The Sacred Secret
Chapter 5 - You don't spit into the wind. ('Cos if ya do...)
Roger Dance turned out to be about as insipid in his teaching of Australia's
beginnings under British rule and the earlier visitations of various country's
sailors as he himself had appeared when Priscilla and Monique first encountered
him at Hedgeley Dene Gardens during the Hopewell pre-school get together where
Narenda Upaday's little sister Nisha had almost been drowned. The only good
thing to come from the double history period after lunch was that One B and One
A were assembled in the same room. During afternoon recess, Priscilla and
Monique got to say hello again to Tsuang Tsu, having missed her on the tram into
school that first morning.
'Fon Jien drove me, with all my bags and cases, straight into Hopewell on the
way to the restaurant. I am so very happy to see you two again, though it has
been just a couple of days. Only one more period of Mister Dance to get through
and our first day will be over. Have you been allocated your rooms yet, and are
'Black and Bateleur, the BlackEagle Girls, yes!' said Priscilla, shaking her
clenched fist enthusiastically.
'We picked up our room keys when we went to get our locker keys at lunch
time,' said Monique, whilst Priscilla idly kept an eye on who was about as the
three girls stood together in the sunshine of the Quad.
'Then you will be in the ground floor dorm at the other end from me. I am
rooming with a girl who I knew at my old school. She's a friend, very nice.'
'What's her name?' asked Priscilla, watching Roseanne Sole where she lumped
her menacing way amongst the students, muttering in some people's ears,
shouldering others aside, pushing and laughing loudly and staring down those who
got in her path.
'Terri, Terri Tory,' she's just over there...'
'Ya gotta be kiddin' us!' Priscilla exclaimed, 'Why do parents do that?'
'Do what?' asked Monique.
'Terri Tory, get it? Territory! What are her Mum and Dad's names-Tellmia and
His?' said Priscilla, still scowling at the overbearing figure of Roseanne where
she disappeared amongst the crowd.
'Her surname is actually Tory-Toth, her parents come from Budapest in
Hungary. But Terri was born here in Australia,' replied Tsuang-Tsu, smiling at
Priscilla's lame attempt at a joke. 'She has been a great help to me in the past
and is another of our friends for the mission...By the way, I believe you both
have had long conversations, since we last talked, with a certain new-found
It was Monique who answered, 'Harry asked us to say "Hello". We
both see now what you were hinting at, although a few days ago I am sure
Priscilla and I would have thought you completely mad...'
'And still suspect it,' cut in Priscilla. 'How come you already know about
our "new-found friend?" '
'Harry, as you have named him, keeps in touch with Fon Jien and myself...'
'What? By mobile phone or mind-reading?' Priscilla queried, trying to imagine
Harry using a phone with his paws. 'Come to think of it,' she went on, 'there
are a lotta questions we haven't asked yet; like how can we levitate and sort-of
float around, and what's with the tree-house thingy? I mean, it seems to be
hidden from sight in that big old tree, but how come? Why can't anyone else see
it? My Brother Henry is sure to climb up there sooner or later. What then? And
also, Harry told us that if we needed him we only have to call, call on what?
Our local friendly trunk line? He's on a branch? We just wish and he'll twig...'
'There is much for you both to learn,' interrupted Tsu, beaming and waving to
her friend Terri, 'and some time soon we will get together and talk about it,
and don't forget, you have the peridot ring and chain and the silver card...'
At that moment the school siren ended further intimate conversation,
signalling the return to final classes for the day, and together the girls made
their way through the throng of hurrying students back to the history room where
Roger Dance awaited. 'Have you noticed his fingernails?' giggled Tsu, after
introducing Terri Tory-Toth to the girls, 'I believe that they've been painted
and he doesn't know enough about varnish remover or hasn't had time to get it
'You're joking?' said Priscilla, gawping, eager for any hot gossip. 'Are you
seriously suggesting that Mister Dance is a little...'
'Queer! Yah, probably,' smirked Sylvia Knight, who was eavesdropping right
behind her. 'An' he's got lousy nail-colour taste; bilious pink? Finger down the
After Sylvia's snide outburst the rest of the day paled into insignificance,
except that at least half a dozen girls in the classroom kept hawk-eyes on the
hands, mostly pocketed, of their lecturer as he ambled, droning, about the room.
