and The Quest To See
Chapter 3 - What's up with Henry's downer?
'What's with Henry? He's super quiet lately.' Louis asked his sister
several days later. 'Seems to be spending a lot of time moping around
with his lizards and not much else and I notice he's struggling to
finish evening meals. Just stuffing it in and not asking for seconds.
Love? He hasn't gone gooey on that girl from the pie-fight has he?'
'I don't know, and now I know that you don't know either.' Priscilla
answered, rolling her rubbish bin alongside Louis who was propelling the
re-cycle bin out to the front nature strip.
'Do you think he's still sick? Internal injuries? Spleen? I mean his arm
seems back to normal.'
'I don't think it's his spleen or anything like that.' said Priscilla as
they came to the verge alongside the road. She was almost ready to spill
the beans to Louis about Henry's tearful late night visit to her room,
but remembered his panic when she suggested telling their folks,
'He's just quiet. Maybe falling out of the tree has made him understand
that doing crazy things can lead to getting killed.'
'He's only gone quiet this last week. He was fine through Christmas.'
'Delayed reaction?' Priscilla offered weakly.
'Yeah right. Maybe I should speak to Gran...'
'No! I mean, why don't we just see how he gets along back at school?
We'll all be there soon. Maybe he's uptight about his second year?'
Louis laughed out loud, something he seldom did. 'Sister, at times you
say the most ridiculous things. Henry has already nailed Hopewell Hall
as his personal fun-parlour. Scarlet Pumpernickel, remember?'
'It was Tony Curtis in The Great Race or Errol Flynn in Robin Hood last
year...But maybe...' (Priscilla was trying to find a way to convince
Louis that Henry was alright, until she could find out what Henry's
problem actually was.) 'Maybe he's getting into a new character,
something dark like... like the Joker in Batman...'
'Ummm,' Louis considered this possibility, 'Maybe... Or The
Shadow!' (Louis, like Henry, was into all kinds of old
'Get outta here! What's the shadow?' Priscilla asked, rolling her
'Old wireless serial from America. Began in the 1930's and ran until the
50's. Really corny, er cheesy, but Noir.'
'Noir! You know.'
'Are we talking some kind of other alien speak?'
Harry, who had ambled down the driveway, caught Priscilla's eyes with a
piercing stare, and then cocked a leg on the gate-post.
'Black! Black! Film Noir! Radio Noir, Priscilla! Sometimes I wonder!'
Louis turned and strode up the drive.
'The 30's! last century!' Priscilla shouted at his back. 'That's when
dinosaurs were roaming the earth!'
'Yeah! Whatever!' Louis waved a hand to the breeze.
'Think you sidetracked him?' Harry managed through thinly-drawn doggy
'For the time being, but Granny and Dad, and eventually Mum, will catch
on unless Henry snaps out of it. He's really gone into zombie mode. You
picked up on anything?'
'Nope. I get in there when he hits the sack at night, when I'm not with
you or patrolling the house...'
'Or taking the night air outside.' Priscilla added.
'Well sure, a guy sometimes has to do the rounds...'
'What would get Henry so down? Last year we had the big pie fight and
he's still cool with all his girly-flirty-friends as far as I know.'
'Right. But now he's unhappy. He hangs on to me. He's weepy, wants to
cuddle up when he's asleep. I do the best I can, but I'm just a dog.'
'You're a dog with attitude, and an alien from outer space.' Priscilla
corrected, going into deep-thinking. 'We have to find out what's cooking
'Miss Priscilla, that term is most unbecoming of you.' Harry aloofly
replied, trotting off.
Priscilla chewed at her lip, still thinking hard. 'Maybe it's time to
make him tell me,' she muttered to herself. 'Guess I'll just have to
play the If you don't blab, I'll blab to Mum and Dad and Granny and
Henry's bedroom, later that same afternoon.
After applying the screws, Priscilla finally got him to cough it up.
'Alright Sis. It's like this. When I was in hospital, and then back home
grounded because of my arm and spleen and nothing much to do and a lot
of time to think, I started to wonder about Convicts...'
'Aw c'mon Sis, You know I'm into pirates and Robin Hood and...'
'And Tony Curtis in that film with all the cream pies.'
'Well yeah, and Bush-rangers in Australia and Convicts.'
'So? Why have you been so miserable and secretive? What did you do?'
'What I did was get on the Internet to find out stuff about our family,
'So what's the big deal?'
