Quite drenched, Berta sat down on a trunk, wiped her face and lamented: “What a rotten ideas was that, look what I look like!”
“You look like we all look, so take a chill pill”, Elfrida grunted. “Who would have thought that the tent falls to pieces. We better go home to me, my parents won’t come back soon.”
Elfrida, Daisy, Jenny, Susy, Rosy, Berta, Bernie, and Norbert really did not look very smart. They were wet to the skin and dirty. They all thought that Mary could count herself happy because she had not been allowed to come along. Her parents had gone to watch a movie and she had to look after her little sister Barbie. Of course she had not been delighted, but nothing doing. However, if now she would look out of the window, she surely would know that her friends had not much fun with camping in the Magic Forest. It was the second time now that staying overnight in the Magic Forest went wrong. The first time Rosy had fallen into some stinging nettle bush and Berta into a mud hole. Also that time they had to return home. Now when pitching the tent it had got entangled with a broken branch and when trying to get it free, the tent side had ripped open. When wind and rain had increased, also the rip increased and the tent collapsed. Their things were as soaked as they. When they walked through the pouring rain, Jenny saw something moving above the tree tops.
“Look at, what is that?”
She pointed at some distant spots in the sky.
“Looks like some daft birds”, Berta grumbled. “Who wants to know?”
“That’s no birds. It’s much bigger, something different”, Jenny said.
Now also Elfrida stopped and held her hand up to shield her eyes from the pouring rain.
“No idea what it is. Better let’s get into the dry.”
They hurried. They had no inkling what they just had seen and what was waiting for them.
“My, I’m looking forward to put up my feet in front of the telly tonight.”
Elfrida sighed and scowled at her filthy shoes.
“Please remember that we have to take a bath. For certain there will be no telly today.”
“Why, Berta, that will take no time!”
“That will take time. We are really dirty after all and also have to shampoo our hair.”
Elfrida sighed again. What fun would that be, staying overnight with Berta. All that was Bobble’s fault because Elfrida’s father had wanted to paper her room. He had stepped onto her bed to get a the ceiling and unfortunately the bed had collapsed. Bobble had fallen into the full paste bucket and now no one could enter Elfrida’s room for some days. She did not want to sleep in Bruno’s room. Actually she wished to sleep at Daisy’s or Jenny’s but Berta had been the first to invite her and she did not want to say no to her.
“What will be for supper?”
Berta thought. “A nice salad, I think.”
“With bread and cuts?”
“Well, Elfrida, in the evening one should not eat that much my Mummy always says.”
“And why is your Mummy that fat?” Rosy asked.
Berta blushed fiercely.
“That, my dear Rosy, is due to desperation.”
“Disposition you mean”, Daisy corrected her.
“That’s what I said. It just is like that.”
“I don’t believe it, my dear Berta. By chance I do know that your Mummy and my Mummy are always taking coffee and cake after lunch. By chance, my dear Berta, I also know that your Mummy always eats most.”
“Well, my dear Rosy, it’s rather the other way round!”
“No, my very dear Berta, it’s…”
“Now will you shut up”, Jenny remarked. “I can’t concentrate on the path.”
The path indeed got worse all the time because the ground was soaked by the rain and they all had to take care not to slip. It was so dark that one could not see a step ahead. Only the beam of Jenny’s torch showed the way. Again and again they bumped into low hanging branches. The drumming of the rain was mixed with sounds of cracking twigs and our friends all the time looked back in a frightened way. Sometimes shadows seemed to flit along left and right. The children huddled together and wished to be home.
“Do you also feel like being watched?” Susy asked.
“That’s only the wind in the trees”, Elfrida tried to sooth the others but was not that certain.
Again and again their glances wandered around and every time something seemed to hide quickly. The spooky walk brought them along big old oak trees and suddenly Rosy yelled:
“There, a big animal or something!” And she started running.
However, when leaving the beam of Jenny’s torch, she stopped, trembling. Elfrida walked up to her.
“What did you see?”
“Eyes, a pair of glowing eyes!”
They all looked at the clearing behind them. Nothing to be seen but everything seemed to be to curious and strange in this dark rainy night.
“You’ve been mistaken perhaps. I’m feeling quite queasy, too. Come on, let’s hurry”, Jenny soothed her.
Then her fingers closed around the torch and she once more took the lead. Faster and faster they walked through the Magic Forest, in the end they were running.
When they at last reached the bus stop, they sighed with relief. All bade each other good night after they had made a date for the next day. They wanted to meet at Berta’s place. She was proud of it and thought it swell that Elfrida was to spend the night with her. Elfrida, as mentioned before, was not that delighted but it did not matter after the past adventure. Worse was to come.