IN THE HEART OF THE WOOD
" I wish we had a torch," said Sally, peering down. " There might be a rat down there, and I don't like rats."
" I've brought a torch, and there won't be rats," said Benny. " Anyway, Scamp will soon send them away if there are."
" You go first, Benny," said Sally. He swung himself down on the rope—down and down, hand over hand, his legs twisting together round the rope.
He dropped with a thud into the hollow of the tree. It smelt musty.
" Come on, Sally," he yelled, feeling for his torch. " My word, it's like a small room inside this tree. It's most exciting."
Sally slid down the rope. She went too fast and her hands felt as if they were burning. She landed beside Benny, on to something soft. She wondered what it was.
" Do switch on your torch," she said. " Quick! "
Benny switched it on—and the light shone around them in the curious tree-hollow. And then they noticed something very queer.
" Look," said Benny, puzzled, " what's that piled here and there? Sacks! Empty sacks! And look, here's an empty cardboard box! Sally— whatever are they doing here? "
" Somebody has been using this tree for something! " said Sally. "Oh Benny—whose tree is it! We'd better find out! "
" You know, Sally, I think someone is using this hollow tree to hide things in," said Benny. " Maybe a robber! "
" Gracious! " said Sally, scared. " Do you mean—a burglar, perhaps. There have been an awful lot of robberies lately, haven't there? And the police have never found any of the stolen goods."
" I say—I hope whoever uses this tree as a hiding-place doesn't come whilst we're here," said Benny, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.
" Well, Scamp is outside the tree. I can hear him snuffling round," said Sally. " He'd scare away any robbers! "
Scamp was scraping hard at a hole at the bottom of the hollow tree. Benny flashed his torch downwards and laughed. " Look—he's got his head inside the tree—but he can't get his body through. Poor old Scamp! Mind you don't get stuck! "
" Let's look at these sacks and see if they tell us anything," said Sally. " There are so many of them—all empty too! "