The Ogre Downstairs

Free The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones

Book: The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones Read Free Book Online
Authors: Diana Wynne Jones
toturn the handle?” he said coldly. “I see I shall have to go down and try to open the darn thing myself.”
    “How can you that size?” Johnny said, climbing off the table. “Don’t be a fool. I’ll go. It had better be me,” he explained to the other two. “The Ogre thinks I’m capable of any crime anyway, and I can always say I was stealing biscuits.”
    Malcolm swung round from the door. “Who are you calling an ogre?”
    “Your flipping father,” said Caspar. “And you know he is, so don’t argue.”
    “I know no such thing,” Malcolm said uncertainly.
    “I’d better go down and see, anyway,” Johnny said. Since Malcolm was in his way, he picked him up, moderately gently, and put him to one side of the door. Malcolm stuttered with indignation, but he was helpless. Johnny opened the door and crept heavily out on to the landing, into the remnant of old chemical smells.
    Before he had reached the head of the stairs, the whole house echoed with a shattering crash. Johnny froze. So did Malcolm in the doorway. Gwinny, who was in the middle of the room with Caspar, covered her ears and held her breath. Caspar, with horrible clarity, remembered the big jug of orange juice which had been on the kitchen windowsill that evening.
    Light was snapped on below. Heavy footsteps hurried. Gwinny and Caspar found themselves out on the landing with Johnny, and Malcolm came scuttling between them.
    There was a long, awful silence. Then the Ogre’s voice was raised in a perfect roar: “ You disobedient little devil! ”
    After that, the Ogre’s voice rumbled and roared, on and on, for what seemed hours, accusing Douglas of going to the Discotheque when he had been told not to, and of other crimes besides. Caspar, Johnny and Gwinny all felt sick. They did not need Malcolm to say, between chattering teeth, “Now look what you’ve done!” to remind them that it was their fault Douglas was caught like this. And to make matters worse, Douglas plainly could not think what to say. For a long time, there was no sound from him at all. Then his voice was raised in a faint-sounding denial.
    The Ogre shouted, “A nd don’t give me those lies! ” There was the sound of a heavy blow falling. And another. All four on the landing winced each time.
    A door opened downstairs. Sally’s voice said, “Jack! Really—”
    “Will you kindly allow me to deal with this as I think best,” said the Ogre.
    There was no reply. The door shut again. After that, the Ogre roared on again, and there were sounds that suggested Douglas was having to clear up the jug and the orange juice that had been in it. Then there was still more shouting, until they could hardly bear it, which at last died away to a rumble, followed by silence. They sighed. Johnny looked towards Malcolm and found he had grown. His head was now level with Gwinny’s shoulder.
    They all looked anxiously towards the stairs again. They could hear Douglas coming up two at a time. The light came on at their landing, showing Malcolm now nearly Gwinny’s size and looking a little indecent in just a shirt. Then Douglas came galloping upwards with suchan expression of fury and misery on his face that Caspar braced himself to run and Gwinny and Johnny backed away.
    Douglas halted on the top stair when he saw the four of them on the landing. “Flaming pustules!” he said. “There’s no privacy in this blessed house!” He turned round and went galloping downstairs again. They heard the bathroom door slam and the bolt go home with a shriek.
    Then the Ogre’s heavy feet began marching up the stairs.
    “Quick!” whispered Caspar to Malcolm. “Don’t let him see you that size!”
    He and Johnny took Malcolm and hurled him into his room, and Malcolm did not protest. Gwinny raced upstairs to her room. Caspar and Johnny fled to theirs, tore off their clothes and dived into bed. When the Ogre arrived in their doorway, they were both between surprisingly cold sheets, breathing as

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