The Magic Spectacles - Part Two

Having stolen Uncle's digging machine the Badfort Crowd were in jubilant mood. “Redistribution of wealth, I call it.” crowed Beaver to his followers. They had all been tucking into the food supplies that the One-Armed Badger had stowed on board for the, supposedly, snow trapped schoolboys. Sigismund had even found a hip flask of brandy that Uncle had intended to use, for purely medicinal purposes, to revive anyone who had succumbed to the cold. They had mixed it with some Black Tom and warmed it on the engine of the giant machine to make a hot toddy. Copious amounts of this brew combined with thoughts of Beaver's great plan had left them feeling quite merry.

Beaver stared through the magic spectacles (that had been intended as a present for Uncle from Wizard Blenkinsop) into the tunnel ahead. Deep beneath the snow and ice the machine bored a way through. Soon they approached the walls of Homeward. “Right lads,” said Beaver “This is where we need to burrow beneath the walls and under the fat tyrant's home!”

Meanwhile, back at the hut, the mood could not be more opposite amongst Uncle and his group. “I suppose we have no choice but to walk back along the tunnel to Homeward,” Uncle said gloomily “It's going to be a long hard trek with no food or drink, but the Old Monkey will soon send out a search party to meet us if we are not back by midnight.”

They all agreed that it was best to set out on the return journey apart from Noddy Ninety who appeared distracted. As you know Noddy Ninety, although ninety years old, still likes to attend Doctor Lyre's School. In the holidays, though, he works on the railways. A look of recognition was slowly dawning on his face. “My goodness, Sir,” he said “I have just realised what the hut we were held captive in actually is! - how silly of me I must have seen it a hundred times but everything looks different covered in the snow. You see normally I see it on a bright sunny day with the marsh all around and the cry of the curlew…” “Yes, yes alright Noddy,” interrupted Uncle “enough of your reminiscing - what has all this to do with our predicament?” “Well, you see,” said Noddy “I was just coming to that - the hut is the passenger waiting room at Marshland Halt.” “Well I'm sure as a railway enthusiast that's all very interesting for you, Noddy, but we really must get on with our long walk back to Homeward." said an exasperated Uncle. Noddy jumped up and down with excitement. “But Sir, Sir, if this is Marshland Halt that means that we are only yards from the engine sheds there - and look down your tunnel Sir! Can you not see that gleam of silver running along the bottom of it? It's the tracks! You have tunnelled in the same direction as the tracks!" screeched Noddy in an ever more piercing voice as he got more and more excited. “He's right Sir!” said Cowgill “If we can get one of the engines started, we have our way home!” “Well spotted,” blustered Uncle slightly embarrassed for thinking that Noddy was just making a nuisance of himself as usual. “O.K. Let's find this engine and get on our way!” he said.

The digging machine was now beneath the great expanse of Homeward. Beaver looked up searching the expanse of earth above them through the magic spectacles. “Over there, over there!” he said pointing above “a great golden glow! - right Hitmouse, point this beast up - we've got to get through the steel plate floor, but this machine should make light work of that!” The Badfort Crowd all let out a yell of triumph as Hitmouse flicked a lever and the machine began to climb upwards.

Noddy was right. With a little digging and the assistance of A.B.Fox's sense of smell they had soon uncovered the doors to the engine shed. Behind them stood a gleaming red and gold steam engine. “Right, Noddy, with your experience as a train driver, I'm relying on you to get this moving.” said Uncle. “But what shall we use for fuel Sir?, there is a little coal - but not enough to get us back” said Noddy. “there's an easy solution to that'” said Uncle nonchalantly “Cloutman, Gubbins - rip that hut down - should be enough fuel with all that wood.” “Oh no. no Sir I'm afraid you can't do that - that's railway property!” cried a horrified Noddy “that's more than my jobs worth to let you do that - they'd never let me work on the railways again.” “Oh hang it!” cried Uncle “This is an emergency, for goodness sake - look I'll build them a new Waiting Room, twice the size, and with a Tea Room!” “Oh would you Sir?' said a mollified Noddy “Oh that would be marvellous Sir! - like in that film? Short Encounter I think it was called…about some dwarves…Very romantic, Sir…ooh and with a cappuccino machine?” “Yes, yes whatever,” said an agitated Uncle “Can we get on now please? - I would like to get home sometime this week!” “Don't you worry, Sir, soon be full steam ahead!.” said Noddy with a faraway look in his eyes as he dreamed of the splendours of the new Tea Room.

True to his word, Noddy soon had the engine steamed up and they were rushing back along the tracks through the ice tunnel. Uncle was doing his best to ignore Noddy as he chatted away incessantly about the new Tea Room “Of course you have to have the little chocolate sprinkles - it's not the same without them,” said Noddy “Ooh and what about an ice cream machine?, that would be lovely wouldn't it? With a chocolate flake in!...” Uncle flicked his eyes skyward longing for the journey to be over.

