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  • Fidra Books - We Met Our Cousins
    park keeper Don t speak like that John said Nanny I don t tell lies if you do I don t said John But Nanny I said politely please tell us where we are going You don t deserve to go nowhere said Nanny We can t be left in the shut up house Even the cat goes to the vet said John sarcastically You re going to an awful dull place I can tell you that said Nanny No promenade no pier no sands no tennis tournaments nowhere to go and nothing to see but rain and rocks and great horrible mountains I shouldn t want to go there I know I should soon give my notice in if Mrs Cadogan suggested it What do you say when you give your notice in asked John who always will go off on other subjects Nanny said that was none of his business and they had an argument that lasted as far as the gate into Palace Gardens When they had finished I said Where is the awful place Nanny It s in Scotland she said and she added darkly I m sure I don t know how John will get on with the porridge We always have porridge for breakfast and John hates it He sits and looks at it until Nanny goes to make the beds and then sometimes I eat it for him and sometimes he empties it out of the window and it goes slithering down the side of the house into the gutter on the roof of the conservatory John said I shan t eat it You ll have to said Nanny The old gentleman is much more strict than your Aunt Pamela What old gentleman I asked her Your great uncle of course said Nanny Professor MacAlister You ll have to mind your p s and q s I can tell you Then we knew Mummy and Aunt Pamela had another sister called Marian and she had married a Scotsman called Hector MacAlister Aunt Marian and Uncle Hector lived in China where they were trying to restore the fallen fortunes of the MacAlisters and their children lived with Uncle Hector s father in the ancestral home in the Highlands of Scotland They were our first cousins like Robin but we had never seen them because old Professor MacAlister disapproved of things like London and cinemas and motor cars and would not let them leave the ancestral home and Aunt Pamela never talked about them because she was annoyed that Aunt Marian had not sent them to live with her and be brought up properly like us and Robin We used to send them Christmas cards so we knew that their names were Angus Morag and Hamish and that their address was Roid House Kinlochroid Scotland but they never sent any cards back Nanny said it was because Roid House was thirty miles from the nearest shops and she doubted if they had ever been inside

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/MetCousins.shtml (2016-02-17)
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  • Fidra Books - London Pride
    it was too heavy and then we went inside where we are not allowed to go because Robin is so beastly about other people using his things to see if we could take up the floorboards but they were screwed down and the screws had rusted in and the screwdriver in John s best knife wouldn t move them We wasted ages over the screws and then we went out and tried to lift the house again We were feeling awful and this time despair gave us strength and we did lift it but with fatal results we had just got it off the ground when John s arms gave way and the idiotic Wendy House overbalanced and with a crashing of glass and a splintering of timber fell forward on its front and lay in ruins on the top of the little pond where Robin keeps his dull and dismal goldfish When the sound of the crash had died away John said Gosh I said Boys are feeble John said It wasn t me who let go of the beastly thing You did I said I didn t YOU did and John said Oh you awful and then stopped as the door that leads from the hall into the garden opened and Aunt Pamela rushed out followed by Robin Oh shrieked Aunt Pamela the Wendy House The dear little Wendy House Robin s Wendy House Which of you two upset it John and I both said We both did How can you be so naughty said Aunt Pamela I tried to explain that we hadn t been naughty but when Aunt Pamela heard that we had been looking for Claymore she was more annoyed than ever Robin was shrieking his head off and I must say I did feel rather sorry for him though he has always been mean about his Wendy House he never plays with it himself his favourite toy is soulless trains but he won t let us play with it not that we want to play with anything so babyish as a Wendy House only it would come in useful for the log cabin in Treasure Island or Cluny s cave I told Robin that I would buy him a new Wendy House out of the hundred pounds that Lady Creach gave me but Aunt Pamela said that she was tired of hearing about my hundred pounds and that it had made me very conceited We had learned from Angus that in these degenerate days when you are not allowed to fight duels the best way to treat a deadly insult is with dignified silence so I was dignifiedly silent until Aunt Pamela said that John and I were to go to bed for the rest of the day Then I simply shrieked We can t We must find Claymore Aunt Pamela said that we must leave Claymore but John explained that he had gone down the rat s hole and it probably went under

