One night the Sneaky Spy was climbing into his bed, and wondered, "What if Jenny Winters did marry me? Am I ready for that? Is Jenny? I wonder how it would all turn out."
Percy lay in bed, and with these thoughts turning in his mind, he entered the realm of the sandman.
Percy dreamt that he had just completed another of his Sneaky Spy assignments.
"And now that we have finished with that collection of naughty ones," said the
Sneaky Spy, as Jennifer Winters drove Percy Dale back to his residence at 66
Burnseid Street Wahroonga, "I should think that your cousin Laura can rest easy
knowing that her Art and Antiques shop is unlikely to be burgled again, in the
near future, at any rate."
"Percy, is there any chance that you would ever fall in love with Laura?" asked
"No chance at all," replied the Sneaky Spy, "because I have fallen in love with
"Could you ever fall in love with anybody else?"
"But you might meet somebody else whom you may like a lot."
"Jenny, it still would not mean anything. Such a girl would be merely a close
friend, and that's all. It's impossible for me to fall OUT of love with you."
"Are you sure?"
"Jenny, of course I'm sure. Are you asking me all this, because you want to find
me somebody else, because you have fallen in love with some other boy?"
"Oh Percy, no. Not at all," said Jenny, with a nervous tremour in her voice, "I
was asking you because I wanted to be sure that we would never split up."
"Well I don't ever want us to split up, Jenny. Nothing could make me more
unhappy than having to leave you, and I never will, unless you decided that you
didn't want me anymore."
"Percy don't worry. I'll always want you. I'll go home to my house tonight
thinking that I am glad that there are only three suburbs between my house and
"People in love have lived further apart," said the Sneaky Spy, "but yes, I'm glad
too, that we are fortunate enough to live so close to each other, only three suburbs
"But what if it wasn't three suburbs?" asked Jenny, with a mysterious tone in her
"Don't worry. You can stay in Pymble. There's no reason for us to be driven
"No Percy, I mean, what if it was less than three suburbs?"
"Are you thinking of moving house?"
"Well sort of. It would depend on what you thought of my idea."
"Well how much less than three suburbs apart do you want us to be then?" asked
the Sneaky Spy.
"How about three suburbs less than three suburbs?" said Jenny with the faint trace
of a smile forming on her pink lips.
"You mean you want to move to Wahroonga," said the Sneaky Spy, "but where?
I don't think you would get back your childhood address in Burns Road."
"I don't want to move back there," said Jenny.
"But why not?" asked Percy, as Jennifer Winters turned into a long gravel driveway
of Ordinairy Man Manor, "That was a nice house, and it still is, and it's right behind
this place. You could hardly get much closer, could you?"
Jenny did not answer him. She drove the car down the driveway and stopped just
before the loop at the end. She turned the key in the slot and removed it. She then
unbuckled her safety belt.
Percy Dale did the same.
Jenny leaned towards him and put her arms around his shoulders and gently stroked
his hair, and then massaged his neck. They leaned towards each other, and Jenny
waited until they were comfortably seated, cuddling close together, but with about
three inches between their faces.
She glanced out at the garden and the fence beyond it. The fence was actually the
back fence of of the house at number 68 Burnseid Street, because of the
extraordinairy large size of Percy's own block of land.
Percy began to think. Why had Jenny stopped the car? She usually drove clockwise
around the loop before stopping the car. Having done that she would then either
say farewell to Percy until the next time, or come into the house for a while and
and then go. Why had she stopped in this unusual parking place tonight?
Was Jenny actually leading up to admitting that she did want to break up their
romance and see another boy instead?
Percy sat there thinking, while Jenny glanced briefly out into the bushes.
"Percy," said Jenny at last, "You are a very nice boy, and a very clever and capable
Sneaky Spy, but at the moment you are being very silly. I don't want to live in the
house behind this one. I want to live in this house. I want to be sure that you'll
always love me, Percy, and I would like very much to be your wife."
"And I thought that you were trying to find a polite way to say... Oh, never mind
what I thought."
"Then you may ask me."
"Jennifer Winters, will you marry me?" said the Sneaky Spy.
"Why, I would be very happy to marry you, Percy," said Jenny.
"Oh, I ... don't have a ring for you at the moment."
"That doesn't matter," said Jenny, "How long shall we be engaged?"
"Well we've known each other for a long time. Why don't we get married a month
from now, approximately?" said Percy.
"Percy, my dreams could not make me as happy as this moment has done!" said
Jenny, unaware that she was merely a part of Percy's dream.
"Well soon you'll be Mrs Jennifer Dale, and I'll be a very happy boy."
"I don't know a girl who could be happier than I am either," said Jenny.
"Well for the next month, I think you'd best be off to Pymble at the end of our
nights together," said Percy.
