Cornish Adventure Chapter 2

The next thing was to go and see Captain Hobbs. Their steps slowed to a
crawl as they got nearer. No one wanted to be first, no one wanted to be
the one to beard the Captain in his den, so to speak. Eventually the gang
made Matthew go in first, after all he knew Captain Hobbs very well, he
lived with him. Matthew wasn’t very happy about imposing on the
Captain, but he did understand the reason for his friends wanting him to
go first and be spokesman for them all.
The Deanery was a lovely old house all angles, and greenery growing on
the walls, there was a Wisteria, with its lovely blue violet coloured
fronds of flowers hanging down, which grew right to the roof, and ivy
with Virginia creeper climbing alongside it. In the autumn the Virginia
creeper would turn red, and the ivy yellow, making it look very pretty,
but at that moment it was all green..The house had high arched
doorways. The front door was made of oak and covered in metal studs. A
great huge Lion’s head knocker adorned the door. The windows were
also arched and with mullion windows. Time had been kind to it and it
was in excellent repair. It was a very elegant house.
Matthew led them through the spacious hall to the Captain’s study. This
room was vast. The walls were covered with books on two sides and a
third side, opposite where they had come in, was all french windows
which led out to the lovely garden beyond, and views of the sea.. The
room had a cozy, warm feeling and smelled of tobacco smoke.
Captain Hobbs, a big man with a mass of dark curly hair, and very blue
eyes sat in a wheelchair smoking a pipe and looking out at the garden. He
turned when the door opened and looked amazed to see so many children
descending on him. Matthew was a little afraid the Captain would be
angry, but after the first initial shock the Captain beamed a lovely smile
at them.
‘Hi you lot. Matthew brought you to visit an old cripple?’ he said
‘No sir, I mean, yes sir, he has brought us, but not to see an old cripple, I
mean……….’ Phil faltered, not sure what to say next.
The Captain laughed.
Matthew walked over to the Captain and said ‘Sir, we want you to help us
to find some buried treasure’. then he drew in a long breath, afraid they
would be rebuffed.
‘Buried treasure eh? Sounds just up my street. Best be telling me what it
is about if you want my help.’ he raised himself up in his wheelchair and
they saw how big he really was. A huge man with a kindly twinkle in his
Phil took charge. ‘We found a ghost and he told us there was a buried
treasure’ she set off at a gallop.
‘Whoa!! You found a what? And it told you what?’ the captain looked
’I’ll tell him’ interceded Matthew.‘Well sir, it was like this. We thought
there was a burglar but there wasn’t, what there was, was a skeleton and
it had a letter beside it and I have it here.’ He produced the parchment
they had found.
Captain Hobbs took a little while reading it, then looked up thoughtful.
‘What do you think you have?’ he asked.
‘Matthew came up with the idea it might be in a cave where the tide only
comes in twice a day.’ chirped up Sue excitedly.
‘He did did he? Well done Matthew. You know you could be right, but of course where? If a cave, which cave? I mean the tide comes in twice a
day everywhere on the British coast. Have you given any thought to
where and which? he glanced again at the paper in his hands.’It doesn’t
give many clues does it?’
‘There are some big caves here at Warstone and it would have to be near
enough for Sir Richard to be able to hide it, and where it wouldn’t be
found.’ said the twins together.
‘Yes, but if he had come here from London, he may have passed a lot of
caves before he got here.’ the captain reasoned.
‘I think it is here’ said Matthew reflectively.
‘Why Matthew?’ asked the captain.
‘Because I want it to be’ he replied candidly.
The captain burst into guffaws of laughter, and tousled Matthew’s hair.
‘Then we shall suppose it is. Right girls and boys………..’
‘Chaps’ said Phil.‘We are all called chaps’.
‘Okay, right chaps. The first thing we must do is a recci.’ before he could
any further there was a chorus of ’What’s a recci? from the pals.
He laughed again ‘A recci is a reconnoitre, check out the area for the most likely caves. Has to be accessible or Sir.Richard couldn’t have got
in, also, remember the coastline will have changed a bit since his time,
erosion and all that. His cave could quite easily be now under the sea
They all groaned. ‘Oh we’ll never find it if it is’ someone wailed.
