only for a few yards and it works like a charm.
The two Ravens look down at the boys as they creep along the road on bent knees. Bran can’t believe his eye, he has never seen this sort of behaviour, he will have to report this to the others later. They follow the boys and take a perch high in one of the pair of Giant Redwoods that are in the Dingle, it has a perfect view all around.