The Sacred Secret
Chapter 10 - Cool bananas!
'Harry! You scruffy little Alien! Gimme the ball and stop messing
around! We're in a public park and Monique and me want some answers!
What's all this about some sacred secret?'
'Gruuurfff! Grnurruff!' Harry was having fun.
'Feeling tuckered yet?' he said, suddenly letting go of the tennis
ball. Priscilla, of course, immediately fell backward, pulled up
sharply by Monique's outstretched hands.
'You little bugg... ' muttered Priscilla, righting herself.
'It's all part of the gig, girls, playing in the park... '
'I'll give you gig... Errch, you've made this ball really gooey Harry.'
'Well, it's alright for you, you've got hands, I have to use my mouth,'
said Harry cheerfully, watching while Priscilla mopped at the tennis
ball with a couple of tissues from her pocket.
'I think that you had better use your little mouth right now,' said
Monique, 'and tell us what this is all about before you get Priscilla
'Hmm, yep! O.K. How about we sit down in the shade underneath that
tree... Ummm... Tree... '
'Don't get sidetracked,' warned Priscilla, slumping onto the grass,
'just get on with it.'
Harry sat obediently in front of the two girls and began, 'The world is
full of secrets, little secrets and very big secrets. Lots of them are
classified as Top Secret, but most are the small sort that belong to
each and every human being on this beautiful planet, and most of those
are personal. Secrets come in all shapes and sizes see? And there are
secrets for all kinds of reasons... '
Priscilla heaved a large sigh, 'Can we skip the lecture and get to this
'Oh, well, yes. Well let's just suppose that someone had a secret that
was very important, so important that it would affect the lives of,
oh... a very great number of people, if it was ever revealed. Let's
just suppose that this secret was only ever known to three human beings
at any one time. Let's just suppose that if one of them died, the other
two would pass on the knowledge to a new third person, and so the
secret could continue from generation to generation, undiscovered,
unknown to any but the three. And that none of these three, even though
each of them was aware of the other's identity, would ever speak of the
secret to anybody, including the other secret-holders. The only time
that they would talk together would be at the death of one, and then it
would be only to choose a new secret-holder, not to speak of what they
mutually knew. And finally, let's suppose that one of these three
secret holders just happened to be in residence at Hopewell Hall.'
'Hang on a second!' Priscilla interrupted. 'You said this secret-thingy
was known only to three people, how come you know about it?'
Harry licked his whiskers. 'I am not a people, remember? Besides, I
have friends in high places... '
'How high? Local Council?' said Priscilla.
'State Government?' Monique asked.
'Federal? Oh Harry, is it really that important?' asked Priscilla.
'It's really that important,' Harry confirmed. 'Back in a sec.' He
stood up and wandered behind the tree.
'What is he doing? Running off? Getting himself prepared to tell us all
he knows? Or is he leaving us alone to think about this riddle of a
secret?' wondered Monique, looking perplexed.
'Na, I think he's just taking a pee,' said Priscilla, chewing at her
'Thanks for the time out,' Harry barked, re-appearing. 'Oh boy, I
needed that. Ya kinda forget in the excitement of playing ball... '
'So what's the secret?!' exploded Priscilla, bursting with curiosity.
'Can't tell you that,' Harry replied, settling comfortably on all
fours. 'It's not my secret, and besides, I think you have all you need
to know for the time being.'
'Uh-uh, you've already given us a hint, you little furry... ' Priscilla
seemed at a loss for words.
'What Cilla means is that it must have something to do with Tasmania
and our Fathers, where they are going, and what danger they are getting
into. Is it about the people who want to cut down the trees and the
others who want to stop them?'
Harry yawned and showed off his sharp teeth and red tongue. 'Sorry Miss
Monique, this is a strictly need to know situation and for the time
being you don't. I'm doing a little ground work here, just in case. I
mean, c'mon, have I let you down before?'
'No, but you sure as shootin' have dumped us into some pretty tricky
situations,' growled Priscilla, standing up and dusting her jeans.
'And we will never forgive you if anything terrible happens to
them,' said Monique firmly, clicking a lead onto Harry's walking
'Oh no. Do I really have to have a lead. I know the way home. I'm not
likely to run away,' said Harry, somewhat crestfallen.
'It's a doggy thing!' chorused the girls, looking at each other and
laughing, before setting off with Harry in tow.
