In this chapter we'll find out how Martin and Luke got on with their wild boys experiment. And the cribbage league moves outdoors, and the forfeits get correspondingly rather more serious.
Tuesday May 27th
I’m filling in the journal on Tuesday evening – I’m going back to the dip shortly, but we both thought it would be a good idea to nip home for a bath and a meal before we start the second part of our camping experiment…. Actually it won’t really be an experiment any longer because we’re going to be normal civilised boys for the next day and a half, but we’ll still be camping out on our own and preparing our own food and so on.
But I need to record the first part, because that was when we were being wild boys, and it was really interesting. I went round to Luke’s house for lunch yesterday, and as soon as we’d finished eating we took everything to the dip. It took two trips because the water was heavy and we couldn’t manage to carry everything in one go.
We pitched the tent at one side of the dip so that it would be out of the way of Luke’s rope swing and we put everything inside it: first a sleeping-bag which Luke put opened out on the floor of the tent to help insulate us from the cold, then the gas cooker, which we’d agreed not to use until the following day, then the blankets we’d brought to keep us warm, and finally our clothes. We kept our shoes near the front of the tent because we’d agreed that we could wear shoes when we weren’t in the dip – Mowgli and Tarzan had toughened feet because they had never worn shoes, but we didn’t, and so this was one cheat that we thought we could do, provided we took the shoes off as soon as possible. We’d also brought some fruit and some sandwiches (okay, that was cheating, too, but it meant that we wouldn’t have to hunt or to try eating raw rabbit or something, so it was probably a sensible sort of cheating).
Then we closed the tent, agreed that we weren’t going to speak English for the next twenty-four hours and started the experiment. We did it the same way we actually first met: I sat on the branch and Luke came into the dip and found me in his hunting-ground, and of course he was angry about it because it meant, as I’d said to Luke before, that we would be in competition for limited food resources (and I still can’t see why he thought that sounded ‘poncey’)
So he snarled and ran down the bank towards me, and I got up and turned to meet him, growling. I’m no good at fighting – of course I haven’t had any chance to practise recently, except for some play fights with Miles, which he usually wins anyway – but whenever I got into a fight when I was still at school I lost. But this time I was trying to think like a wolf, and so when he jumped at me I was ready and grabbed him, snarling.
We rolled about on the ground, snapping our teeth at each other and trying to rip each other open with our claws (actually he did manage to give me a heavy scratch or two, and if he had been equipped with claws I would have been in serious trouble). I almost got my teeth into his neck but he jerked his head away just in time. And he bit me on the shoulder, but I managed to shove him away before he broke the skin.
But in the end he got on top of me and pinned me down, and he was threatening to rip my throat out, so I had no choice. I went limp to indicate that I wasn’t going to resist any longer, and when he got off me I stayed lying on my back with my stomach exposed, showing that if he wanted to rip it open with his claws I wouldn’t be able to prevent him. This is apparently one way of demonstrating submission in the animal kingdom. He stood over me, snarling, and did a little burst of pee onto my personal places, which I suppose meant that he’d marked me as belonging to him, the same way that dogs mark trees and lamp-posts with their pee to indicate that they own the territory round the tree or lamp-post. Then he pulled me to his feet and started to train me.
(I should say that I’d used that stuff of my mother’s on my personal places on Sunday evening, and it worked really well, so when Luke saw me undressed there was no trace of fur at all and I looked exactly the same as him).
The training was hard work: he raced me, cuffing me and knocking me down if I wasn’t fast enough; he showed me how to let go of his rope swing at the right moment so as to land as far forward as possible (and again he hit me if I messed it up, as I did the first two or three times); he showed me his spear and tried to teach me how to throw it (and when I missed the tree completely he knocked me down and snarled at me); and he also tried to teach me to throw a knife, but as he wasn’t too good at that himself at least I didn’t get smacked for messing that up.
We trained for a while, and I became quite good at using the rope and not too bad with the spear, though he was far better. But at least as the afternoon went on I didn’t get hit quite so often.