‘Come on chaps, don’t give in before you have started. That attitude
wouldn’t win any wars. We will have to treat this like a military
operation. I’ll go through all my old Navy maps and look in my books for
maps of the area as it was in his time.’ he paused.
‘Sir, there were maps on the wall of the little room where we found the
skeleton of Sir Richard, do you think they might be any help?’ asked
David full of excitement.
‘Good lad. They may well be of a great deal of use. Show the area as it
was. Where are these maps?’ he looked at them all in turn, noticing the
glum faces, and heard the low moans.
‘They were in the little room where we found Sir Richard. The police
may have taken them by now. We could go and see Mr.Hodges, he
would know.’ Phil quickly regaining her equilibrium.
‘Right you lot, do that now while I sift through this document and see if
there is anything else to pick up from it.’ the captain smiled as there was
a mad exodus from his study toward the front door.
Mrs.Hobbs came in as they went out. ‘Was that Matthew and his friends?’
she asked. ‘They could have stayed for something to eat. I baked this
morning before I went out, there is lots of food.’ she stared after them.
She was disappointed they had left, she had not seen her husband so
happy and radiant in a long time. If they could do that for him they could
stay forever.
’Don’t worry dear’ said the captain taking his wife’s hand in his.‘They will
be back post-haste I reckon once they have found, or not found what they
are looking for, whichever the case may be.’
She smiled back at him ‘In the meantime, would you like a cup of tea?’
‘Yes please dear, and some of that baking please’ he added.
She felt so happy. It was a long time since he had requested food of any
kind. He usually ate whatever she brought him but without enthusiasm.
Now at this moment he was what he had been like before the terrible and
tragic incident, which had not only robbed him of his ability to walk, but of his will to live. He had lain in hospital for months, too weak to move
or care. The Doctors had despaired, they had said their was no reason
why he shouldn’t walk, and that perhaps he was suffering from hysterical
paralysis brought on by the shock of having his ship blown out of the
water, and from under him, by enemy aircraft. She hoped they were right,
and that he would one day walk again.
She hurried off to put the kettle on and supply his request.
The kettle had barely boiled and the tea taken in to the captain before the
door was flung open and a tousled set of heads appeared in the study.
’We’ve got them.’ they chorused as one. ‘Mr. Hodges had removed them
from the wall, for safe keeping he said, but we think he didn’t want
anyone else to have them. He wanted to keep them for Mrs.Trotter-
Smythe to cheer her up in the hospital.’ reported Phil
‘We said we would return them when we had finished showing you.’
Wendy smiled at the captain as she said this ‘but he did say there is no
‘Good. Let’s get down to business chaps. The maps show the coastal area
from London right to here at Warstone and then further North as far as Scotland. We need the map which just shows Warstone. It was called
Warestone then, must have lost the ‘e’ over the years. Now let me see’ he
perused the maps and found what he was looking for. ‘Here we have the
tide tables, and there is reference to men coming in from the sea with
provisions for his men. Must have been smugglers from the look of it. I
suppose he couldn’t be fussy how he got supplies through the enemy
lines.’ he had his nose almost on the paper, the writing was so faded and
small, and written in olde English, which was very different in a lot of
ways to how it was written in the nineteen forties, the present time.
‘I think I see what he means, hmn’ he murmured to himself as he perused
the map at close quarters.‘let me trace this line along the cost. Yes, there
are several caves along this stretch. More than there were last time I was
down there. You look at my modern maps and see how many differences
you can find.’ he handed the old map and a new one to the children for
them to look at.
They pored over the maps and it was Matthew who noticed first that
there were three caves missing from the modern map. ‘Look,’ he said
‘they are not there now. There are only two big caves now and a smaller one. On the old map there are six, all of them big.’
‘The sea must have claimed three of them and part of the smaller one,
which was obviously much bigger then. I’m not sure how we are going
to go about this kids, but we will have to find and explore the three we
have left, first, with a bit of luck we may find something in them.
