The Moon Stealers and the Quest for the Silver Bough

The Yorkshire town of Parsley Bottom has a problem…

Peter Crisp, a boy with an unusual gift of being able to see things that others cannot, goes missing after spending the night in a graveyard. Two of Peter's school friends, join forces with a Knight of King Arthur to attempt to find him but come across some mysterious engravings which propel them on an adventure beyond their imagination.

Meanwhile MI6 operative Steven Knight is sent from London to investigate a meteor landing site, but Steven is advised by his own boss not to trust the puppeteers that hold the strings to his investigation. Within the core of the meteor is an alien bacteria that evolves at an alarming rate that not only puts Steven's life at risk, but the entire human race.

By unravelling ancient codes and riddles the children journey within the bowels of Edinburgh Castle as they attempt to find the key to Peter’s disappearance. The children not only need to save Peter, they need to save the world while they’re at

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24. Edinburgh Central Library

After visiting several modern bookshops Edgar and the children were still no further forward in obtaining a copy of Pan’s Pipes.

Out of the corner of his eye, Max spotted a rusty sign hanging outside a shop front down one of the small old lanes leading away from the main pedestrian area. It sold antique books, and from the outside the building appeared to be as old as the contents it sold. They walked through an old-fashioned door, the green paint pealing from the wood that framed each individual pane of glass. The shop itself smelt of dust and leather and very little light entered from outside. Floor to ceiling shelves were crammed with books in every available space, some shelves were so full that the wood bowed in the middle from the weight to rest on the top of the books directly beneath. There didn’t appear to be many modern books in this shop, and those that were published more recently were piled in a corner, like they had been disapprovingly cast aside. It was quiet in the bookshop and none of the children dared to speak. It was like being in a very old library where everyone was reading and the slightest sound would disturb them and be frowned upon.

Edgar slid a book from one of the shelves that he was standing next to and began examining it closely. It almost looked like a piece of artwork. The orange brown leather spine had raised bands with gold lettering written on, while the front and back covers looked like thin slices of highly polished wood, the grain striped like the skin of a tiger.

‘May I help you?’, asked a small bearded man that looked suspiciously around a doorway. His face was pale but his beard was as black as ink. In front of his eyes he wore a thin pair of spectacles, balanced on his nose so that he could peer over the top of them. It was a miracle that the glasses stayed on his nose considering that the frame was twisted so much and taped together at the hinge.

‘We’re looking for a book,’ said Edgar, who suddenly realised that it was a silly thing to start his question with considering they were inside a bookshop. He quickly continued, ‘have you got a copy of Pan’s Pipes?’

‘Robert Louis Stevenson?’, said the pale man as he looked thoughtfully at the ceiling. Joe withstood the urge to look upwards and see what he was looking at.

‘I have several early copies of Stevenson’s work on the shelf behind you, but I don’t believe I have a copy of Pan’s Pipes,’ he replied.

‘Do you know the name of the book that it is included in?’

‘It was published amongst other papers in a book called Virginibus Puerisque. There are not many copies of it around but I’m sure there will be one at the Central Library, they have quite a collection of Stevenson books on display in one of the rooms under the bridge.’

Edgar took a sharp intake of breath. ‘What do you mean by under the bridge?’ he said, thinking back to the line in Hadwyn’s riddle.

‘You can find the library on George IV Bridge not far from the castle. There are four storeys of rooms built below the bridge, one of which houses a permanent exhibition to our countryman Robert Louis Stevenson.’

‘Thank you so much. You have been a great help,’ said Edgar with a large smile on his face.

Outside the shop Scarlet was the first to voice her excitement.

‘The riddle must mean the bridge that the library is built on. Below the bridge, a piper alone. There must be something to do with Pan’s Pipes inside the library that will actually take us nearer to finding the Silver Bough!’