And then he tried to get me to climb the tree and use the rope to get back down, and that was really hard for me – as I’ve said before, I don’t like heights very much. I tried to indicate that I didn’t want to climb the tree, but he just snarled and hit my bottom with the shaft of the spear, and so I started to climb – after all, I suppose I’m built quite like an ape, and they climb easily. He came up behind me, growling to keep me moving, until I reached the branch where the rope was, but then I made the mistake of looking down, and I got scared. I think he could see that I was really worried, and so the ‘real’ Luke overruled Feral Luke for a few moments, long enough for him to go past me onto the branch. He gave a particular sort of grunt that meant ‘watch’ (he pointed at his eyes, so I’d know what he meant) and then he walked out along the branch, sat down next to the rope, took hold of it and swung out onto it, climbing down hand over hand.
I knew I could never do that without falling, so I stayed where I was until he climbed back up the tree, and then I indicated that I was scared and couldn’t do it. He growled at me a couple of times, but I just shook my head, and in the end he pointed back down the tree and let me climb back the way I had come up. Even that wasn’t easy, but I managed it.
Once I was back on the ground I indicated that I was sorry by going back into the submission position, and he snarled at me but then pulled me to my feet again.
After that we rested for a bit while we worked on a system of communication, agreeing certain noises to have particular meanings. This was interesting – obviously it wouldn’t be possible to build a proper vocabulary, because we could only deal with solid concepts like nouns and verbs of action, but if you’re two feral boys who have just met then that is plenty. Basically I was learning his language, because he was the alpha male (he’d won the fight, of course), and so he was in charge.
I wasn’t sure what the time was by now – obviously we’d left our watches in the tent – but all that exercise had left me feeling a bit hungry, so I indicated this and he went to the tent and came out with an apple and a banana. He sat and ate about half of the apple and then threw it to me, and then did the same thing with the banana (though he did peel it first, which maybe he learned while living with the apes). I wasn’t sure about this – it wasn’t very hygienic to finish an apple someone else has started – but I was hungry, and I supposed that in real life I’d be lucky if the alpha male left me anything except the core, so I ate it, and the banana, and then we drank a little water – we’d left the container outside the tent so that we could run a little into our cupped hands to drink.
We rested for a little while, and then he stuck his head into the tent and retrieved our trainers, indicating that I should put mine on, and then he picked up his spear, growled at me to follow him, and walked up out of the dip.
I really wasn’t sure about this: it was still broad daylight, and anyone might have been about. But Luke just strode off across the field to the gate that led out onto the lane, climbed over it and stood in the middle of the road, naked except for his shoes. So of course I had to follow him. Fortunately there was no traffic, but I found it frightening, all the same.
He walked a short way down the lane and then climbed over another gate on the opposite side of the road and headed off into a field. Obviously I was much happier here, especially since there was a wood right next to the part of the field we were in, which made it far less likely that anyone would see us.
After about fifty yards he turned and went into the wood. Here the trees were mostly pines: there was a carpet of pine needles underfoot which would probably have been quite comfortable even in bare feet, and indeed after a bit Luke sat down and removed his shoes, giving them to me to carry. I took mine off too and followed him carrying both pairs.
Once we were a little way into the trees we found that we were sheltered from the breeze. It was a nice warm day and the breeze hadn’t been uncomfortable, but here in the trees we were protected from it anyway. And then Luke led me through the branches of one tree, which was a large one and quite old, and against the trunk and between the branches was a small clear space, out of the wind, with a thick layer of pine needles under our feet. He mimed sleeping and I nodded vigorously: this would be a really good place to spend the night and it would save us from having to use the tent.
We marked the trail back to the field so that we could find it after dark, left a wooden marker at the edge of the field so that we could find the beginning of the trail and then explored a bit further. Eventually we reached the corner of the wood, and from here the land sloped down towards the river, and as it was all open country with virtually no shelter we thought that it would be too dangerous to explore further in daylight. So, still with bare feet, we retraced our steps, climbed back over the gate, walked the fifty yards or so back to the other gate, and so made our way back to the dip.
