“You will never guess what happened” Said Clara
“Oh yes I forgot about that” Said Mark
“Wait no can I please tell him” Said Jemimah
“No Jemimah, you told Old Roger. I want to tell him” Said Polly
The children sat together around the table, Polly’s little blue shoes clunking against the wooden bench as she shuffled around, unable to contain herself. A silver spoon flaked with porridge waved startlingly through the air as Jemimah flung herself in front of her little sister, clasping her hand over Polly’s mouth. A tongue fought its way through Jememah’s fingers, and she squealed as Clara raised her voice.
“Anyway, we were down by the old quarry” Said Clara
“No you have to start from right when we left the house” Said Mark
“We had just left the house…” Said Jemimah
“We had just left the house…” Said Polly
Their father smiled at Polly encouragingly, and spooned some porridge onto her rubbery spoon, placing it into her mouth to quieten her down. He nodded at Clara, lowering his glasses down the bridge of his nose and folding the newspaper he had been so peacefully reading before the herd came running through the door.
“When we left the house this morning, there was a man at the end of the path” Said Clara
“Jemimah got her coat trapped on the door handle first” Said Mark
“It was not actually very funny” Said Jemimah
“And we couldn’t get it off for ages” Said Polly
Jemimah ran her torn belt buckle absentmindedly through her fingers as she assured her father that she would pass it on to Clara later that day so that she could mend it for her. Clara had always been good with her hands and all the younger children at school would search for her in the playground, begging her to make them a crown of daisies that they could wear at lunch. For a while she had charged them for her skills - a half of their sandwich or a shiny button they had on their coat - but father had quickly put a stop to that which Clara thought was rather unfair.
“And the man at the end of the path said he was a friend of yours” Said Clara
“No he didn’t he said good morning to us first” Said Mark
“That doesn’t matter Mark” Said Jemimah
“But he did say good morning first before he said he knew father” Said Polly
Their father nodded along, he had received a visit from a former student this morning at around the time that the children had gone walking and he assumed that the man in question and his former student were one and the same. Mark scraped his knife along his slice of toasted bread, sending burnt crumbs coated with marmalade on an expedition across the table.
“So we said that you were inside breakfasting” Said Clara
“He looked evil, he looked like he was getting ready to break into the house” Said Mark
“No he didn’t he looked like the man at the market who sells birds in cages” Said Jemimah
“I thought he looked nice, he patted me on the head” Said Polly
His former student had certainly not broken into the house, at least as far as the father was aware, and he certainly didn’t sell any birds in cages at the market on a Saturday morning. Instead he was just about to start a new job lecturing at the same college that the children’s father worked at, which was what he had dropped by to discuss.
“Well we sent him inside to you and we went down the road toward the sea” Said Clara
“But we go to the sea all the time” Said Mark
“And the girls at school always go to the old quarry instead” Said Jemimah
“Only boring people go to the beach” Said Polly
Their father glanced at the buckets and spades and little beach shoes stacked in the hallway. In that case maybe there was no need to purchase new sea shoes for Clara, whose toes were close to pointing out of her current ones. Maybe he would invest in a parasol and settle himself down with a book and a blanket in a nice sandy corner of the quarry. That sounded acceptable, and God forbid he became a boring person, just because he liked to paddle in the sea.
“So we cut across the meadow” Said Clara
“Don’t worry, Farmer John didn’t catch us this time” Said Mark
“And we didn’t go anywhere near his horse” Said Jemimah
“She’s going to have a baby soon” Said Polly
Their father had long since given up telling them not to cut through their neighbour’s land. He was actually rather calm about it, like to see it being used for something other than eating the grass, so he said. But rules were rules, so their father had attempted to encourage them to stick to the road. Seemingly to no avail.
“And when we got to the quarry there was nobody else there” Said Clara
“Yes there was, the McDonalds were having a picnic” Said Mark
“And Heather from school was there playing fetch with the dog” Said Jemimah
“Heather has very long hair, almost to her hips Papa” Said Polly
Their father assured Polly that she too could have lovely long hair down to her hips one day if she desired and she began to tug on Jemimah’s hair, envisaging it with pretty ribbons tied in bows, and sandy waves cascading all the way down to the floor. Jemimah pushed her away, and assured everyone at the table that there was absolutely no way she would ever be seen with such an impractical hairstyle. Every time she went swimming it would get wet and cling to her clothes, and when it got sand in it, it would take hours to wash it out properly.
“There were a few people there, but the only dog was Heather’s” Said Clara
“But we went in from the corner nearest the cliffs” Said Mark
“And there was another dog there, sitting right by the gate” Said Jemimah
“It was black” Said Polly
After Jemimah’s adventures with the horse a month ago, their father sincerely hoped the dog story stopped there, but it appeard it did not. None of them seemed very severely wounded, so he assumed it all must have gone ok, no pulling on tails or chasing involved.
“No it wasn’t Polly it was brown” Said Clara
“And it wasn’t by the gate either, it was sitting where we had the fete” Said Mark
“No Mark it was by the gate” Said Jemimah
“No it only came to the gate when we walked in” Said Polly
Their father encouraged the story along, concerned for the wellfare of the inncocent stray dog left in the company of his four alarming children.
“He wanted to play with us but we didn’t have a ball” Said Clara
“And we couldn’t ask Heather, she’s very pretty so she wouldn’t talk to us” Said Mark
“So we went home to get a ball instead so he wouldn’t be sad” Said Jemimah
“But we didn’t want to lose him in case he got lonely” Said Polly
Their father was afraid he could see where this story was going now, and politely, ignoring his instincts, he turned to Clara and asked after the whereabouts of the dog now.
“We left him outside” Said Clara
“He’s in the front garden” Said Mark
“We couldn’t put him in the back garden because he would eat the carrots” Said Jemimah
“So we tied him to the fence and came to get a ball” Said Polly
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haha, I really liked this story. Are you from Europe? The pacing and vocabulary definitely isn't American, but that's what I like about it. The story is sweet and authentic. I could imagine these cute little trouble makers too well. I also played in a rock quarry as a kid. My best friend's house was right next to it. We weren't supposed to, but when you're eight years old you can slip into about anywhere. I'm so lucky nothing never ever happened to me while climbing those huge pyramids of unstable stone.