Otherwise we are going to have to ask for help of undersea frogmen to
explore the other three. That could be tricky with their suits and helmets
weighing so much, and of course a long air line, they may not be able to
gain entry. Obviously, I am not going to be a lot of help’. he finished
‘Oh you are. You are our commanding officer’ said Sue all bright eyed
and smiling.‘We cannot do anything without you to help us. Can we
chaps?’ she enquired of her friends.
‘Not a thing’ they all said.
The Captain’s face was wreathed in smiles. It was a long time since he
had felt useful and even longer since he had taken part in youthful
He felt his eyes start to glisten and said in a husky voice ’Let’s be started then. Apply yourselves to the task in hand, but maybe we had better wait
until tomorrow at first light, we need as much light as possible,and the
tide just going out, and for goodness sake be careful kids. We don’t want
any accidents now do we?
‘No sir’ they shouted in glee.
‘By the way, I think before you go my wife wants to feed you. Go to the
kitchen and see what she has. By the way, tell her I would love another
cup of tea and some more of that delicious cake.’
‘Hooray’ they shouted as they trudged off to the kitchen and promised
goodies. There was precious few ‘goodies’ during those lean war years.
No food was ever turned down, and certainly not the wonderful food that
Mrs.Hobbs had provided.
At six o’clock the next morning all the children dressed in shorts and
shirts, gathered at the Treehouse. Even before some of the parents and
adults whom they lived with were up, they had set off.
‘I brought some jam sandwiches, just in case we got hungry’ said Sue
‘I found some cheese. It’s only a little bit mouldy, but we can cut that off’
offered Phil.
‘We picked some Tomatoes out of Dad’s greenhouse’ said the twins.
‘I brought some of that cake that was left from yesterday’s tea’ said
‘Mr. Hodges packed us a picnic for us all to share.’ David and Wendy
smiled. ’It’s got home made lemonade in too’.
‘Goody’ shouted the twins who were always hungry and very interested in
‘Time to be off. We had better stay together as far as it’s possible’ Phil
said gravely ‘Remember what the Captain said about accidents. We must
all watch out for each other as well as ourselves. If anyone fell in those
caves they could be knocked out and we wouldn’t know, and the tide
could come in and drown them.’ she added
‘Ugh’ said Wendy ’Don’t be morbid Phil. We will be fine. We will just
have to be extra careful. We have all been in the caves before, and the
tide has just gone out so it will be hours before it comes in again.’
This made everyone feel a little happier. The idea of being stuck in a
cave with the tide coming in was not something to be anticipated with
It was quite a trek over the meadow, where cows in the field eyed them
unconcernedly, and a long climb down the grassy slopes of the cliffs,
interspersed with yellow flowering gorse, to the sea. It was particularly
tricky with rucksacks, and the gorse had to be grasped and clung to, to
prevent sliding down the steep hill. David and Wendy also carried a large
wicker picnic basket between them which made the going even trickier.
They were all hot and sticky by the time they reached the bottom, but at
least they were all in one piece. They stopped to get their breath and look
The cliffs now surrounded them on three sides, green, majestic and
mysterious, the sea making up the quadrant. The high were covered in
wild flowers, and birds and butterflies abounded everywhere. It was
surprisingly peaceful, even though the sea lashed on the rocks as it
swished back and forth. Green sea with frothy white tops like the lather
on a shaving brush. Spray sent little clouds of this lather into the air, to
fall abandoned onto the rocks. All they could hear was the sea and spray
and the birds ever mocking. The birds nested on the tiniest little ledges
right up to the top of the cliffs, and it was a miracle of nature that the eggs or the babies, or both, didn’t plunge hundreds of feet into the sea.
The caves loomed dark and forbidding. Matthew thought of all the
stories he had heard of King Arthur and his knights who were supposed
to live in a castle in Cornwall, Tintagel, which was just down the road a
short way, and used the caves to get in and out unseen. If he listened
carefully he could almost hear them in the gloom. He shivered a little,
not with fear, but with excitement. He loved stories about King Arthur
and would have loved to have been one of his knights in days of old,
with Merlin and Queen Guinevere, with his suit of armour clinking as he
walked. And the wicked Queen Morgan le Fey who was King Arthur’s
half sister, she who had stolen Excalibur the great Sword which would
make Arthur king, and how Merlin had seized it back from her and
pushed it far into a rock. Saying that only the true King could pull it out.
