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Authors: Mike Crowl,Celia Crowl

Mumbersons and The Blood Secret, The (10 page)

BOOK: Mumbersons and The Blood Secret, The
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‘Wait till I see her!’ shouted Mr Mumberson. ‘In fact, I’ll go there right now and give her a piece of my mind.’

 

‘Calm down,’ said his wife. ‘The things weren’t yours to sell in the first place.’

 

‘Of course they were mine. That...
witch...
never paid us a cent for twenty years of work - of slavery! They were my due wages.’

 

Mr Adiblo began to shake again. ‘What did you call her...?’ he asked quietly.

 

‘The witch. Grimhilda!’

 

‘But Ms Nordal said - she said she was her
sister.

 

Mrs Mumberson crumpled onto the couch. Mr Mumberson’s eyes opened much wider than they’d managed to do for several years.

 

It all became clear to Billy. Before he could open his mouth, however, Olivia beat him to it. ‘Venska’s a witch! And so are her twelve sisters!’ The Mumbersons stared at her. ‘That’s why the window was repaired so easily,’ she said to Jerry. ‘They did it by magic.’ She turned to Billy. ‘That’s how they made themselves a feast without doing any work.’

 

‘For the last time, Olivia,’ said Jerry, banging his fist on the wall, ‘there is no such thing as magic!’

 

‘Look!’ she said, not at all worried by his fury. She took out the pouch, opened it, and showed him the sliver of glass. ‘We found this in the Sick Bay. It’s a piece of the window I broke. They missed it when they cleared up.’

 

‘I told you not to go near the Factory!’

 

Billy had never seen him so angry. ‘I’m sorry, Dad...’ he began to say, but Olivia again interrupted, ‘This is
proof
!’

 

Jerry snorted. ‘That could be anything. How do you know it belongs to the window in the room? It could have come from anywhere.’

 

‘Dad, listen,’ said Billy. He pulled his father to an armchair, made him sit down. ‘You need to hear what happened this afternoon.’ As quickly and clearly as he could, told him what they’d seen and heard. Jerry kept interrupting, until his mother told him to shut up and listen.

 

‘You should believe your son, Gerard,’ she said.

 

‘I’ve worked in the Factory for several years,’ said Jerry. ‘It’s like any other business. Everything’s normal. Nothing’s changed since The Triple W Sisters took over.’

 

‘Except restructuring,’ said Mrs Mumberson.

 

‘All right, except restructuring. But they get the job done. And there are only three Sisters, Olivia, not
thirteen.

 

‘If they’re not sisters, Dad, they must be cousins. We saw them. They all look the same.’

 

‘Perhaps they only talk about themselves as
sisters
, said Mrs Mumberson. She sat with her arms wrapped tight around herself. ‘Didn’t Grimhilda go on about her sisters all the time?’ she asked her husband. ‘Didn’t they despise her?’

 

He was thinking about something else. ‘What does the W stand for in Triple W, Jerry?’

 

‘The Triple Which Sisters,’ Jerry answered. ‘It’s their company name.’

 

‘Triple Witch?’ asked Mrs Mumberson, spelling it out: ‘W...i...t...c...h?’

 

‘Of course not.
Which
. Like, which way to the police station.’

 

‘You don’t think they’re going to open the mine again,’ said Mrs Mumberson, to her husband. ‘You don’t think they’ll kidnap us all over again, do you?’ She burst into tears.

 

Mr Mumberson hadn’t seen her cry since the day they’d arrived at Grimhilda’s mine, twenty years ago. And then it was only for a few moments. She’d refused to let Grimhilda know how she felt. He sat down beside her and took her hand. ‘Whatever they’re up to, I don’t think they’re going to open Grimhilda’s mine again.’

 

Billy remembered something. ‘One of them said it was only...’

 

‘Only a little time before the T,’ interrupted Olivia. ‘Did she mean before they had afternoon tea?’

 

‘Of course not!’ said Billy. ‘It was much more important than that. Don’t you remember, the plump one said
in one or two days we’ll have it back...’

 


And no one can take it away again
!’ finished Olivia. ‘I remember. It wasn’t
the
T, it was a word that started with T. It sounded like she was going to say something like...
treadle.
Then she stopped.’

 

‘It wasn’t
treadle
,’ said Billy. ‘We don’t know what she was going to say. It might have been
trees
for all we know.’