That night, the first of many at Hopewell Hall, Priscilla and Monique were
settling into their cramped two-bed dorm after eating an evening meal at 'Queasies,'
one of several student cafes offering cheap, but wholesome meals: soups,
noodles, hotted-up rice dishes, pizzas and pastas. Their baggage had been kept
in a secure student storage bay, until they could claim it and hump it along to
their quarters. After chattering whilst unpacking, both girls took their shower
things and towels and sauntered off to the first-form facilities along the
corridor. A teacher, who introduced herself as Miss Jane Aderley, was on
corridor duty. She turned out to be the school librarian and looked every bit
the part: she was short, dumpy, middle-aged, wore thick coke-bottle lenses, a
pale-yellow, sort of feathery, muffler around her neck that hung down over her
black tunic like a drowned chicken, and of course, had the mandatory
grey-streaked hair pulled back into a tight bun. But for all that, she seemed
pleasant enough, although her agenda was obvious from the outset.
'You'll find the "Palace," ahem...that is the young ladies' showers
and toilets, when you come to the first corridor on your left. The boys'
ablution block is the third corridor down. Do make sure that you don't stray
there girls and, oh, the library is on the fourth floor of the students wing. All
school is allowed access to it between the hours of nine and five, except on
Saturdays and Sundays. There are periods during your normal week allocated to
reading and of course I, and my library staff, are available through those
times. If you wish, by special appointment only, we can open the library even on
weekends for study and research projects. Connection to the internet is
accessible, under supervision, via the library only. As you may have been
informed earlier, there is a student lounge down here, off the second corridor
along, where television, games, reading and general chit-chat is permitted until
nine for first and second years. First years are expected to have lights out at
ten. I do look forward to seeing you both and sharing with you all that the
exciting world of reading can avail.'
'Mumph,' said Priscilla disconsolately, as the pair met up with several of
the other girls from their class, 'Really looking forward to hooting it up with
Miss Aderley, she seems like great fun.'
Routine. That seemed where the BlackEagle Girls were headed at Hopewell Hall,
and it began the next morning and all through that second day. By the end of it,
Priscilla and Monique had done Politics/Australia and the World, with Donald
Gannon and their first period in science with Mister Brooks, who seemed a bit
like the "Nutty Professor," and Louis, Priscilla's older brother, who
stopped off with them for a bite at lunch time, laughingly called, Retep Skoorb.'
'Why Retep Skoorb? Sounds like something out of Star Trek?' asked Priscilla,
before lustily biting into an apple.
'Aw, that's just Peter Brooks spelt backward,' said Louis, waving his hand as
if he was brushing away an annoying insect. 'He told us in first year that he'd
been abducted by aliens when he was a kid. Never got over it, the way they
treated him on the spaceship and so on; a fair nutter, but he does know his
subject. He can put together a really foul rotten egg gas...'
'That's comforting to know,' offered Monique, pulling a face.
After lunch, Form One A and B went over to the library on the forth floor
of the students wing, where Jane Aderley reprised her speech of the previous
night to the entire class. By the conclusion of that double period everybody had
had the chance to familiarise themselves with the extensive library hall and its
long isles of books and magazines, welcoming alcoves of couches for quiet
reading and nests of computers and desks set out in the open for ease of
supervision. Both Monique and Priscilla, laden with satchels of research works
and the odd book for weekend reading, were happy enough to hear the end of
period siren ring and head to the stairs. By the time they emerged at ground
level the pair decided to have a thick-shake at Queasies, and after arriving
there met up with Narenda, Tsuang-Tsu and her friend Terri Tory. It wasn't long
before others of One A and B gathered about them and an hour slipped by with
lots of chatter and laughter.
Just before five o'clock, the nucleus of this merry little group decided to
head across the Quad to their dorm wing before dinner. It was daylight savings,
the sun bathing the wide, open area in a warming glow, as if it was still
sometime closer to four o'clock. All around the Quad, flag monitors were hauling
down their fluttering charges, preparing to fold the individual flags of the
many countries represented and take them safely away for the night. The faint
breeze ruffled the evergreen trees that stood about the perimeter of the Quad
bordering the lines of flag poles. Apart from a group of older boys bouncing
footballs as they headed for the south-wing class rooms and the corridor leading
to the sports grounds beyond, there were few others about.
