Clive picked up the message cup by his feet and took a few steps away to pull the string taut. The string stretched far across the field to where an identical cup was clutched by the hand of Butes, who reclined in her stripy pink deckchair.
“I think I have found it,” Clive spoke into the cup. He then lifted the cup to his ear to listen for the response.
“So soon? I doubt that.” Butes’s clipped tones spun quietly into his ear. “Count the leaves please.”
Clive held the leaf high in the air so that it could be seen by the lounging lazy, then brought it down to his chest.
“One,” he said. “For faith. Two, for hope. Three, for love. And five, for juice.”
“You missed out four,” came the cross reply.
“Four is missing,” said Clive. “There were five leaves but it lost one.”
“Don’t be imperpitent. Carry on searching.”
“Impertinent,” said Clive quietly.
“That you are,” said cup Bute. “Carry. On. Searching.”
“Search for it yourself!” he said, stoking the fires of rebellion with an uncertain hand. “If you are so sure it exists.”
The cup fell silent. The string went slack. Alarmed, Clive looked over at the pink deckchair, where a furious Butes stood with hands on hips. Clive twisted his lips into an uneasy smile and waved the cup. Butes glared in his direction, then retrieved her end of the line.
“I’ve made myself clear?” she said.
He began to search again.
To be continued…