The Cave

The Cave by Kate Mosse Read Free Book Online

Book: The Cave by Kate Mosse Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kate Mosse
three, maybe four, hours of daylight left. He intended to make good use of them.
    Half an hour later, armed with a map, compass and his rucksack, Freddie set out again. He found the path William said led directly up into the heart of the mountains.
    As he climbed, he tried to recall Marie’s words about their journey and the landmarks they passed on the way. The summer pastures, the sun at their heels, the trees along their route. Most of all, he remembered the natural steps from the roots of an ancient tree that led up to the cave. She had not said so, but Freddie didn’t think her family would have gone so far. They would have been keen to get out of sight as soon as possible. Besides, it would be hard going with an ill child.
    Freddie didn’t allow himself to question why he was doing what he was doing. Having decided on a course of action, he was determined to stick to it. He felt more alive than he
had for some time, as if he finally had a purpose, an interest in life again.
    Why Marie should have confided in him, a stranger, he did not know. Could her family still be lying up there in the caves? Surely she would have had their bodies brought down long ago?
    Freddie kept going as the sun climbed higher in the sky. The shadows shortened.

Chapter Fifteen
    After nearly an hour, he reached a flat open area, like a glade, ringed by trees. The rocks were covered with grass and moss. And hidden by the branches of the trees, he noticed, at last, an opening in the rock. Then he saw another.
    Freddie sat on a rock and drank water from his flask. He waited until he got his energy back then went to explore. Here, at this level, there were some five or six openings. To his untrained eye, they all looked natural rather than man-made. But from here, he could see that some were large enough for two or three people to stand inside at the same time. Others were small and narrow. Others again were long and flat, only just big enough for a person to get inside on their hands and knees.
    Freddie peered inside each then moved on to the next. Some went back ten or twelve feet. Others led nowhere, no more than hollows in the rock.
    The patterns on the rocks showed the passage of time. The wind and the rain had sculpted the
stone over thousands of years. It reminded Freddie of pictures of tombs in the Holy Land. Here everything was green and grey and brown, rather than the yellow of the desert, but the beauty took his breath away.
    He spread out the map and fixed his position with his finger. He realised he would need to climb higher to find the caves he had seen from the road. None of these caves matched the description of Marie’s cave.
    On the map, it looked as if there was another flat area a few hundred feet higher up. He checked the directions with his compass, then carried on further. The lack of sleep and the hard effort meant his legs felt like lead, but he did not give up.
    Freddie glanced at the sky. It must be well after two o’clock. He was aware he must give himself enough time to get back to the village before darkness fell. He knew there were bears and wild cats in the mountains, perhaps even wolves.
    He covered the distance quickly. At this next level, there were four caves. Each looked out over the valley below like dead eyes. The caves were reached by a narrow path that ran in front of the rock to the left-hand side. To the right was a sheer drop. The land fell away to nothing.

    Freddie smiled. He was certain he had found the caves he had seen from the road earlier. Trying not to look down, he inched his way along the path. He leaned his shoulder against the rock to steady himself and tried not to think about what would happen if he fell.
    But although each cave was large enough to provide shelter, still none of them matched Marie’s description. Then Freddie noticed a narrow path that ran up between two rocks. He looked at it more closely. With a jolt, he saw that the roots of trees had threaded themselves into a

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