From the coal cellar came Linda's furious yell. "Double-crossing little toe rag! I can see you. Don't think you can get away with this, you - you GrimKiller."
Now came the sound of splashing. Linda was wading across the cellar and fast. Desperate, Wolf Boy thought feral. He was a wolverine trapped in a burrow. The owner of the burrow, a Forest night creature, had woken beneath him. He must reach daylight now. Now. And then suddenly Lucy's hands were in his, pulling him up, up toward the light, dragging him out of the burrow while the night creature snapped at his heels and dragged off his boots - yelping as the toad spit burned into her hands. Wolf Boy lay prone on the pavement, shaking dark, wolverine thoughts from his mind. But Lucy would not let him be.
"Don't just lie there, stupid," she hissed. "They'll be out here any minute. Come on."
Wolf Boy did not resist as Lucy dragged him to his feet and pulled him, barefoot, along with her as she fled down the street in the late afternoon sunshine. Behind him Wolf Boy was sure he could hear the locks and bolts of the Coven's door being opened and feel the eyes of the Darke Toad following him.
The Coven - minus Linda - were out the door before Lucy and Wolf Boy had turned the corner. Dorinda hung back, unwilling to risk her towel unwinding in a chase. The rest set off in pursuit, but the Witch Mother got no farther than the front step of the house next door before she gave up. Her boots were not made for hot pursuit. That left Daphne and Veronica to go clattering down the road, running in their very own peculiar knees-together-feet-out style. It was not an efficient way of covering ground, and Dorinda knew they would never catch Wolf Boy and Lucy. Dorinda might not have bothered with this had not the sight of Wolf Boy and Lucy fleeing hand-in-hand made her feel very jealous. And so Dorinda scuttled off to the cellar to find Linda. Linda was out the door in a flash - literally. The Coven did not do broomsticks - no one did broomsticks anymore - but they did do some FlashBoard riding, and Linda did it particularly well. A FlashBoard was a simple idea but a dangerous one. It required nothing more than a small slab of wood and a slow-release StunFlash. The StunFlash was harnessed to the wood, which the rider balanced on as best she could. Then the rider set off the slow-release StunFlash, trusting to luck and no one being in the way. Generally Linda found that no one ever did get in her way on the FlashBoard. Dorinda and the Witch Mother watched admiringly as, with a roar of flame shooting from below the board (which was, in fact, the top of Dorinda's dressing table), Linda careered off down Fore Street, scattering a group of old ladies and setting fire to the cart of the Port and Harbor Daily News delivery girl. In a Flash Linda overtook Daphne and Veronica as they tripped girlishly around the corner and sent them tumbling down the basement steps of the local fishmonger. They emerged sometime later covered in fish guts.
To Linda's irritation, there was no sign of Lucy and Wolf Boy, but that did not deter her. Linda was an expert at tracking down fugitives from the Coven. Using her own foolproof system, she began to systematically cover the warren of streets leading down to the harbor. In this way, Linda knew that her quarry must always be in front of her. It was, she thought, like herding sheep into a pen - sheep that were soon going to be acquainted with mint sauce and roast potatoes. It never failed.
Chapter 11 Harborside
T hat afternoon, while Wolf Boy was trying not to feed Lucy to the Grim, Simon took Maureen's advice. He sat on a bollard on the quayside and stared gloomily across the open space of the harbor front.