'Ya know... merrr... I'm not really all that into baths... water...
soap and flea pow... ow... wow... der!' grumbled Harry, while Priscilla
briskly rubbed at his face with a fluffy towel.
The two girls and the dog were out in the rear garden and they had him
up on a little tiled table. It was just after lunch and the day was
still quite hot, and so they had decided, partly in revenge, to give
him a spruce-up.
'You do not wash where you come from?' questioned Monique in surprise,
as she emptied the plastic baby bath they had used onto a bed of ground
'We've developed sanitization technology a lot further than... ' Harry
fell suddenly silent as the kitchen screen-door banged open and Henry
'Hey you guys, wanna come with our folks to the Botanical Gardens and
then dinner at Southbank?'
The rest of the afternoon and evening passed pleasantly and all too
quickly. By the time the two families got home they were ready for cups
of tea, coffees and hot chocolates.
After hugging her mother and father for the umpteenth time Monique came
up to bed, threw off her dressing gown and climbed in.
Priscilla, who was already sitting up sipping at her chocolate and
flipping through a copy of Polly, a today magazine for teenagers, said,
'Mind you don't knock yours over, you took so long it's now got a skin
on the top.'
'I do not mind,' said Monique, pulling up the coverlet and reaching for
her mug. She took a sip and ended up with the skin of congealed milk on
'You look pretty funny, snuggled in with a big smile and a chocolate
moustache.' Priscilla giggled and returned to her gossip mag.
'I am happier than I could have believed Cilla,' Monique said, giving
her mouth a big lick. 'It is so wonderful having them safe and here in
Australia. And we all have had a fantastic weekend together. I do
wonder though... '
'About what?' asked Priscilla, idly flipping through the teen celeb
'I was just thinking about Mother's wedding ring and hoping that it
will be found when all the crates get unpacked... '
'Sure it will, and at the worst, if it gets lost, well... your dad will
have to give her another one. We did the best we could.'
'I have also been thinking about both our father's going across the
ocean to Tasmania. It seems that there might be trouble in store for
'That's something I'll be keeping watch on,' said a voice from the
shadows of the hall. A moment later, Harry sauntered in and hopped into
his basket, curling up, nose to tail. 'I really like you both being
home at weekends. Makes a change from bunking with Henry. Like he's
fine, but then there's his lizard. Not too keen on lizards. I mean I
saw Predator, you know.'
' "Predator" was meant to be some kind of super-intelligent insect, I
think,' said Priscilla, putting down her empty mug.
'Maybe it was 'Alien', said Harry, flicking his tail. 'You know,
"Nobody can hear you howl in space." '
'I think that was, "scream in space", and you're the one telling the
howlers. Besides, aren't you overlooking something?'
'Like you just happen to be the Alien, dummy!'
'Will you keep us informed of everything that is going on?' Monique
'Yeah, sure. G'night. Good luck with school tomorrow. You got a pretty
cool plan sorted out. I think you'll catch your fish.'
Monique nodded, 'You are pretty cool yourself, Monsieur Harry.'
'Yeah, cool bananas,' added Priscilla, settling under the covers and
switching off her bed-lamp. 'Night Monique, big day tomorrow, back to
Hopewell early; remember you've got to collect this week's flag from
the office and get it hoisted before assembly. Night-night Harry.'
'Same to both of you,' said Harry, snuffling into his bedding. 'Unreal
Monique, amidst everything else that had taken place over the past
three days, suddenly recalled that Juliet Van Weenan had chosen her as
next flag monitor during Friday morning's swim trials. Now, switching
off her own light, she was left with the distinct feeling that she had
missed something in the translation regarding bananas and oranges.
It was Monday morning and as usual on the first day back, all students
and staff were gathered at assembly in The Quad of Hopewell Hall before
the day's classes began. The two girls had arrived early enough to get
to their dorm room, change into uniform, and make it to the Admin
office in time to collect Monique's flag of the week which, when she
unfolded it, was a striking vertical red band with three horizontals,
green, white and black running left to right from the red; the great
ensign of the United Arab Emerates. With only minutes to spare,
Priscilla helped Monique to get the flag aloft and then they both
hurried along to join the rest of the students gathering in the Quad.
'... and finally I should like to make a comment about the unsettling
events of last week.'
Sonia Poe, the Principal of the school, allowed her steely gaze to
sweep across the pupils, who had all fallen extremely quiet at her
mention of the commotion that had taken place on the Thursday night and
following Friday morning before the weekend.
