Jack told Nora to go and feed the hens. Peggy went to light a fire and Jack and Mike went to milk Daisy. Nora and Peggy were delighted to hear splashes of milk going in the saucepan which they were using as a milking pail. Nora wanted to help Peggy light the fire and tidy up the dishes but Peggy said: “you better go and feed the hens”, so Nora went and she climbed over the hen fence and she gave the hens some corn. She looked around quickly and did not see any holes but, if she had looked carefully, she would have seen a big hole in the fence that the hen made by pecking at it. She ran over to Peggy and said she was going to get raspberries and Peggy said: “don’t eat them all! We will have them after dinner with whipped cream on top”.
She picked as many as she could and laid down and stared at the sun until she heard Mike calling her name. She rushed back to the others. Jack had caught a rabbit and Peggy was lighting a fire. The others were delighted to see the sweet red raspberries in Nora’s basket. Mike said: “we have no heard a cluck during the whole of dinner. I better go and check”. He looked around the hen yard and under the sacks in the corner and in the hen’s house but the hens we not there. Mike thought someone took them but Peggy said that they must have gone when she went to get water from the spring. Then they all looked at Nora and said: “how can you do your job so badly, Nora?”. She started to cry and felt ashamed but the others had no sympathy for her. They looked for the hens and Nora cried louder and louder until Jack got really angry and called her a baby and said that she should help looking for the hens. Nora said: “you are not to talk to me like that!”. Jack said he was the captain and she should do as he had told. Jack said that they couldn’t have swam off the island. Nora made a little hidden place out of bracken to stay there for the night and thought she would never be happy again. When they had finished dinner, they heard an amazing noise to their hears. It was a cluck cluck and it was the hens! They thought they better tell Nora but she crouched lower into the bracken until Jack came and said: “it’s ok, the hens came back”. Nora said she was sorry for being so careless. The others said: “it’s ok but next time, be a bit careful”. “I will” said Nora, eating her rice pudding.
Mike went to willow house to get something and he saw six white shiny eggs inside the house and said: “that was a very good hiding place and that is why we could not find the hens”.
It was very hot on the island and, one night, Mike and Jack went to fetch the old milking pail and plums from aunt Harriet’s farm. Peggy washed the pail because it was dusty and dirty and they were delighted to use a milking pail instead of the saucepan kettle. And also mike and Jack brought some seeds: runner beans, cress and mustard. Mike said: were are we going to plant the seeds? “Well, in different places on the island” said Jack. It was Peggy’s job to water the plants and to make sure that big roots didn’t strangle the seeds and plants. And then after Peggy had finished taking care of the seeds and other plants, the children wanted to explore the dark caves of the island. Jack saw a hidden rock in the cave and next to the rock, there was a half hidden passage and Jack said: “come on!”. Jack went down quite a steep passage and he said : “come! it’s so fresh” So the others went down the path and Nora could see a ray of daylight from a hole above and they came out of the cave from that little hole. They laid in the very hot sun and closed their eyes and then they had a little rest. It was lovely to lie in the sun after going in the dark cold caves. Jack said: “do you think that other humans can get in willow house?” “I don’t know” said the others but I think that no grown up can fit through willow house. “okay, remember, if we see anyone coming, we need to tidy. Let’s do it now in case someone comes”. They collected what the day trippers had left behind which they had stored in the larder and Peggy scattered the fire and got the cardboard and cigaret packets out. “And what shall I do?” asked Nora. “You go to the spring and get some water and put heather over the plants and seeds and I will look after Daisy the cow” said Jack. “I would like to hide Daisy in the secret passage but what if she gets stuck?”. “She won’t. She is not fat. We are very Lucky we have a willow house for summer and the caves for winter”.
