He carefully watched the left hand and head of George, the foremost rider and village leader. Village security was one of the subjects everyone paid attention to during school hours. The teacher had made them all memorise that piece of poetry by an ancient writer called Kipling from one of the cherished books in the village library.
"If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row.
If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly."
"They are bringing them up to the village.", Lowell told Carla, "But, we are to stay alert, he has not given the all clear." Only if George lifted his right hand could they assume that the visitors were truly harmless. If he raised his left hand, at any time, then the archers at the barrier would fire as soon as they were in range.
Lowell kept on watching as the party came up to the barrier. Far below, George lifted his right hand and gestured for the gate to be opened. Lowell breathed a sigh of relief and sang out, "All clear, Clara.". Suddenly everyone was talking at once. "I wonder who they are?","Where have they come from?", "When can we get down there?". More questions than answers. Lowell asked one more, "Can I have my lunch now?", and added , "We will have to wait until sundown, until the next watch comes up, to find out. In the mean time it's your turn on watch Freddy. Hope it's less exciting than mine.".
Trina brought Lowell's bowl of steaming slumgullion to the cliff edge so they could watch the activity in the village below. As they sat together they watched the visitors un-saddle their horses and un-hitch the mule team from the wagon and let them loose in the paddock next to the wooden village meeting hall.
Apart from the feed barns the hall was the only large building in the village,the ancient cliff buildings were where everyone slept and cooked. The hall doubled as the school, when the children were not needed to help in the fields and also accomodation for the rare visitors they had. No outsiders were allowed up into the cliff dwellings. You had to know the route to climb there safely and one past bad experience with a group they had trusted with that knowledge had been enough. They had managed to rescue four of the six teenage girls that the group had abducted, one of them had been Lowell's great-grandmother and his grandmother the result of the sad event.
Villagers were crowding round the wagon, helping the visitors move large packs and crates into the hall. Lowell wished he could borrow the binoculars or telescope to see more detail, but they had to stay with the watch-keeper, those were the rules. Soon everyone below moved into the hall. Lowell and Trina went to help Carla to pack up their belongings from the cliff-top camp. The sun was beginning to drop towards the horizon and soon they might find out what was going on.
As the sun set the new group of watch-keepers came into camp. They did not look pleased. "What's going on down there?", Carla asked. "We wish we knew." came the reply. "George says it will be something to rememeber, but won't say what is going to happen tonight. But, he did promise we could come down tomorrow night and find out." As soon as the new group releived Freddy at the look out they started making their way down the hill towards the path to the village. It would be fully dark by the time they got there and the anticipation was unbearable. ......