"I think that I can cope with that," said Jenny, "I'll see you soon then."
Percy had soon purchased an engagement ring, and then the wedding ring itself.
He bought them both on the same day, but would be saving the wedding ring
until the day of their wedding, as was the customary thing to do.
Percy and Jenny issued several wedding invitations, firstly to Frederick Hailstrum, Brin Decembar and Alfie Henchkins (a lad from the country who had been
rescued from some thugs by Percy, Freddy and the late Donna Connolly). The
second batch of invitations went to Canton Algor, Kyair, Madam Swiftrix,
Mysterialla, Harlequin Harry, Jester Junior, Tall Stella, William Charters and
Tanya Lane. The third batch went to Laura Winters, Freddy's wife Andrea Hailstrum
who was also Brin Decembar's sister, Jenny's parents, Jacko, and Moreena
Jenny and Percy would soon be partners in matrimony.
The local church was happy to play host to the wedding guests, and Percy Dale,
a practicing christian, was even aware in this dream, of the full extent of the
biblical implications of the marriage. Jennifer Winters entered the church building
wearing a dark green dress which reached below her knees. Percy waited until she
was standing beside him, before observing that her hair was again in its perfect
blond ponytail beneath the wedding veil.
"I'm glad she chose not to change it," he thought, and the two of them exchanged
their vows and completed the ceremony. (Jenny was also a christian).
The reception was at Ordinairy Man Manor, and the speeches were made by Brin
Decembar and Laura Winters.
Brin spoke of Percy's adventures, his circus involvement, and the friendship that
was shared between Brin, Freddy and Percy in the early days of Percy's Sneaky
Laura spoke of Percy's first childhood meeting with Jenny, and the night of antics
between Percy, Jenny and Laura. She told the story of Percy's successful effort to
rescue Jenny from Smiling Island and reunite himself with her.
Ordinairy Man Manor was alive with excitement and happiness that day; and it
was eventually time for Percy's guests to depart, and a honeymoon would soon
Percy and Jenny had chosen to hire a yacht for two weeks and spend their
honeymoon on the Hawkesbury River, near Brooklyn. This would give Jenny a
chance to show Percy the river view of Laura's family's old house, as well as the
bushland wherein Laura and Jenny had survived the "Lure of the Lucky Stones."
They enjoyed their honeymoon and then returned to Ordinairy Man Manor.
Jenny had sold her house at Pymble, and was now a happy wedded resident at
Ordinairy Man Manor.
The Dale couple would often play host to Kyair, the lad from Venice, who
would visit them during the school holidays. One day Kyair had come around for
a visit on a sunday afternoon. Percy and Jenny were unable to entertain him,
because they had been called away to investigate an electrical problem at Laura's
shop. Percy would have no trouble repairing it.
Kyair had made a young Australian friend, and asked Percy's permission before
inviting the boy over to visit at Percy's house.
The sunday eventually came to an end, and Kyair and his friend were staying at
Ordinairy Man Manor for dinner.
"Well how did you boys get on?" asked the Sneaky Spy.
"I was exploring the rose garden. So I had an interesting day," said Kyair.
"And I was wondering if you would let me come here again on weekends
sometimes," said the other boy, "because I was exploring the bushes on the large
lawn, and I saw a beautiful young girl on the tennis court, about my age. She
stopped her tennis practice, said hello to me and..."
"And that," thought the real Percy Dale as he awoke in his bed, "would all be a very interesting cycle of events, but it's happening a little too rapidly to be repeated in reality at the moment. After all, even a Sneaky Spy doesn't want to grow up too fast!"
Later that morning, Jenny came over to visit him, and they were soon occupied up in his bedroom. Jenny was sewing, and Percy was designing a variation of a chess game.
"Are you feeling bored, because we don't have any criminals to chase?" asked Jenny.
"Not in the least, my sweetest of inspirations," replied the Sneaky Spy, "and imagine the list of uncomplimentary notions one could voice concerning me, if I was bored with a lack of naughty ones to pursue. Think of it this way. Since God created the world with an unmatched masterful touch of absolute perfection, then there were originally no naughty ones at all. Could you imagine how I would feel if I depended on the apprehension of criminals for excitement? That would imply that a state of imperfection would be a prerequisite for the Sneaky Spy's happiness. Why, it would mean that criminals would be a necessity to me, rather than a soluble problem. You have no need for worries over that issue, Jennifer dear. I'm enjoying this pleasant afternoon with one hundred percent mental, physical and psychological satisfaction."
Percy was doing that, by designing a new game, which could be played only with certain materials and pieces. He had removed the patchwork quilted bedspread from the four poster bed in his room, and spread it out flat on the floor in front of the bed. Beyond that, only a few inches away, a dark maroon, almost purple coloured curtain had been closed in order to partition off the last third of the room.
