"What's wrong?" Mathew came in and saw me staring at him, my eyes wide and pleading. I couldn't speak, not with the tape over my mouth, but I could definitely stare. I was, after all, the girl who could outstare cats. "You look a little frantic."
"I need the loo!" I tried to murmur, but the tape muffled my words so that he could not understand. He just looked confused, even when I repeated myself. At last my eyes seemed to do the trick, for he pulled the tape from my mouth. "Please let me go to the toilet!" I said, as soon as I could speak.
Mathew looked relieved, and then surprised, and then he laughed. "Oh, is that what you were trying to say? I couldn't understand a word of it. Yes, of course you can. I'm sorry, I hadn't actually thought of that." He untied me and led me out of the kitchen, down a long corridor. I hadn't seen anything of his house but my bare surroundings, so I was intrigued to see what it looked like, but most of the corridor was uninteresting and anyway, I was too desperate to pee to really examine the few things of interest. "Here we go. This door on the right. No funny business."
Funny business? I gaped at him as I ran in and shut the door. I wasn't even thinking about trying to escape. My entire mind was focused on one thing - I had to go to the toilet, before everything went very wrong. I didn't even care that I hadn't managed to lock the door, because I didn't think he was the sort of person that would come in.
In books they always talk about people 'relieving' themselves. I've never understood what that meant until then - I always thought it was just a turn of phrase. But if they were anything like as desperate as I was that day, it's perfectly understandable that the chance to go to the loo would be a relief. When I came out I felt much better. I must have looked it, too, because Mathew said, "You're looking more cheerful now. Are you hungry?"
"Yes," I said, suspicious. "Why did you leave me for so long? Why didn't you finish your story?" I wanted to know what he meant. "You could have just told me there and then."
"I had a couple of things I needed to sort out," he replied, smiling down. "Don't worry, you'll find out everything soon. But I expect you're faint with hunger, for it's been a while. Come and sit down and I'll get you something to eat."
"Something" turned out to be a steaming bowl of the best soup I'd ever tasted. I'd been a little worried for I wasn't known as an adventurous eater and besides, I didn't think much of the oven (by now, I knew it very well), but mathew turned out to be a pretty good cook. It didn't seem like a recipe I'd tried before and he didn't cook it on the hob.
"How did you make this?" I asked him, staring at it. "On such a little camping stove, you can make first-class grub?"
Mathew laughed. "A compliment indeed! Well, let's just say I learned a long time ago. I never got the hang of modern cooking utensils." He pointed to the oven. "Jon keeps trying to teach me, but it's not working."
"Does Jon teach you, too?" I said incredulously. Jon was my instructor, but I couldn't imagine him teaching someone of Mathew's age.
"He teaches everyone. Jack of all trades, he is. But now, if you've finished, let me tell you what I didn't manage to say."