Arthur had pulled it out easily and been procalimed king. Matthew’s
mind whirled as he thought of it. He thought of Sir Richard and
wondered if he had worn armour than clinked. He imagined Sir Richard
would wear fine velvet clothes and a hat with an ostrich plume sticking
in it, a true Cavalier.
There was a shout ‘Matthew. You daydreaming again?’ it was Phil.
He gathered himself together and concentrated on the task in hand. He
had always been a daydreamer, his mother had said, and she had been
right he thought with a little laugh at himself and his habit of wool
gathering in his mind.
The first cave they entered went back for such a long way they couldn’t
see the back of it. They negotiated carefully the huge rocks and boulders
at the entrance. It was damp and dank and smelled of fish and seaweed.
As they went further into the cave it got darker, and colder, and Phil, the
only one with a torch, switched on its pathetic light. Under normal
circumstances it would have cast a good beam, but it was so dark and
gloomy in the cave that it seemed less than a candles glow. ‘Can you see
alright chaps?’ she asked trying to hold the light so all could see where
they were going, a task which was almost impossible. The dark seemed
to close in about them and they each had to admit to themselves that they
felt a little afraid. Sue admitted to herself that she was very afraid, and
moved up closer to Matthew where she felt a little safer. Every sound
echoed off the damp walls which made it very eerie. In the darkness they could hear their own breathing, it sounded a little ragged, and the teeth
chattering wasn’t only because of the cold.
Suddenly Phil’s light picked up some steps. ‘Hey chaps, look at these’ she
called. The friends gathered around her to see better. There was a flight
of stone steps cut out of the rock and leading upwards. Phil led the way
by mutual consent, she had the light, and they all followed in single file
behind her.
The steps were slippery, covered in green algae, so they knew the tide
came in this far. At the top Phil stopped. She called back to the others
’There’s a door up here. I don’t think I can open it myself, it is a bit stuck,
can someone help?’ David and Matthew pushed past the others and got
to the top behind Phil. The door was made of wood and very old. It was
marked in stripes where the water had hit it and run off again. There were
rusted hasps and hinges on the door, they looked very old. ‘Is it locked do
you think?’ enquired Matthew.
’Don’t know, but there doesn’t seem to be a lock of any sort on it.’ replied
Phil shining the torch all over the door, perusing it for locks.
’Let’s see if we can give it a push and get it open.’ David said pushing his slight frame against the rotting timbers. He, Phil and Matthew all pushed
together. The door didn’t open, it fell in, with them tumbling in after it.
There was a shriek which came from Phil. ‘I think I have lost my leg, I
cannot feel it.’ she shrieked even louder.
’ No you haven’t silly, I am lying on it’ said David from his position on
the floor. ‘Lie still while I try to stand up.’ he heaved himself upright.
‘There now, you have your leg back.Are you okay Matthew?.’ he asked
‘I think so. Gosh what a shock. I thought we weren’t going to land but
were going to go tumbling into space. Have you got the torch Phil so we
can see where we are.‘?
Fortunately the small torch had not been damaged in the melee and Phil
shone it around. The fall had not improved its glow.
They were in a large room. It had obviously been carved out of the rock
inside the cliff, but it was big enough to stand up in easily. ’Come on up
the rest of you, it’s safe’ she shouted back to the dawdlers at the rear.
They all clambered into the room and with the aid of the torch looked
around. It was a big chamber, bigger than they had at first thought. It
even had furniture of a kind. A big solid table and a lot of chairs.
‘I wonder if King Arthur was ever here?’ mused Matthew.
‘Do you think that was the table he and the knights sat at?’ asked Sue
‘I thought their table was round’ Wendy ventured.
‘It was’ said Matthew a little disappointed.
‘There is something here on the wall.’ Phil was waving the torch in the
direction of the wall opposite where they had entered. It was a document
of some kind.
‘What does it say?’ enquired David.