As Jenny conversed with Percy from behind this curtain (for reasons that will soon be explained), the Sneaky Spy had placed a number of chess pieces onto the shapes of the patchwork quilt. The bishops had been removed from the sixteen piece army of conventional chess pieces, because Percy had decided to abandon the idea of defining diagonals, and differentiating between the movements of bishops and rooks. The rooks themselves were treated as queens. This meant that each player had three queens, one king, two knights and eight pawns. The object of the game was to capture all of the other player's pieces. The concept of 'check' to a king was deleted from the game's rules. This meant that the king could move onto any patch, even a threatened one. (The word 'patch' would replace 'square', since the game had no squares on an eiderdown.). The king could be taken at any point during the game, without ending the game. The centremost patch of the quilt was the only black patch on it.
The pieces would commence the game on the outermost patches, in two terms facing each other from opposite sides. For a pawn to be promoted, it could only achieve this by reaching the black square. Having promoted the pawn (using one of the nonesuch bishops as a spare queen piece), it would be wise to move it, lest it should be captured by the opponent's advancing candidate for promotion. Pawns could move one space in any direction, like the king, only with one exception. If person A moved a pawn from any one patch (denoted as patch X for this explanation of the rules) to another patch (denoted as patch Y), then person A could not, as his next move, return the pawn to patch X.
Using the red pieces from another chess set (as well as the black and white pieces), Percy was able to vary the game even further, making it possible for three people to play the game.
"Canton and Brin will appreciate this," said the Sneaky Spy, "It's a veritable tactical war on one's bedroom floor."
"But you know what your old school acquaintance said about chess," said Jenny.
"Yes. He thinks it's not realistic, in a combat situation, to say 'Well I can't do that job. I'm a bishop. I can only move along the diagonal.' My response to that problem is to suggest that chess is a symbolic form of tactical combat. Imagine two people in an unarmed combat situation, for example. One is thin and flexible, enabling him to strike his opponent with speed and a variety of movements. The other is solidly built, and perhaps more suited to grappling and wrestling. Both will try different ways to attack and defeat the other. This could be simulated by the different moves made by bishops and rooks in a game of chess. Then there are those not trained for unarmed combat, but know a great many facts concerning the use of guns. Perhaps they could be symbolized by the L-shaped movements of the knights, and the analogy could go on, but I suspect you would rather talk about our outfits."
"I'll show you mine as soon as I've got it on," said Jenny, "I've finished all of the sewing. Yours is ready too."
"I'm glad that you're such a competent person with a sewing machine. Even if you taught me how to use one, I could still never produce the results that you have generated," said the Sneaky Spy.
"Well I needed you help, in order to generate them," said Jenny, "I had to work from your drawings and ideas. That makes us a rather effective fashion design team, even if these clothes would never sell in a shop. You think up the designs, and I put them together."
"Let's have a look," said the Sneaky Spy.
Jenny stepped out from behind the curtain, wearing a long white dress, upon which she had sewn a variety of felt fruit shapes, and all in obviously different original colours. There were blue apples, red bananas, orange pears, pink honeymelons, yellow strawberries, purple pineapples and green peaches scattered from neck to knees, front and back, and on the arms as well.
The Sneaky Spy smiled a little uneasily.
"Now don't feel embarrassed, sweet Sneaky Spy," said Jenny, "I think it was very clever and artistic of you to think of them; and you should come back and have a look at your own on the chair."
Percy opened the curtain halfway, so that they were able to walk around to the area which had been partitioned off. As Jenny led Percy past the remainder of the curtain, he silently caught the end of it in his hand and pulled it around in a circle surrounding himself and Jenny, who could walk no further now.
In appreciation of his mischief, Jenny chuckled as she turned to face him and said to him,
"Can it be the end for me? Have I been lured into this curtain, only to be trapped forever by the cleverest captor of them all?"
"Well that depends upon whether you conduct yourself like a model captive or a captive model. Somehow I suspect that you might prove to be both of them."
"Please, kind curtain jailor," she replied, "Would you release me from this dark foreboding place, if I were to surrender to you one of my most affectionate cuddles?"
"It is not within my power to make such a bargain," returned the Sneaky Spy.
"But why not?" asked Jenny, feigning desperation in jest.
"Because, were I to accept - and indeed enjoy - your embrace, I would have to let go of this curtain, to free my hand from its present position," said Percy.
"Then alas. It has become necessary for me to finance my liberty with a kiss," said Jenny, "if you would agree to such an exchange."
"I shall indeed," said the Sneaky Spy, "You may now purchase an exodus from this the most comfortable of incarcerations, by paying me large denominations of cupid's currency."