We spent some more time training and I began to get a bit better with the spear (though I still got cuffed when I missed the tree completely) and Luke tried to get me to climb the rope, but I couldn’t. After I failed to get more than a couple of feet off the ground for the third time he made out he was really angry, making me lie on the ground in the ‘submission’ position and threatening to stab me with the spear. If I’d really been a wolf-boy I’d have been terrified, but of course I knew Luke wouldn’t really kill me… and I realised that maybe this was why I couldn’t climb the rope, because I was still thinking like a rational human (or alien), not like a feral kid. So I tried to think more like a wolf, and actually got a little further up the rope – though since wolves can’t climb ropes, perhaps being more wolf-like didn’t really help.
I needed a pee at one point. Luke had gone a couple of times, just standing still for a moment and letting it happen without seeming to care in the slightest that I was watching (the second time he’d sprayed my personal places again, just to reinforce that he owned me), but it was hard for me to do the same until I got properly into the wolf frame of mind. Then I was able just to let it happen. It still felt a bit strange, knowing that Luke was watching, but I decided that I didn’t mind too much after all.
Then he decided that it was time for tea. We’d brought some ham sandwiches with us – we couldn’t eat real raw meat, so we pretended that the sandwiches were chunks of wild boar. Luke took one, sat on the branch – he made me sit on the ground in front of him, even though there was probably room for both of us on the branch – and ate the first sandwich, just throwing me a bit of crust. He did the same with the second one, and I was starting to think I was going to go hungry, but of course he was the alpha male and so he had the right to the best of the meat. But then he grinned and threw me a complete sandwich, so that was all right.
When it got dark we collected the blankets from the tent – they were supposed to be animal skins, of course – and set off to spend the night in the shelter of the pine tree we had found. It was exciting trying to follow the trail through the wood because it was really dark under the trees, but we followed it successfully and settled down under our tree. We put one blanket on the ground, folded up, and then sat on it side by side with our backs to the trunk of the tree and wrapped the other one around us. It felt good like that, and we were nice and warm, too: our bodies were right up against each other, the blanket kept our body heat in and the tree protected us from any wind.
We didn’t go to sleep straight away and in fact after a bit I had to pee again, so I got up, went outside the tree and urinated. When I came back Luke was angry that I had disturbed him and he snarled at me and wouldn’t let me back under the blanket. He pointed to his feet and made me curl up there. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep like that and that it would get cold later in the night, but after a few minutes he let me come back and share the blanket with him.
We slept better than I had expected: I woke up a couple of times, but I wasn’t cold and I got back to sleep fairly easily. In the morning we went back to the dip and had breakfast – we’d brought some milk (we pretended we’d got it direct from a cow) and we ate a couple of Weetabix each (that could have been grains of wheat taken from a field). We spent the morning wrestling a bit, training some more and working on our vocabulary, until by lunchtime we could communicate quite well without using actual words at all.
We had some more fruit for lunch, and once we’d completed twenty-four hours from the start of the experiment Luke suggested that we should both go home to have a bath and a hot meal and then come back to the dip for the night, though if we wanted to we could just be normal, civilised boys from now on.
So I’m about to have my bath and my mother is cooking us a meal, but I thought I should write up the journal first. Luke and I will discuss the experiment this evening, but I think it proves we could survive as wild boys if we had access to food and some animal skins or something else to keep us warm at night.
Miles’s epileptic friend is here with him at the moment, and I think he’s staying the night, so it looks as if we’ve both found a proper friend. I’m not sure how they spent the day, but I expect what Luke and I were doing was more interesting…
In fact Miles’s day had also been highly entertaining. Graham had invited him to come round for lunch, and before eating they had gone up to Graham’s room and wedged the anti-sister chair under the door-handle as usual.
“Let’s see the photos, then,” said Miles, and Graham grinned at him and turned on the computer.
“They came out even better than I’d hoped,” he said, sitting down and typing in a long password. A couple of clicks after that he was able to open a folder of pictures, and he selected one and brought it up on the screen. And Miles found himself looking at a photo of himself and Twitch with their arms round each other, kissing and playing with each other’s genitals.
“This was the best one because you can see everything,” Graham said, grinning at him some more. “If we weren’t friends I could blackmail you really badly with that – I could tell you to give me your allowance every week, and if you refused copies of this would start getting emailed all round the school and hard copies would start turning up on the school notice-boards.”
