The Changes by Peter Dickinson Part Four
The villagers have sent more items to be repaired and the Brookers farm group have received livestock and food in exchange. Each time the transaction happens, Tom brings a wheelbarrow load of items and Nicky takes back sheep and food. They are both uneasy passing the pylon but they manage it. Even Barnard seems pleased with the work and all seems to be going well between the two communities.
One day, however, Nicky and Tom are returning to the village when they hear a scream. They run to the centre of the village and see a new group of men lead by one on a horse. The men are robbers and have taken all the village children hostage whilst Barnard is nowhere to be seen. Nicky is able to escape unheard and unseen and heads back to Brookers farm. She tells them what has happened and that they must prepare for a similar attack. Chacha states that Brooker's Farm must be made safe before the group can help the villagers.
At night Nicky goes to the village with Gopal. She learns from Tom that Barnard was killed by the robbers just after she left. The village people could not warn Barnard as they were all held inside their homes. Three robbers on horse back charged him down and skewered him before he could do anything to protect himself. All the village children are being held in a large stable up at the white house and that they will be torched if anyone in the village caused any trouble. Before Tom can tell her any more, the leader of the robbers and one of his henchmen arrive. They take some ale off Tom and then push him out of the room. Nicky hides down the side of a sofa and listens to what the robbers have to say. She hears the leader say that they will deal with the Brooker's farm lot pretty soon. Nicky then heads back to base to inform Chacha and Kewel of the robber's plans.
The Brooker's Farm group decide that offence is the best course of action but first they must rescue the village children. The attack begins once the children are safe watched over by Nicky and Ajeet. Ajeet reads them a story which takes their minds of the events that are unfolding. Most of the robbers are killed as are a couple of Sikh members. The robbers still manage to set fire to the barn which draws the attention of the local villagers. They arrive to see their children running down the hill brought to safety by Nicky and Ajeet. The villagers then decide to help the Brookers Farm group in dealing with the robbers.
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