Jenny giggled as their lips met, and then closed her eyes to try to settle into an enjoyable kiss. When she opened her eyes she saw that the curtain had moved.
"Why Jenny, it looks terrific! I could even wear it with my black sox and white sandshoes," said Percy. Spread out on a large and comfortable chair were two items of white clothing which also had several Sneaky Spy designs sewn onto them. Onto the legs of the trousers Jenny had sewn a miscellany of black felt chesspiece shapes. On both the front and back of the jumper were two unusual black clock faces, where the numbers one to twelve had been replaced by the following:
A red 'A' for Ace; instead of one.
Red 2 to 10 in the usual clock positions.
A red J for Jack; instead of eleven.
A red Q for Queen; instead of twelve.
As if to complete the suit, the clock face wore a yellow crown, the colour and shape often worn by kings in packets of playing cards. Percy took them into his grandfather's old bedroom and put them on, leaving his other clothes on his grandfather's bed.
"No I don't stagnate in the absence of naughty ones," said the Sneaky Spy, as he returned to his own bedroom, "and especially not with you around. Let's step out on the balcony, if you would like to."
"I'd love to," said Jenny as they moved towards it, "I enjoy the falling of light rain and the beauty of those mysterious dark clouds as much as you do."
"I have been thinking about that," said Percy, as they gazed arm in arm down at a garden of fresh glistening greenery, with assorted flowers including the most optically appealing geraniums. The Sneaky Spy continued his reply: "I still enjoy the rain, and this present view is indeed a lovely and special one; but the return of your bright gleaming shining self has taught me to appreciate the beauty of the sunshine as well. I'm sorry that we were separated for all those years, in our teens, when I never thought I would find you again. I'm also sorry that you had to be hurt by the discovery of my relationship with Donna. I feel that, if she had lived, we would both have realised that, although we went well together, I was really made to be with you, and Donna would have been made for - well I don't know. I wonder if her killers took in my suggestion to become christians..."
He stopped, unable to think what to say next.
"It's alright. I just wish she hadn't died. We had already sorted out the love problems. Do you remember the day we played hide and seek with Donna and Laura?"
"Well that day was arranged by Donna and Laura, to let Donna talk to me, and then to Laura, to plan for Donna to slowly break things off with you, so that you would be free to be with me."
"That's why she said 'Go to Jenny' just before she died."
"We were going to fix everything up, and nobody would have been hurt."
"And we would have done that Jenny, although I had no idea what you three girls were planning. I just would have felt awful about abandoning Donna, hurting her. Anyway, I'm always going to look after you ... always."
"Even in curtain prison cells?"
"Yes indeed, but we shan't be near them tonight. The weather report said that the rain would subside by dinner time, and be replaced by a prevailing fog. So we could still have the night walk to Wahroonga Park if you like. It will be dry enough. Would you still like that?"
"I would indeed," said Jenny, "and I think that a fog would do delightful things, to enchant the park for our evening stroll."
"Hmm. It might even provide the stealthy atmosphere for all sorts of adventures."
"You are bored without naughty ones, aren't you?" she taunted.
"Believe me darling, I'm not. I only alluded to adventures. Why, we could have a thrill of a time rescuing cats from drowning in the park fountain, and returning them to their grateful owners. We don't need any naughty ones in order to solve the elusive mystery of whether your rosy cheeks or your sparkling eyes have the most compelling appeal to me in the moonlight. Are naughty ones necessary to using the trees and bushes for another nocturnal game of hide and seek?"
"But you must admit," said Jenny, "that if I again took to stealing your wallet during a kiss, you would enjoy the chase again, wouldn't you?"
"Not if I used the sleight of hand shown me by Madam Swiftrix to remove your ribbon - thus letting down your hair - and ran away first," said the Sneaky Spy, "In such a situation, I would thoroughly enjoy the chase."
"We'll see what happens," said Jenny.
After an enjoyable meal in Percy's dining room, the two of them walked out of Ordinairy Man Manor, and bade their temporary farewell to 66 Burnseid Street.
Upon reaching the park, they walked onto the grass, pleased that the small amount of afternoon rainfall had already left the blades of green beauty below their feet. There was nobody else in the park at the time, and Percy voiced a desire which had only just formed itself in his mind.
"Jennifer darling, would you care at all, for a dance in the moonlight?"
"Mister Dale, how polite of you to offer!"
The fog began to cover their view of anything else in the park as they stared into each other's eyes and held each other at arm's length for a slow and unconventional series of moves about the grass.
Percy occasionally let his eyes gaze at the assortment of unusually coloured fruit, and felt pleased that the final result had proved to be as picturesque as his intentions had wanted it to be.
They closed their eyes and continued, drowning out the noises of their moving feet with the pleasant murmurs of romantic conversation.
