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One false move and I'll have that bushy


Before the heroic squirrel could be united with her family. Matthias came dashing across.

"Jess! Where is the sword?" he panted.

The squirrel shrugged and shook her head. "It wasn't there, Matthias. I climbed out along the north pointer and actually saw the shape of the sword in the holder where it was supposed to rest. There were even some loose rusty wires that may have held it in position at one time or another. But there was definitely no sword. I'm sorry, Matthias, I tried my best."

"Of course you did, Jess," said Matthias, hiding his disappointment. "Thank you very much for your valiant efforts."

Half an hour later, the crowd had dispersed and gone about their business. Matthias sat with his back against the Abbey wall, his mind in a turmoil. All that hard work, solving the clues, burning midnight oil, endangering the lives of his friends, it had all come to nothing. He beat his paws against the stones of the Abbey, a tear of frustration gleaming in his eye.

"Why, Martin, why?" he moaned.

The captive sparrow fluttered her wings against the upturned basket. "I killee you!" she chattered angrily at Matthias. "I killee mouse, let Warbeak free, you dirty worm."

Matthias peered through the cracks at the insulting prisoner.

"Oh, shut your beak, you little monster!" he muttered. "You're in no position to kill anyone."

The sparrow's venomous temper increased. "King Bull Sparra, he killee you. Make dead quickfast."

Matthias laughed mirthlessly. "Will he indeed? Well, you tell King Thingummy if you should bump into him again, that you've met Matthias the Warrior, and I don't kill that easily, my bad-tempered little friend."

This last statement sent the young sparrow off into a veritable dance of rage. "Mouse no friend of Warbeak! K-Killee, k-k-killeed"

Matthias tapped the basket with his foot. "Listen, Warbeak, if that's your name. You'd better improve your temper, or you'll find yourself without food to eat or any medical attention. So if I were you, I'd sit quietly for a while and think about that."

Matthias spun on his heel and marched off, the enemy sparrow's chirps still ringing in his ears: "No wanta food, no needa 'tenshun. Warbeak Sparra, all brave, killeet."

Matthias sighed wearily.

There was just no talking to some creatures.

Sela the fox continued to complain. She must have a certain type of herb that was not in her kit. It could only be found in Mossflower Wood at the dark of night.

Cluny listened to the fox's pleas, knowing that they were merely an excuse to gain her freedom. He paused as if to deliberate, watching the hopeful expression on Sela's face.

"Hmm, I can see that you need this herb, so why don't you send your son Chickenhound to get it?"

Sela was never stuck for a ready answer. "No no, I'm afraid that's useless, sir. He's too young and inexperienced. Chickenhound wouldn't know where to start looking."

Cluny nodded sympathetically. "Aye, you're probably right. I suppose I'll have to stretch a point. You can go off to the woods to search for this vital herb. But be warned, fox! There will be two rats with you all the time. tail of yours to trim the collar of my war cloak. Is that understood?"

Sela's head bobbed vigorously. "Of course, sir. What reason would I have to play you false? I'm looking forward to a good share of plunder, once I've healed you and Redwall is conquered."

The huge tail snaked out and caressed the fox. "Of course you are, my friend. How silly of me."

Cluny actually smiled. Sela shuddered.

That evening Sela left the church, accompanied by Redtooth and Fangburn. Secretly she could have danced with delight. Only two guards! With her knowledge of Mossflower, Sela could quite easily give them the slip for fifteen minutes or so.
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