That got Miles quite worried, but Graham went on, “But obviously I won’t. We’re mates, and you don’t drop your mates in it like that. On the other hand, we’ve got Toby…”
He had a couple of Toby doing his stride jumps and a short video clip of Toby and Jamie peeing on each other.
“I can’t really use that one as it is without annoying Jamie, but I might be able to find a way to blank out Jamie’s face, if I decide to start passing this around the class. I’ve got some basic editing software… I’ll copy the film and do some experiments. Anyway, here are the other photos I’ve got so far.”
He started a slide-show presentation, and Miles was impressed with the quality: obviously Graham’s mobile phone had a high-resolution camera. The collection included a full-frontal picture of everyone who had lost a game of crib so far, except Graham and his partner Rob, of course, and it also included pictures of the various forfeits that had taken place. He particularly liked the one of Kevin taken just after he got out of the cold shower, his balls drawn up tight against his body, his penis small and his pubic hair plastered around the base of it.
“These are really good,” he said. “But I’ll definitely be taking a couple of you and Rob next time you lose – after all, we ought to have a complete collection.”
“Like I said, I don’t mind as long as nobody sees it except us. If you showed it to anyone else, though, I’d have to beat you up.”
“Yeah? You and whose army?”
That led to a wrestling match, and this time Miles ended up on top and was able to twist Graham’s ear until he submitted.
“For that I’ll make sure you get some really bad forfeits if you lose today,” Graham promised him, rubbing his sore ear. “And I’ll get loads of close-ups, too.”
“Except maybe it’ll be you who loses.”
“No chance! Me and Rob are too cool to lose.”
“We’ll see. So, have you thought up some good forfeits, then?”
“I’ve got some really nasty ones. It’ll depend who loses, though, because I’ll be saving the really bad ones for Toby. I’m not going to do anything too horrible to my mates… except Jamie, of course, but that’s his fault for wanting to team up with Little Miss Perfect.”
So after lunch they rode round to the Greyhound, and over the next fifteen minutes or so everyone else turned up. It was a nice warm day. In one way this was a good thing, though Miles thought it might be funny if the losers had to run about naked in the rain – as long as he and Twitch didn’t lose, of course.
They walked off down Broom Lane, those with bikes pushing them so that those on foot could keep up, and a couple of hundred yards down the lane they climbed the bank and went into the woods. At the far side of the woods was a barbed-wire fence, beyond which was a field of long grass, and they climbed through the fence, leaving the bikes against a tree inside the wood, and sat down on the grass to play the first game. This was a good place: the wood bordered the field on two sides here, and ran along a third side of the field about a hundred yards away. The fourth side was open, but there were no houses anywhere in sight and the field was clearly not in use at the moment either for crops or for grazing animals, because the grass was long and untouched.
The first game was Miles and Twitch against Graham and Rob, and this time Miles and Twitch won comfortably.
“Okay,” said Miles, “you have to strip naked and run from here to the bottom of the field and back. The last one back has to go again – and if you try to get out of it by finishing together you’ll both have to go again.” And he got his phone out, set it to camera and waited – and, as Graham had said, he found that everyone was watching the two losers getting undressed and nobody was watching him.
He ordered them to make themselves stiff first, since that would give him time for a couple of preliminary photos (and he ignored Toby’s demand that they should be made to do it to each other). And when they were both satisfactorily erect and he had taken a couple of photos of each of them he started the race.
As he had rather expected, Graham won comfortably, and so Rob was forced to run a further couple of hundred yards, still naked, while Graham got dressed. Eventually he got back, apparently exhausted, and was allowed to put his clothes back on.
“That was too easy,” complained Toby. “You should have given them something a lot worse than that.”
“Well, it was only the second time they’ve lost,” Miles pointed out. “There’ll be plenty of worse stuff we can do to them later on.”
The second game saw Miles and Twitch playing again, this time against Jack and Robyn. This was a much closer game, but Miles and Twitch finally pegged out a couple of points ahead. And that meant that Robyn had finally lost a game for the first time, causing a lot of anticipation among the audience – though in fact Graham had told Miles beforehand that Jack had never lost a game of penalties, so he would be stripping for the first time today as well.