"Percy, no matter who I ever meet in this life, I shall always love you like this," said Jenny.
Percy felt her soft arms lightly touching his shoulders. He felt her own soft shoulders under his fingers and palms; and then he felt the metal cylindrical end of a pistol. It was pressed hard against the back of his head, which was a foolish thing to do.
"This is a novel way of raising money for the scouting movement," said Percy.
"Just keep your hands on the lady's shoulders, and I will confiscate your wallet," said the unknown, "I'm not at all pleased with the thought of hurting people, despite my desire for more money. Still I must make a dishonest dollar somehow."
"I understand," said the Sneaky Spy, "and I do appreciate the fact that you could hardly be expected to resist the merriment of sticking us up in a fog such as the one that surrounds our smart souls tonight. However, my darling Jenny here has been suggesting that I would be bored, without the likes of yourself to amuse me. Now Jenny, that really isn't true, as I told you this afternoon," said the Sneaky Spy, exerting a sudden pressure on her shoulders with the palms of his hands.
As Jenny fell over backwards, the Sneaky Spy turned his head. The unknown fired, and missed. When a gun is held that close to a human head, a turn is all that is required to avoid the line of fire. Percy pivotted around to strike the head of the unknown with the back of his hand, seizing the gun with the other hand at the same time.
"Sorry about the need to break off our embrace, Jenny, but I would never have wanted your adorable smile to remain in the path of this naughty one's gunfire," said the Sneaky Spy, as he forced the unknown into a headlock.
"Well Jenny," he sighed, "I'm awfully sorry about this, but I'm sure you'll believe that I had nothing to do with his hopeless attempt to interrrupt our dancing. I'm afraid you will have to go and telephone the police, while I hold him here."
"Yes, alright," said Jenny and gave him a reassuring smile that said, "I actually mean to thank you for that shove. It saved my life, the way you intended."
Having acknowledged that Jenny had a lovely way of smiling in shorthand, the Sneaky Spy affirmed his innocence by saying, "and Jenny, I still say that I would not be bored without the naughty ones."
"Tell me truthfully, since it doesn't matter now that I have you," said Jenny, "Who is the prettiest girl that you have ever seen?"
"That's an embarrassing question, when asked by the answer," said Percy.
The next morning, Percy Dale awoke at six o'clock and watched a cartoon on the television.
"This is going to be the most boring day of my life," he thought, "Just before Jenny left last night, I told her that, for the first time in a long while, I really cannot think of anything to do today."
The Sneaky Spy saw the cartoon through to its conclusion and then entered the kitchen to prepare one of his favourite breakfasts. It consisted of extraordinairy amounts of bacon, a bowl of cereal without milk, some hot buttered toast and a piece of fruit.
Then he cleaned his teeth, had a shower, clothed himself and strolled down the long driveway to the front gate to collect his newspaper.
"That's odd," he thought, "seven fifteen, and the Kuringai Chronicle still isn't here. He walked out into the street and looked both ways to see whether or not the paper boy might be approaching. He noticed a scene which startled him.
"And even odder still. Every other house has a paper. I had better walk up to the newsagent and ask what's happened."
He went back to the house to collect his wallet, and discovered the paper opened and spread out on the kitchen table.
"I have heard of front door deliveries," he thought, "but isn't this going a little too far? I have a feeling that I have uninvited guests."
He then heard a dreadful tune being played on the grand piano in the living room, and ran out in less than ten seconds to find the room empty. Glancing down the hallway and then up the western staircase, he saw nobody and decided to run up the western staircase.
He reached the top of the staircase and searched the two rooms to the right. One was a bathroom, and the other was an exhibit filled Sneaky Spy trophy room. Then he heard the flushing of the downstairs toilet in the room which ran off from the living room. This noise was accompanied by the playing of the same tune on the piano.
"So they hid in the bathroom to fake me out," thought the Sneaky Spy as he ran down the stairs, thinking of the current status of his various criminal opponents. He could not think of anybody who might be responsible and who would know his address.
He burst back into the living room in time to hear the television set being turned on, but by the time he reached the television room, its window had obviously been opened and used as an exit. He ran into the dining room, hoping to locate the uninvited guest or guests rapidly through one of its three windows.
All of the windows in the dining room were open!
"What is this childlike toying with me? I'm really surprised that they don't just do something serious to me and be done with it."
He dived through one window and made a rolling landing on the grass outside and then began to search the gardens. The search was a failure and yielded nothing. When he returned to the house, a search revealed that every single window had been silently opened.
The Sneaky Spy burst into laughter.
"Alright, whoever you are," he called, "You've started a war which amuses me. I shall win it, and then you will really have some explaining to do."
The response was a series of howls and roars from all over the house. Percy counted three basic directions.
