But one eye spied us coming back. We had not noticed that one eye watching us but that one eye was going to be trouble.
Shrieker didn’t notice that Chitkin and I were covered in dust and dirt because the dirt and dust that fall on us when we are ordered to get up in the morning is all over everyone.
The day was going along just as usual and the sun came blistering through the trees, right onto our backs as we swung and cut. One of our group was always being picked on by Shrieker and the other Mandis; her name was Piçon, which is an old African play-on-words meaning to pick on someone.
Piçon hated that she was always picked on more than most of the rest of us and hoped that she could put an end to it. But how? Piçon realized that day that she could tell Shrieker what her one little eye had spied and that the on-going pressure would be over with.
I noticed at our lunch break that Piçon was having quite a talk with Shrieker and at the same time looking over at Chitkin and me quite a bit. I knew in a flash that Piçon was telling Shrieker that she had seen me and Chitkin coming back into the gallery late at night. Oh no!
I finished my drink of water and pretended to pick something off one of my feet. While I was bent down, I whispered to Chitkin what I had seen and why we were in deep trouble.
“Cello, are you sure? Piçon? I mean she’s so quiet and timid. Yes, I know what it means when you get these feelings and I know we’ve got to think of a plan right away.” said Chitkin.
There was always a lot of milling around and chatter among all the workers at dinner time. We talked about the cuts we got, the heat of the day and the endless hopelessness of it all. While all of this was going on Chitkin and I pretended that we were listening to someone’s story but were really talking to each other.
“Chitkin, we better hurray up with a plan. You know Shrieker’s going to do something soon.” I half whispered urgently to Chitkin.
“Mellow Cello. I’ve got a plan that might help us quite a bit.” Chitkin whispered back to me. “Just play along, OK?” Chitkin warned.
Chitkin had found some stinging nettles and ground them almost into powder. She dropped a little into some of the dinners of those living in a gallery other than ours. We each had to take turns helping with meals and, luckily, Chitkin’s turn had come up tonight.
There was suddenly a lot of coughing and workers and one Mandi being sick. Chitkin was one of them. I couldn’t believe it. Chitkin was sick too?!
The Head Mandi ordered the sick ones to their galleries and told everyone else to continue with dinner and to rest until the sick ones were settled in. Chitkin was helped to our chamber by Shrieker and me. Once Chitkin was lying down and looking almost unconscious, Shrieker and I left Chitkin on her own. Did I see her wink?
Chitkin cautiously opened one eye to make sure she was quite alone and then set about her plan. First, Chitkin went to the back of our gallery and squeezed through the hole into the tunnel as we’d done the night before. She went in a little way and then started filling up the path with rocks and roots and twigs, slowly working her way back to the hole in our wall, and, finally completely blocking up the hole so that it looked just like the rest of the walls.
Chitkin heard a squeak and maybe a twig snap. Chitkin quickly tip-toed back to her spot, closed her eyes, and pretended she was asleep, just as Shrieker came into our chamber.
Shrieker looked over all of the walls and even pulled a few rocks and twigs from the wall where Chitkin had so carefully piled them up. Shrieker couldn’t get her big head into the small hole but her eye saw that there wasn’t anything but stones and roots and twigs for as far as she could see. She scraped everything back into place and sneaked out of our gallery.
Chitkin told me all this later and said that she knew how to trap the spy and, maybe, Shrieker too.
END CHAPTER #10