And in fact Miles thought that Jack looked a lot more interesting: as he had expected, Robyn’s chest looked almost exactly the same as her brother’s, and her other main area of interest was basically just a vertical slit with no hair – though it did look a little more interesting when Twitch told her to spread her legs. Jack, on the other hand, was interesting because he looked different from most of the others. For a start he had a little hair – nothing like as much as Kevin, but there were a few there all the same. Plus, he was circumcised, and his penis looked a little thicker than usual, and his balls looked a bit bigger, too. And, finally, because he was looking at Robyn when he took his pants off and so had an erection. Miles thought it was about the same length as his but Jack’s was definitely a bit thicker.
Graham was surreptitiously taking pictures, and this time Miles had his own phone out, too.
“Okay,” he said, putting it back in his pocket for a moment, “since this is the first time you’ve lost you just have to do twenty press-ups.”
He wondered if Robyn would be able to do them, but in the event she managed far more easily than he expected. He did find it interesting that when she was doing them, her legs spread a little, he could see her vagina from the back.
Jack wasn’t having any problem with the press-ups, either, and soon they had both finished the allotted twenty, at which point Miles told them that they could get dressed, despite protests from most of the boys that this was far too easy a forfeit.
In the next game Tom and Kevin beat Jamie and Toby by a couple of points, provoking a demand for a recount from Toby. The recount clearly showed the score was correct.
“Oh, dear, third failure,” said Kevin, grinning. “Now we are going to have to get serious. Get undressed.”
He climbed back through the fence and returned a minute or so later with a couple of stinging-nettles.
“Now, Jamie,” he ordered, “you have to take one of these, stroke it all over Toby’s cock and balls and then swipe his bum with it. Toby, after that it’ll be your turn.”
Both tried to protest, but Graham assured them that this was entirely within the rules, adding that if they refused to do it to each other the rest of the gang would do it for them. So in the end Jamie took one of the nettles and did as he had been told, and Toby yelped as he was stung several times. Finally Jamie gave a sort of half-hearted swing of the nettle against Toby’s bum.
Toby took his nettle and set to work, and he was obviously doing his best to make sure Jamie got stung as much as possible. Jamie was erect, of course, and so it was easier to sting his penis all over, and Toby made sure he did that, even carrying on for a few seconds after Kevin told him he should stop and swipe his partner’s bum. And then he delivered a full-blooded swing of the nettle, dragging it across the buttocks afterwards to ensure maximum soreness. Jamie glared at him, but Toby ignored him, throwing down his nettle and grabbing his briefs.
“Last game for today,” Graham announced, quickly shoving his phone back into his pocket before anyone noticed, “me and Rob against Jack and Robyn. And I can promise that if we win you two aren’t going to get away anything like as lightly this time.”
But in the event Jack and Robyn won fairly easily.
“Strip!” ordered Jack. “Then you have to lie down on your back, Graham, and Rob has to lie on top of you, facing you – oh, make sure you’re both nice and stiff first.”
Reluctantly they got into position.
“And now Rob has to pee,” continued Jack. “And the usual rule applies: do it yourself, or we‘ll all do it.”
Rob did it, to the general amusement.
“And, since we’ve decided pain is allowed, I think you should have some,” Jack went on. “After all, this is the third time you two have lost.”
He took his belt off and used it to strap Rob’s bottom – quite hard, in fact, making Rob yelp with every blow. He gave him the customary six and then ordered them to change places. Now Graham had to pee, and then he was strapped. Finally they were made to stand up and face the company, their bottoms sore and pee trickling down their legs.
Jack took pity on them after ten seconds and told them they could get dressed, even throwing them an old towel he had brought along just in case. They hurriedly wiped themselves down and then threw their clothes back on.
“You wait, Jack,” said Graham, giving him a black look. “You’ve got to play again tomorrow. You really need to start praying you don’t lose.”
“We won’t,” said Jack, confidently. “We’re top of the league right now, aren’t we? Well, joint top with Miles and Twitch, anyway. Face it, we’re too good for you peasants.”
“We’ll see,” said Graham. “So – what do you all want to do now? I think we might as well stay here for a bit. Anyone fancy a war game?”
