In which Oliver learns a Grave and Terrible Secret.
It had been quite some time since Oliver had to entertained a Guest. There were always the Visitors that came in the night and attempted to make off with Oliver's Belongings and, occasionally, his life. But not a proper Guest. So it was a welcome surprise when Oliver's Old Neighbour, Little Artie, came for a visit.
Oliver had not seen Little Artie since That Man began infesting all the televisions in Hamlyn Village. Once upon a time, Little Artie had been the weedy boy next door. He'd had his nose in a book practically since he's been born, until Sally Boyle came to live with him, and from then on, he was following Sally around like a pup.
But Little Artie had grown up! He was now Very Tall if still Rather Stingy. And so the two boys quickly decided it was high time to go on a Adventure. "I have not been to the Military Camp in some time," Said Oliver, "And they have many good things to eat there."
"Don't mind if I do," said No Longer Little Artie, who talked like that. So, off they went. And while the antique gentlemen in the Military Camp huffed and puffed at Artie with their bayonets, Oliver brought home many tasty treats.
But Artie had brought back a Secret. It weighed no more than a piece of paper; indeed, it was a piece of paper. But it weighed heavily on Oliver's heart. For Oliver and the other townsfolk of Wellington Wells had spent the long, hungry years of the Occupation considering the many tanks the Germans had in their Military Camp. These same tanks had rolled across Britain like monsterous fire-breathing tortoises, eating up of Britain's finest boys who opposed them. When the Germans demanded their Cursed Tribute, the townsfolk considered the tanks, and gave up their children.
But the tanks in the Military Camp were not made out of steel and fire. Artie had brought back a strip of newspaper from one of the tanks. He told Oliver that the tank the Germans had left beind were made out of paper, and glue.
And so the townsfolk could have risen up against the Germans. And they could have protected their children. They could have protected you, O Best Beloved.
But had Oliver known this Grave and Terrible Secret? He did not know. For, you see, Oliver's memories was riddled with holes, like a church made out of cheese whose congregation was mice. And he might indeed have known. For the Germans may have needed Quite a Lot of Paper to make dozens of papier mache tanks. And so they would have asked the General. And who had been the General's aide-de-camp, but Oliver himself.
Oliver did not like to believe that he might have known such a Secret. Indeed, if had known such a Secret, he could never forgive himself. For why would he not have told the townsfolk, and risen up with them against the Germans and rescue the children, including the Best Beloved?
And so Oliver set off to ask the General what had happened.