The boy was the age of Jonathan, but had a long white beard.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sarah Kippernickker Chases a Duck
An Adventure Begins
Arrival In Valleyvale
The Kippernickkers are Arrested
Mr. Breadbane the Beadle
Mrs. Cornflower Explains
The Kippernickkers Escape
. . . the duck rose up in a cloud of dust.
Sarah Kippernickker Chases a Duck
Jonathan Kippernickker lay on the grass in the afternoon sun. He had finished all the school work Mummy Kippernickker had given him that morning. He had written the writing. He had spelled the spelling. He had read the reading. He had added up the adding-up, taken away the take-aways, and even multiplied. It had worn him out. So he lay on the grass under the low branches of the walnut tree, and its leaves kept him shaded and cool.
Nicolas Kippernickker was practicing on the roller-blades he got for Christmas, and was going round and round the large patio at the side of their house. He went round and round, again and again. He had a hockey stick in his hand, holding it as if playing hockey, for practice. Sarah Kippernickker was inside, playing with her toy house on the dining room floor with Matthew Kippernickker. She was talking all the time, and arranging the little figures and the little furniture in the house. Matthew was not taking much notice of Sarahâ€™s talking. He was more interested in the little figures and the little furniture, and anything else that might come apart. Timothy Kippernickker was fast asleep. He always had a nap at this time of the day, and Mummy Kippernickker was having a nap on the bed beside him. It was a pleasant afternoon and everything was peaceful. Jonathan Kippernickker lay back listening to Nicolas going round and round on his roller-blades. 8
“Jonathan,” shouted Nicolas, “get your roller-blades and we’ll play something. We can go on the street if you like.” “Can’t be bothered,” said Jonathan Kippernickker, thinking he would first have to find his elbow pads, then put the elbow pads on. Then he would have to find his knee pads, and put the knee pads on. Then his helmet, and put his helmet on. It would take him ages to find everything and ages to put everything on. “Come on,” said Nicolas. “It’s no fun,” said Jonathan. “Well, what do you want to do?” said Nicolas, rolling towards the edge of the patio, and stopping to sit down on the low patio wall. ”I don’t know,” said Jonathan. It was two o’clock. Jonathan knew it was two o’clock, because he’d heard the cuckoo in the cuckooclock say ‘cuckoo’ two times, in the kitchenette. So it was two o’clock and this was Jonathan Kippernickker’s ‘boring’ time.
It was boring because nothing ever happened at two o’clock. But it did today. Like the shot of a rifle, suddenly, there was a loud, “Quack!” Jonathan got such a shock he leapt up, and ran over to Nicolas without looking back once. “Jonathan,” Nicolas said laughing, “it’s just a duck.” “Right,” said Jonathan, turning to look at the duck. “It quacked right in my ear almost.” It was just a plain duck, with brown feathers and a yellow beak. They had never had a duck in the garden before. They had had a cat and a dog, and a squirrel and a rabbit, and a skunk and a doe, and a buck, but never a duck. “Quack,” said the duck. Where it had come from they couldn’t tell. It was not a shy duck as it said ‘quack‘ without being the least bit troubled. “Sarah!” shouted Nicolas, “Sarah! Come! See the duck!” 10
Sarah Kippernickker came running to the patio door and saw the duck. Matthew Kippernickker followed her. “Quack,” said the duck. It waddled across the grass to the patio wall, where Nicolas was still sitting. “Quack,” it said. “It wants to be friends,” said Sarah Kippernickker, and she stretched out her hand to touch it, but the duck moved away. Then, with a noisy flapping of wings and a great stirring of dust, it rose up. It flew across the grass and over the garden towards the trees and the golf course. But it didn’t fly onto the golf course. It stopped in the middle of the swath of ivy and landed in the thick green leaves covering the ground. “Quack,” it said again. “Quack. Quack. Quack.” “It’s talking to us,” said Sarah, who always imagined animals and birds were talking to her. “I think,” said Matthew, adding his own
opinion, “it is talking to us.” He was watching with interest. “It’s hungry,” noticed Sarah. “It’s eating the leaves.” “It’s not eating them,” said Nicolas. “It’s just pulling them.” “It’s trying to move them,” said Jonathan. And this was so. The duck then became very busy indeed, moving the vine leaves to one side, and making such a fuss that Jonathan realised what it was doing. He shouted, “It’s trying to get to the trapdoor!” Now this trapdoor was the strangest thing. It was a real trapdoor hidden underneath the vine leaves. They had discovered it one day by accident when looking for golf balls, and no one else knew about it. They found the trapdoor after they’d found a key in a box which Jonathan had dug up in the garden. The Kippernickkers called the key the Adventure Key, since it had unlocked the trapdoor, and when they’d opened the trapdoor they’d found a flight of stairs leading down and leading eventu12
ally to a wonderful adventure with the King of the Desert. Now the duck had found the trapdoor. “Quack,” it said, as if satisfied. It rapped the door with its beak three times, then looked up at them as if to say, “Are you ready for an adventure?”