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BlackEagle Girls
The Sacred Secret

Chapter 12 - Hit me, but don't shi...

For the next week or so little eventuated at Hopewell out of the ordinary. It appeared that Roseanne Sole had been questioned by the Head Mistress Sonia Poe about the disturbance in her room, yet nothing further came of it. Whether she had said that the loud report and smoke was some kind of practical joke, fireworks perhaps, was unknown, and Roseanne herself was not about to put her head up, obviously having listened to the tape on her recorder. She was well aware that at least one other copy of that tape, and probably a lot more, were circulating through the school, and it must have been nerve wracking, waiting for an accusation to come from either students or teachers.
One small moment of joy for Saif al Saiph was Roseanne's grudging agreement to swap roommates so that Marge Turnbull, who had no objections considering that she roomed with Narenda Upaday, would share with her and Saif was free to shift in with Narenda much to Narenda's pleasure, as she and Marge had barely tolerated each other. With their Form Mistress Juliet Van Weenan's permission this exchange was carried out over the following weekend whilst Priscilla and Monique were back at Silverglade Road.
Monique's mother Monica was still there, having not yet found a suitable house to rent, and so passed another happy two days, with the girls, Granny Black and Monica going out shopping and sight-seeing.
Henry tagged along, although he gave the impression he would have been just as happy at home in the company of Harry and Gizzard, his lizard.
At dinner time on Sunday evening, Harry began barking at the front door, and minutes later Rachael blew in looking completely exhausted.
'Gee Mum, are you alright?' said Henry, setting down the cutlery on the Blackwood table and running over to take her work bag and briefcase.
'I am exhausted Son, and also exhilarated! Everything's coming along absolutely splendidly!' she cried, somewhat dramatically, doing a quick, girlish spin on the spot before collapsing into an armchair. 'Ohh, I could kill for a champers, or even a before-dinner sherry. Granny, Monica, won't you both join me in a quick one... that is... umm, an appetite sharpener?'
Amelia Black turned a side-on crow's stare at her daughter-in-law, 'What about tomorrow? Back at the studio's or out on location first up?'
'No... Nooo! I'm off the hook until Wednesday afternoon. Study lines tomorrow, sleep in first, looong sleep-in, then... well I just might do something mundane like strolling around the garden. Umm, is that a Sunday roast cooking? How very... err... Sunday. Did most of the scenes with the four children in the last couple of days, bless you Priscilla, umm, nectar!' Rachael almost emptied the wine glass in a single swig. 'Of course one of the little "darlings" seems to have an adenoid problem, but Steppie, oh he's the Director by the way, Stefen Manns, he's just sooo good, I didn't think he was the right person for "Child's Play", but he worked through everything and it all came out beautifully, really did. Although children are umm, how can I say this tactfully? Umm... exacting?' She fell back against the pillows, rinsing down the last of her sherry and holding out the glass for more. 'Anyway, we got through it, all the gory internal house scenes and most of the location school stuff. Now!' Rachael said with a flourish of her arm toward all the gathered, 'We have some pick-up scenes to get done and then on Saturday, the all important courtroom drama! Would you girls, and Henry of course, like to be my guests to watch how it all comes out?'
'Whoo! Like in the studio?' said Henry, his eyes widening.
'Better than that,' replied Rachael, accepting a refill, 'I'm talking up in the control-room, with the Director, his D.A. and all the others: Technical Director, Lighting, Audio, Continuity. Big-Time!'
'Oh that would be very exciting, Missus... ' Monique halted as Rachael arched an eye, she disliked being called Missus Black intensely, '... that is Rachael,' concluded Monique, holding her mother's hand and feeling Monica give her a little squeeze. Harry woofed approvingly.
'Yes, I want to go to see Mum, but I've got cricket on Saturday, I can't let the team down, I'm first drop and we're into the finals,' said Louis rather dismally during Monday lunch in The Students Little Cafe.
'Pity,' said Priscilla, taking a sip of her blue-heaven milk-shake, 'I reckon it'll be pretty cool. Mum says these scenes are where she breaks down and cries and it's really heavy stuff when they grill her about killing her husband. Henry and Monique's Mum are going too.'