The children were very happy on their carefree Island. The birds were singing and the children did whatever they liked. They played, did singing, washed, ate, but they also had to work and do duties and they were very happy because no one came to their island and they had to also look after their farm. Sometimes Jack and Mike went off in a boat to get some things they had run out of and one day Jack had to go to his grandfather’s house to get some more corn but there was none so he went to uncle Henry’s farm at night when everyone was asleep and there was some corn in the garden’s shed but when Jack opened the door of the shed they saw that there was a dog there. The dog bit a hole in jacks trousers but Jack took the corn and some other things that he could find from the shed anyway and then Peggy had to spend a whole morning mending Jack’s trousers. When they were in uncle Henry’s shed, Mike managed to get some of the girl’s dresses and a two shorts for himself. The seeds that they had planted were growing very quickly and Jack cut off the top of the runner beans and put it into a salad and lots of flowers into the salad too. The children had to put more and more heather every week to make their beds even softer because their bodies were very heavy and soon it was very uncomfortable to lie on. The children were very happy with their job. One day, Nora said to Jack: “we look as brown as berries because of the sun”. Mike said: “most of the berries I know are red”. “well, we look like oak apples then”, said Nora. Every day Jack leads Daisy down the little passage in the cave and makes her squeeze through the little hole but one day she kicked her foot because she was scared so Jack put a fresh turnip from his grandfather’s house in the hole so when Daisy came the next time she knew that there was a turnip waiting for her and she would agree to go down the hole all by herself. Then mike said: “if Daisy grows much more fat she won’t be able to fit through the hole”. Then Jack said: “runner beans for dinner” They had dinner outside willow house and it was a beautiful sky with gold and green. After dinner, Jack remembered that mushrooms used to grow in his grandfathers field so one morning, he and Mike set off in a boat and he was delighted to see the beautiful mushrooms in his grandfather’s field. He picked as many as he could and filled a sack and then he went back in the boat and rowed all the way back to the secret island. When the boys arrived they saw the girls with a whole lot of baskets full strawberries. “What a breakfast we’ll have!” said Jack. And they did. They had fried eggs and lovely cooked mushrooms. It was a delicious breakfast. Peggy and Nora learned how to swim until Jack said they were as fast as dolphins. Jack was clever at swimming. He would go under the water and then he would come up just beside another child clutching hard at their legs for fun. They had so much fun and the lake water was as cold as ice. Nora didn’t like feeding the hens in the rain and she asked Peggy to do it for her but Jack head her and he said:” you know you are happy to do it when it’s sunny so you do the same when it’s raining!”. “ay ay captain” said Nora who was learning not to be such a baby. The children were very bored because it was raining so much but it was fun to play games and stay inside all day as well. Peggy didn’t mind. She always had some mending to do. Peggy also taught the children how to make baskets out of willow branches and thought it was fun to make all different shaped baskets like squares and other shaped baskets and they had a lot of baskets ready for the sunny whether. Another time, Nora said that she heard a splashing that sounded like oars and the hens were put in a sack and Daisy the cow was brought to the other side of the island and then Peggy ran to the top off the hill and there was no sign of a boat at all but what Peggy saw was a few white beautiful swans and she called the others and said: ” it’s okay it was just some swans!” and the others said: “don’t say things that are not true”. Another time Jack was reaching for raspberries and he twisted his ankle and he had to stay indoors for two whole days and Peggy went to the spring and put a towel in the water and put it around Jack’s ankle. Another time Peggy fell into a gorse bush and she was full of scratches and cuts and Jack said that she was very brave as any one else would have screamed the whole place down. The children were very happy on their island and that no one came.
Mike went to get a candle but to his great astonishment there was only one left even if the children had been careful not to use that many candles. Mike told Jack and said: “I will go and get some more”. “well how” said mike. “they don’t just grow on trees!” “What Jack means is that he will go and get some from somewhere” said Peggy. “Well”, said Jack, “maybe I will go to the village” said Jack. The others said: , what if you get caught! You have not got any money”. “I thought off that and if we picked mushrooms and went to the village we could sell them and get money to buy the things that we would need” he said. “that’s a good idea. We can we sell wild strawberries too!” said Nora. Mike and Jack set off to pick mushrooms and Nora and Peggy started picking the sweet big red juicy strawberries and put them in their beautiful woven baskets. Soon the boys came back and the girls were delighted to see the small mushrooms in the enormous big sack then the girls put elder leaves over the raspberries because the flies didn’t like elder leaves. Jack set off to the village with Mike. Jack went to the village and Mike stayed in the boat. Jack saw that there was a Wednesday market and it was Wednesday so he called out: “wild mushrooms! Wild strawberries!” and people came and bought all the mushrooms and strawberries and money clinged in his pocket. He bought chocolate bars, flowers, wool, butter, pencils, paper and lots of books and hurried back to Mike. What fun they were going to have unpacking everything!
The children had so much fun unpacking things and Nora begged Jack to read them a book. “We can start Robinson Crusoe” said Jack. “Are you good at reading Nora?”. “I was bad but now I am pretty good at reading” she said. “We can take turns tomorrow” said Jack. So the children laid on the soft heather and listened to Jack reading the exciting story then, when Jack closed the book, Peggy sighed:”what a lovely story”. In the morning, Peggy said: “what shall we do when the wild mushrooms and strawberries go away?” “well, we can pick nuts and blackberries” said Jack, so the children got to work picking the blackberries. The following Wednesday, Jack set off in a boat with mike who waited for Jack to come back. Jack’s baskets only got half sold because a policeman came to him and showed him a picture of Mike and said: “is your name Mike?” Jack turned pale and quickly ran away and hid in a hen house in the village for a long time until it was nighttime. He heard people shouting and running and he knew that people were looking for him. He crouched and hoped no one would come to get eggs. Someone did come but they didn’t find Jack as it was very dark. Jack opened the door of the hen house. No one was there so He went down to the lake and he was delighted to hear Mike’s voice. “Is that you Jack? What have you done? What happened?”.
