Marvelous four in and.., p.8
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       Marvelous Four - In and Out of Danger Zone!, p.8

           James Prakash J. C.
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  Chapter 8

  Off to meet Sumit

  Leading a fine dance isn’t as easy as it seems when you read it here. Though the three children talked and laughed about it a minute ago, they couldn’t help feeling a little nervous about it as they took their places behind the bushes. They felt it would be serious if the two men caught them.

  Katrina was the one to “give off the first rustle”, and she had some difficulty in doing so. Though she was a plucky girl, just now she was so nervous just then that she just couldn’t rustle the bushes. Katrina “rustled” the bush when the men were almost out of hearing, and then darted up a tree at once before the foreigners could turn around.

  “What was that, Pip?” asked one of the men, stopping. “Don’t know,” answered Pip (that was the other man), indifferently.

  “Maybe it’s a rabbit or two. Let them rustle the bushes as much as they like, Bill. We’ve more important business to attend to, than that.”

  “I just wondered if that girl called…called…what was her name?” said Bill.

  “Prairie, no… Priya,” responded Pip, obligingly.

  “Yes, Prairie…” said Bill.

  “Priya,” corrected Pip.

  “Oh yes, Prairie…I mean Priya,” said Bill, seeing Pip’s mouth open again to correct him. “So, I just wondered if Priya has somehow escaped, I just feel it in my bones.”

  “You and your bones,” said Pip, scornfully. “How can Prairie…”

  “Priya,” said Bill, delighted to have the chance to correct Pip.

  “Of course, I mean Priya,” said Pip, annoyed at finding himself corrected. “So, how can Priya walk through a locked door?”

  “Somehow,” said Bill, racking his brains to think of a way to walk through a locked door.

  Just then Harshit rustled his bush and darted away. Both of the men looked around just in time to see Harshit's feet disappear around a rock. “Gosh!” exclaimed Pip, “If that wasn’t Priya! Your bones were right this time, Bill!”

  The two men darted towards the rock, and Harshit found himself in hot water! Priya racked her brains as to how to save her friend and to Katrina astonishment, Priya stood up from her bush, boldly, thus diverting the men’s attention.

  “There’s Priya!” shouted Bill, and Priya took to her heels, giggling. For it all seemed like a silly game of “catch ‘em catch”.

  Katrina jumped down from her tree and Harshit appeared round the rock. But the men were so interested in catching Priya that they didn’t notice Harshit and Katrina.

  Priya was heading for the hut by the helicopter. So Harshit and Katrina made for the hut too, making a wide semi-circle so as not to bump into the men on the way. Somehow, Harshit and Katrina reached the hut before Priya. Harshit turned the key and left the door wide open. Then they hurried to hide as Priya appeared followed by the two men.

  Till now, Priya had run in a straight line, and the men expected her to continue doing so. But as Priya reached the edge of the clearing, she suddenly turned off to the left. To the men, it seemed as if Priya had suddenly vanished. They didn’t know that Priya was crouching behind a bush not far from them.

  The two foreigners came into the clearing and saw the door of the hut wide open. They thought Priya had gone into the hut to hide.

  “Good!” said Pip, grinning. “Now we can lock her right in!”

  They went to the empty hut, in a very good spirits. Priya followed them just behind, making no sound, and the men didn’t notice her. They went into the hut, meaning to crow over Priya that they had got her nicely, but a surprised look came into their faces as they saw the empty room.

  “Where’s she?” asked Bill, and before the men knew what was up there was a click. Priya, who was standing outside, had locked them in (nicely).

  “Hurrah!” shouted Harshit and Katrina, coming out of their hiding places. Priya grinned as the other two shook hands with her.

  “You did it superbly,” remarked Harshit.

  Bang! Bang! Bang! The men were trying to break down the door.

  “Let us out!” shouted the men angrily. Bang! Thud! Thud! BANG!

  The children laughed.

  “It’s time we went to meet Sumit,” said Katrina looking at the sun.

  “Right!” agreed Harshit. “Who’s Sumit?” asked Priya and the others explained. Soon they were at the river and were walking along, talking and laughing. They soon came to where Harshit and Katrina had put the raft. They launched it into the water and everyone got in. Everyone rowed by turns, talking all the time.

  On the way, Priya told the others about her own past life. “I was a tribal girl in south India,” she said.

  “Which state?” asked Harshit.

  “In Idukki area, Kerala,” answered Priya.

  “I and Sumit are from Karnataka,” said Katrina.

  “Go on, Priya,” said Harshit.

  “Well,” continued Priya, “so, I was a tribal girl. My parents died a year ago; not together. Father died first, by falling off a cliff, and then mother died of despair and grief (“Poor Priya,” said Katrina). So I just lived alone, eating fruits from trees, and sometimes people gave me something to eat. My parents were poor you see, so they hadn’t leave any money for me.”

  “If that’s so, why did the men kidnap you?” asked Harshit.

  “It was because, one day,” said Priya, “I stumbled on their secret.”

  “What was their secret?”

  “They were gun-running.”

  “In Idukki?” asked Katrina opening her eyes wide.

  “Well, Idukki was a sort of storeroom for them,” explained Priya, “they were gun-running for some foreign country, Nisch-Hun (Nisch-Hun isn’t a country it was a terrorist group, but Priya didn’t know that) or something like that. (Here Harshit and Katrina exchanged glances) So when they found out that I knew their secret, they captured me.”

  “Oh I see!” chorused Harshit and Katrina.

  “They had an another secret,” said Priya, “they knew there was some old-old treasure somewhere here, so they came here and brought me along, meaning to leave me here after they had found the treasure, and after they had blocked up the secret entrance. They wanted to block it up so that I would be trapped inside.”

  “Beasts!” exclaimed Katrina. “I’m glad we locked them up in that hut.”

  “They also wanted to store some of their weapons here,” added Priya.

  Little did the children knew that the men had broken the door down, and were at that very moment looking for Priya.

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