It was a wide, paved area surrounded on three sides by a variety of tall flat-fronted houses. Sandwiched between the houses were a few shops. In addition to the popular Harbor and Dock Pie Shop, there was a small, rundown shop selling artists' materials, a tiny bookshop specializing in maritime manuscripts and Honest Joe's Chandlery. The chandlery took up the ground floors of three adjoining buildings next to the Harbor Master's imposing red-brick house. All manner of ropes, blocks, windlasses, nets, boat hooks, spars and sails tumbled out from its open doors and colonized the harbor front. The Harbor Master was engaged in a perpetual quarrel with Honest Joe, for the chandler's wares often spilled across his impressively pillared front doorstep. Like an attentive audience in the theater, Simon watched the comings and goings across the Quay. He saw the Harbor Master - a portly man wearing a navy jacket with a good deal of gold braid - emerge from his house, pick his way over three coils of rope that lay neatly set out on his doorstep and march into the chandlery. A line of children chattering and clutching their notebooks walked past on their way to the little museum in the Customs House. The Harbor Master - somewhat redder in the face than he had been - came out of the chandlery and marched back into his house, kicking the rope to one side and slamming the door behind him. A few minutes later Honest Joe scuttled out. He recoiled the rope, replaced it on the doorstep and added a few boat hooks for good measure. All this Simon watched with a steady gaze, waiting for the moment when Lucy would walk across the harbor front, as surely she must - eventually. Every now and then, when it grew quiet, Simon stole a glance at a small window at the top of the stucco-fronted Customs House. The window belonged to the attic room that he and Lucy had rented a couple of days ago, after leaving the Castle rather more suddenly than they would have wished.
It wasn't a bad room, thought Simon. Lucy had seemed really excited when they saw it, talking about how she would paint the walls pink with big green stripes (Simon hadn't been so sure about that) and make some rag rugs to match. They had taken the room right away, and when Lucy had said she wanted to go to the market "just to check out that fun stall with the fabrics and all those ribbony things," Simon had pulled a face and Lucy had laughed. "Yeah," she had said, "you'll only get bored, Si. I won't be long. See you!" And she had blown him a kiss and breezed out.
No, thought Simon, Lucy hadn't been in a temper. If she had been, he would not have wandered off, happy and carefree, down to the old bookshop in Fishguts Twist to see if there were any Magyk books worth having. He had been lucky and found a very mildewed and ancient Spell Book with the pages stuck together. A suspicious lumpiness had told him that there were still some Charms trapped between the pages. Simon had been so absorbed in extricating the Charms and discovering the delights of his purchase - which was a good one - that he had been surprised to find it was already getting dark and Lucy had not returned. He knew that the market closed one hour before sunset, and his first thought was that she had gotten lost. But then he remembered that Lucy knew the Port far better than he did - having spent six months living and working with Maureen at the pie shop - and a stab of concern shot through him. That night had not been good for Simon. He had spent it searching the dark and dangerous streets of the Port. He had been mugged by a couple of pickpockets and chased by the notorious Twenty-One Gang - a group of teens, many of them ex - Young Army boys, who lived rough in Warehouse Number Twenty-one. At dawn he had trailed back to the empty attic room in despair. Lucy was gone.
Over the next few days, Simon had searched for her ceaselessly. He suspected the Port Witch Coven and had knocked loudly on their door, but no one had answered. He had even crept around to the back of the house, but all was quiet. He waited outside the house the whole day and Listened. But he had Heard nothing. The place seemed deserted, and eventually he decided he was wasting his time.
By the time he had talked to Maureen in the pie shop that morning, Simon had convinced himself that Lucy had run off with someone else. He didn't really blame her - after all, what could he offer her? He would never be a Wizard, and they would forever be exiled from the Castle. She was bound to find someone else sooner or later, someone whom she could take home to meet her parents and be proud of. He just hadn't expected it to be quite so soon.
The afternoon wore on and Simon did not move from his bollard. The harbor front became busy. A flood of officials in navy blue Port uniforms embellished with varying amounts of gold swept across the quayside like a dark riptide. They negotiated around the ambush of boat hooks and rope and poured into the Harbor Master's house for the annual Harbor Moot. Behind them they left the usual detritus of the Port - sailors and shopgirls, fishermen and farmers, mothers, children, dockhands and deckhands. Some rushed by, some sauntered, some dithered, some dallied, some nodded to Simon and most ignored him - but not one of them was Lucy Gringe.