“Leaving the burrow after being briefed by Anticant and Ben about the missing Lavenderblue and Beadle, I made my way along the towpath for a couple of miles until I came to the lock keeper’s cottage, where the lock keeper’s wife – a chatty, homely body – told me that earlier that day she had seen a young lady answering to Lavender’s description being escorted through the lock and then paddled away up the tributary stream by a near-naked kayaker. A couple of hours later, the Beadle had come puffing along and she had pointed out to him the route they had taken, whereupon he galloped off at a smart pace towards the Yellow Duck Pond.
“Armed with this information, I myself proceeded more sedately in the same direction until I was alerted by the quacking chorus that I was within a few yards of the pond. Peering discreetly around the edge, I chanced upon the entrance to a large cave, cunningly concealed in the undergrowth. This, I assumed, was the Pirate’s Lair, so I moved towards it with the utmost caution.
“Peering in through the entrance, I thought at first that the cave was empty – but then I dimly discerned the figure of a man trussed up with ropes and tethered to a large stake in the middle of the cave. Tiptoeing towards him warily, I extracted my manicure scissors from my handbag and cut him free. ‘Bless you, Maa’m', said the Beadle [for it was he], ‘those villains have drunk all the brandy and made off with Miss Lavvyblue and Wooffie, saying that they would return and dispose of me later. Thank heaven you got here first.’
“ Telling the Beadle to return to the burrow with the utmost speed, I searched carefully around for clues as to the whereabouts of Lavenderblue, but found nothing although there were signs of a struggle at the water’s edge. Fearing the worst, I wandered slowly through the forest ruminating on the parameters of this mystery. As I did so, I beheld a crouching figure which I at first feared might be a wolf but which turned out to be a human Wolfie, crawling around the ground and mumbling to himself about lost keys. I concealed myself behind a tree – and behold! there were the keys on the ground at my feet. Divining from what Wolfie had said that the strange Box might well hold vital clues to the whole affair, I quickened my pace and returned to the burrow to report my suspicions to Anticant and Dame Barbara….."