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/LondonPride.shtml (2016-02-17)
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  • Fidra Books - Silver Snaffles
    the lot of a carrier s cart The collar had raised lumps on his shoulders and the hard roads had gradually caused windgalls to come on his legs and the frosting of white hairs over his liver coloured coat told the wisdom of his years Jenny thought Tattles was the wisest creature she knew for he had lived nearly three times as long as she had and there were little hollows over his eyes such as only the truly wise people ever have As a matter of fact it isn t soap in this bag said Jenny It might be flour or eggs or nuts or tapioca or any of the things you don t like but it isn t It s apple peeling and carrot tops and tails Of course Tattles had known this all along Tattles would know a thing like that Jenny opened the bag and fed him from it a little at a time The carrot tops and tails scrunched loudly the apple peeling made a softer more juicy sound Tattles breath smelt of carrots and apples against a background of hay When the last had been eaten Tattles lifted up his nose and wrinkled back his lips in a grin letting his yellow teeth and coral gums shine in the dusk Then he dropped his nose again and rested it on Jenny s knee Slowly his ears drooped backwards into a sleepy position and his eyes half closed Dear Tattles said Jenny how soft your nose is I wish you were mine I wish any pony were mine Daddy says I m too young to have a pony of my own and that we haven t anywhere to keep one But I do want a pony I want to trot and gallop and jump and go rushing with the wind Jenny raised her voice and one of Tattles ears rose also Then it sank back as Jenny lowered her voice again I want a pony I can go and see whenever I like As I do you Tattles only any minute of the day instead of just in the evening Mr Pymmington doesn t mind me coming to see you but he wouldn t let me groom you or put your harness on or take you out for walks If I had a pony of my own I d saddle him and bridle him myself and groom him and comb out his tail with one of those thick grey combs I d clean his hoofs out too and plait his mane if he had a long one Then we d start off We d walk along the main road because of the cars Then we d trot trot trot down the little lane and up the hill and through the wood and make the old cock pheasants scuttle out of the way And when we came to the path across the field we d gallop and we d jump the little gate at the end

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/SilverSnaffles.shtml (2016-02-17)
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  • Fidra Books - Secret Letters at Trebizon
    was fish today fresh local whiting caught in Trebizon Bay dipped in breadcrumbs served with lemon and parsley and crisp brown chips They were all eating hungrily except for Rebecca who was playing around with her food and looking despondent It may never happen Becky said Sue Murdoch It already has moaned Rebecca Really bad then said Margot Lawrence sympathetically Did you do any of the last question asked Sally Elphinstone hopefully The one with 10 marks No Elf I did not sighed Rebecca It was a horrid paper announced Mara Leonodis The Greek girl looked at Rebecca with warm dark brown eyes and fellow feeling They were both in Division 2 for maths The other four were in Division 1 Tish brilliant enough to be doing a special paper as well It was a disgusting horrible disgraceful and diabolical paper Hear hear said Rebecca She gave a weak smile at last For goodness sake eat your chips Rebeck said Tish with another groan Then you ll feel human again Tish enjoyed exams she revelled in them Her short dark curly hair was gleaming and bouncy While the others had been poring over maths revision before breakfast she d been singing in the shower and washing her hair But now she looked at Rebecca and Mara affectionately and said They make the mocks hard They do it on purpose It s all a pretence They make them harder than the actual exams just to give you a fright Then I m frightened replied Rebecca laughing for the first time No I m serious D you know something when Helen was here she failed the mock and then when she did the real exam she got an A Horrible Anderson family commented Mara They are disgusting Did she really asked Rebecca eagerly Tish s elder sister had been at Trebizon some years earlier Is that the honest truth Of course it s true said Sue Moyra Milton told me just the same thing She did much better in all the proper exams last summer much better than she did in the mocks Mara smiled at Rebecca You hear that Then there is hope for us yet Rebecca nodded She bent her head and attended to her chips suddenly feeling more interested in them Mara looked at her protectively She would never tell the others but she knew how worried Rebecca had been about the maths exams Because of last Thursday night the night before the first maths paper Mara had opened her eyes in the middle of the night and noticed a crack of light shining brightly along the top of her partition wall It looked as though Rebecca in the cubie next door had forgotten to turn her bedside light off She d slipped out of bed and walked round to Rebecca s cubicle intending to nip in switch off the light for her But then as she approached she was sure she heard movements the sound of book pages