'It's hard and takes time and you have to be able to say things, key
words, that get you results. I mean if you just whack in Convicts, Black
family, First fleet, or Convicts to Australia, Black family, you don't
get anything much, 'cause Black is like Smith and Brown and Jones
'Sorry. Anyway I tried all the family tree stuff and couldn't get
anywhere, and then I thought about getting birth certificates. Me first,
and then you and Louis. Can't do on-line, or if you can I couldn't find
out how, though I did see that I could send some cash and get
information that way. Except you gotta have a hundred points of proof of
identity and I don't have a driver's licence or credit cards or bank
statements or electricity bills...'
yeah, sorry. But it seems pretty stupid when you're trying to get
your Birth Certificate and that's what they want, to know who you are.'
Priscilla, mentally drumming her fingers and slowly losing it, prompted,
'I'm drifting off!'
'Right. Well here's the other bit...'
Priscilla, taking a leaf out of her actor-mother's book, remained
Henry appeared unsure of how to go on, almost like he wanted to curl up
and vanish. His eyes dimmed as he turned his head away to the window and
the solid mass of the great tree that he had managed to fall out of.
'Great tree. Glad Dad didn't decide to cut it down... '
'Henry, you're stalling.'
'Sorry Cilla, it's just that I don't know how to break this to you.'
'Just spit it out little brother. I'll handle it!'
'You won't. Our Mother isn't our mother. Our Dad's our Dad, but she
isn't our real mother.'
'Are you... Henry! Drugs?'
'Sis, it's just you and me. I told you. I've seen our Birth
Certificates. Our real Mother is out there somewhere.'
Priscilla grabbed her brother's shoulders and began to shake him. 'Henry
Black! You've gone troppo! Where did you get such a loony idea?'
'From our Birth Certificates Cilla.'
'But you said you couldn't... '
'I couldn't. Then I remembered the boxes of papers and stuff when we
moved here and one that was labelled Personal-Home-Private. And that
went into Mum... well... Dad's bedroom. I went in there when Granny was
out shopping, found it in the wardrobe and flipped through it. Mostly just
totally boring nothing-stuff. Then I saw a file marked Passports. Birth.
Death. Marriage. A lot of papers, including Granny's husband, our Granddad
Bob's Death Certificate. But finally, after Dad's Birth one... and... well...
I found ours. All three of us. When I saw what was on your one and mine I
went and copied them on our fax as well as other stuff like Marriage Certif...'
'Henry! How could you just casually burgle your own parent's bedroom?
You had no right to do that! It's like as if you stepped over a line of
trust without even caring!' Priscilla exclaimed, her face beginning to
glow with rising anger. 'Boy! You ever do that to my diary and you're
'O.K. O.K!' Henry winced as if he'd been slapped.
'No it's not O.K. It's wrong, that's all!'
Henry looked like he might cry, and Priscilla fell silent while he
opened his desk-draw and took out a large white envelope which he handed
to her. 'I kept this here instead of under my mattress, cos I know
Mollie and Gran are on to that.'
Harry looked up from where he had been resting his head between his paws
and Priscilla saw his eyes roll.
'Yeah-right-fine-Henry!' Priscilla said, roughly withdrawing the sheets
inside. 'That fall out of the big tree must have done more damage to
your head than we realised. I mean I know about that, believe me, after
Roseanne arSole smashed me on the basketball court and what I felt
later. You're probably just getting it wron...'
She was looking at her own Birth Certificate, and all the details were
correct, except for box 2 titled MOTHER. and box 4 that stated
MARRIAGE OF PARENTS.
Family Name Black
Maiden Family Name Aruda
Christian or Given Name(s) Loretta Maxwell
Age 19 years
Place of Birth Northern Territory
4 MARRIAGE OF PARENTS
Place of Marriage Brisbane, Queensland.
'This's wrong! They've got it all wrong! It should be Davies. Rachael
Ann!' Priscilla exclaimed, suddenly puzzled and alarmed. 'And Mum and
Dad said they got married in Sydney!'
'Here's the first Marriage certificate.'
Priscilla gazed at in shocked silence. 'This...this shows Dad married
to... Before Mum... I don't get it?'
'What's not to get Sis? We're both Dad's kids but we have another
Mother. Someone who's never been talked about, like she doesn't exist.'
'But what about Louis?' Priscilla, in shock, asked.
