CBS have been employed to guard the pheasants in a wood owned by Lord Melverley of Whitley Hall, in preparation for the annual Shoot on the day of the Feast of Mortimer. Lord Melverley is worried about hunt saboteurs. When Ken is on his way to join Rocky and Laura in the wood, he discovers an old Morris Minor Traveller van parked nearby, with a shotgun in the back. Could it belong to the saboteurs. The following day, his bike breaks down outside the church. The vicar, Rev Peter Bradshaw, is a keen bike enthusiast and mechanic, and gets the bike going again. He happens to mention that he also maintains the van, a Morris Traveller, belonging to Ralph Cotterell, the former gamekeeper. Lord Melverley sacked Cotterell recently after twenty-five years and Cotterell is now reduced to working as part-time groundsman for a nearby school. Ken talks to Cotterell who is indeed very bitter about the way that he was sacked, in connection with an incident when sheep belonging to a neighbour, Chris Shepley, were poisoned. Ken thinks this sounds like grounds for a feud, especially when he breaks up a fight at Whitley Hall between Chris Shepley and Lord Melverley. Lord Melverley is very scathing of the villagers: "treat them like bluebottles - leave them and they go away". He also believes that all the local land and property belongs to his estate: "everything reverts to its rightful owner". Clearly there is no love lost between Melverley and the villagers. In the middle of the night, Ken, Rocky and Laura discover an intruder in the woods. She is Amanda Shepley, Chris's wife. She says that she is looking for buried treasure. In the Shepleys' house, Dove Cottage, there is a carved wooden plaque with an inscription referring to "rings of silver" and "the brightest of stars". For many years there have been rumours in the village about buried treasure. The Shepleys are now desperate for money and need any money that they can lay their hands on. Rocky is intrigued by the story of the treasure and looks up the local parish registers. He finds references to a certain Louisa May Dunham who died in the seventeenth century on the day of the Feast of Mortimer. She was due to be married and it is rumoured that her father, an ancestor of Amanda, hid her dowry. Rocky also finds two further plaques - one on a church pew and another on a lectern - which seem to give further clues to the whereabouts of the treasure. There are pictures of stars and of the wooden stocks in the wood. Could the treasure be hidden under the stocks? Ken is still very suspicious of the Shepleys and Ralph Cotterell. He follows Cotterell to the Hall and catches him snooping around. Lord Melverley seems to be very unconcerned and orders Ken to concentrate on guarding the wood. Talking again to Rev Bradshaw, Ken learns more details about the Shepleys. Lord Melverley had fenced-off land which had previously been used as common grazing land. Chris Shepley had cut the fences and grazed his sheep there. But Lord Melverley had laid poison on the land and all the sheep died. Ralph Cotterell spoke up for Chris in court, but to no avail: the sheep should not have been on the land so Lord Melverley was not liable to pay any compensation. And Lord Melverley sacked Cotterell for backing the Shepleys in their dispute. The full story gradually emerges. Amanda's father had been butler to Lord Melverley's father and was a very close friend of Ralph Cotterell. The old Lord Melverley left Dove Cottage to Amanda's father but the deeds were never handed over. Now his son, the present Lord Melverley, is running short of money. Having sold off many of the family heirlooms he is now trying to raise some cash by holding shooting events on his land and by trying to regain Dove Cottage and all its farmland. Unless Amanda is able to raise the money by the day of the Feast, the cottage will revert to Melverley. There is the added complication that when Amanda was eighteen, and long before she met Chris, she had an affair with Lord Melverley. She has kept this a secret from Chris. Ken and Ralph need to get hold of the deeds that should rightfully have been handed over to Amanda's father when he was given the cottage, But they need Lord Melverley out of the way. Fortunately the story of the buried treasure comes in handy. Rocky has finally solved the mystery of the treasure: the references to "rings of silver", "brightest of stars" and the stocks are allusions to the patches of moonlight which shine through the arm- and neck-holes in the stocks; the position of the largest patch of light on the day of the Feast marks the spot where the treasure is buried. Ken gets Harry to tell Lord Melverley that the Shepleys are about to dig up the treasure and relies on his natural greed! With Lord Melverley safely out of the way, Ken and Ralph can retrieve the deeds: without them, Melverley has no claim to the cottage. In the middle of the night, Lord Melverley comes crashing through the wood in his Range Rover, just as Rocky, Laura and the Shepleys have dug up the casket. He shoots the lock off, only to find that the "treasure" is nothing more than a couple of carved wooden doves. And after making all the noise in the wood, Melverley has scared all the pheasants away. He has to cancel the Shoot and goes into hiding, leaving many angry guests who have paid good money for the event.moreless
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