‘No idea. It is in that funny writing again.’ replied Phil who had the
advantage of being able to see it clearly from a close position.‘It looks
like a map of some sort but it has lots of squiggley bits of writing and
numbers on it.’
‘We will have to take it to the captain’ offered Matthew.’ He will know
what it says and what to do about it. He has lots of maps and things, he
used them when he was in the Navy, he knows all about maps. It may
give another clue to the treasure.‘his voice rose in excitement.
’Right, all agreed? We take it straight to the captain and see what he
makes of it?’ enquired Phil.
‘Aye’ they answered in unison in the way they always signalled their
agreement to any proposal made by members of the gang.
‘Oh heck, we have to get out of here and climb all the way back up the
cliff and then get to the Captain’s house, him read the paper and then
come all the way back, and we haven’t even eaten’ complained David.
‘I propose we eat now before we go’ motioned Matthew.
‘All in favour’ intoned Phil.
There was a raise of all hands and a loud ‘Aye’
‘Motion passed. Get the food organised everyone, we might as well eat in
here, we have a table and chairs after all.’ Phil took charge of the
proceedings, her usual organizational self. If her leg hurt, she didn’t
mention it, for the moment it was forgotten, only the food was important.
All the food was placed on the table and it made quite a spread.
Mr.Hodges had packed paper cups for the lemonade. There were
sandwiches made from Mrs.Bullitt’s freshly baked bread,(she kept most
of the village supplied with fresh bread) some scones and some cake. As
well as the cake Matthew had brought, the Tomatoes from the twins and
Sue’s contribution of jam sandwiches. It was a veritable feast. There was also Phil’s cheese, which was left until last just in case anyone was still
so hungry they may want to tackle it. No one was.
While there was a war, on any food had to be rationed, and everyone had
a ration book with tokens in it. When the tokens were gone then no more
food could be obtained.So everyone was very careful with their food
ration. People living in the country were luckier than those in the towns
because in the country they grew their own produce and had their own
livestock, like Farmer Bullitt. Food was more plentiful than it would
have been if the children had stayed in the towns and cities which were
their homes, and of course if they had stayed, there was the risk of
After they had gorged on their picnic feast they needed to rest. ‘I don’t
think I could climb back up that cliff just at the moment’ stated Phil and
the others agreed.
‘I feel I can’. volunteered Matthew. ’I’ll take the paper. You lot stay here
until I get back, but mind if you see any sign of the tide coming in, get
out quick.’
‘We will’ they all agreed and Matthew set off for the journey back to his adopted house and Captain Hobbs. He had known it would still be hours
before the tide came back in but he felt he should remind his friends of
the danger, just in case.
He scrambled out over the boulders and rocks at the entrance and
couldn’t believe how bright it was outside the cave, and so warm. The
sun was shining brightly and the seagulls were screaming overhead. The
friends had heard nothing inside the cave, it was as if they were shut off
from civilization, in a world apart. They could have been on the Moon, it
had been so quiet.
He started the steep climb up the grassy cliff. It was much more slippery
going up and he had difficulty at times keeping his feet. Going down if
you had slipped it didn’t matter, you were going down anyway,and there
were the gorse bushes, but he was going up and occasionally slipped
back down grabbing a gorse bush to haul himself up with. It was a jolly
hard climb, but eventually he reached the top. He raced across the
meadow, a lazy old cow raised her head from the grass, she kept on
chewing but watched his progress back to the Captain’s home.
He ran into the house waving the piece of paper on which was the map.
He was so excited he was shouting at the top of his voice telling.
incoherantly, what they had found.
‘Take it easy old chap. If that paper is as old as the last bit you found, you
could shake it to smithereens.’ laughed the captain when he spotted
Matthew waving the paper in the air as he literally flew into the room
like a gust of wind.
‘Steady old chap’ he reached out to touch Matthew’s hand ‘You alright?
You’re a bit red in the face.’ the Captain eyed Matthew with a concerned
’I’m fine. I just ran all the way back from the first cave we went into, to
show you this.’ he waved the paper at the captain.
