The secrecy of what they were doing made it all the more exciting. There was a heavy brush that they had to ramble through. Tom had hidden away a machete in a brown paper bag behind a tree at the bottom of their yard. He picked it up as they left the yard and led the way ahead of them now, chopping at the wines that hung on the bushes and clearing a path for them all to walk, as they made their way to the blue hole.
“I am itching,” Jill said rubbing her arms and bare legs.
“All you do, don’t scratch,” Tom called back to her.
“Don’t nobody scratch,” he added.
“Now you tell us,” Cara responded woefully. “Is poisonwood here?” She asked a bit anxious.
“Don’t know,” Tom replied, “But we don’t want ta take the chance.”
“I think it is just the guinea grass that is itching,” James offered. “And I am sure you girls put on lotion too,” he added.
And indeed, they had. Cara realizing this now giggled at the silliness of it.
“When we get to the blue hole, we will wash it off,” she said.
Despite all the warnings from Nana to stay away from that hole, they were planning to take a swim in it. If Nana knew what they were planning, she will positively skin them alive.
Tom made one final chop and then they stepped into a clearing. They were in an open area surrounded by rocks.
“How do we get down?” Cara asked.
“We have to climb over those rocks over there.”
Tom was pointing to some large, dark pieces of rocks.
“Over them?” Jill asked sounding a little scared now.
“It will be fine,” her twin assured her. “Stay close to me,” he added, reaching a hand out to her.
They all moved forward slowly, moving cautiously over and around the rocks. As they moved, there was a sound of dripping water. It was the only sound that could be heard in the still air. As they got around the top of the rocks and looked down, they saw that there was a descent that lead to a dark cavity.
“Everyone, take your time,” Tom the leader instructed as he stepped cautiously down the narrow path into the cavity below.
Once down, they found themselves standing on uneven terrain and surrounded by walls of rocks. The surface of the rocks was damp and the sound of dripping water was stronger and closer than before and echoing as it dropped. They looked up into the rocky ceiling of the cavity and saw that there seemed to be icicles hanging down.
“Wow,” said James. “What is this place?”
“Nana’s well-kept secret is what it is,” Cara supplied.
“You come here by yourself Tom?” she wanted to know.
“No way,” Tom answered.
Their voices echoed as they spoke and it gave the place an eerie feel.
“Uh, this is not the blue hole, right?” James wanted to know.
“No, from what grandpa says, I think this is called the ‘Drifton’. Why I am not so sure.”
“Drift?” questioned Cara. “They should call it ‘Drip’ton. That will fit in with the dripping sound,” she added.
“Well, we can keep moving then,” James suggested.
He did not want to admit it, but the place was making him a little nervous too.
“Yeah, let's go,” Tom said leading the way out of the cavity.
A short distance ahead, they came to a stop. The scene just beyond them was breathtaking. There was what looked like a circular, miniature beach. A coconut tree towered above a creamy, sandy beach that lined a circular body of water that was the most beautiful blue.
It was unbelievable! The little oasis was enclosed on the back part by a steep rock wall. No one would have expected to find a place so beautiful, hidden away underneath all the brush and entanglement of trees and jagged terrain.
So mesmerized were they all by the view, they were unaware that they were not alone. Suddenly there was this wailing, siren sound. They were all startled by it and looked around to see where the sound was coming from. To their grand amazement, there was a mermaid on a rock on the far side of the little beach.
The cousins could not believe their eyes but stood looking with their mouths open, speechless. The mermaid had pale skin on her upper body and long black hair. She was as startled by their appearance as they were by hers, and she let out another siren wail and wiggled quickly off the rock and dove into the depth of the magnificent water, stirring its stillness, and was gone from sight.
The quad stood rooted to where they were standing, their eyes round with wonder, completely surprised by what had just happened.
“Wow!” James echoed again.
“That was….”Tom began, joining in.
“Amazing!” Cara finished.
“I’m scared,” Jill squeaked.
“Don’t be,” Cara told her.
None of them had taken their eyes off the body of water since the mermaid had disappeared into it.
“Are we still taking a swim?” Jill asked unsurely.
“Yeah, that is why we came, right?” James returned, not sounding so sure now himself.
Tom looked down and began to take a few steps forward, down to the beach. He had taken about five steps and the others had begun to follow him slowly when he suddenly cried out.
He seemed to wobble and began flagging both hands to balance himself.
“What happened?” asked James right behind him.
“Don’t come,” Tom cried out.
Then he shouted, “I am sinking, get me out of here.”
James grabbed at Tom's arms trying to pull him backward. In his efforts, James too began to sink into the sand. Both he and Tom fell backward into the sinking sand.
Horrified at what was happening, Cara tried to think quickly about what to do. The boys were struggling in the sand and calling out for help and Jill was crying loudly. Cara looking around desperately for something to help saw a branch that had fallen from the coconut tree. It was resting on the rocks a short distance from where she and Jill were standing and she went over to pick it up.
“Help me, Jill,” she called out.
“Come on,” she shouted to Jill who had hesitated, still crying.
They both picked up the branch and going back to the edge of the rooks, swung the top of the branch out to the boys.
“Tom, James, grab onto this branch,” Cara shouted her instructions.
To Jill, she said, “Help me pull.”
Cara spread her legs wide to steady herself as she pulled. Both she and Jill pulled hard until the boys, covered with wet sand, were back safe on the rocky surface with them.