Before long they were once more at the Great Door of Homeward. “At last,” said Uncle “Hot baths for everyone and mugs of hot chocolate! Is the order of the day I think.” Meanwhile A.B.Fox looked around eagle eyed. “Sorry to spoil your plans, Sir,” he said “But what about the Badfort Crowd? “Surely we can deal with them later?” said Uncle dejectedly. “ I fear they stole the digging machine for a reason…” said A.B.Fox “and look there is another tunnel over there, going down into the ground. I can think of only one reason why the Badfort Crowd would want to tunnel beneath Homeward…” Uncle looked at A.B.Fox quizzically until an idea dawned on him and a look of realisation came into his face. “By Jove, you don't think they would try anything that audacious do you?” he said. “I fear so, Sir” replied the fox. 'Quick, we must follow their tunnel - One Armed Badger you go and warn the Old Monkey what's afoot!” cried Uncle. With that Uncle and his band moved down the tunnel excavated by the Badfort gang.

Deep beneath Homeward, in Uncle's treasury, Oldeboy marched up and down with his trusty flame-thrower. Uncle's treasury resembles a vast cave lined with steel. Valuables are piled up everywhere in majestic confusion. Oldeboy guards the treasury. He is only sixteen but he is a very sharp-witted and a first rate sentry. He is always pretending to be old and admires Noddy Ninety so much that he copies him in every way possible, even wearing an artificial beard and large spectacles.

Suddenly, Oldeboy felt a deep rumbling beneath his feet. The steel plates he stood on began to buckle and crack. Without warning he was flung into the air as a metallic point burst through the floor. His flamethrower went flying across the room. He could scarcely believe the sight he saw before him as he lay winded on a pile of gold ingots. A giant machine had sliced through the floor as a knife to butter. Pouring out of the cabin of the machine were a bunch of brigands dressed in ragged sack suits led by a ruffian who was all beard and whiskers. “Beaver Hateman! You villain!” he cried and was about to raise his flame-thrower when he realised it was gone. “Grab him and tie him up!” shouted Beaver.

The Badfort crowd soon had piles of jewels and ingots of gold piled up in the cabin of the great machine. More piles stood by ready for loading. Tied up on a pile of discarded crates Oldeboy was in tears 'I've let Uncle down,” he wept to himself “how can I ever forgive myself for failing to protect all his beautiful treasures.” Suddenly he felt his hands coming free and someone whispered in his ear “Don't worry - the games afoot!” He turned to see the Old Monkey busy untying his bonds and giving him a wink.

Beaver had gathered his fellows about him. “Well, lads,” he said “This is the best day's work we've ever done. Bereft of his fortune the Dictator will soon have to sell Homeward to pay for his excessive lifestyle!...and guess who's going to buy it up at knockdown price!.
Stinggoon!” came the harsh chorus as everyone shouted in glee. But their shouts of joy turned to shouts of alarm as the engines of the giant drilling machine burst into life. They could see Cowgill at the helm as it suddenly started to reverse back down the tunnel. With the hole clear Uncle burst forth surrounded by schoolboys, swinging a club, and closely followed by Cloutman and Gubbins. Hearing a cry from the doors of the treasury Beaver looked over his shoulder to see more of Uncle's followers led by the Old Monkey streaming towards him. “Crikey lads were' surrounded!” he cried.

The Badfort crowd put up a determined resistance, but nobody could stand before Uncle that night. Trampling with his feet, lassoing with his trunk he was a veritable tornado. Meanwhile Cloutman and Gubbins were singling out individuals and stunning them with one blow of their fists. Worst of all though - everywhere the Badfort crowd turned there seemed to be small boys armed with catapults.

The Badfort crowd had managed to retreat to the tunnel entrance and were about to make their getaway when up popped Oldeboy - once more armed with his flame-thrower. They all jumped into the hole - but not before Oldeboy had managed to let off one scorching taste of his weapon. Cries of “Ouch ow that hurt!” and “My bum's on fire!” could be heard echoing down the tunnel.

Later that evening Uncle and his followers had at last been able to enjoy a hot bath and sat side by side in front of the hearth in the Great Hall enjoying mugs of hot cocoa. “Friends.” Said Uncle 'it is always encouraging when skilfully laid schemes of crime come to nothing, so let us all now rejoice in a mighty and glorious victory!” “Yes,” said Noddy Ninety “and we can all look at the plans I have drawn up for the new Waiting Room and Café at Marshland Halt…I think you will find them very interesting…I'm suggesting the latest Italian designed cappuccino machine which as you probably know uses a dual valve modulator…” Uncle groaned as Noddy began to detail his plans. This could be a very long and boring evening he thought, but being a philanthropic millionaire was never easy….

Meanwhile the Badfort crowd were sitting in a snowdrift by the ramparts of their home. They had discovered that this was the most comfortable position for their scorched bottoms. “How does he always manage to thwart our plans?” moaned Beaver “That creep the Old Monkey, even took the magic spectacles back - ripped em right off my face!” “Well, at least I managed to keep hold of that bag of food!' said Hitmouse. Everyone murmured in approval as they tucked into liberated grub, trying to lighten the mood. “That's not all,” whispered Hootman. From the folds of his sackcloth vestments he brought out a stunning bejewelled object “I bet they won't have missed this yet!”. “Cor! I bet we'll be able to sell that for a bob or two!” cried Hitmouse. “Oh no, we won't be selling that!” said Beaver gleefully. He gave Hootman a mysterious look - for they knew the true value of the object, which had now become the centre of attention…