‘Now then, let’s have a look at this. What have we here?’ the captain
scanned the paper and then got down to scrutinizing it properly. ‘By Jove,
it is saying about the treasure being in the upper tower. Upper tower of
where I wonder? Did you see any towers around? he asked Matthew.
’No towers no. We found a room where this was stuck to the wall it had a
table and some chairs in it and…………..’ Matthew broke off when the
Captain put up his hands.
‘Whoa old chap, you are losing me. Go back to the beginning and tell me
Matthew related everything that had happened from the moment they set
off that morning to the present time. Captain Hobbs listened carefully, all
the time sucking his empty pipe. When Matthew had finished he said
’Show me exactly which cave you were in.’ he pushed the map towards
Matthew traced his finger along the paper and then pointed at the cave on
the map.
‘You say there were steps, properly cut out steps up to this room, the one
where the door fell in?’ the captain asked.
‘Yes. It was hard to see properly because Phil only had a flashlight and it
wasn’t very good because it was so dark. We had our picnic at the table,
and then I came back while they waited for you to tell us what the map
Captain Hobbs mumbled something that Matthew didn’t catch. ‘Look old
chap, I think you had better take someone with you when you go back. A
grown up, you know with a proper light.’’We’ll be alright, honest sir. Just you tell me where the treasure is and I
will go straight back and we will find it.’ Matthew’s words tumbled over
each other in his excitement.
‘Well, I’ve told you. It says that treasure is to be found in the tower.
Whatever that means. I cannot believe you will find a tower in a cave,
can you?’ he looked at Matthew as he said this and saw disappointment
on the boy’s face. The captain and his wife had grown very fond of
Matthew whilst he had been with them, and since he was an orphan, they
were presuming his father was dead, had toyed with the idea of adopting
him. He was a fine lad and they would be proud to have him as a son.
They hadn’t said anything to Matthew because they hadn’t looked into it
properly, all the legal side of it, and didn’t want to raise his hopes
unnecessarily, and of course they had to wait until the end of the war to
see if his father turned up again, he could be in a prison of war camp
somewhere in Germany. As he watched Matthew now he really wished
he could be a proper father to him and go with him to the cave., but of
course that was impossible in a wheelchair, or was it?
‘Hold on a minute old fellow, I’ll just find Ann and ask her something.’ he pushed his wheelchair through the door and went in the direction of the
kitchen in search of his wife.
Only minutes later he was back with a large grin on his face. ‘Ann is
going to push me as close to the top of the cliffs as she can and then I
will be nearer, and on hand if there are any further developments, or, any
problems, or any more maps even.’
‘Thank you Mrs.Hobbs.’ enthused Matthew. He was very fond indeed of
the captain and his wife and really enjoyed living with them. He was
always very careful to do everything properly, he was frightened they
would send him back or to someone else if he misbehaved. He was sure
no one else would take such good care of him or be so affectionate
toward him as they had been, they made more of him than his own mum
and dad had. He was very happy where he was in Cornwall with the
Captain and Mrs.Hobbs, plenty of food, and no horrid bombs either.
The trio set off. It was quite easy until they came to the meadow, and
Matthew and Ann Hobbs had to really heave the wheelchair over the
grass. The cow who had been munching the grass looked in disbelief at
the trio and flicked her tail as she ran to the far side of the field.
They had reached the top of the cliff and then stopped. Mrs.Hobbs and
Matthew were both out of breath, only the Captain wasn’t. Ann looked
over the top at the steep slope and the sea breaking on the rocks below,
spray rising and dashing itself with gusto onto the rocks and boulders.
‘You will be careful Matthew won’t you. It looks very steep.’ she pleaded.
‘I will, I promise Mrs. Hobbs. Captain, see you soon sir. Thanks for the
flashlight. It’s a really good one.’ and he was off over the top and sliding
down as fast as he could go.
When he reached the bottom he scrambled into the cave again and up the
steps to the room. ’I’m back, and guess what, the paper says there is
treasure, but in the tower. Where’s the tower?.’ he stopped for breath and
realized he was talking to himself. He was alone. The room was empty.
There was no one there.

Cornish Adventure Chapter 2


Co Durham, United Kingdom

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