'As I believe is now common knowledge throughout the school, a pupil
was abducted from the dormitory rooms and taken in secret up to the
roof of the Administration block. Once there, the pupil was left, bound
and blindfolded, at the edge of the guttering. One false move would
have been fatal and the pupil would have slipped to almost certain
death. Now this kind of prank is not only extremely stupid but entirely
against every standard and principle of our school. The staff and I
have reason to believe that there might be a case to present regarding
certain provocation, however that in itself is to be investigated, and
no matter whether the results prove such provocation, there can and
will be no, I repeat no, condonation of any retaliatory action in such
violent and dangerous manner. Normally, the police would be informed of
an event of this magnitude, but... ' she paused, a hint of reluctance
in her tone, 'I have been requested by the pupil's family to allow the
school to deal with this. And deal with it, I am determined, we shall.
Now, the pupil in question, Miss, erm, Sole, after observation over the
last three days in the infirmary, will take her place again in classes
this morning. She is not to be harassed in any way and must be allowed
to resume normal activities amongst her class mates. In the meantime,
I, and others of my staff shall be making certain enquiries in an
effort to get to the bottom of this. We should be glad of any
information that might be provided. And of course all information will
be treated in the strictest privacy.'
As the Vietnamese National Anthem, Quoc Ca, played out across the Quad,
and the gathered moved off to their various classes, Priscilla and
Monique exchanged glances. 'No police ummm,' said Priscilla, 'seems
like Annie's gorilla uncle might have had something to do with that.'
Monique grinned. 'Then if that is so, my dear Watson, we will be free
to make certain preparations of our own without the interference of the
Roseanne Sole appeared after Form One B. had settled into their first
class of the day, which was Politics with the ever-crumbling,
exceedingly fragile figure of Justice Croad at the helm. As seemed
usual, he was strolling up and down the aisles between desks, his grey
pony-tail hair swinging listlessly at his back, droning on without too
much concern as to whether anybody was actually listening to him or
even if they were still awake.
'Politics is the art of the possible. The phrase suggests a series of
ideas such as, will it work? Has it, or anything like it ever
worked before? And will the amount of effort involved in bringing such
policy into force be justifi... ' He was interrupted by the opening of
the class door. Sister Menzies, from the school infirmary entered,
beckoning Roseanne Sole to follow. She came, bulging in her uniform,
and quietly made her way to an empty desk.
'I think Miss Sole will be alright, just needs to acclimatize for a day
or two. She has, after all, suffered quite a shock,' said Sister
Menzies, confidentially to Croad, for all the class to hear.
Many eyes darted toward Roseanne during the remainder of the period,
but she met none with her gaze, keeping her head down-turned.
Croad, with seeming indifference mumbled on, 'The test of whether a
policy might work is through application and actual experience... '
During Languages, a subject One B. had not encountered in the first
week of school, Roseanne continued to be subdued, even when the teacher
Jan Kelly was choosing a new flag monitor for the following week.
'Now I see by the roll that you are all present, and I should like a
volunteer for next week's flag,' she held up
the vertical green white and red Italian silk. 'Yes young man, you up
in the back row?'
'Ray Sharp, Missus Kelly. As Form Captain, I'd be glad to do that.' Ray
was looking pointedly at the back of Roseanne's head as he spoke, but
she did not turn or make any sign that she had even heard him.
'So would I,' said Leigh Delmenico and Sandro Anastasi, both putting up
their hands and speaking at almost the same time.
'Well, I think that's a good response, and even though you two
gentlemen are very eager, it's only fair that your Form Captain takes
the honour of caring for the flag next week. Remember, eventually
you'll all get the opportunity of such a privilege during the course of
the year. Don't forget to collect it from me on Friday, Mister Sharp.
Oh, and you may all call me by my Christian name which is Jan. Missus
Kelly is my husband's mother. Now,' she said, folding up the Italian
flag and slipping it into its plastic container, 'let's begin today's
lesson with an overview of what language actually is. First and
foremost, language is what distinguishes man from the rest of the
animal kingdom and it is probably the most important tool he has ever
devised. With language, and subsequently communication, all other tools
become possible. In this class, through the course of the year I will
not only be touching on how to speak languages such as French, German,
Italian, Greek and Spanish, but at first we shall consider the very
nature and origin of language and the invention of writing. From
there we will progress to the Language Families: Old English,
Indo-European and Germanic. It is my hope that by the time we reach the
end of the year's study, I shall have awakened within you an abiding
curiousity and interest in the hidden power of the spoken word in all
its beauty and wonder... '
Lunch time came and went, followed by a library period with Jane Aderly
and One B's first class in Art and Craft with Miss Purdie Smith.
