Fire! Everybody come and help! The church is on fire!"
"Clang, Clang, Clang!" The Caulder Junction fire wagon sped down Bastion Lane as the townspeople, in various stages of undress, bolted out of their homes and rushed to St. Christopher's Church. The sky was filled with smoke. Sparks danced and zipped through the air like crazed fireflies. Mayor Tudbolt, a pudgy, half bald, ruby-faced man wearing one shoe and a slipper; his red flannel nightshirt hastily tucked into his unbuttoned trousers, spluttered a stream of confusing orders to the townsfolk.
"Get a hose!"
"You line up over there! Not There! There!"
"Water! We need water!"
"Hurry, hurry and pass the buckets, pass the water!"
The fire wagon moved into position. Its pumps were started. And a hopeless stream of water sprinkled out of the nozzle onto the roaring blaze. Clouds of orange-black smoke plumed into the night sky as St. Christopher's Church reluctantly gave in to the furious heat of the fire.
The brave firefighters were driven back by the searing heat. The water, flung from buckets in desperation, fell far short of the flames and splashed uselessly at their feet. The old church shuddered once, then again, then erupted into great billowing clouds of smoke and flame as the roof crashed down upon the flaming pews below. The great white cross that had once stood high and proud over Caulder Junction, slowly fell into the middle of the blaze. It was a spectacularly sad display.
The townspeople groaned as they watched. They could do no more for their little church -- it was lost forever. They stood, wet and exhausted, watching their lovely little church burn. Tears were wiped away with sooty hands and scorched night shirts.
The flames died down and all that was left of St. Christopher's Church was the smoldering skeleton of heavy, blackened timbers. Mayor Tudbolt, looking as though he had just cleaned a chimney with a toothbrush, climbed the few steps that had once led to the great oak doors of their lovely church, and announced to the people of Caulder Junction, "My friends! We will build a new church! On this very spot, we will build a fine new church. As fine and as... as fine... and ...As before." His voice trailed off to a pathetic silence.
The crowd nodded sadly and drifted away towards their homes.
Not another word was spoken.
The sun was higher now. The eastern sky drifted through spectral colors and settled upon a bright powder blue. The Pottontots had rested, as best they could amongst the tangled branches of a scorched gorse bush, and cleaned themselves off, as best they could, in one of the many puddles left by the valiant firefighters.
"Now!" stated Papa. "We must find shelter for the time being, then decide what to do about a new place to live."
Priscilla offered a suggestion.
"Perhaps the Long Ones will build a new church. Then we can stay in the belfry again."
Priscilla Pottontot was the oldest of the Pottontot children. She was very bright with a keen sense for logical, straight-to-the-point thought. But her natural tendency to shyness often prevented her from speaking out.
"That's a dumb idea!" quipped Perkin. "It would take a jillion sleeps to build a new church!"
"Hold on now." Said Papa. "That's really quite a good idea. It's true, Perkin, it would take a very long time. But you know, I think Priscilla's right -- the Long Ones will surely build a new church."
Papa paused for a time to sort out the many thoughts swirling around inside his head. Everyone knew when Papa was thinking hard because his thinking habit was to crook his pointer finger over the bridge of his nose and pull it down hard over the tip. Mama always waited with a hint of a smile while he did this because more often than not his brilliant ideas were very much like those she casually mentioned only a moment or two before. But she loved to hear him voice their thoughts in his strong self-confident voice.
"We must all work together." He said. "We must work as a team and everyone must contribute to the family's good!"
Peregrine's adventures continue!
Escape with Peregrine and his family, the fiery destruction of their belfry home.
Marvel at the role the Teddy-Bear-Nose-Making-Machine takes in saving Grampa's life.
Join Grampa, Papa, Mama, Priscilla, Patience, Polly and Perkin, and of course Peregrine, as they brave countless dangers in their journey across the countryside in search of a safe new home.
Meet Chick and Chuck, chickadees of the field, and Mr. Honey-B, who has such a kink in his stinger that every time he turns around, he stings himself!
Meet Modlock the nearsighted Falcon -- the scourge of Caulder Junction. And Tabby, Queen Cat of Caulder Junction. You remember Tabby!
Cross the zinging rails of the Huffa-Chugga, and cry with Mama as catastrophe strikes and splits her family apart. Then marvel as she takes command and drives everyone forward until the family is reunited again.
Meet Lord Faamouse of Gooseberry Hill -- the Pottontot's gracious host, and the love of Priscilla's young life!