Sion stayed in Aunt Maud’s house for nearly a week. He did his sums, he read books, and he tried to walk quietly about the house when Aunt Maud was having her afternoon nap. But it was no good. Outside, the world was full of birdsong. He could imagine how beautiful the Dingle was at this time. And what’s more, Sion wanted to see Cecil again. And he knew Cecil would be lonely without him. And he comforted himself by thinking that a red scarf wasn’t really that unusual. It was just a coincidence that Aunt Maud’s friend had worn one too, all that time ago.
So, one afternoon, he squeezed through the gap in the hedge once more.
He walked for ages looking for Cecil. He had the idea that Cecil was watching him, but wasn’t coming out, to teach him a lesson for staying away so long.
“Cecil? Cecil! It’s me. It’s Sion. I’ve come back.”
Eventually, Sion reached this little stone bridge.
He sat down, feeling despondent. Cecil must be furious with him. He found some stones, chucked them into the little stream, listening to the sound of them splashing. He felt very alone. The Dingle wasn’t half so fun without Cecil.
He raised his head, spoke over the sound of the stream.
“Listen, I’m sorry, all right? I stayed away. I was –”
I was scared, he thought to himself. But he didn’t want to say that to Cecil.
“I shouldn’t have gone away for so long. I missed you.”
And there was Cecil. As if he’d always been there. Standing over by there, by the little rockpool.
He had a mulish look on his face. “Where have you been? You’ve been gone for days and days. I’ve missed you. No one comes here any more. I’m always alone.”
“I’m here now, Cecil,” said Sion.
And that, too, was the very best of days.
Sion tried to keep track of time. He really did. But every time he suggested to Cecil that it might be time for him to go back to Aunt Maud’s, Cecil’s face would fall. “Just a bit longer,” he’d say. “I missed you so much when you were away.”
And so Sion stayed and stayed and stayed. Until the shadows were so long that they had become actual darkness. Cecil was quite difficult to see in all the dark.
“I have to go!” Sion said finally, panicking. “I’ll come back tomorrow.”
Heart pounding, he ran towards the gap in the hedge. Squeezed through. Prepared himself to run up the lawn to Aunt Maud’s house.
But it was too late. Aunt Maud was waiting for him.