Kate found that the previous night’s vow was harder to keep than anticipated. They could not find Maid Adelheit anywhere the next day and after three days of finding nothing, the schools sent over the school work which took up the majority of their days. Despite being deflated and exhausted, the children met every night when the adults were asleep to discuss whatever they had picked up. So far, they had gotten nowhere.
“What if,” Edward wondered aloud one meeting, “We just did a tiny bit of work to pretend we have done it and then investigate?”
“No,” responded Kate, quite firmly the added more gently, “Besides, some of us have exams and we still don’t know whether we'll still do them so we have to work.”
“Fine. How about getting up really early in the morning and doing our work?”
“I have an idea!” Ivy nearly squealed with excitement.
“Keep your voice down!” warned Laura, “You’ll get us caught.”
“Sorry,” Ivy mumbled but soon regained her exhilaration, “Kate, do you have German work to do?”
“Yes, of course but why?”
Ivy, still in trepidation, explained her plan which was agreed upon unanimously. And finally, they had a lead. They also agreed to use Edward’s second suggestion and set their alarm clocks to 6.30, planning to do all their work with the exception of Kate’s German work.
Micahel was dreaming of a witch stirring Aunt Brunhilde and Uncle John in a big cauldron full of knives and pieces of paper. He had been trying to pull them out when the witch pulled off her mask to reveal…
The boys’ alarm clock woke them up with its shrill ringing at 2.33 in the morning, scaring Michael out of his dream.
“Michael! If this is your idea of a joke!” screeched Edward, slamming the alarm off.
“It wasn’t me! I promise!” squeaked Michael, who was also recovering from the shock.
Edward’s grumbles were cut short by the windows banging open. After the heat of the previous, they had forgotten to close the windows properly and the mid-season storm had thrown them open. As both boys rushed to close them again, something caught Michael’s eye.
“Look!” he whispered urgently,
An unidentifiable shadow was walking away and was soon swallowed by the mist. They had looked as though they wanted to be unnoticed as they had covered themselves in a long loose cloak, making it impos
sible to recognise them from a distance.
Trembling from the discovery, the two siblings went back to their beds deciding it was unnecessary to wake the girls this early. Michael fell captive of his wildest dreams again whilst Edward tossed and turned trying to get some sleep before his sisters woke up. It was therefore understandable that they wandered into the girl’s room at 6.20, yawning and stumbling.
“What happened to you!” cried Kate as she jumped out of bed tossing her textbook to one side when she caught sight of them, “Edward, you look like you lost a fight with your pillow and you’ve both got bags under your eyes so dark they look like bruises!”
“Our alarm clock is cursed!” mumbled Edward. Michael nodded.
“It went off in the middle of the night?”
“Yes. And then the widows flew open,” added Michael.
“Then we saw a cloaked figure walking away but we couldn’t recognise them,” completed Edward.
The alarm suddenly went off.
“Turn it off! I can’t handle this again!”
Laura and Ivy, who had just woken up, looked at Edward, startled as he tackled the alarm clock that was ringing from the top of the cupboard.
“Who put it there?!” he muttered.
“I did,” said Laura, “So that I’m forced to get out of bed.”
“What a clever idea,” said Edward, his old sarcasm creeping back into his voice.
“It was great to see you grab it like you wanted to murder it though.”
“Very funny but you weren’t forced to get up at 2.48 were you?”
“Did I miss something?”
“Yes,” said Edward shortly.
To avoid any fights, Kate filled her sisters in with what had happened. Their reaction was similar to Kate’s as they bombarded their brothers with questions to which they had no answer.
“We didn’t see anything else. We couldn’t guess who it was because they were wearing a cloak, where they were going because of the mist or what they looked like because of both reasons! We just know the time and the approximate place,” Edward said, straining to keep his voice calm.
“Alright,” decided Kate, “We have to get to work. We’ve wasted enough time. Get out your school books.”
They did their school work in the girls’ room, spreading out their books.
“We’re lucky the video calls aren’t obligatory!” declared Ivy, who had finished completing her maths worksheet, “This was easy a
“Want to swap?” mumbled Edward next to whom pages and pages of workings were accumulating.
However, by the time their parents had woken up, they found their children packing away their books.
“What are you doing? Hiding your books?” teased their dad.
“No, we’ve finished.”
Their mum looked at them in astonishment.
“You’ve finished? But it’s only 9:30, we haven’t even eaten breakfast yet!” she exclaimed.
“Yes,” said Laura, hiding a smile, “We woke up a bit earlier today, we wanted to play outside for the rest of the day,”
Glancing out of the window at the rather cold March
morning, her parents were slightly at a loss for words.
“Well,” Dad said carefully, “I can’t see why not. But are you sure you’ve finished everything?”
“Nearly,” pretend-sighed Kate, “I don’t understand this German exercise.”
Her parents looked even more astonished.
“I thought you found German quite easy?”
“I need Adelheit’s help,” decided Kate, “Where is she?”
“Probably in the kitchen but I can help if you want…’ started Dad
“I need Adelheit to help me. Then we’ll go play.”
“Without breakfast and in the cold?”
Nodding, the children walked out of the room and down the stairs, leaving their parents to stare at each other in baffled bewilderment.
Maid Adelheit was indeed in the kitchen, reading a german book. The children greeted her before Kate sat in the seat next to hers to lay down her workbook and ask:
“I’m having trouble with my german work, can you help me?” She repeated the question and Adelheit nodded hastily.
Kate carefully started interrogating her:
“I heard you were unwell after lunch a few days ago.”
“Oh no,” she replied in hesitant English, “I wasn’t.”
“So you did the washing up?”
The german Maid nodded slightly puzzled, whilst Kate shared a glance with her siblings. They were finally getting somewhere!
“Where were you on the day my parents went shopping?”
Maid Adelheit slowly explained that she’d been cleaning with Maid Helen, phoned home then read in her room.
Kate looked at her siblings. They shrugged. Helen had said nothing about that. Laura whispered something to Michael and he discreetly wrote a small note.
The eldest was about to continue erging the maid on when she suddenly remembered something. She gave a small start and knocked a jug over. She rushed to get the sponge.
“Oh! I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed, “I understand this question now. Thank you so much!” She quickly soaked up the water and straightened up the jug.
She rushed out of the kitchen pulling her siblings with her.
As soon as they were out of earshot of anyone, they turned their expectant faces towards their oldest sibling. Kate seemed excited and agitated. Her eyes ablaze with trepidation she whispered:
“She can be ruled out!”