"Which means I'll have to catch one of them soon," he thought, as he rocketed towards the eastern staircase and ascended it, only to be bombarded unexpectedly with pillows dropped by somebody in the eastern upstairs hallway.
The Sneaky Spy fought the pillows away from him, looked up to see his aggressor, and saw nobody.
"This must be a war of nerves first, by an enemy who wants to confuse me in my own house before enacting some sort of criminal plot against me," he thought.
Whoever it was had disappeared along the hallway. Percy stood on the stairrail and vaulted up to the hallway, making use of a short cut which soon put him at the entrance to the western upstairs hallway. His music cassettes began to sound, from his trains room downstairs, he speculated.
Somebody was asking for trouble. Percy descended the western staircase and heard billiard balls hitting each other, but when he reached the billiard room, he found its outer doors ajar and the room empty.
"Well they would expect me to turn off the taperecorder first. So I shall leave it running and chase the garden guests who have just now fled from this room," thought Percy.
Percy stepped out onto the porch, slipped into the bushes and hid, hoping to catch the housebreakers out by remaining stationary in a secret location. The result was simply a long period of near silence during which the Sneaky Spy neither saw nor heard anything but the distant droning of his cassette player, which eventually stopped.
"Well all my cassettes are ninety minute ones, so it cannot have reached the end of a side. That means, since we've not yet had forty-five minutes from the time it was first turned on, that somebody is now coming from the trains room."
Again the Sneaky Spy was too late, and so it continued for the rest of the morning. Percy even had to eat on the run int order to continue pursuing the elusive bandits.
"Whoever it is must have hidden near the house with my Kuringai Chronicle newspaper," thought Percy. Having planted themselves there while I watched a cartoon, they then entered the open house while I searched in vain for the paper. Since then they have been able to do anything in any part of the house, and with two staircases and countless doors and windows to and from each of the rooms, I can hardly do a great deal to prevent them from continuing the game. I'm going to have to outthink them."
Percy went to his laboratory, thankful that the visitors did not have his key to the locked room. Having locked himself inside, he took from the cupboard a role of fishing line and his small knife Charlotte. He continued to leave the door to the room unlocked.
The Sneaky Spy climbed out of the laboratory window and walked quietly around to the nearest tree which would enable him to climb down beside the porch. Once he had accomplished this, he bordered every doorway with an almost invisible zigzag trail of fishing line, which meant that somebody would be snared when the members of the uninvited attempted to leave the house.
"Aah!" screamed somebody, and the scream sounded somewhat familiar. Percy ran around to the courtyard doorway and discovered a rather surprised Jennifer Winters.
"So it's you and who else?"
"Brin and Laura."
"It has been a lot of fun, and even better to know that I don't have to mop up any old Sneaky Spy's villains at the end of the morning."
"This was a clever trick. You finally got me."
"Yes, and now you can help me to get the others," he said.
"Well actually, there's no need!" called Brin Decembar, emerging from Percy's study.
"None at all," said Laura Winters, descending the western staircase in a hurry.
"Tell me, did you three use Jenny's key to get in, or did you sneak in when I went to get my morning paper?"
"Neither," said Jenny, "As it happened, I opened the trains room door, when you left me alone briefly last night, because I had an idea of how to solve your problem of having nothing to do today. Then we all snuck in while you were going to sleep. We slept on couches and spare beds. Brin slipped out at five thirty to do the job on your early morning paper, and thus began the haunting of Ordinairy Man Manor."
"Here it is, the outside end of the story," said the Sneaky Spy.
It was now mid-afternooon. Percy stood with Brind Decembar, Laura Winters and Jenny Winters. They were on the western terrace beneath a network of beams and branches, leaves and lights, cords and creepers. At night the combination of the rosy lights and the pillars supporting the overhead mixture made a scene which was appreciated by the young Percy Dale twenty years earlier, long before he had enjoyed his first rosy lights terrace dance with Jennifer Winters.
Percy pointed down at a rectangular opening in the ground, at least ten feet deep.
"It looks just the right size to drop a coffin into," said Brin.
"I'm sorry, Brin. I'm saving it for the next Sneaky Spy enemy to discover this house," laughed the Sneaky Spy.
"Boys, behave yourselves," said Laura.
"Alright, come in and I'll show you the other end. Maybe that will persuade Brin that there's probably no truth in your suggestion that my house includes its own deadman's dumbwaiter."
"When they had all entered the house, the Sneaky Spy closed the door linking the billiard room and the terrace. The doorway on the opposite side of the room faced a very narrow and short passage. Opposite the doorway were two narrow doors, the upper halves of which were filled with glass windows.
Percy opened the doors and switched on a light.
"The switch also turns on the cellar light down there, as well as this one on the stairs. Let's go down. I'll show you the inside end of the story," he said.