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/SecretLetters.shtml (2016-02-17)
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  • Fidra Books - Fifth Year Friendships at Trebizon
    brilliant letter to Emmanuelle her French pen friend Trebizon was twinned with a school in Paris There was going to be a French exchange this year Sometime in the Easter holidays the dates weren t quite fixed yet a group of them from Trebizon s Fifth would be going to Paris Rebecca would be staying with Emmanuelle who looked very nice in her photo and sounded even nicer in her letters Paris in the springtime Everybody said it would be beautiful The river the chestnut trees out in blossom and delicious things to eat and drink at pavement cafés And she d have to speak French all the time that was the rule Just as well with her GCSE orals in May She must get an A for French It would be pathetic if she couldn t get an A for French when she was supposed to be good at languages It was fun learning languages Perhaps she d learn some more in the Sixth In the summer when her parents were home on leave and they were able to use their London house again Emmanuelle would come and stay with her It d be like having a sister for a while She d show her Harrods and Buckingham Palace and Oxford Street and all the other things she said she wanted to see And they d try to get into the House of Commons and watch all the Members of Parliament shouting at each other Why did they shout so much They d get into trouble at Trebizon if they behaved like that Some of these thoughts Rebecca translated into fairly fluent French in her letter to Emmanuelle and was deeply engrossed when the coach pulled in somewhere to pick up more passengers She glanced dreamily out of the window unsure where they were even Somewhere off the motorway somewhere around Bristol Amongst the people waiting in parked cars she recognized a familiar face pressed to the rear window of a rusted van the expression on the face uncharacteristically sullen She certainly remembered the new girl s face from last term as being rather withdrawn but not sullen Nevertheless Yes it s Naomi Cook all right she decided when a diminutive girl in Trebizon blue cape with fairish hair and pale freckled face came into her line of vision She was walking behind a blue faced couple the hoods of their shabby anoraks up against the biting January wind who humped between them a newish looking school trunk The trio disappeared round the back of the coach with the rest of the throng to meet the coach driver who was now supervising the loading on of luggage Naomi was almost the last person to board the coach she seemed to forget something and had to run back to the van but when she did Rebecca stood up to greet her Hello Good We can share the taxi at the other end Rebecca They both knelt on Rebecca s seat

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/FifthYearFriendships.shtml (2016-02-17)
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  • Fidra Books - Orders to Poach
    same as Jean I hadn t really forgotten said Fiona hurriedly only I wasn t thinking You re taller than Ninian was at that age she added You ll soon be as tall as I am Fiona was nearly six foot and Jamie came up to her shoulder They turned as the door opened and Ninian stood on the threshold He was holding the letter in his hand and there was a strange look on his face a mixture of anger and excitement Hallo Jeanie he said ruffling her hair Jean was his favourite but he scarcely noticed even her It was a letter from Father he said to Fiona and walked over to the window He put one knee on the window seat and leant out I ll read it to you he said and there was silence My dear Ninian he read you are probably very surprised at hearing from me They were Their father in Burma wrote once in a blue moon but it s a very surprising thing that I am writing about You know old Drake who has taken Carrick House Nobody told me Father had let it said Ninian What an awful bore Oh go on said Fiona Well it turns out that he will neither shoot nor fish Now when I let it to him he promised he understood all about fish and deer but since then he has flatly refused to kill either I have asked him to let the stalkers or you do it but he has refused He talks about cruelty and giving the weak a chance as if we aren t overrun with poor stags almost clamouring to be shot Well the long and short of it is can you four five with Sandy Sandy glowed undertake to poach Carrick thoroughly You all know the boundaries and the limit to the stags The fish I leave to your own discretion It s got to be done Ninian or the ground will be ruined but don t be too rash I don t want any of you taken up for poaching Keep an eye on Jean and don t let her go out alone Jean snorted with rage They d see that flaxen head of hers a mile away You can use Angus Grant s pony and Davy s but I can t ask them to help you as it wouldn t be fair to them However they know all about it I suppose you ll have to leave the grouse A drive would be too spectacular Don t let old Drake get suspicious before the stalking I suppose Fiona will be much too smart to go out with you Ninian paused while Fiona said It is likely and blushed Give her my love and tell Jamie that when he can hit the bull seven times running he can take out my Mannlicher My love to Jeanie and give her my old rod unless she has got one of her

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/OrdersPoach.shtml (2016-02-17)
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  • Fidra Books - Steer By The Stars
    asked Definitely not said Fiona but Ninian looked at it enviously and tentatively rubbed a finger along his upper lip The last of the luggage was hauled out before the little train went puffing on into the hills Well said Hugh stretching himself and gazing appreciatively across to Corriedon Gosh It s good to be back Umn said Sandy as they clattered back over the bridge I thought I should burst in the train Seeing all the hills flashing past and having to stick on in that boiling furnace The porter was carrying their things across the lines and helped to stow them into the Ford Where are the twins asked Hugh as they wedged two suitcases on to the carrier Jean was offered a day s fishing said Ninian and Jamie went with her There wouldn t have been room for them anyway Is Drake still at Carrick asked Sandy No he left in a huff thank goodness said Fiona It s been taken by some friends of father s Brown they re called He was in the army They don t come up till next week so they said we could fish until they arrived Sounds a bit better than Drake said Hugh climbing into the back seat No more poaching No and it s been hopeless for fishing too said Ninian as they jolted out of the yard It s too bright to day really but Jean said she couldn t bear it any longer and just went What have you been doing then asked Hugh leaning forward so that he could talk more easily with Ninian and Fiona in front Just lazing about said Fiona And then of course we haven t told you the thing What thing asked Sandy We promised not to say until the twins were there too said Ninian But it s something really good Oh this is too much groaned Hugh What sort of a thing But the others refused to give even the smallest hint However there was plenty to talk about for they had not all four been together since last summer Hugh had come up to Carrick for the hind shooting and Sandy had come for Easter Fiona had been to England for part of the summer and had seen a good deal of Hugh who was at Pirbright and Ninian who was at Sandhurst But there was masses to say masses to discuss and plan and plenty of reminiscences They stopped for a minute at the top of the hill and looked down across the long blue length of Loch Marba with its pine wooded islands and bank of sheer hills Ninian let the car run down the glen with the engine off The hood was down and as they glided along the smell of heather came pouring down the purple hills on each side of them Hugh sniffed hungrily Last time he had been down Ninian had had the chains on and even then they had