 

‘She wasn’t going to say
trees
. It was
trend...
or
treble...
or
tremble...
or...
Treasure
!’ Billy said the word at the same time.

 

The four adults repeated it. It was as if the word had escaped into the air and they were all trying to catch it.

 

‘Rubbish,’ said Jerry. ‘
Treasure
. There’s no treasure at the Factory anymore. All the valuable paintings and antiques and silverware were sold off years ago. Before the mansion was turned into the Factory.’

 

‘The Triple
Witch
Sisters,’ whispered Olivia.

 

‘Who did they take the business over from, Gerard?’ asked his mother, who’d now stopped crying, after wiping her eyes with her apron.

 

‘The grandson of the man who used to own the old Mansion. He was good too. Best boss I’ve ever had. Built the business up from nothing. Put the Extension on because things were doing so well.’

 

‘Why did he sell up then?’ asked his father.

 

‘Don’t know. Came out of the blue. One day he was our boss. Next day he gets everyone together in the Town Hall - there was a lot of us by then - said he’d been made an offer he couldn’t refuse. He was going on a long holiday. Next day the Which Sisters changed all the signs and logos. And the locks. Apart from having different bosses, nothing else changed. But the company’s expanded even further.’

 

‘So why were they talking about treasure?’ asked Olivia. She was like a dog with a bone.

 

‘I told you,’ said Jerry. ‘There’s no treasure anymore. You don’t know what they were talking about.’ He gave an exasperated sigh. ‘Why don’t you take your smelly mutt home. Leave us to sort it out!’

 

‘Gerard!’ said Mrs Mumberson. She put her arms out to Olivia. ‘Come here. It’s all right. He’s a permanent grump.’ Mrs Mumberson wrapped Olivia in a hug. ‘Forget about the treasure, Olivia. It won’t make you happy.’

 

But Billy could see Olivia wouldn’t be happy until she knew whether there
was
treasure. If necessary she’d ask the Which Sisters about it face to face.

 

Mr Adiblo hadn’t said anything for a long time. He edged towards the lounge door. ‘I’ll take my leave now. If you’ll excuse me.’ His forehead was covered in sweat and he was wriggling inside his steel grey suit.

 

Mumberson was about to ask him what he was going to do about the diamonds when his wife said, ‘Mumberson!’ so severely he stopped with his mouth still open.

 

And then they heard a police siren heading up the street. And then it stopped outside their house. A few moments later the front door shook under three loud knocks. Billy looked out the bay window and saw two policeman standing on the front door steps. One very large one, and one very skinny one.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10 - Arrested!

 

Olivia pushed past Billy at the window to have a look, but everyone else in the room stood still, waiting. Jerry wondered what the police were doing at
his
house; he’d never done anything wrong. Unless it was something to do with Madeleine. Adiblo hid himself behind the lounge door, hoping everyone would forget about him. Mrs Mumberson fiddled nervously with her apron, but Mr Mumberson was as stiff as a statue, except when his eyes flickered as Billy ran to the front door to open it.

 

The tall policeman towered over Billy, and his muscles bulged through his jacket. The other man, who was almost hidden behind him, wore a uniform that looked as though it belonged to someone two sizes bigger. In spite of their moustaches and their dark glasses and their peaked policemen’s caps, both of them looked familiar. Too familiar.

 

Jerry came to the door. ‘What’s up, officers?’

 

The thin man poked his head around the big man, who stood like a large rock in the doorway, and said, ‘We have reason to believe a Mr Mumberson is staying here.’

 

‘I’m Jerry Mumberson, and I
live
here.’

 

‘You’re not the man we’re looking for. He’s an older man, rather scruffy looking.’

 

Billy pulled at his father’s sleeve, trying to get his attention. ‘Dad.’ Jerry ignored him.

 

The thin policeman added, ‘We need to take him to the station to question him about some missing diamonds. Possibly stolen.’

 

Mr Mumberson came to life. He marched out into the hall and pushed past Jerry at the front door. ‘That’s right.
My
diamonds. Which have been stolen off
me
! I’m happy to come along and give you the information.’

 

Billy said, ‘Grandad! I don’t think they...’ but his grandfather bulldozed his way past the large policeman and headed towards the police car. The large policeman followed him, and opened the door for him to get in.

 

‘Come back here, Mumberson!’ shouted his wife, banging on the bay window. He ignored her. She rushed out into the hall. ‘Jerry, make him come back.’

