Okay, this puts us back on track chronologically with The Wooden Chest, which is where this story started, but then decided it needed prologue.
Pushing on the trick panel, Ally pushed up the lid to show Chris the inside of the chest he’d never been able to open.
Looking in, she stared, confused, the packages from yesterday had disappeared. In their place was a note. Pulling it out, she opened it and read aloud.
“Very intriguing, please send something else.”
Chris looked at her, “I’m guessing you didn’t write that then.”
“No, no I didn’t and I have no idea who did. Do you think someone came into my house during the night?”
Suddenly she was scared, really scared.
“I can check all the locks and things for you, but, really, if someone was going to come in and go to that kind of trouble, wouldn’t they have taken the telly or something?”
“As opposed to some old skirts and home made fudge? You’re right.”
She nearly cried in relief, she couldn’t bear to think of her cozy bolt-hole being invaded.
That didn’t solve the mystery of the chest though and, much as she would like to believe they’d made a connection with a magical otherworld, it was only sensible to do a bit of proper investigating. She leaned in to take a closer look at the inside of the chest.
“What do you mean?”
Chris hunkered down to try and see what she was looking at.
“There are different patterns and markings on the wood than when I put the stuff in there last night. See that dark swirl over there? Wasn’t there yesterday, I’m sure of it.”
“Ohhh, so it might be a secret compartment or something!”
Chris came very close to nosediving into the chest in his enthusiasm.
“I think that knot – the dark swirl – might be the key to this too, it’s not fully connected to the wood around it, you can’t tell because of the patterning in the colour variance.”
He reached in and pushed and prodded at the spot, then moved his hand back fast. The bottom of the chest had split in half lengthways and pushed against the sides and down, raising the previously hidden lower base of the chest up to the same level as the false bottom.
“This is incredible engineering. Can I study this properly to see how it works? I’d love to have a go at building one and seeing if I can make it work.”
“It was yours before it was mine, so have at it.”
Ally smiled in a mixture of relief and amusement, “Although it doesn’t answer the question of who wrote the note and how it ended up in there.”
Chris picked up the paper and studied it carefully, “I think I can give you an answer on that one as well. That’s my gran’s handwriting. My guess is she expected me to work this out someday and put it in there as a joke. She’s going to be doubly mad at me for causing you such a scare by selling you the chest with the prank set up in it.”
“Well all’s well that ends well and I’ve got my Scotch Tablet back so I won’t hold a grudge.”