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
'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
'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
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
'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
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
'It must be nice to have brothers,' said John, wistfully.
'And Sisters,' said Priscilla, smiling at Monique.
Chapter 13 [next]