Louis sighed, ' you'll both just have to tell me all about it next week. I'll give Mum a ring and tell her to "break a leg" and "chookers" and all the rest of that arty stuff for good luck actor's tell each other,' he said, digging into his fruit salad. 'Hey, but wait a sec, I know somebody who might like to go, maybe it'll help to cheer him up.'
'Who is that?' asked Monique.
'John Wynd, he's gone mopey again after all the excitement with Boofhead last week. I was talking to Charlie Fairman yesterday at practice and he told me about John's past... '
'Go on,' said Priscilla, craning forward eagerly.
'Well, it's all in strictest confidence, and you two mustn't say anything to John or to anyone else for that matter. Promise?'
'Wait,' said Monique, wiping her mouth with a paper napkin, 'before we promise anything there is something I must ask you Louis.'
Louis, ready to launch into his story, halted, 'Well, what is it Monique?'
'There are secrets and promises. You ask us to promise not to tell what you are going to tell us, but have you been asked to do the same? Are you going to break a promise of silence? If that is so, I do not want to hear it. Secrets can only be secrets if they are kept that way. It is unfair to tell, if a promise has been made.'
Louis sat back in his seat and put down the plastic spoon he had been using to scoop up desert. 'Monique, this is Louis here, brother of Priscilla and Henry, remember? I know all about secrets and... ' he seemed to falter for a fraction of a second, '... and about promises. I was asked by Charlie not to broadcast this all over the school, because it's not something that others need to know about. As far as John Wynd is concerned, Charlie and me guess that he couldn't care less if others know about him, that's just it!' Louis had to struggle to keep his voice down. 'He doesn't care much about anything. Being flag monitor was something temporary for him to hold on to, and exposing our Miss Sole gave him some justice, but that's all. Now as far as you two are concerned, I'm only willing to tell what I know, because I trust both of you not to let it go further and I think your knowing might help John. And why would I care about a kid in the first level? Because I'm a mate of Charlie Fairman's, and Baroonah-Charlie confided in me, which is like wheww!'
'What do you mean, "like wheww!" I do not know this word,' said Monique, looking askance at Priscilla.
But before Priscilla could reply, Louis continued, 'because he doesn't talk much with white guys or girls in our class. Charlie keeps it all back, even with his own friends. I don't know, somehow in first year we just seemed to hit it off and, well, I trust him and I guess he trusts me. And that's why I can tell you two.'
'Because you trust us?' said Priscilla.
Louis, in a rare show of his softer side, reached out a hand and touched Priscilla's. 'Am I wrong?'
Monique, if it was possible, blushed, and Priscilla said hastily, 'Lesson over Brother, let's not get mushy, tell us all.'
'O.K.' said Louis, leaning forward confidentially. Warragal, John Wynd, is a ward of the state. His parents were murdered when he was five years old... '
'How? Why?' said Priscilla, shocked.
'Keep it down!' said Louis, holding up both hands. 'From what Charlie tells me, John's mum and dad were in a witness protection safe-house. It all had something to do with drugs. His dad was white and his mum was a half-caste aboriginal, sounds politically incorrect but that's what Baroonah said she was. Anyway after it happened John was rejected by his white relo's and so he went to his Coorie aunt, but then the authorities stepped in and he was taken away and institutionalised. For seven years he's been doing the hard road until finally finding himself here at Hopewell Hall. Warragal, that's his own chosen name, is a kid without a family. That's why he's so withdrawn and defensive, and that's why he grabbed at the Coorie flag. He hasn't got much else to hang on to. What I reckon he needs is confidence, and the Roseanne's of this world aren't going to help him there. But I can, and Charlie can and so can you guys. Besides, Charlie knows what it's all about, his dad died in custody, hanged himself. Baroonah has his own ghosts. And he doesn't care that John is only a quarter-caste. As far as he's concerned, John is family, and Charlie is from the tough end of town, and ready to help his own blood.'
'Charlie's father hanged himself?' whispered Priscilla, stunned.
The warning siren sounded in the quad, as Louis gulped down the last of his fruit salad, 'Yeah, but that's a whole other story and one that Baroonah doesn't want to talk about. Try and kid John into Mum's big weekend, he can bunk in with Henry overnight. The Shrimp won't mind and he might even be a bit of a tonic for Warragal.'
'A tonic like castor oil,' smirked Priscilla, but Monique said, 'Cilla! How can you be so mean to your little Brother?'