'And before you all ask me about my name, it's very common and there's
nothing I can do about it unless I marry a man by the name of Jones, in
which case it will be just as common but at least I'll have some
variety in my life,' she said, rather breathlessly; sketching like
lightning with charcoal pencils across white butcher paper.
'Er, Miss Smith,' said Karen Presley, after a few moments when nothing
but their teacher's hands moved across the pinned-down paper,' I was
wondering about your first name... '
'Oh that!' replied Miss Smith. 'Mother liked cats! There! What do you
think class?' she beamed, stepping away and turning the mounted
work-board toward them. In the matter of the time the group had taken
to file in and be seated, she had done a reasonable rendering of the
faces now gazing, somewhat stunned, back at her work.
'Good! First impressions are always important. Speaking of the
Impressionists... Ah, but then we shall get to them in due course. Now
the reason I have chosen charcoal as our beginning medium is to
demonstrate what our earliest artists had to contend with when they
began to draw on the cave walls of Altamira in northern Spain and
south-western France in the caverns of the Dordogne valley. In those
dark, hidden places where the work was carried on by firelight it was
only natural that charcoal would be a form of early medium, along with
the reds of iron oxide and the blues of manganese, the yellows and
oranges of iron carbonates, all mixed with animal fats for adhesion and
sometimes detailed with the blacking of burnt bones... '
Priscilla shook her head. 'Woow! I think I'm going to fail charcoal!
Boy she can talk!'
'Yes, but how she can draw!' Narenda Upaday added, after the class had
dismissed for the afternoon. 'I am glad that we will all have to be
wearing those smocks, the way Miss Smith throws paint and stuff around.'
'That's what it's all aboot!' said Auguste Munro, the Music Teacher,
overhearing as he strolled past toward the Admin building. 'Get used to
it kiddies, hands-on all the way. Down and dirty, up and booogie!'
'He's actually walking!' said Jeff Sinclair, in mock horror, 'Didja see
John Wynd nodded, his eyes following his shoes, shoulders slumped;
hardly, it seemed, listening.
'Aw come on mate, get with it. No one thinks you had anything to do
with what happened to that...' Sinclair stopped short of calling
Roseanne Sole whatever it was he had in mind. 'Serves her right
anyway,' he threw in for good measure.
'That's just it though,' muttered John. 'No-one knows who forced her up
on to the roof, but I bet there are plenty of people who think it was
some of the Coories... '
'Well I have heard from a girl in One D. whose older sister is in Three
A. that she thinks it is one of her class, an aboriginal boy who calls
himself Baroonah,' said Narenda Upaday, who was walking with Priscilla
and Monique. 'He has some Coorie friends in third and forth year, I
have seen them together a couple of times. I think it was they who you
spoke to in the Quad on Friday afternoon John.'
John Wynd sighed, 'Yes it was, and they were pretty angry about what
had happened to the flag and because some people were already starting
to point the finger at them, but Charlie swears that they had nothing
to do with it.'
'Charlie?' said Priscilla.
'Yes, his name is Charlie Fairman,' answered John glumly.
'Boy! Fairman. That's a funny name for a black guy!' exclaimed
Sinclair, unaware of John Wynd's background. 'Why does he call himself
Baroonah? What's it mean?'
'He calls himself Baroonah because there are always people around who
want to laugh at his surname,' said John, pointedly, 'and it means
'Wooww! Spooky!' said Sinclair, rolling his eyes. 'Think I'll head for
Queasies and get some chips and a drink, coming Johnny?'
'No thanks Jeff, I'm going to stay out for a while and watch the flags
come down,' John replied, turning in the direction of the flag poles.
'I'll go with you Jeff, I am rather thirsty after all that charcoal,'
said Narenda, laughing. She gave the others a little wave as she headed
'And now that we're alone,' said Priscilla, 'perhaps we can sit
together over there until it's time for Monique to lower her flag, and
have a little chat.'
'Yes,' said Monique as the three walked towards a green school seat
near the row of flag poles, 'there is something we want to talk to you
'Yeah, what would that be?' he asked without much enthusiasm.
'It just might be something to brighten up your day,' said Priscilla,
grinning mischieviously. 'Ever seen a movie called The Sting?'
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