Narenda and Terri were busy chatting with Saif Al Saiph, who was bemoaning
the events of her first night rooming with Roseanne Sole and how she wished she
could swap with Marge Turnbull, and Monique was quietly trying to organize a
time when she and Priscilla might have a chance to speak at further length with
Tsuang-Tsu, when raised voices coming from the direction of the Admin wing
caused them all to turn and look in that direction. They could see two figures,
at first locked together, then abruptly drawing apart, the material of a flag
clutched between them. Briefly it appeared as a tug-of-war until the taller of
the two suddenly reeled in the other like a fish on a hook, bent forward with a
jerking head movement, pushed and released the shorter one in a single, violent
action so that the person fell backward and sprawled hard onto the bitumen. Then
the assailant whirled the flag into a crumpled mess, threw it down over the
struggling victim and ran off, laughing.
In the few seconds that it took Priscilla, Monique and the others to reach
him, John Wynd had managed to scramble to his knees and catch up the black,
yellow and red flag before it fluttered away.
'We saw it John! That was Roseanne Sole! All of us saw her push you over! Did
she tear the flag?' shouted Priscilla, pounding up in a rush just ahead of the
'No, she didn't tear it!' cried John, uplifting the flag across his
outstretched arms, before the gathering group. 'She...look...she
just...she...spat on it...She spat on the Aboriginal flag!'
'Oh, this is a shocking thing for her to have done!' Monique said, kneeling
at his side and peering at the besmirched cloth. 'We will report it to Miss Van
Weenan, but first we must know if you have been injured?'
'Yes, are you hurt John?' asked Priscilla, panting and kneeling at his side.
'No! And I don't want any of you to report this to anyone. It's my job to
look after this flag and that's what I'm going to do, on my own.'
'But what did she say to you? How did this start?' asked Saif, somewhat
'Not important!' he snapped, attempting to struggle to his feet, 'I've gotta
go and wash this muck off and get it dried and ironed for tomorrow morn...'
'It is important,' said Tsuang-Tsu, standing over him, her hand resting
gently but firmly upon his shoulder. 'If you want us to remain silent, tell us
what we ask.'
For a moment both Priscilla and Monique saw determination and vulnerability
in his eyes. It was as if he was fighting some inner conflict as well as what
had just occurred. 'Alright,' he said grudgingly, 'she wanted to know what the
big deal was with me and being a flag monitor. Especially this one. She said it
wasn't a real flag at all, just a bastard flag of the black...Well...Koories.
She tried to take it off me, she was yelling, "Why would any white kid
wanna dirty his hands...You aughta be ashamed, pulling crap like this up a
flagpole. Not fit for anything but puking over..." Then she spat on
it..."That's what Annie thinks of this rubbish!" She shouted that as
she pushed me. I've got to clean it off, please let me go...'
'You're troubled John, and it's more than just because of what has happened,'
said Tsu, looking around at a few, vaguely inquisitive students roaming across
the Quad. 'Tell us your problem now, quickly, and we promise to remain silent.'
'Do you all promise?' he asked, staring anxiously from one to another. The
girls nodded, puzzled expressions on their faces. John Wynd heaved a long sigh.
'Alright, but only as long as you give your solemn word to keep quiet... I'm a
'A quad...what?' asked Priscilla.
'I'm a quarter of what you're looking at,' he said, almost reverently, gazing
down at the crumpled material of the Koorie flag.
'You're a quarter-caste Aboriginal,' said Monique, her face breaking into
grin. 'That's nothing to be ashamed of, my Father is French and Mother is
'You don't understand,' John replied miserably, 'and I'm not ashamed, it's
just that...well...this flag is sacred...special in ways I can't...I'm not able
to express. People like Roseanne couldn't ever really know what it means...their
minds are shut...And I'm going through life being mistaken, by the likes of her,
for one of you, when I'm not really a whitey...I mean...' he shook his head
Tsuang-Tsu lifted her hand from his shoulder. 'You are right John Wynd, we do
not understand. And we can only ever understand when we are enlightened. For
this time, we have learned all that we need to know. Go and cleanse your flag
and tomorrow hoist it with the same pride of today. It has not altered, except
to become the stronger because of your faith, and don't consider vengeful
thoughts. People like Roseanne Sole are self-destructive.'