 

Stevedore, who’d come out to see what was going on, began to bark at anyone who moved,, especially Mr Adiblo, who’d snuck out from behind the lounge door and was trying to see if there was a back entrance he could escape through.

 

‘Ah, Mr Adiblo,’ said the thin policeman, spying the little man. ‘How convenient. We’d like you to come as well, to help us with our enquiries.’

 

‘Me?’ said the jeweller, shaking almost uncontrollably.

 

The policeman nodded. ‘We believe you may be able to confirm Mr Mumberson’s story.’

 

Before Mr Adiblo could say another word the large policeman, who’d come back to the front door, pushed past Jerry, walked into the hall and grabbed Adiblo firmly. ‘Come on, you.’ He hauled him down the steps - Adiblo’s feet barely touching the ground - and threw him into the car.

 

‘Dad!’ said Billy, ‘They’re not real policemen.’

 

‘Don’t be stupid, Billy.’

 

‘Mr Mumberson,’ said Olivia, ‘they’re...’

 

‘Give it a break, Olivia.’ Jerry turned to his mother. ‘I’m going along with Dad. Can’t leave him to deal with this on his own. He’s bound to muck it up somehow.’ He told the skinny policeman, ‘I’m coming too.’

The policeman gave a warped grin and said, ‘As you wish, Mr Mumberson.’ The large policeman, who’d come back for a third time, took Jerry by the arm and thrust him headfirst into the car. ‘Watch out!’ yelled Jerry.

 

Within seconds they drove off.

 

Mrs Mumberson was aghast. ‘Billy, what on earth’s going on? Are they arresting them all?’

 

‘Grandma, they’re not policemen. They’re the ones who tried to take blood off me at the Factory yesterday. We have to follow them. We’ll go in Dad’s car.’

 

‘I haven’t driven for twenty years, Billy. I don’t know if I can remember how.’

 

‘Come on, Mrs Mumberson,’ said Olivia, pulling her by the arm.

 

Mrs Mumberson insisted on putting her coat on. ‘You need coats too!’ she said to the children.

 

‘Haven’t got time, Grandma!’ said Billy. He grabbed the spare car key hanging up in the kitchen. ‘We’ll lose them if we don’t hurry.’ They raced out of the house, banging the front door behind them, and scrambled into the car. Mrs Mumberson got in the driver’s seat. ‘It’s automatic,’ she groaned. ‘I don’t know how to drive an automatic.’

 

‘I’ll show you,’ said Billy.

 

‘It’s easy, Mrs Mumberson,’ said Olivia, who’d got into the back with Stevedore. She leaned over to make sure Billy got things right.

 

‘Get your seat belt on,’ he said to her, and then to his grandmother, ‘Key goes in here. Start it up. Foot on the brake. Gear into reverse.’ His grandmother juddered out of the driveway, and swung around so that she was facing downhill, the way the police car had gone.

 

‘You drive, Mrs Mumberson,’ said Olivia, ‘I’ll watch where they’re going.’

 

‘Yes, dear.’ Near the end of the street they could see the police car turning towards the town centre.

 

Olivia leaned forward between Billy and his grandmother. ‘They’re not going to the police station!’ Stevedore gave a loud woof of agreement that made them all jump.

 

‘Of course they aren’t,’ said Billy. ‘They’re going to the Factory!’ He gave his grandmother precise instructions for a back street shortcut to the Factory. She gripped the wheel as though it might escape, but managed to do what Billy said.

 

‘Do you think it’s a good idea to go back to the Factory, Billy?’ asked Olivia. Billy thought she sounded a tad anxious.

 

‘I don’t think we have a choice.’

 

‘What do you mean, Olivia?’ asked Mrs Mumberson.

 

Olivia, who still hadn’t put her seatbelt on, shouted, ‘Hurry!’ in Mrs Mumberson’s ear, and didn’t answer her question.

 

‘I’m going as fast as I can!’ Nevertheless, she gave the accelerator a push and the car shot forward. ‘That’s more like it!’

 

On the main road down below them, they could see the police car driving up Habitation Hill past the cable car tracks, scattering skateboarders in every direction.

 

By using Billy’s shortcut they reached the Factory gates almost at the same time as the police car. ‘Don’t get
too
close, Grandma,’ said Billy. ‘We don’t want them to see us.’

BOOK: Mumbersons and The Blood Secret, The
11.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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