Die Another Day (review)

Adventure Tales for Boys

“I say,” said 10-year-old Jimmy Bond as he stepped into the glory of an English summer afternoon on Royal Albert Street in the village of Little Balderdash, “what an absolutely corking day for an adventure!”

Jimmy was the kind of boy who always had adventures, sometimes close to home, like in the treehouse by the duck pond, but often in exotic, far-off lands like the candy shop down the high street or even the train station on the other side of the village. He was sure he could find an adventure today. It just felt like that kind of afternoon.

Jimmy checked his adventurer’s satchel and found, amongst the bottles of ginger beer and cheese-and-cucumber sandwiches that Mum had laid in for lunch, that he was running a bit low on stones for his slingshot and that his ball of handy twine was almost run out. This wouldn’t do at all.
So Jimmy thought he would begin by visiting his friend Quentin’s hideout in the shed back of his house, down Royal Albert Street and around the corner to Wensleydale Lane. Quentin was a bit of a pip and was always inventing gadgets for Jimmy’s adventures. He was sure to have something delightfully new and gadgety to show Jimmy today.

The day was fine as Jimmy walked down Royal Albert Street. He waved to his friend Sam, who was across the street pruning Mr. Washington’s rose garden.

“Hullo!” yelled Sam, and bounded over to Jimmy. Jimmy was a solitary kind of boy and mostly liked to have adventures by himself, but he quite liked Sam despite the fact that he was big and clumsy and often very rude and fancied himself the toughest boy in the village. But Sam was really rather nice underneath it all, and he was a corker in a fight, like when Jimmy and Sam chased off the shocking and uncouth gypsies who camped on the village green last spring.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “rather a corking day, isn’t it?”

“It sure is,” said Sam. “Hey, have you met my cousin? She’s visiting from London.”

Jimmy saw that a girl was walking down Royal Albert Street toward them. She was really quite pretty, for a girl that is, with huge eyes and a bounce in her step. She stopped right in front of them.

“You must be Jimmy,” she said to Jimmy.

“Bond,” said Jimmy. “What I mean to say is that, Yes, I’m Jimmy Bond.”

“I’m Saxy,” said the girl. “Dreadful name, I know. My name is really Sassafras, which is even more dreadful. But everyone calls me Saxy.”

Jimmy thought she was a bit of a corker, for a girl that is, and that she might be all right on an adventure.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “I’m just popping down to Quentin’s to see if he has any new gadgets today. Why don’t you both come, and we’ll see if we can scare up an adventure?”

“I suppose so,” said Saxy, twirling a curl of her hair around her finger.

“All right!” yelled Sam, so loudly that Mr. Washington peered out through his curtains to see what all the noise was about. They ran to Wensleydale Lane after that, so that Sam wouldn’t have to go back to the rose garden.

Jimmy and Sam and Saxy found Quentin hard at work.

“I say,” said Jimmy.

“Jimmy, my boy,” said Quentin, who always said “Jimmy, my boy” even though he was only two years older than Jimmy. Quentin was always an odd duck, Jimmy thought, but he was getting quite a bit odder the older he got. “Come and see what I’ve invented!”

Quentin showed them a stick shaped like a “W” with a long handle under it. “The first and only double-barrelled slingshot!” said Quentin.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “smashing job, Quentin.” Jimmy took the extraordinary gadget, loaded it up with the last two slingshot stones from his adventurer’s satchel, and took aim at a pile of glass test tubes on the wall of the shed. They shattered into a million pieces.

“Wow!” yelled Sam.

“Jimmy, my boy,” said Quentin worriedly. “Do be careful.”

“I say,” said Jimmy, “what’s this?”

Quentin showed them the bicycle, which was rather extraordinary in that behind the seat there was another seat. “You see, Jimmy, my boy,” said Quentin, “now you can have a passenger when you go riding.”

“Wow!” yelled Sam.

“I suppose we could take it for a test run, Jimmy,” said Saxy, twirling a curl of her hair around her finger.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “what a splendid idea.”

“And I know where we could go,” said Saxy.

“Where?” said Jimmy, Quentin, and Sam, all at once.

“I suppose you’ve all heard about the home for delinquent boys from the city at the old farmhouse,” said Saxy.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “delinquent boys from the city here in Little Balderdash? Why, they’ll overrun the village!”

