Authors: Jacqueline Harvey
Tags: #CHILDREN’S FICTION
Freddy and Clementine climbed up onto the grassy knoll. Lavender was snorting and looking at the sea. Clementine’s stomach was churning.
‘Look, there’s Della!’ Freddy said.
His sister appeared on the top of the rock platform.
Della had thought Freddy would follow her when she stormed out to look for the seal. She hadn’t wanted to go to that stinky cave on her own. It was much too dark and scary. But when the boy hadn’t appeared she went for a walk around the village. Mrs Lee had given her an ice-cream, which she’d eaten while sitting on the seawall. Then she came to the beach to look for crabs in the rock pools.
‘Della!’ Freddy called above the sound of the waves.
She looked up and was surprised to see her brother and Clementine on the other side of the channel. ‘What are you doing over there?’ she called back.
‘We’re stuck,’ the boy shouted.
Della’s stomach tightened. Freddy might be a pain sometimes but she didn’t want him to be stuck at high tide.
‘Don’t worry. I’ll get help!’ the girl shouted. She scurried back across the rocks to the beach.
Lady Clarissa had searched high and low for the children. She was about to go down and check the kitchen once more, when she met Uncle Digby.
‘Hello dear,’ he greeted her.
‘You haven’t seen Clementine, have you?’
The old man shook his head. ‘Afraid I’ve been in the land of nod for the past couple of hours.’
Aunt Violet’s bedroom door opened and the woman marched outside.
‘Is this a party?’ she asked her niece and Uncle Digby.
‘I’m trying to find the children,’ said Lady Clarissa.
‘Don’t worry. They’re probably playing hide-and-seek or some such nonsense.’
Lady Clarissa didn’t look convinced. ‘It’s far too quiet for my liking.’
The three adults walked down to the kitchen.
‘Did you find them, dear?’ Mrs Dent asked. Lady Clarissa shook her head.
The front door banged.
Mrs Dent breathed a sigh of relief. ‘There you go. They must have been in the garden.’
‘Granny, Granny!’ Della’s voice rang through the house. The child raced into the kitchen.
‘What’s the matter?’ Mrs Dent asked.
‘Freddy and Clementine went to find the seal and now they’re stuck,’ the child blurted.
Aunt Violet pursed her lips. ‘What seal?’
‘Della, what nonsense are you talking about this time? Have you done something to your brother again?’ Mrs Dent frowned.
Della shook her head. ‘I promise, Granny, it’s true. I’m not making it up.’
Uncle Digby nodded. ‘The children did tell me they’d found a cave yesterday.’
‘And now the tide’s coming in and they’re stuck on the tiny beach,’ insisted Della.
Lady Clarissa caught her breath. ‘What do you mean they’re stuck?’
‘The water’s coming into the channel and Clementine is too small to jump the rocks and she’s got Lavender too,’ Della blurted.
‘Oh, goodness. Come on, Della. Show me,’ said Lady Clarissa hurriedly.
‘What about some rope?’ Aunt Violet suggested. ‘Just in case.’
Lady Clarissa stopped. ‘That’s a great idea, Aunt Violet.’
Mrs Dent rushed off down the hallway to the utility room, and returned with a tightly wound length of rope. She threw the bundle to Clarissa.
‘Okay, let’s go,’ Lady Clarissa said.
Della took off, with Lady Clarissa, Aunt Violet, Uncle Digby and Mrs Dent in pursuit.
Lady Clarissa shouted over her shoulder, ‘Uncle Digby, please don’t rush.’
‘Yes, don’t overdo it, Pertwhistle,’ said Aunt Violet. ‘We don’t need you having another trip to the hospital.’
A few minutes later, Lady Clarissa and Della reached the rock shelf. The surf was much bigger than the day before and every couple of minutes a shower sprayed over the ledge.
‘Mummy!’ Clementine shouted.
‘Oh, darling, I’m here,’ Lady Clarissa called back. She looked at the little channel, which was getting deeper by the second.
Uncle Digby and the others arrived just as Lady Clarissa was tying the rope securely around her middle.
‘Take this.’ She handed the end to Uncle Digby.
‘Oh, do be careful, Clarissa,’ said Aunt Violet, her voice fluttering.
‘I think we should all hold on,’ Uncle Digby said.
Mrs Dent wrapped her hands around Uncle Digby’s waist and Aunt Violet did the same to Mrs Dent. The three of them formed an anchor.
