They were surprised when Asparagus rose at dawn the next day.
“Always the soldier,” he laughed, briskly showering himself under the waterfall after he’d been for a run.
Aunt Marshmallow surveyed him thoughtfully.
“Allow yourself one day of rest,” she suggested.
Asparagus considered she might be right. Events had gone at a mighty pace since he had first arrived at Grassholme. He had only had time for a meal and a rest before he had dashed off to rescue little Hickory. Perhaps he should now take a leisurely breakfast and have a relaxing day. It certainly would be good to have chance to chat with all the others.
Garibaldi and Beanstalk came along and discussed local geography. Pavlova was pleased to get to know him better and to thank him for escorting her girls back from Hadrian’s Wall. Aunty Marmalade, being an expert at finding tasty treats, took him off to explore the plant life. They returned to enjoy seeing the young ones playing and laughing, including Hickory himself; he seemed fully recovered from his kidnapping and Asparagus was impressed by his resilience.
It was late afternoon when Cornelius arrived back from Shap Fell, where he’d been on his latest expedition. He greeted Asparagus with respect and warmth; it was obvious to them both that they had a lot in common. After he had fed and watered, Cornelius was keen to talk.
“Tell me, since you’re well travelled,” he said. “Have you ever been to Small Water Tarn?”
“Oh, many times,” stated Asparagus. “It’s beautiful there. Plus there are not so many tourists; it’s perhaps a little too rugged for them.”
“And what of the flocks?” Asparagus ventured.
“Wonderful,” stated Asparagus. “They originate from over by the old Abbey at Shap, where the monks used to look after them. The sheep are loving creatures, gentle in nature. Some say they are like angels themselves.”
Cornelius looked thoughtful.
“Well, they might now be getting visits from a less than Godly source,” he stated.
Asparagus was intrigued.
“Whatever do you mean?” he asked, half thrilled and half appalled.
Cornelius looked around. There was no one within earshot, so he carried on.
“At Shap Fell, reports were beginning to come in from the neighbouring hills that ghostly sightings were happening at Small Water Tarn.”
Cornelius stopped and glanced around again to make sure they were still not overheard before he continued.
“Not only that,” he stated, alarm starting to rise in his voice: “The reports describe these sightings as not only ghostly but gruesome and ghostly.”They stared at each other speechlessly. The youngsters noisily arrived back at that moment, so they changed the subject.