Ruby Steele

USD 24,99

Format: 13.5 x 21.5 cm
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-3-99064-305-1
Release Date: 24.08.2018
An epic adventure to find The Great Gert leads to meeting the legendary Ninn, encounters with many threatening creatures including the Wild Smeaks and a greater danger from the The Halh, the land beyond the Great Estate. Will the friends ever make it home?
Chapter 1


“Everyone’s worried, you know!”

“Are they? Why?”

“Well, take today. It’s another grey dreary day in this long, long winter. Surely you’ve noticed! It seems that no one can remember it starting, and people are wondering when it’s going to end. It just is, all the time!”

“I’ve never really thought of it! How do you know people are worried?”

“I heard the parents’ say!”

“Ooooh, right!” and with his sister’s acceptance of his observations on the weather,Whonose continued to set the pace towards the home of their friend, Penn Maegwyth.

They found her sitting on her favourite bench by the side of the pond, looking quite glum. She blew a sigh and tutted, as she observed that the sky was grey again; the pond was grey and her mood was grey. Even the grass and trees and reeds and, and, well everything looked grey.

She wouldn’t have minded a little bit of sun. That was nice and warming and yellow. She had even fancied some snow and ice. That was clean, and clear, and sharp. Tingly to the skin. Crisp and skaty. Yes, she thought. Skaty. That was the best way to describe that sort of cold weather.

For a moment she let her head rest on her right hand, and her mind wandered to those winters when she and her friends had skated, slipped and slithered across the pond’s surface because it was so thick with ice. They had made snowbops at the edge of the bushes and danced round them. They had eaten hot roasted nuts and potatoes, and at the end of the day, had sat round a big fire, singing pond songs, woodbyes and elvinlodes.

“Hmm,” she thought, “when will this long winter be over? There have been no signs to look for. No snowdrops, no catkins, not even a, well, a … oh, I don’t know. Just well…”

Penn didn’t know how long she had been sitting there, when her reverie was disturbed by the chatter of her two friends, Whonose, and his sister, Whome. The brother and sister were called Whonose and Whome because everytime Whonose was asked a question, he always replied, “Who knows!” – and everytime Whome was asked to do something, she always replied “Who – me?”

“Hello there, Penn Maegwyth. By the sneg, whatever is the matter? You look so down-in-the-dumps, for a moment there, we didn’t recognise you.” It was true. Penn, who was always bright and bubbly, didn’t look at all her usual self.

A young Grown-Up, she was very slender in build, but not very tall. Her pale olive-coloured skin normally had a fine sheen to it. She had silvery-blond hair that usually hung long and straight, framing an oval face, and large round hazel-coloured eyes that peered from under a small fringe. Although in appearance she looked as delicate as moonbeams, in actual fact, she was quite robust and energetic. But today, her hair was straggly, her shoulders sagged, and even her skin seemed dullish. There was a general air of saddness about her.

“Oh dear! It’s just … well … it’s this weather. Isn’t it getting you down as well? It has been such a dreary, dull winter – and it seems to have been going on forever and ever. I’ve quite given up of the spring ever arriving. Haven’t you?”

“I must say,” said Whonose, “that you’ve got a point there. Only the other day, Mother was wittering on to Father about the state of the home, and how the better weather had best come soon so that she could start some spring cleaning.”

“Yes,” piped up Whome, “and then she said that I’d need to start and sort out our rooms – and bundle up all the books and toys that we don’t want any more – to send to the spring jumble sale. And then I said, ‘Who me?’ and she said. ‘Yes, dear – you, because you are so much more organised than your brother,’ and I said, ‘well, that’s jolly well unfair. He should learn to be more organised and then we could each do our own rooms.’ Huh!” and she stopped and took in a deep breath.

“Who knows,” said Whonose, “maybe I might, because I don’t want you messing around in my room just in case you throw out things I want.” He paused for a moment, and then added, “And might need!”

Brother and sister were similar in looks. Two years older than Whome, Whonose was of medium height and stocky in build. He had a round face, with regular features, and a youthful complexion. Large roundy ears were hidden by a shock of unruly wiry ginger hair which sprang from his head and curled down his back, and which he sometimes had difficulty in controlling. Whome was about the same height as her brother, but chubbier in build. Alike in features, with amber-flecked eyes that looked out from under ginger lashes. Her soft curly hair was brownish in colour and streaked with copper and gold lights, and she wore it either in a ponytail, a large hairclip, or bunched at the nape of her neck.

They were just about to start bickering between each other, as brothers and sisters do, when Penn said,

“Oh, stop it you two! I’m fed up, aren’t you?”
“Well, now you come to mention it – yes, we are,” Whonose and Whome replied in unison. “What do you suggest we do about it then?”
“I don’t know,” replied Penn. “We need an idea.”