Lady Clarissa stepped down onto the rocks. Water swirled around her feet and she waded into the rushing tide.
‘Come as close as you can, sweetheart, and I’ll take Lavender first,’ Lady Clarissa directed.
Clementine did as she was told and within a minute Lavender was safely on the other side in Della’s arms.
‘Come on, darling, you’re next,’ Clarissa urged Clementine towards her. ‘Stay there, Freddy. I’ll be back for you in a minute.’
‘I’m okay,’ Freddy called.
Clementine turned and looked at her friend.
‘Go on,’ he said. ‘You’ll be all right.’
Clementine reached out towards her mother. Lady Clarissa grabbed Clementine’s hand and hauled her across the swirling water. She hugged the child tight.
‘I’m sorry, Mummy, I’m sorry,’ Clementine sobbed.
Clarissa passed her to Uncle Digby before wading in for the third time. She reached out and grabbed Freddy’s hands. Together they scrambled up the rocks to safety.
‘Goodness me, whatever were you thinking coming out here on your own?’ Aunt Violet admonished the pair.
‘I’m just glad you’re safe,’ Mrs Dent said, giving Freddy a hug.
‘We would have been okay,’ said Freddy. ‘It might have been a bit scary in the dark, that’s all.’
‘Well, you’re lucky Della found you,’ Mrs Dent said. ‘If that’s what really happened.’
Della looked sheepish.
‘Della?’ Mrs Dent’s tone was not to be messed with.
‘It’s my fault,’ Della said, a tear rolling down her cheek.
Freddy and Clementine looked at each other in surprise.
‘I said that Freddy and Clementine were babies because they wouldn’t take me to see the seal and so I went on my own. But I was too scared. I went to the village instead and then I came to look at the rock pools,’ Della said, sniffling.
Lady Clarissa looked at Freddy and Clementine. ‘But why did you come here, if you’d already told Della you wouldn’t?’
‘Because Lavender escaped and we thought she’d followed Della to the cave,’ Clementine explained.
Mrs Dent looked at her granddaughter, a swell of disappointment rising in her chest. ‘Did you let Lavender out on purpose?’
‘No, Granny. I promise I didn’t. I thought I pulled the door shut. But I remember I left the gate open,’ Della sniffed. ‘I’m sorry. I really am. I love Freddy. He’s my brother.’
Aunt Violet looked at Freddy and winked. ‘Well, young man, I bet that’s not something you hear every day.’
‘Did you really find a seal yesterday?’ Uncle Digby asked, breaking the tension.
Clementine nodded. She brushed the tears from her eyes and glanced back towards the cave.
As the group had been talking, the tide had risen much higher. Water was now rushing in and out of the little cave.
‘Look,’ Clementine cried out. ‘There it is!’
find a seal!’ Della said, her face crumpling into a smile.
The group was amazed to see a little seal bobbing up and down right in front of them. He swam into the cave and shot back out again as fast as a bullet. Then he rolled over and raised his flipper in the air.
Clementine grinned. ‘Did that seal just wave at us?’
‘I think he did, Clemmie,’ Uncle Digby nodded. ‘I think he did.’
The Appleby household
Clementine Rose Appleby
Five-year-old daughter of Lady Clarissa
Clemmie’s teacup pig
Lady Clarissa Appleby
Clementine’s mother and the owner of Penberthy House
Butler at Penberthy House
Aunt Violet Appleby
Clementine’s grandfather’s sister
Aunt Violet’s beloved sphynx cat
Mrs Rosamund Dent
Owner of the Endersley-on-Sea guesthouse
Mrs Dent’s granddaughter
Mrs Dent’s grandson
A new friend
A new friend
A new friend
Jacqueline Harvey taught for many years in girls’ boarding schools. She is the author of the bestselling Alice-Miranda series and the Clementine Rose series, and was awarded Honour Book in the 2006 Australian CBC Awards for her picture book
The Sound of the Sea
. She now writes full-time and is working on more Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose adventures.
Books by Jacqueline Harvey
Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor
Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster
Clementine Rose and the Perfect Present
Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco
Alice-Miranda at School
Alice-Miranda on Holiday
Alice-Miranda Takes the Lead
Alice-Miranda at Sea
Alice-Miranda in New York
Alice-Miranda Shows the Way
Alice-Miranda in Paris
Alice-Miranda Shines Bright
Alice-Miranda in Japan