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/SteerByTheStars.shtml (2016-02-17)
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  • Fidra Books - The Far Distant Oxus
    of Cloud Farm Bridget turned Talisman downhill Come on she said we shall be late for supper Far away in another valley a boy lay on a rock basking in the warmth of the setting sun He was tall and dark his long limbs bronzed to the colour of polished walnut and by his side a black Labrador sat snapping at flies and waiting expectantly The sun slid behind the highest peak and the boy stood up Sun s going Ellita he said better start making supper Where s Dragonfly He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled from behind a clump of elderberries a black pony beautifully proportioned trotted to his master The boy jumped off the rock and put his hand on the pony s neck He was about to leap on his back when he paused he had noticed something else A cloud had covered the sun which was still behind the peak and all its light was cut out except for a great orange shaft that shot straight upwards The boy gazed fascinated then mounting his pony and whistling his dog to follow he stopped to stare again Mount Elbruz on fire he muttered Something must be going to happen nbsp Bridget Frances and Anthony sat round the long deal table in the farm kitchen with Mr and Mrs Fradd The meal of poached eggs and stewed plums was nearly over and now Mr Fradd was helping them to large hunks of cheese This farm kitchen was almost exactly similar to many others in cottages all over Exmoor It was a low room with white clean looking walls and a wide open fireplace containing the cooking range On the mantelpiece and lofty dresser that dominated one corner of the room were arranged a varied collection of old pewter pots and Devon crockery Are there many children who live round here Bridget asked suddenly having finished a large mouthful of biscuit and cheese Mr Fradd scratched his head I wouldn t say that there are many he said but there s some The Clevertons in the large house on the opposite side of the valley put in his wife Yes and a few others in the town you arrived at Also there s a boy with a black pony that I ve seen round here once or twice but I couldn t say where he lives The farmer looked out of the window and seeing that it was dusk on the hills pushed back his chair making a scraping sound on the old tiles I must go and shut up the chickens he said These long evenings they won t go into their houses till the light goes May we come and help you asked Frances There is nothing to do save shutting the doors of the fowl houses and rounding up a few odd ducks that may not have gone in but you may come if you like Mrs Fradd warned her husband not to keep them out too long as they were sure to be tired after the train journey and then retreated upstairs to unpack their suitcases Mr Fradd led the children across the yard It was much lighter outside than in the farm kitchen and the air was warm Rusty the sheepdog bounded up to his master and barked with delight He had been lying outside the kitchen door on a stone slab basking in the last rays of sunshine waiting for the farmer to set out on his nightly round Where does he sleep Frances asked Always out here He has done for four years now Whatever the weather asked Anthony Not snow nor sleet will move him from outside the kitchen door though to be sure the barn is always left open for him Faithful dog Bridget said They wandered down the lane to the valley and turned off into a meadow full of chicken houses There were no birds about for they had all retired with the setting sun As they shut each door the inhabitants fluttered and squawked with fright in spite of the fact that this same process had been gone through every day of their lives That s where chickens are so silly Mr Fradd explained no fox would rob a hen house if it wasn t for the welcoming flutter that the fowls give him If they all kept quiet he d slink away afraid Anthony looked inside the next house before he bolted the door The hens were huddled together in groups on their perches their heads raised in alarm A few fluttered on to the ground and tried to escape through his feet but he slammed the door in their faces Looking through the window he saw them peck once or twice moodily at the floor and then flutter lazily back to the perches Frances found an egg in one of the houses laid after they had been collected at tea time She had been looking hopefully in all the nesting boxes but up to now they had contained nothing but a few handfuls of hay and a sprinkling of rotten feathers Now she had discovered this warm smooth brown egg It was like finding a pearl in an oyster I shall have it for breakfast she announced as they stumbled back up the lane Not if you put it in your pocket warned Mr Fradd who had seen what she was trying to do Goat said Bridget The ducks were routed out of one corner of the yard where they had chosen to sleep among the muddy straw and with many pitiful quacks shooed to their house May we say good night to the ponies said Bridget Why yes answered Mr Fradd slightly puzzled by this strange request But don t be long the missus will be waiting for you The three children disappeared into the stable It was dark but Mr Fradd lit a lantern and hung it in the doorway

    Original URL path: http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/chapters/FarDistantOxus.shtml (2016-02-17)
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