They split into two teams and spent the next hour or so having a series of mock battles, sometimes shooting each other with pretend guns and sometimes having impromptu wrestling matches in the long grass, which Miles thought was a lot of fun. Twitch wasn’t much good at fighting but joined in eagerly anyway, and even Toby, who was equally useless, did his best, though he tended to fight dirty, pinching and scratching if given a chance to do so. Robyn, on the other hand, fought like a boy, punching and wrestling, though she wasn’t afraid of threatening to knee her opponents in the balls from time to time.
At around quarter to five the party broke up and Miles gave Twitch a ride back to his house on his carrier, which wasn’t particularly comfortable but which was quicker than walking would have been. They dumped Twitch’s bag in Miles’s room and went to the bathroom to have a quick wash, but they reached the door at the same time as Martin, who was about to take a bath.
“Hello, Noel,” said Martin, who didn’t think calling an epileptic ‘Twitch’ was polite, whatever the boy himself said about it.
“Hi, Mars. You look a bit muddy.”
Martin was only wearing his briefs, and so the amount of mud on his body was fairly obvious.
“I’ve been doing an experiment with my friend Luke to see what it’s like being a feral boy,” Martin told him.
“It means wild, like a kid who has been raised by animals,” Miles explained.
“Oh, right. That sounds fun.”
“It was, actually,” Martin told him, “even if it was really supposed to be an experiment. Is it okay if I run the bath? Only I told Luke I’d be back by six o’clock.”
“Go ahead,” invited Miles. “We’re just going to have a quick wash.”
So Martin began to run a bath while Miles gave Twitch first use of the wash-basin. Twitch had a quick wash but Miles told him to take his time, there really wasn't any need to rush. So Twitch slowed down a bit, and then Miles had a really leisurely wash himself, and as he had hoped Martin’s bath was ready long before he had finished.
“It’s okay, Mars, you can get in,” Miles invited him. “Twitch won’t mind – will you, Twitch?”
“Not at all!”
“It’s okay, I can wait.”
“You really haven’t got time,” Miles told him. “Mum said supper would be ready at half-past five, and it’s twenty past now.”
Martin still looked a bit uncertain, but he supposed his brother was right, so in the end he slipped his briefs off and got into the bath, keeping his back to them.
Of course, at that point Miles just stopped washing altogether, waiting until his brother was forced to sit down and start washing himself, and only then did Miles finish off, pick up the towel and stroll over to the side of the bath, drying his hands very slowly.
“Ah, I see something has changed, Mars,” he commented, looking at his brother’s groin.
“Well, yes. I didn’t want Luke to know about…” Martin looked at Twitch, not very happily.
“Oh, don’t worry about Twitch,” said Miles, grinning. “He’s my friend – I don’t keep secrets from him.”
“Yes, but it’s not your secret!”
“I suppose not. Still, Twitch isn’t going to tell anyone – are you, Twitch? I mean, you said last time that you liked my brother, so you won’t give away his secrets, will you?”
“Of course not,” said Twitch, straight away. “What secret, Miles?”
“Well, my brother has a very rare illness. It’s called Monkey Disease. It’s barely started yet, so I don’t think it’s a problem, but he gets a bit embarrassed about it… hang on, Mars, how come you were worried about Luke seeing you? Do you mean you were playing at feral kids without any clothes on?”
“Well, yes,” mumbled Martin, feeling oddly ashamed. “Obviously boys growing up in the jungle and raised by animals wouldn’t have any clothes.”
“I suppose not. See, Twitch, Mars always does things properly: it’s his alien brain. Normal boys would be happy to pretend and wear PE shorts or something, but Mars has to do it exactly right and so not wear any clothes at all. So Luke has seen you undressed, then?”
Martin nodded, still feeling he was on the defensive and not really understanding why, because it was obvious that feral boys wouldn’t have any clothes, and so how else could you do a proper experiment?
“And that’s why you cut it off?”
“I didn’t cut it. I used some cream that our mother uses.”
“Well, okay, but it’s gone, anyway. I suppose you had to really, but you’ll probably have to tell Luke the truth some day. Maybe when you’ve known him a bit longer, because I suppose you don’t want to upset him until he’s decided he really wants to be your friend. Stand up for a moment and show us.”