'I know what I have to do,' said John, rising and bundling up the Koorie
flag. 'Remember, you all promised to keep quiet, remember!' Without waiting for
an answer he turned and hobbled away, favouring a bruised buttock.
'Oh heck! What was that all about?' said Priscilla, standing and pulling
strands of hair out of her eyes.
'Only this,' replied Tsuang-Tsu, 'we now know just a little more than we did
when we left Queasies, and what we know should be kept to ourselves.'
The next day, at nine o'clock promptly, the black, yellow and red of the
Koorie ensign fluttered defiantly amongst the host of other nations.
Classes, during the morning, went smoothly enough, although Roseanne Sole
seemed somewhat apprehensive for a period or two, until she realised that no one
was about to come forward and bear witness to what she had done. It didn't take
too long, through the course of the day, before she grew in confidence to a
point where she took a shot at John Wynd again. It happened as One A, B, C, and
D assembled after lunch on the sports ground for their first trials and
assessments. The large complex was composed of track and field areas, tennis
courts, an oval that could be utilized for soccer, cricket and football, a
basketball stadium and a twelve lane, indoor swimming pool. While the classes
milled about awaiting the arrival of Barry Garland the school Sports Master and
his assistant Juliet Van Weenan, Roseanne Sole nudged her way between the
students until she stood just behind John, and because she was a head taller
than him, she bent down to croak into his ear, 'How ya doin', Pole-Boy? Got yer
dirty bit of cloth wiped clean yeah? Suppose ya gonna find another crappy flag
for Annie ta slag when yer finished with this one, ay?' Before John could turn
about, she had him by his ear-lobe, twisting it hard so that he was forced to
remain facing forward. 'Good to know that you're kid-smart enough to keep yer
gob shut, otherwise, who knows? Wise-up. You're a white kid. Get with the
program Sam, or I'm gonna start thinkin' you're a Sambo-lover. Annie don't like
'Blackies do not want you to like them!' said a biting voice in Roseanne's
ear, as Monique twisted her fingers into the bigger girl's hair, jerking her
head upright away from John Wynd's. Suddenly Priscilla's hands were working hard
at forcing Roseanne's release of the boy's ear. As he twisted free, Priscilla
rasped, 'Get away from us! He's not alone! We saw what you did yesterday! You're
just a cow! A bullying, lumbering cow! And you're lucky this time that we're
keeping quiet because John made us promise. Now piss off!'
Roseanne wrenched herself free of Monique's grasp and grinned, exposing her
large, uneven teeth. 'Yeah, Johnnie made ya promise, 'cos he knows what's good
for him, that's why. Annie'll get you two anyway. You can count on it. Annie
promises you!' She suddenly hawked up a gob of phlegm and spat it onto the
grass, before abruptly turning and shoving her way between the ranks.
'You promised not to tell!' muttered John, rubbing at his throbbing,
'And we haven't!' Priscilla hissed back. 'At least you could be grateful for
still having both your ears!'
'And for having two "Whitey's" for friends, even if one is named
Black and the other one is actually black,' said Monique, flashing her Whoopi
Goldberg grin at him.
For a moment, he seemed to be on the verge of pushing them away, then his
demeanour changed and for the first time, both the girls saw the slightest
smile. 'I know you want to help me, and you have too, and I know I look as if
I've got a chip on my shoulder and maybe I have...It's just hard for me because
of other things...Thanks for trying...But don't get yourselves into
trouble...You've already become an enemy of hers...'
'Oh piffle!' said Priscilla, 'Roseanne Sole hates just about everybody, we're
only the newest on her list. She's the one with the chip. We can take care of
each other. Don't be a loner...'
John blinked, and for a fraction of a second something glimmered in his eyes:
hope, need, trust? Then it was gone. 'Catchya later,' he mumbled, sliding off
between the other students.
Wednesday and Thursday passed without incident. Classes came and went.
Roseanne Sole kept her distance, though there were times both Priscilla and
Monique had the distinct feeling of being watched. Strangely, when they spoke
briefly with Tsuang-Tsu and the others, they too agreed that there seemed a
vague feeling of something ominous about to happen.
In the early hours after midnight on Friday morning, Priscilla and Monique
were suddenly aroused from sleep by the piercing sounds of constant, hysterical
screaming, echoing across the Quad from somewhere in the levels high above!
Chapter 6 [Next]