They went down the stairs, which turned back in a second small flight, and walked into the cellar.
"Well here it is," said the Sneaky Spy.
His friends stared out of a window in the cellar wall at the cold earth beneath the garden which lay beside the terrace. Between the window and the dirt was the lower view of the opening which they had seen from the terrace above them.
"So what is the story?" asked Brin Decembar.
"I don't know," said Percy, "I don't know why this house was designed with a cellar window from which one can view a large hole in the ground. That, Brin, is why I asked for your girlfriend's advice. I know you do most of your art and antiques business from your shop, Laura. However, I shall pay whatever price you name, if you have any knowledge of why the sight before our eyes was built."
"I'm afraid that I wouldn't know the answer, Percy. This is new to me. I will let you know, if I ever find any leads to solving your architectural mystery."
"Well take fifty dollars to pay for this consultation," said the Sneaky Spy.
"Thank you, Percy, but this consultation has yet to conclude, because I'd like to ask you about all those bottles in here."
"There are a lot of them, I know, and it may seem silly for me to retain all of these empty souveneirs of beverage past. I do it for sentimental reasons. When I would come and visit my grandmother here as a child..."
"Here goes another of those stories," said Brin, "Has he had his medication today, Jenny?"
"Yes Brin, are you sure you weren't sampling whatever might have been left down here before you snuck in last night?" said the Sneaky Spy, "Anyway, Grandma would bring me down here and collect the empty soft drink bottles, usually lemonade ones. I'd carry them to the shops, and be refunded five cents per bottle, which was the pocket money I could spend while I was here. As we gathered up the lemonade bottles, I marvelled at this collection. A few of them were full back then, but most of them looked the same as they do now."
"The difference lies in their value as antiques," said Laura.
"Surely they're not worth more than a few cents each," said the Sneaky Spy.
"I can tell you that they're not all so lacking in value, if you took them to a collectables fair. There are people willing to pay quite a lot for some old bottles. I do the fairs every few months to keep an eye on things for research, as well as manning a stall of smaller salable items from the shop. Some of your bottles might fetch you a worthy sum," said Laura, "but I'm not suggesting you should sell them. Hold onto your memories, and I'll let you know about the basement skylight if anything comes to my knowledge."
"Thank you Laura, but I think it might be worth finding out their value afterall, not for the purpose of selling them, but simply to satisfy my curiosity about the value of what I've got hidden down here," said Percy.
"I'll be happy to do that," said Laura, "but could we take them to Pymble? I may need to look at some of my notes and books."
"I'll get some boxes, so that I can load them into your car," said the Sneaky Spy.
"I'll help with that," added Brin.
"Will you be able to prepare an itemised valuation?" asked Percy.
"It's routine," said Laura, "I'll just drop a numbered tag into each bottle, small enough to shake out if you wish to. I'll use the same numbers on the valuation sheet; so you'll know which is which."
They accomplished the task, and Percy and Jenny watched the departure of Brin and Laura.
Some days later the Sneaky Spy answered the telephone.
"Hello, Percy. It's Laura."
"How are things at Pacific Highway, Pymble?"
"Not at all awful, Percy. I have some interesting news for you."
"About the rectangular hole in my garden?"
"No, and not about the bottles either. I am still working on those, but wait until you hear this. I have had a telephone call asking if I have any brass polishing services. I told her I could clean various things. She said that she has had a diamond necklace for many years. While in Sydney, on a holiday visit, she purchased some small brass rings from another antique shop. They have the heads of various animals coming out of them. She purchased enough to have one between each diamond on her necklace. There was only one problem. They were in need of polishing, and the other dealer did not perform such services. So, after trying a few numbers from the yellow pages, she called my shop. I said I would do the job, and then asked her name. This is the interesting part. It's Vara Menopolts."
"The countess, whose diamond necklace I recovered from Rico Treperachi's castle in the Swiss Alps," said the Sneaky Spy. (See "The Sneaky Spy.").
"The very same. Remembering your having told me of that adventure, I asked her if she remembered the recovery of the necklace. She said that she had never been able to forget the way she had resigned herself to having lost it, and had then gotten it back again. The result was that, if you're interested she would be happy to pay you a visit with two of her bodyguards, so that you could be photographed together in your house."
"It sounds like fun. We could use the guest room that looks out onto the terrace. It's a suitable room for the photographs."
"You'll both be sent prints from the photographer , and you may keep the negatives as well."
"Well I'm happy to play my part. We'll have to keep it quiet though. She will arrive in an ordinairy looking car, with the bodyguards and photographer doing nothing to draw any attention to my entertaining a countess. It would never do to attract any gatecrashing from the locals."