Jack said:” quickly push off!” so Mike pushed off. The girls were waiting for the boys to come back and when they heard about what happened they felt very scared and frightened. Jack was very hungry. He ate two fish, two rice pudding and a hard boiled egg. It was very hard for Nora not to cry. Jack heard her sniffing and he put his arm around her and he said: “come on. Things might not turn so bad after all.” It took very long to go to bed so Jack said:” no more talking” “ay ay captain” said the others and not another word was spoken. In the morning, the children remembered what had happened the night before. They got out of bed and Jack said : “someone has to guard to see if anyone comes to the secret island”. It was Mike’s turn first to guard and then Peggy’s turn and then Nora’s turn and she found it very boring to just sit on the top of the hill so she took her note book to draw what she could see: the blue sparkling lake and then, a black thing in the lake so she called the others and Jack said: “yes that is a boat” but when Peggy saw the boat fly in the air Jack said: ” it was black swan”. It was Mike’s turn to guard and he spotted something on the far end of the lake and he called the others and Jack said: “that is definitely not a black swan. It’s a boat coming towards the secret island and it is definitely looking for something or someone so come on, we have work to do. Nora, you put the hens into a sack and I will go and put Daisy in the grassy field on the other side of the island. Peggy, you light a fire.” There really were people coming to their secret island.
Now people had really come to search their island. The were glad to carry out their plans and Daisy wasn’t scared to be led though the narrow passage anymore. Everything went smoothly and Daisy was really good at going in and out of the narrow passage. As all the children came and sat in the cave, their hearts beating and thumbing loudly, Jack said: ” have we done all our jobs?” “Yes” said the three others. They had cleaned everything up, they had got milk in the milking pail, scattered the wood in the bushes. Yes, every girl and boy had done their job. Then mike shouted: “my hat! my hat! it’s gone!” The others stared at him in dismay, it was certainly not on his head: “go and find it!” said Jack. So Mike looked everywhere but he could not find it. Then he remembered that that morning, he went to willow house so maybe it could be there. He went to willow house and there it was, just lying near willow house. He ran back to the others in the cave and at that very moment the boat landed on the beach. Mike said: “there are four men and they are on the beach!” “did you get your hat?” said Jack “yes” said mike, “It was near willow house” then Jack said: “I will go near the entrance to see if I can hear anything”. “okay” said the others so Jack went near the entrance and he heard the four men and they were saying “we are going to find those children”. So the men were poking into every single bush and heather and bracken but they could not find one hidden child so then a man shouted: “look what i found!”. Jack wandered what the gentlemen had found. He had discovered the hen yard. “We have tried looking everywhere and anyway if there were children here there would have been a boat”. Jack was getting a bit worried about the entrance to the inner cave so he said: “we can pile up rocks so they think it’s blocked up”. It took one hour to pile up the rocks. And then one off the men said: “I know some caves in the hillside we can go and see. I have a torch and I have plenty of matches”. The children could hear foot steps coming closer and closer.
The children could feel their hearts beating loudly in their ribs. As the foot steps came closer and closer it looked as if the children were turned to stone. They didn’t even blink or even breathe then one of the men said: “we can try to see if there are loose rocks from the roof” “no” said another man “if the children can’t go through, we can’t” so the man and the others went away from the cave. And then, at that very moment, Daisy let out a big moo and one of the men said: “did you hear that?” “of course!” said another man “what on the wild world was that?” “a cow” said a man. “I suppose there is no cow on this island. It’s probably coming from a near village”. At that very second Daisy let out a horrendous deep voice cough. “Did you hear that strange noise! I think we should go back home and the children are not here and it’s getting dark”. Jack squeezed Nora’s hand in delight. Really it was mad that Daisy had scared the four men. The men got in their boat and set off. Jack could hear the oars splashing. And he listened to the men’s voices getting fainter and fainter and then they sat on the hill waiting for the boat to be out of sight. Jack said: “I think we should have some dinner it’s late” so they sat and had dinner and then Nora said: “can I get up and do a funny dance because we sat so long in the cave.” Jack said: “yes! The boat is out of sight now. The hunt is over, you can do your dance!” so they sat on the hill having dinner and Nora did her dance and ran around and jumped and it was lovely to wake up the next morning knowing that the great hunt was over. Then one morning Nora said: “Jack, it’s getting Jolly cold in this lake and do we have to swim in it all winter.” Jack said: “not at all, we will also have to move into the caves and say goodbye to willow house”. What fun the children were going to have being cave men and women.
