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Safe in the Garden

Page 4

Darryl Emmerson

At the end, above sheds, stables, and other out-buildings, rose the turrets of a large mid-Victorian mansion where Peter and his parents lived, with the owner, another sign of their position. This place must have been built for a family of at least six children and scads of servants, and certainly bore the marks of time. You felt that many rooms, doors and windows were never opened now, and despite the efforts of Peter’s mother, the air was stiff with dust. The silence was sepulchral; even one child, playing alone, would go some way to relieving its quiet, its sad neglect.

I went through the garden gate and knocked on the tall front door. In a few minutes he came out with another boy, David, also invited for the day. Our game was hide and seek within the house and its garden, but not outside. For an hour or so we took it in turns to ‘go he’, and enjoyed playing in the numerous rooms, many of them dark and perhaps rarely opened, amongst the solid, slightly dusty furniture.

Then there came another time for me to ‘go he’, the others ran off, and I slowly counted - ten, thirty, eighty, one hundred. I went to find my companions. Where were they? Not in the bedrooms, nor in the lounge, kitchen – they were simply not there. Well, in the garden, then, behind the shrubbery, or the water tank. No, nowhere. I re-traced my steps, went through all the rooms again, and even once more. Not there, not there. I started to feel lonely, then somewhat angry. They must have broken the rule, hidden outside the house and garden.


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