'That's a big Sister's job, c'mon we've got boring Mister Gannon with boring English next, then Ooee! Music with Gus "Rhythm Stick" Munro!'
'Weelll, Kats and Kittys! It's been a grrreat sessionnn... that is er, lesson, toodayy!' said Auguste Munro, Class One B's music teacher, running a hand through his tousled hair. 'Next time, we're gonna take a look at American classical music, amongst other items like Evanescence, Hilary Duff and Justin Hawkins, the guitar playing Brit with that falsetto voice, and his band, "The Darkness". Oowhee! But next lesson I wanna see a list of Yankee composers from each of you, and don't mutter that there aren't any Mister Amberson, get the info from the library or off the web! Points for each one you guys get right! Rightonnn! Now speakin' of points, let's see how ya did, done, dooed with our Blue's competition.'
He propelled his chair over to his desk and consulted a crumpled list.
"Boppin' the Blues" from Sylvia Knight, good ta see that yer oughta the gum-chewin' stakes Miss Knight.
Umm, "Birth of the Blues", "Blue Moon of Kentucky", oooowee Mister Anastasi! "Blue Danube", where in hell did ya dig that one up from Miss Saiph? I thought that got buried under the Ark. Speakin' of buried, "Blue Tangooo"! Must have been givin' the Internet a thrashing ta find that one, Miss Black. "Rhapsody in Belluuue" from Miss Presleyyy! Gonna play that next time round, and speakin' aboot Presley, "Blue Suede Shoes" from Miss Sooole, little rhythm and sooole there Miss Sole,' Roseanne glowered around the room but said nothing, 'and "Blue Velvet" from Mister Sharp, real sharp, and from the class humorist, Misterrr Sinclair, "Mood Indigo!" Go man go! Duke Ellington! Lateral thinkin' Mister Sinclair, legend in yer own lunchbox! I'll rack up the points and score you all for next time. Now that aboot wraps it up for today. I'll just leave you with this one Guyyys and Grillls, any rumours that the composer Jacques, pronounced like "sharks" with a jay, Ibert, pronounced like "ibear" was a kissin' cousin of Yogi Bear are all so much hooey! See ya round like a record Kiddies!' And so saying, Munro punched in his signature tune, "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" at full bore and the students were practically blown out of the room and into the corridor already filling with other pupils bustling toward the doors and freedom for the day.
'Man that bloke's a loony,' said Jeff Sinclair, laughing. 'Jarkibear, Yogi Bear, the guy's a real nut case!'
'And you're a real smart-arse!' snarled Roseanne Sole, as she shoved her way through the throng. 'Annie'd like ta hit ya all with more than a rhythm stick!'
'Hit me, but don't shi..' the rest of Priscilla's sentence, as she shoved back, was lost beneath the sharp wail of the school siren. 'Heard any interesting music lately!' she shouted at Roseanne's vanishing figure.
The two girls caught up with John Wynd as he crossed the Quadrangle heading for the Coorie flag that fluttered aloft on the faint afternoon breeze. It had become his habit to go and sit by the flagpole and even though he was no longer the monitor, it seemed that he liked to make sure that the flag was taken down safely each day. Knowing what they now knew it was easy to understand why he was such a loner, dedicated to his mother's people and yet, perhaps because of his situation, outside of both white and black.
'Hey Warragal,' said Priscilla as she and Monique seated themselves on either side of him, 'ever been inside a television station?'
'Well my Mum's in a television play, you might have heard that she's an actress, and the court-room scenes are being shot over this coming weekend, and Mum's organised it so that we can be up in the control room to see her do her stuff. Wanna come along?'
'Um... ' he hesitated for a moment, then said, 'I guess I've got nothing better to do. But where will I stay overnight?'
'You can bunk in with my little Brother Henry. He won't mind, but he'll probably try to pump you about what it's like at Hopewell and all that. He's coming here next year.'
'You will get along fine with Henry,' said Monique, idly swinging her schoolbag, 'he's a little darling.'
'He's a little devil,' said Priscilla, 'but I suppose I wouldn't swap him.'
'It must be nice to have brothers,' said John, wistfully.
'And Sisters,' said Priscilla, smiling at Monique.


Chapter 13 [next]

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