'Our big Bro isn't. He's the son of Rachael Davies and some bloke...
here, Samuel Richard Collins, so he was really Louis Collins at birth
but that got changed to Black when Dad and Mum... Rachael... got
married, I guess...' Henry ended in something akin to a whimper. 'Gee
Sis, just when everything was going great at school and we were settling
here at home, and I have to stumble into things that were off limits and
we shouldn't know...'
'Why the heck shouldn't we know!' Priscilla erupted. 'I'm shattered! No.
Shat-off! Why weren't we told? What's going on? You certain this is for
real and not just one of your silly games!'
'Wish it was Sis. Check out the paper-work. Now you know why I've been
so down. They've got a secret about you and me, hidden stuff in the
past, and now we've got a secret about them, or at least we know some of
it... maybe Louis knows more.'
'How could he?'
'Work it out. He's sixteen, you're fourteen and I'm thirteen. When you
were two and I was one, he was four. Do you remember anything back
'Of course not, and you were only a baby. And anyway I had Missy right
from the start... Well that's all I can remember except maybe...'
'Oh, just a vague, probably not real, vision of Dad looking down at me
and me lying looking up at him and a feeling of being helpless... I
can't really remember.'
'But Louis might. Do you think he knows about this?'
'I dunno... He's just always been our big brother... Although sometimes
he seems to be more like... ' Priscilla hesitated. 'Like Rachael.'
Priscilla was in shock. 'If he does know, he was only four or five at
the time, I mean I still mightn't remember even if I was three. I mean
it's all before... I can only remember the Christmas trees, and Granny
Black and all of us together with Missy as a puppy even if we weren't
ever really in one place we could call home... '
'Should we tell him and see if he knows anything?'
... No! Not yet. I need time to get my head around this. Like it all
shouldn't be an issue. Mum... Rachael was married to some other man and
had a baby, Louis, and then something happened and the Father went away
or died or something and Dad was married to some other woman, our
Mother, and something happened there too and she went away and then Dad
met Rachael and they got married... '
'Which means the other two people either got divorced or died?' Henry
'Seems like that. How else can people separate when they're married?'
'And they were married, the Birth Certificates say so.'
'Henry. Was there a Marriage Certificate for Rachael and Dad?'
'Um... Not sure Sis, I mean I didn't go on looking after I found the
stuff about us.'
'So that's another possibility. They might not have divorced! They might
still be married to... and... and just living together and keeping it
'Come on Priscilla. These days lots of people live together that aren't
'Yeah but don't forget this was all twelve, thirteen years ago.'
'Back in the olden days.'
'Well not exactly Prehistory.'
'Almost Prehistory for us.'
'You're being an idiot, but I'm glad to see a bit of the old Henry
'Comes from getting this out of my head and sharing with you Sis. I feel
like a ton of crap has been moved outta my brain, except I don't know
where it's been moved to.'
'You should, little Brother. You've managed to dump it on me too.'
Henry's lower lip began to tremble. 'Sorry Sis, I just had nowhere to go
except you and I held back as long as I could... '
You've always known how to manipulate the situation so that it works for
you... But this time I think you actually mean it, because you're scared
about something unknown. And this time not just for yourself.'
Priscilla folded her arms about Henry and he didn't protest. 'I need a
few days to think about all of this. Can you keep a lid on it?'
'Sure, now I know that you believe me.'
'Put all this back into the envelope and keep it in your desk. Mollie
wont go there and even Granny has no reason to.'
'I could just dump it in a bin somewhere?'
'No, don't do that. We might need it to convince Louis if we decide to
'Yeah, anyway Granny and Mollie are happy with what they find under my
mattress. It's kind of an unspoken thing between us. They wouldn't
bother to search more.'
'What do you mean Henry?'
'Well I know that they know, and they think I don't know, and they think
they do know... '
'Look Sis, I could feed them any line I wanted.'
'Like I'm gay. Depends what I leave under there.'
'I know you're not... That is, I mean you're not... Are you?' Priscilla
asked cautiously, feeling Harry snuffling at her foot.
Henry's eyes sparkled. 'Now I'll have you checking me out as well. Cost
'Cost me nothing Kid Brother, just good to see you smile again. I want
to be on my own now. Get out of here and give me some time.'
