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BlackEagle Girls
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 you sharing?'

'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 friend?'

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 all off!'

'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 throat. Yuk!'

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 others.

'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 timidly.

'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 quadroon.'

'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 African.'

'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 wretchedly.

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...'

'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, reddening ear.

'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]
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