Martin hesitated, but he had agreed to let Miles check him over whenever he thought it necessary, so after a few seconds he stood up. His penis was soft, because he felt really embarrassed about yet another of Miles’s friends being allowed to look at him when he had no clothes on.
“I can’t see anything wrong with him,” said Twitch, looking with interest at Martin’s groin, and in fact he thought Martin’s looked almost exactly like his brother’s, though maybe Martin had slightly larger balls.
“There isn’t – at least, not so you can see now. See, Martin had a problem here,” and Miles reached out and stroked the base of his brother’s penis. This got no reaction, because Martin was still far too embarrassed to feel excited. “He was starting to turn into a monkey.”
“Gosh! How come?”
“Let’s go and let Martin have his bath in peace, and I’ll tell you about it,” said Miles, steering his friend out of the bathroom. Martin sat down and started to wash the mud off his legs, still feeling a bit uncomfortable about the liberties Miles was starting to take recently with his privacy.
Back in his room Miles explained the scam to Twitch, who thought it was funny but a little bit cruel as well. “I like your brother,” he said, “even if he is a bit strange. You’ll have to tell him the truth before too long, Miles.”
“I will. Actually I probably won’t have to: it’s obvious he really likes Luke, and he’ll probably pluck up the courage to ask him about it before too long, and Luke will set him straight. It’s just sort of fun teasing him about it for a bit, that’s all.”
They ate supper together, and shortly afterwards Martin packed a small bag with a few odds and ends, including the books he and Luke were reading, and set out for the dip. What he didn’t know was that Miles and Twitch were following him, keeping far enough back to be able to duck down quickly if necessary but not so far that they lost sight of their target. In fact Martin never looked back at all, just walking straight ahead and thinking about the evening ahead of him.
He climbed through the fence in the usual place and Miles and Twitch stopped and waited for him to disappear into the trees, because the field was completely open with no cover and it would have been too dangerous to leave the shelter of the footpath until Martin had disappeared. Then they climbed through the fence and ran across the field, stopping just short of the dip and crawling forwards to the edge. They saw that Martin was sitting on the branch and waiting, so Miles, realising that Luke had not yet arrived, led Twitch back away from the edge and moved round to the far side of the dip, where the undergrowth would provide them with better cover.
Ten minutes later Luke arrived carrying a bag, which he put down by the tent. Miles and Twitch watched for a few minutes, but the two older boys just sat on the branch talking, and after a bit Miles backed away from the edge of the dip, pulling Twitch with him.
“We’d better get back,” he said. “I told Mum we were only going out for a quick walk. But we know where they are now, so we can come back in the morning and spy on them properly for a bit longer. I really want to see if they’re both going to pretend to be wild and run about bare, or if Luke’s got too much sense. We’ll come back after breakfast and find out.”
“You know what?” said Twitch as they headed back towards the footpath. “I think it could be sort of fun, running about naked, especially if the weather is nice and warm. Perhaps we should try it sometime.”
“We might have to if we get beaten at crib tomorrow,” Miles pointed out. “After all, Graham and Rob had to do it today.”
“That’s different. Okay, I suppose we’ll have to if we lose and they tell us to, but it won’t be any fun with all that lot laughing at us. I meant doing it like Mars, out here where nobody can see us. I think it would be sort of exciting.”
“Well, okay – if we find somewhere safe maybe we could do that. But we’d have to be sure nobody found out about it – I don’t want anyone spying on us!”
“I’m sure we could find somewhere if we go far enough away from the village. Maybe we can pretend to be explorers tomorrow morning: we could come and watch the wild boys, and then see if we can find somewhere of our own to play that sort of game. Can we, Miles?”
“Okay, why not? And if we don’t get time tomorrow, I’m sure you can come over and play again before we go back to school.”
“Cool! This is going to be really good, Miles!”
And Miles thought that maybe he was right, at that.
So now Miles and Twitch are considering a little outdoor experimentation of their own. They won't be taking it quite so seriously as Martin and Luke, though – next time we'll watch their experiment move into areas that Martin had not expected at the start.
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