“Let’s go get ’em!” yelled Sam.

So it was agreed that Jimmy and Saxy would ride ahead on the bike with two seats and that Sam would circle around and meet them round back of the old farmhouse. Quentin, as usual, preferred to stay in his shed, working on new inventions, rather than have an adventure. He certainly was a queer duck, Jimmy thought.

Jimmy and Saxy got on the bike together, Jimmy on the front and Saxy in the back, and Jimmy pedalled very hard and they rode very fast. Saxy put her arms around Jimmy’s waist to keep from falling off, and Jimmy thought that was fine.

The farmhouse was getting close, and Jimmy slowed down before they arrived. Saxy held on tighter because the road got very bumpy, as unpaved roads near farmhouses usually do. Then, the bike’s front wheel hit a rock in the drive of the house, and wham! Over they spilled, flying across the handlebars and onto the ground, which was very hard indeed. Jimmy landed with a thud, and to make matters worse, Saxy landed right on top of him. Their arms and legs got quite entangled as they tried to stand up, and it was really awfully embarrassing.

“I say,” said Jimmy, once they had come to their senses, “we rode so hard that it’ll be ages yet before Sam gets here. Let’s have lunch while we wait for him.”

“I suppose that would be all right,” said Saxy.

So they moved into a nice grassy clearing in the woods where the delinquent boys wouldn’t see them, and Jimmy unpacked the bottles of ginger beer and the cheese-and-cucumber sandwiches from his adventurer’s satchel. Jimmy unwrapped the sandwiches while Saxy opened the bottles.

“Oh, but they’ve gotten all shaken in the crash!” she cried.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “they’re better that way.”

After lunch, Jimmy felt so sleepy, what with a belly full of cheese-and-cucumber sandwiches and ginger beer and with the sun shining warm on him — for it really was a very fine day indeed — that he decided to take a nap in the grass. Saxy said she would take a nap with him, and Jimmy thought that was fine.

The sun was quite a bit lower in the sky when Jimmy awoke. Saxy was already awake.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “I hope we haven’t slept through an adventure.”

“I don’t suppose we have,” said Saxy.

For there on the edge of the clearing was a rough-looking bunch of boys that Jimmy supposed were the delinquents.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “how did you find us?”

Saxy smirked, twirling a curl of her hair around her finger.

“Hullo, Jimmy!” yelled Sam, from somewhere in the distance. Then he came running into the clearing near the delinquents and saw what was happening. “Oh, drat!” said Sam.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “what’s going on?”

“Saxy is in cahoots with the delinquents!” yelled Sam.

“That’s right,” said Saxy. “I didn’t come to Little Balderdash to visit my stupid cousin Sam. I came to visit my friends from the city.”

The delinquents all smiled at her.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “of course. You’re from the city too, Saxy, aren’t you?”

“That’s right, Jimmy,” said Saxy. “And my friends here have heard all about your dumb adventures, and they think you’re right annoying. Aren’t I very clever to lead you out here so they can smash your face?”

Jimmy had to admit that she was fairly clever, for a girl that is.

The delinquents ran over to Jimmy and gave him a good pummelling. They punched his face and kicked his legs. After a few minutes the delinquents were quite winded and took a break from beating up Jimmy. Jimmy reached for his adventurer’s satchel and pulled out Quentin’s double-barrelled slingshot. But he was out of stones! The delinquents all laughed, and Saxy laughed too.

“Jimmy!” yelled Sam.

Jimmy looked up through the crowd of delinquents to see Sam throwing stones his way! Jimmy caught them, one after the other, and was soon dropping delinquents right and left. He only had to hit a few of them before they all ran away.

“Where do you think you’re going?” yelled Saxy.

“I say,” said Jimmy, “that’ll teach you to bring trouble to Little Balderdash.”

“Yeah!” yelled Sam.

Jimmy and Sam rode Quentin’s bike back to Royal Albert Street.

“How dare you have such a dangerous adventure!” Jimmy’s Mum scolded him. But she smiled when she said it, so Jimmy knew she wasn’t really displeased at all.

Jimmy ended up with a black eye from the beating by the delinquents, which was really an excellent souvenir of an adventure so he didn’t mind so much.

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