‘I’m nearly done,’ replied a voice from below her. Chris Comino, her best friend and neighbor, was standing on the lowest branch of the large fig tree, attaching a rope ladder to a higher branch. ‘There,’ he said. ‘That should make getting up to the platform easier for us.’
Taya looked down. The rope ladder would certainly make access to their treehouse less of a struggle. ‘But, we don’t want it hanging down when we aren’t here. The treehouse has to be a secret place.’ Chris climbed up from the branch to stand beside her. He patted her shoulder. ‘You young people,’ he chuckled. ‘No imagination. Watch this.’ He pulled on a cord that was tied to the last rung of the rope ladder. The ladder rolled back up to the platform of the treehouse. ‘Now I just tie it off back here,’ he added, securing the rope to a small branch. ‘And taa-dah - no rope ladder! When we want to use it, all we have to do is release it. You may applaud now.’ He stretched his arms sideways like a magician who had just made a rabbit disappear.
Taya nodded in approval and provided the requested applause. ‘That is totally cool. Now, we just need...’ she stopped mid-sentence and turned to look towards the river. ‘What was that? Did you hear that?’
‘What?’ Chris followed her gaze, listening intently. ‘I can’t hear anything.’
‘I thought I heard something - sort of a shout.’
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