The Sound of the Shell

Theboywithfairhairloweredhimselfdownthelastfewfeetofrock andbegantopickhiswaytowardthelagoon. Thoughhehadtakenoffhisschoolsweater andtraileditnowfromonehand, hisgreyshirtstucktohim andhishairwasplasteredtohisforehead. Allroundhimthelongscarsmashedintothejunglewasabathofheat. Hewasclamberingheavilyamongthecreepersandbrokentrunks whenabird,avisionofredandyellow,flashedupwards withawitch-likecry; andthiscrywasechoedbyanother.  

“Hi!”itsaid. “Waitaminute!” Theundergrowthatthesideofthescarwasshakenandamultitudeofraindropsfellpattering.  

“Waitaminute,”thevoicesaid. “Igotcaughtup.”  

Thefairboystopped andjerkedhisstockingswithanautomaticgesture thatmadethejungleseemforamomentliketheHomeCounties.  

Thevoicespokeagain.  

“Ican’thardlymovewithallthesecreeperthings.”  

Theownerofthevoicecamebackingoutoftheundergrowth sothattwigsscratchedonagreasywind-breaker. Thenakedcrooksofhiskneeswereplump,caughtandscratchedbythorns. Hebentdown,removedthethornscarefully,andturnedaround. Hewasshorterthanthefairboyandveryfat. Hecameforward,searchingoutsafelodgmentsforhisfeet,andthenlookedupthroughthickspectacles.  

“Where’sthemanwiththemegaphone?” 

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