‘Why don’t we all step inside and have a look round?’ suggested Joe. ‘It’ll be a real adventure.’
‘I’m not sure I want to,’ said Jemima, recalling the voice and the sudden feeling of cold. ‘Actually I’m quite frightened.’
‘Don’t be such a girl. What could possibly go wrong?’ he replied. ‘We’ll have a look round and then come straight back. If we all stick together we’ll be fine and just think what we’ll be able to tell everyone afterwards.’
‘Except they’ll never believe us,’ said Charlie. ‘And anyway, Joe, are you sure we’ll be able to get back again if we go in there?’
‘Oh, that settles it,’ said Jemima, folding her arms across her chest, her mouth set in a stubborn line. ‘I’m definitely not going – not if there’s a chance of being stranded. You just don’t think do you, Joe?’
‘Watch me!’ he exclaimed and, before either of them could stop him, he launched himself into the cloud. Max, however, had moved swiftly and sunk his teeth into the heel of Joe’s trainer, clinging on for dear life and preventing him from disappearing entirely; one foot remained behind. Joe stepped backwards into the room, angrily shaking his shoe to free himself from the cat’s jaws. ‘Get off, you daft animal. What d’you think you’re playing at?’
Max returned to Jemima’s side, feeling rather pleased with himself and sporting a smug grin as he watched Joe inspect his trainer for teeth marks.
‘Well, here I am back again in one piece, as you can see,’ said Joe triumphantly. ‘So there’s obviously no problem coming and going, is there? You agree with me don’t you, Charlie?’
‘Hmm … I s’pose.’
‘See,’ continued Joe, ignoring the note of doubt in Charlie’s voice and clearly not prepared to take no for an answer. ‘Even Charlie thinks it’s safe. C’mon, Jem. Don’t be wet.’
Jemima finally relented. ‘Okay,’ she said reluctantly. Everything told her this wasn’t a good idea, but she didn’t want to be left behind on her own while the boys disappeared off to goodness knows where without her.
Joe went first, stepping confidently forward into the shimmering mist, closely followed by Charlie. In an instant they both vanished, which rather startled Jemima and as she hesitated she heard the same voice calling to her from far away – yet again it sounded just like her mum. ‘Don’t forget the necklace, Jemima. Pick up the necklace,’ it urged.
Glancing down, Jemima realised the chain was still lying on the floor where they’d left it after using the charm to unlock the book. She scooped it up and, putting the necklace round her neck, made sure the clasp was securely fastened. As she did so, she became aware of Joe’s and Charlie’s muffled voices. ‘Come on, Jemima. Where are you?’
Taking a deep breath she moved towards the shadowy image and with Max pushing against the back of her legs she stepped forward, feeling the comforting pressure of his furry body. Before her eyes could even begin to adjust to the bright sunlight, someone grasped her by the wrist and she yelped in fright.
‘What kept you, slowcoach?’ asked Joe as he let go of her arm. ‘I thought you’d chickened out. We tried to come and fetch you, but we were having a bit of trouble finding the way back through.’
‘What do you mean?’ Jemima started to panic and took a step backwards, surprised to find herself half-in and half-out of the misty cloud. Heaving a sigh of relief, she walked forward once more. ‘Phew, it’s okay,’ she said. ‘I thought we were going to be stuck in here.’
‘See, I told you there was nothing to worry about,’ replied Joe. ‘Charlie and I probably weren’t in the right place before, that’s all.’
‘Well, I just hope we manage to find the right place when we want to come back again,’ she snapped, still worrying about what they were letting themselves in for. ‘Don’t forget to make a careful note of what’s on the other side, because we’re probably going to need some sort of landmark we can recognise.’
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