"She'll be wearing the necklace for the picture. You'll have it immortalised. She might even give copies of the photographs to the Swiss and Austrian press, but your address will be kept secret."
"Well you, Jenny and Brin are welcome to come as well," said Percy, "and we had better conduct the whole affair at night. Nobody will recognise the face of the countess as the car approaches Ordinairy Man Manor. There might be people in our country who have seen her picture in magazines or newspapers."
The night was arranged, and Percy greeted his three companions before the other guests arrived. They heard the car on Percy's gravel driveway soon after seven o'clock. Percy opened the door andd welcomed them in.
"You arranged it well, Sir," said the photographer, "It was certainly a privelege to be driven here with a countess."
"Such things require sacrificing some of my privacy and anonymity, but Vara's presence is an honour and a pleasure. Let me show you to the dining room."
The bodyguards were two of the largest men that the Sneaky Spy had ever seen. He hoped that their appetites would be well satisfied by the turkey dinner that he had planned to serve.
After the meal had been enjoyed, Percy showed his guests into the designated guest room, and stood beside the countess. The dress she wore was of the palest shade of light blue, almost white. Percy thought that it was a most appropriate item of clothing to accompany a diamond necklace.
The pictures were taken, and then the bodyguards produced two small swords, which they had somehow concealed on their persons. The handles were not made with wide rounded guards, and the blades were only a foot in length.
"Vara, the necklace, and you - " (to the photographer) - "the camera!"
"What do you mean by this?" asked the countess, as she suddenly decided that the two would not be a suitable pair to remain in her employ. If she survived the experience, she would definitely dismiss them summarily.
Percy was worried about his chances of saving everyone in the room from the two treacherous knife wielding visitors, who had definitely outstayed their welcome. The first thing to do was to feign a willingness to comply.
"Give them the camera, Hacking," he said to the photographer, who nervously removed it and passed it to the free hand of Adaz, the nearest bodyguard.
"Now the necklace," said the other, Rossam.
Vara's knowledge of english remained sufficient, even under the pressure of the situation facing her.
"You know I always have some trouble removing it," she said, "Why don't you help me, Adaz?"
"No," said Rossam, "Percy, you're closest. Take it off. Our famous countess cannot even remove a necklace without help."
This suited the Sneaky Spy down to the ground. He was the closest.
"Down to the ground, that's it!" he thought. He removed the necklace, after some moments of wrestling with a connection.
"Now bring it here, and put your hands up!" said Adaz.
Percy didn't care how they planned to complete the crime. Murdering all of them was probably the intention of Adaz and Rossam. Percy simply had to stop them from doing any immediate damage. Surrendering the necklace would not help the situation.
He gave the appearance of slowly commencing to raise his hands, and then swung the necklace at the light, sending a spray of glass and plastic at the naughty ones.
"Scatter, friends!" he said, seizing the hand of the countess in the dark. He led her out to the hall. His friends would be almost as lost as the naughty ones, but he hoped that they would be able to elude the bodyguards until he had executed his plan.
He led the countess quietly down into the cellar, moving the doors without a sound. They descended the stairs with some noise in the dark, but Percy felt that they would have enough time, before the naughty ones found the nearest light switch, and located the cellar entrance. He made his way to the window, still clutching the diamond necklace in his free hand. He put it into his pocket.
"Trust me, Countess. This could be an escape they would never find."
He listened to the sounds of many footsteps upstairs, and opened the window. He and Vara stepped out into the rectangular opening and used the windowsill as a ledge to stand on as they climbed up and out into the garden.
"I'm glad we took the photographs before you brushed your dress against that hard earth in my downmarket secret passage," said the Sneaky Spy, "Now if you will remain safe and well hidden here, I will see if I can get those pictures back."
The Sneaky Spy knew that he would be wise to silently circumnavigate the house, and so find out the location of Adaz and Rossam. He soon heard them moving from the drawing room to the dining room, having turned some lights on, he discovered. Percy removed a tranquiliser dart gun from a shoulder holster. He seldom wore such a thing in his own house, but he had foreseen the possibility of a visiting countess attracting a need for special weapons.
"I could never have pulled this toy out in that room," he thought, "They would have already stabbed one of us before I could have pulled the trigger."
Using his housekey, he opened the drawing room door and stepped into the room with a confident display of noises and called out, "Back here fellows! This is where I have chosen to escape your worst efforts."
As they charged into the room, Percy had only to stand at a distance and puncture the skins of two large bodies with tranquiliser darts.
"By the way, you are both fired," said Vara, as the police vehicle was loaded up with its two sizable passengers.
"Well Percy," said Laura, "There's your story about the cavity in your garden."
"Yes," replied the Sneaky Spy, "It's nice to have a photograph, but where can I find a writer to record our story for us?"