They all felt excited once again to be back on the trail laid down by Sir Hadwyn and it showed in the speed they walked as they made their way back up the Royal Mile towards the castle. The dampness in the air no longer squeezed the energy out of them and they strode purposely past St Giles’ Cathedral then turned left onto George IV Bridge. After a short walk they came upon an old elaborately decorated building that looked like it should have been built alongside a Chateau in France. They walked through the doors and were instantly surrounded by dark wooden polished shelves of books that had small walkways around the higher levels and cream and white stone pillars stretching all the way up to the ceiling. By contrast to the antique bookshop they had just been in, the Library was organised and polished.

Joe had never seen so many books before and hadn’t even known that so many actually existed. All of the books he had seen inside the mobile library that visited Parsley Bottom once a month could fit onto one shelf in this building.

‘This way,’ said Edgar in hushed tones as he noticed a sign directing them to the Stevenson Exhibition. They went through a door and wound their way down a black metal circular staircase until they reached the third floor. A darkened corridor with no windows was lit by a series of small lamps that hung on the wall and directed them beneath the bridge towards an exhibition space. There was a dark blue carpet here, not the highly polished wooden floor they had stood on in the entrance, and it was worn slightly along the middle from the many feet that had walked along it. They all followed Edgar as he walked beside a wood panelled wall and into a room off the main corridor. It was a very plain room with nothing in it except a series of glass cases in the centre arranged in a square surrounding a stone plinth with a bronze statue on the top. The walls were hung with several small information plaques, as well as paintings and photographs of Stevenson at various stages through his life.

Looking into the glass cases were other visitors to the exhibition, as well as a library guide who patrolled slowly between the Stevenson Exhibition as well as the neighbouring Arthur Conan Doyle room.

Edgar and Scarlet moved around the cases looking closely at all of the contents until they came back to their starting point, whilst Max and Joe studied the pictures on the wall. The glass cases contained various books held open at certain pages, as well as other items that had belonged to Stevenson during his life.

‘Have you found anything?’, asked Joe as he looked over to Edgar.

‘The book the man said contained the poem of Pan’s Pipes is in this third cabinet, but the book isn’t even open. Other than that there is no mention of Pan’s Pipes. What about the pictures and photographs?’

‘Nothing there either. They seem to chart his life and travels, rather than anything to do with his books.’

Edgar, Joe and Max stood staring into the cabinet, desperate to look inside the book to see what the Pan’s Pipes poem said, but prevented by the thick protective glass. Scarlet went over to a small wooden bench that was pushed up against one of the walls and sat down feeling quite deflated that they had not found anything. Suddenly she sprang up and shouted, ‘There!’

Everyone in the room turned and looked at the red haired girl who was now pointing directly at Edgar and the two boys. Embarrassed by her outburst she apologised to the other visitors and the guide who now stood watching her very carefully.

‘Where?’ whispered Joe, thinking that Scarlet must be seeing things.

‘The statue in the middle,’ she said as she walked over to them.

They all turned and looked at the statue in the centre of the arrangement of glass display cases. Standing on the top of the smooth cream stone pillar was a blackened bronze statue on a wooden base. Although the top half of the figure looked human, the legs appeared to be those of a goat. Held in his hands was a musical instrument made up of several tubes.

‘That must be Pan.’

‘Scarlet, you are amazing, where would we be without you?’, said Edgar.

‘So is that the Silver Bough?’, asked Max pointing to the musical instrument.

‘No, I don’t think so. The Silver Bough is one pipe,’ replied Edgar. ‘What the figure is holding is a collection of pipes of different lengths to make the different sounds. The hunt is not over yet, but we are getting closer.’

As they looked more closely at the statue, they noticed that on the wooden base was a label that read:

 

Pan, God of the Wild

 

Presented to Edinburgh Central Library by the

Holyroodhouse Palace Arts Trust in commemoration of

the centenary of Stevenson’s death

1994

 

‘Holyroodhouse is the royal palace at the end of the Royal Mile,’ recalled Joe. ‘Looks like that’s our next stop.’

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