The Kids set off on their secret mission!
I didn’t get much sleep that afternoon and evening, and though we never talked about it later, I bet I wasn’t the only one. I won’t go into details about fudging the truth and sneaking out. All adventurers do that, if they want to keep on having adventures, and if there’s something slightly wrong about it, you just have to do your best to minimize it and make sure it’s always for a good cause.
This cause was definitely good, assuming a) the Frozen Cave Girl wasn’t an actress acting, as Nina suggested, and b) if she was actually real she was also actually alive, like Murphy insisted she was. Because if she turned out to be a wax dummy like everyone has always assumed since our grandparents’ time, then it really would be stealing and we were heading into a world of trouble. But like I said above, trouble in a good cause, and if we had to sacrifice about sixteen years of allowances (each!) to make it right, then that’s what we’d have to do.
Apparently all of us had come to the same conclusion and not talked ourselves out it, because at the appointed time we all turned up at the Fort, with dark clothes and rope and tools and well oiled bikes. Riding bikes at night on secret paths through woods and along the edges of service roads is part of any good adventure, and I admit I enjoy it. So does Mr. Spit—this is one of the few times when I feel sure I’m as brave as he is. We always take the lead.
It’s a pretty long way from the Fort to the Fairgrounds and we still weren’t sure how we would get back. Lee, Nina and Pounce (all good at math ) had each tried to figure out how much a block of ice big enough to hold a tall grown up girl must weigh. Their estimates were too different to be helpful except to say that the right answer was probably “a lot”. We didn’t have a car or a truck, obviously, so we were depending on getting her into the thick woods close by the Fairgrounds first, then taking it by stages until we got her back to the Fort.
As the ice melted, the block would get lighter, and maybe we could knock parts of it off. I’d brought a big chisel. Moving would have to be by rope hauling and bike towing, although we were planning to bring in our big six wheeled wagon later in the process. But mostly our plan, such as it was, involved safe hiding places and a certain amount of waiting. How long the ice would take to melt was another unknown (meaning another math failure) but it would probably be days, not hours. We’d take turns staying with her. She was never going to be alone. Waking up from being frozen for at least a hundred years, maybe more (maybe many, many more) would definitely confuse a person.
That’s what I was thinking while we rode our bikes thought the warm summer night, too fast for mosquitoes. Then the Fairgrounds was there, still pretty well lit up, although all the neon lights on the rides and the little white ones lining almost everything else were all turned off. And even though the crowds were gone, the carnival workers and the people staying in the barns with their animals were still walking around or sitting talking at the picnic tables, the grownups anyway.
But the sideshow seemed to be deserted. And at the back of the Frozen Cave Girl’s tent, hanging from one of the ropes, was a turned-off battery lantern.