“An adventure is what you needs,” said a rather deep voice, coming from behind the bench upon which Penn sat. “A fine adventure, with lots of thrills, and singings, and all goings-together, that’s what you needs. I knows, for when I was a Growing-up, I wents on an adventure, and it was fine!”

All three turned and looked behind them. Leaning on his stick, looking for all the world like a character from an Elvin-tale, was Bo Bodkin, the Bodling.

“Oh, Bo!” said Penn.
“Ho there, Bo Bodkin.” said Whonose, “don’t just stand there, come and tell us more about this fine adventure. Anyway, what were you doing standing there? We didn’t see you amongst the reeds.”

“Contemplating,” replied Bo Bodkin.
“Contemplating what?” asked Penn.
“Oh – this and that. One thing or another. The whys and wherefores. The ins and outs. The comings and goings. You know. All those sorts of things that a chap does when he has nothing else to do”

Bo Bodkin was old, very old. His skin had grown wrinkly with age. His limbs had become stiff with the cold and damp of numerous winters. His ears drooped a little at their pointed ends. His hair was quite thin and straggly, and his nose was always cold. Although his hearing could be better, he was still very bright and alert for his years. He moved stiffly, with the aid of his stick, and shuffled over towards the bench, where the chums waited expectantly.

Their interest aroused, Penn said, “Instead of us sitting out here, why don’t we all go to my house, and I’ll make some tea, and I’ve got some lovely raspberry muffkins that I made this morning. We can sit by the fire and listen to Bo tell his tale.” They all made their way to Penn’s little home that lay nestling at the foot of a great willow tree, whose roots ran right down into the water’s edge of the pond.

It wasn’t a large pond, as pond sizes go. But it was a big enough expanse of water for the people of the village of Frot Obin, which bordered its south-west shore, to consider it worthy of respect, and to treat it so, during it various moods, depending upon the season and the weather.

The Pond was at the end of the valley, through which a stream rippled and splashed over mossed boulders and under hanging ferns, tumbling down into the pond at the bottom, before it carried on meandering down to the pebbly beach by the Mem of Jell. All this was down in the south-eastern section of The Great Estate, but as far as Penn and her friends were concerned, this little area where they lived was their whole world. They were unaware of the vast stretches beyond. They were names to be talked about. But that was all.

Situated on the outskirts of Frot Obin, Penn’s house was small and comfortable, and very welcoming. All four of them plodded up her small path to the front door. Normally in the spring, the water’s edge was bordered by small water buttercups, marsh marigolds, dwarf iris and lots of other colourful plants; but today it was empty of flowers. She opened the door and they all entered her little sitting room. It was homely; furnished with rush matting on the floor and an acorn fire in the corner. To the right was a door which led to her bedroom, and off to the left a little alcove through which the two friends and Bo could see a neat little kitchen, from which there soon wafted a lovely smell of warm muffkins and tea

They all sat down, with Penn, Whonose and Whome facing Bo Bodkin.
“Let me drinks my tea and have one of these delicious muffkins, and then I’ll tells you about my fine adventure.”

All three sat patiently munching their muffkins, with anticipation building up inside them, until their faces and eyes were flushed and bright, and little smiles crept up the corners of their mouths. Was it excitement, or the warmth from the fire? Who knows?

“Well, my little friends,” Bo started, “it all happened a long, long time ago, when I was justs a little Bodling. The Valley is having a very bad winters, and all the folks round here is very worried about iffen the spring is not coming. A little bit like now, iffen you know what I means.

“At that time there was a wise man, who lived up at the Great Oak higher up in the valley, and the folks all went to see him, for his wisdom, and to tell us iffen when the better weather was coming. We all crowded round his door and asked iffen he would talk to us. When at last he came out of his house, he walked round and round, then round and round again, then round and round again, his head moving from side to side, and he was muttering to himself. Suddenly he stopped rounding, looked straight at the crowd and said, “You must ask The Great Gert – that is all I can tell you.” He then turned round again, and went back into his house and shut the door.

“Well! You can imagine – no, probably you can’t – just what the effect that had on us all. THE GREAT GERT!”
“The Great Gert,” all three cried in unison.
“Yes,” replied Bo, “The Great Gert.”
“Yes, we know. But who is The Great Gert?” asked Whome.
“More like, what is The Great Gert?” queried Whonose.

“You mean, you have never heard of The Great Gert? Never?”
“No … never!” they answered.

“Oh, well. Well, then … Ummm,” Bo went silent for a little while, and all three could see from the expressions flitting across his wizened little face that he was thinking hard

“The Great Gert is a Very Special who lives in a place called Ull, a long, long way from here, right at the far end of The Great Estate. All the Specials come from there. Or, at least, used to. It is a very, very, long time since anyone has spoken, or heard of, The Great Gert. All the folks that went on the great adventure is long time to Goneby, and I is the only one left. Iffen I rethink right, the Specials don’t go to Goneby, that’s why they is Specials. You must have been told of them by your parents. All parents tell their children stories about The Specials.”

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