When Henry had slipped off downstairs, Priscilla bent and scooped Harry
up in her arms, carrying him to the window. Outside, the vast tree
shimmered, green and lush, even in the heat of the day. Seating herself
on Henry's bed, Priscilla, like any young girl with her pet dog upon her
lap, whispered into his ear as she stroked his sleek black body.
'I'm shaking Harry. I don't know what to think. None of what Henry
showed me makes any sense. I don't have a Mother I thought I had. I've
got some one else. Someone Henry and me have never seen in all our
lives. What do I do?'
Harry looked up at her with his dark liquid eyes and it was as if she
was really sitting there with her pet dog on her lap.
Then he spoke.
'Miss Monique would be the safest person to confide in. You trust her
with almost all your secrets, but also, use your brain. What else can be
Priscilla shook her head. 'I don't...Can't think Harry... It's such a
shock... I mean I often felt sort of... I dunno... apart from Mum...
Rachael... but that's because she's always been so fixated on her
career. I mean she never seemed to treat Louis any different from Henry
and me. We were all just her flock, kinda got used to that although I
sometimes secretly wished that I might have gotten closer to her, you
know, been more her little girl. Just never happened, Granny Black was
her stand-in for all of us.'
'You're telling this to the wrong guy Priscilla. It's not that I don't
want to hear, it's just that you have a friend, a close friend, a human
friend. She's the one to talk to, she'll listen and try to help somehow.
But remember this. When you have a secret, never tell other people.
Otherwise it won't be a secret for long.'
'Well, you already know.'
'I've told you before, I'm not a people. I'm just...'
'Yeah, I know. I'll ring Moni in the morning.'
That night, after dinner and phone calls and emails from her Dad and a
woman that was his wife, yet no longer her, or Henry's Mother, Priscilla
dragged herself up to bed. Miserably, she cleaned her teeth, flossed and
got into her light floral pyjamas. For a short time she puddled with her
diary, but hardly wrote a word.
Henry put his head around the door and sighed.
'Sis. What are we going to do?'
'I don't know. I don't know what to think or whatever... Henry, we're
back at school day after tomorrow. Maybe we should just pretend it
doesn't exist. Sort of go on and ignore what you found out.'
Henry bit his lip. 'Want to ask Louis?'
'No. Not yet. I think... I think we should just get back to school and
into that. You want to go bawling about what we know to Granny or Dad or
Louis? We need some time to think things out on our own, maybe find out
more somehow. You were right when you said it was just you and me. Can
you hold it together for a while?'
'I cannot believe what you have just told me Cilla.' Monique was holding
Priscilla's hands in hers and gazing at her friend's averted face. 'This
must be some kind of mistake. How can you be really sure?'
'Birth Certificates. I told you. And apart from you and Henry, only
'And he is out in the garden keeping my Mother amused.'
'Yeah. And my Mother is someone I've never met. No wonder I've got an
actress for a Mum. She's acted being a mum all along.'
'But non! Many people know of this secret. Because it is not a secret at
all. It is only a secret from you and Henry!'
'What d'you mean Moni?'
'That should be obvious Doctor Watson. All your family know, probably
even Louis, and other people besides in the past: doctors, nurses,
ministers, record keepers.'
'Well maybe that's right, I mean about the others, but they don't count.
They're not the real Secret Keepers. They only sort of keep track of
stuff. Wouldn't mean anything much to them. I just can't believe that
Granny and Dad and... Oh Monique... Why have they all hidden this from
Henry and me? What are we going to do?'
Monique patted Priscilla's hands again. 'What are we going to do? Well
since you are here telling me, I take it that "we" includes me.'
'Of course it does, you're my best friend.'
'Very well.' The big, toothy grin that, of itself, could brighten a sad
person's day. 'First off does Henry know you were going to tell me about
'Um no. Harry does, that's all.'
'Alright. For a secret, this already has far too many keepers. Say
nothing to Henry or to anyone else. I want to think about it rationally
until we are back again at Hopewell Hall. You and Henry need to get away
from your home and back where school and it's routine will keep you
Watson, the game is a foot!'
Priscilla couldn't help but giggle. 'It's not "A foot". It's afoot.
Means kinda like About To Start. I've seen enough of those old Sherlock
Holmes movies that Henry likes to bore us with to know that.'
'Ah, but have you seen the newest film with Robert Dreamy Junior?'
'Mon, I think that's Robert Downey Junior.'
The Whoopi Goldberg grin again.
'Not the way I see it.'
Chapter 4 next