The children made all their plans for moving into the warm but very dark caves. And Peggy wanted the boys to put up shelves for the odd things and games and lots of interesting books too. She said to the boys: “you go and get some bracken and heather and we will burn it in the fire”. So they did and made warm cosy beds and then Peggy put three blankets on top of the three beds but she thought that someone would have to go without. And then Peggy brought an blanket she had made from rabbit fur and the other three stared at it as they thought that it would be very cosy for winter and then Jack said: “we can take turns to have it”. “Yes, that was just what I was thinking”. Jack brought a little table he had made from a plank of wood and a good tree trunk for Peggy and then Nora said: “what about some stools? We can’t eat if we can’t sit”. Jack said: “I have made some stools” and he went and came back with stools. He had made them from a tree trunk that had fallen down and then Peggy started to think about Christmas, when they had it with their mum and dad. Mike, Peggy and Nora started telling Jack all about the Christmas they had before their mum and dad got lost. Jack thought that he would bring presents like a doll for Nora, a new mending box for Peggy and something for Mike but he would not tell anyone because it was a secret. He said that he was going on a ride in the boat to warm himself up and Peggy said: “were are you going?” and Jack said:” I am Just going for a ride because it is Jolly cold, to warm me up. And can I have some food?” and Peggy said: “how long are you going for?” and Jack said: “Just for a few hours” so he took his fishing line and food and he set off. The others waited for him and waited but there was no sight of him. And something very extraordinarily happened.
The children were getting very worried it was now teatime and Jack was not back. Meanwhile Jack was in the village looking at dolls for Nora and he heard a women behind him say: “there is a mother and father that flew in a aeroplane one day and they have come back” and at that very moment Jack ran and grabbed hold of the lady and said: “are their children’s names Nora, Peggy and Mike?” and the lady said: “are you one of the runaway children?” Jack said: “never mind but where are the parents staying?”. The lady said: “in the swan hotel” so Jack rushed off to the bus stop and waited to get on the bus. He got off the bus and ran to the swan hotel and then he asked the porter where Mr and Mrs Arnold where and then he heard: “what do you want, boy?” Jack turned around and he saw Mr Arnold. ” I know where your children are. They are safe”. The gentlemen grabbed Jack’s hand and brought him up to their room in the hotel. Jack could see that there was a lady writing on a desk and he knew it was Mrs Arnold because she looked half Nora, half Peggy and then Jack told Mrs and Mr Arnold how they lived on the island alone and that nobody found them. Jack said: “we need a bigger boat because ours has a leak” so they borrowed a fishing boat and went all the way to the secret island. When Nora, Peggy and Mike saw the boat, they thought that Jack had been caught and that people were sent to find them and then they heard Jack’s voice. When the boat landed on the beach and their mummy and daddy hopped out, they shouted: “mummy! daddy!” They all hugged and Jack watched them all hug and then Nora grabbed Jack and said: “you belong here too”. Jack went to the boat and got some heather and bracken and threw it in a corner of the cave. He said: “will you stay a night with us?”. They said yes and they all went to bed. And what fun it was to wake up the next morning with their mum and dad.
Mike woke up first and he saw everyone sleeping and then he lighted a fire and all the others woke up. Peggy organised breakfast and they had rolls, milk, tea and four boiled eggs. Mr Arnold said: “I think it’s time to go”. “What do you mean?” said the children. “You have lived here and now I think we need to go back home and live there” said Mr Arnold. “Okay daddy but what about Jack?”. Mrs Arnold said: “He can be part of our family”. Jack was so happy, he squeezed Nora’s hand so tight that he hurt her, but not on purpose, and his face turned red. In one hour they were all ready to go. They soon got a new house and the girls got a white bed each and the boys a brown bed each. Their clothes were a bit dirty so they went out shopping to get new clothes and soon it was Christmas. They went shopping for each other and on Christmas Day they woke up and there were presents at the foot of their beds and Nora said, opening her present: “Really? You bought this for me? Thank you!”. They spent the whole day playing with their presents and it was getting late so the children went to bed. They left their door a little bit open and said: “Good night dear secret island” thinking of it and all their memories.
It was amazing reading this book. You learn so much about magical adventures and I hope you love my story.
The Secret Island, by Capucine X