The clock struck one.

"Huzzah!" Came the shout.

"Did you get it?" The boy asked, leaning over the edge.

"Didn't you hear my shout, I got a bloody ripper." The young girl joined the boy at the edge of the bank, looking down into the water below.

The water was murky and a swirl was still apparent where the force had been created.

"Go on then, "the girl urged. "Get on in there."

He moved back away, hands up in defiance. "I ain't going in there, that's eel infested water that is."

"But you've got to get my clock back." She stared hard at the mousy boy, sitting in what appeared as a suddenly distraught stance.

"You're the one that threw it at the eel, you go in."

The girl looked down into the water, seeing the alarm clock lying on the sandy bottom. It sat slightly dug in, right next to the side of the bank, which she knew, would most likely be the eels hidey hole.

"Why'd you even throw it?"

"George," the girl said, with all authority in her voice. "The only way to catch an eel during the day is to throw a clock at it."

He looked at the lean girl as she fingered her ponytail. "How does a clock help?"

"Because," she said, quite exasperated at his lack of knowledge. "Eels come out at dusk but since it's not duck we've got to confuse them. Look see that." She pointed down at the clock. "What time is it?"

"I can't tell, it's too murky." George said.

"It's dusk time. The eels will see the time and think it's dusk, so they'll come out. Plus I yonkered one already."

The boy still, was sceptical. "It won't work Mary, eels aren't that dumb."

"Of course they're not dumb, they can tell time."

Mary was, all in all, determined in her ways. She was quite a self-taught girl, and thought she had never quite caught an eel before, she was sure her plan would work.

"Now they've seen the time and I want my clock back."

George however, was determined to not get himself wet.

"I'm not doing it Mary."

But she wasn't having any of that.

"Get my clock."


"Get it."


"I'll push you in."

"You daren't."

"I dare and I will."

At this the boy stopped to calculate his odds. Eel infested water or the ponytailed girl. Either way he was getting wet.

"Fine, but you better not run off with my shoes."

"Good." She smiled in smug victory. "Now hand me that rock, if I see an eel I'll smash 'em."

George gave Mary a reasonably sized rock, perfect for smashing an eels head in.

Shoes off, he tenderly slipped down the bank, lowering himself into the water.

"It's cold."

"Well the sooner you get my clock the sooner you can get out."

The water went up to his shoulders and he waded tentatively to where the clock rested on the bottom.

"Any eels," he asked, fearing the worst.

"Not yet, but they may like the smell of boy sweat so you better be quick."

Using one foot, George dug under the clock and pushed it upwards, reaching down without getting his head wet and grabbing it.

"Got it!" With a fervent haste he made it back to the edge, scrambling up onto dry land, clock triumphant in hand.

"Oh George you bloody wonder." She took the sopping clock and shook it. "It still works." She held it in her hands as a prized possession. This clock had hit an eel, it deserved to be put on a stand and marvelled at, as did he excellent throwing skills.

"You think the eels'll come out now?" George asked, wringing the edge of his shirt.

"Of course," Mary replied with confidence.

They sat on the edge of the bank and waited. Nothing moved in the water but the occasional swirl of wind.

"George," Mary said, breaking the silence. "Will you always come eel catching with me, even when you're married with kids."

"You're not getting married Mary?"

"Nah, I'm staying where the eels go, free spirit thing, nothing and no on to stop me."

"But I want to be a free spirit."

Neither looked their eyes from the water.

"Well marry me and we'll be free spirits together," Mary said.

"And we can catch eels all day."

Mary turned to George and stuck out her hand.



They shook and, life sorted, returned their eyes to the water.

"Look George an eel!" Mary's voice rose in excitement.

They both stared hard at where she pointed.

"That's just a stick." Then, turning his head sideways he said. "I think that's what you hit the first time."

Mary leaned forward on her knees.

"George, if you want to marry me, then I hit an eel before."


And they continued to peer into the water, waiting for the eels hiding in their holes, until the clock set off into a fervour and they realised they were late for dinner.