Five on a Farm
by Anne Marie Hawkins
here we are at last" cried David, as the familiar sight of Borchester
Station came into view. "Arro-gant-toffs, arro-gant-toffs",
the train seemed to say as it rattled along the tracks, "we're
going on our holidays".
David, his brother Kenton, and
sister Shula were going to spend the long summer holidays with their cousin
Denny at Home Farm. Denny was really a girl, and her name was Debbie,
but she wanted to be a farmer, and could drive a tractor almost as well
as any boy. Denny hated to be reminded that she was only a girl, and would
not answer if anyone called her by her real name.
Denny was waiting for them on
the station platform, madly waving her handkerchief. "David! Kenton!
Shula!" she cried excitedly,"you're here at last!"
"Woof, woof!" barked
Denny's dog Lizzy, wagging her tail and licking the children excitedly.
The porter brought their bags from the guard's van and tugged his forelock.
"It's a pleasure to hump burdens for you young gentlefolk" he
said, refusing David's tip.
"Higgs will take the luggage
for us now" said Denny "he's going to drive us to Ambridge."
"He's that surly chap, isn't he?" asked Kenton. "Oh, Higgs
never speaks" replied Denny " but he knows his place and doesn't
mind only ever being called by his surname."
Soon the Daimler was drawing
up outside the door of Home Farm. "Coooeee, children!" called
Aunt Jenny, Denny's mother, as she came out to greet them "how lovely
to see you all again! Are you going to have another adventure this summer?"
Shula certainly hoped not! The little girl was not so bold as her tomboy
cousin, and would much rather have a quiet game of bridge with the Young
"Mother, where's Father?"
asked Denny. Denny's father, Uncle Brian, was a very clever scientist
who was working on top secret fornication experiments for the government.
The children were secretly a little afraid of Uncle Brian, who could have
a fierce temper when he was disturbed in his work, so they were rather
glad when he wasn't there "Now you know your Father is very busy
with his top secret fornication experiments, and musn't be disturbed."
soothed Aunt Jenny.
A very fat lady in a white coat
opened the door of Uncle Brian's lab. "Top 'o the morni' to ye, children!"
she called. "Who's that?" asked David. "Oh, that's Mrs.
Hathaway, Father's lab assistant." replied Denny. "Gosh, isn't
she fat!" gasped Kenton. "I say, she isn't..." "Don't
be an ass, Ken!" ejaculated David.
"I vote we all go for a
bathe before supper!" suggested Denny, changing the subject. "Rather!"
chorused the others. The children were all good swimmers. The slurry pit
gleamed a beautiful brown in the sunlight. "Race you!" cried
Denny. She and Lizzy dived in and soon all five were splashing merrily
in the slurry.
"Gosh! I'm hungry as a hunter!"
exclaimed David as he towelled himself dry afterwards. "I hope Aunt
Jenny's put on a good spread for supper!" Aunt Jenny's table was
spread with a snowy white cloth, and groaned beneath all the good things
their cook, Mrs. Grundy, had made. The was a roast swan each, a meat pie,
a saddle of mutton, hard-boiled eggs, heavenly tomatoes, crusty new bread,
pots of jam, a whole wedding cake, and lashings of ginger beer.
"I say," exclaimed
Kenton, looking at the window, "who's that frightful, common-looking
boy in the garden? He's just poked his tongue out at me!" "Oh,
that's Mrs. Grundy's son, Edward" said Denny "Yes, he does look
jolly queer, doesn't he? He's so terrifically common he doesn't even go
to boarding school!" Even Lizzy went "Woof!" in amazement.
Just then a neighbour, Mrs. Antrobus,
called by with her dog, Nigel. "Denny!" she exclaimed excitedly
"I've never seen your dog Lizzy before - do you know that she's a
Borsetshire Gussethound, just like Nigel? They're terribly rare and very
valuable, you know - I shouldn't wonder if some of those gypsy fellows
might try to steal them! Wouldn't it be fun if they had pups? Look, Nigel's
sniffing Lizzy's bottom, they're making friends already!"
But then Nigel smelled something
ven better - ice cream! How they all laughed as he golloped down a three-litre
tub! Lizzy had gone out into the garden and seemed to be digging something
up; she could hardly be seen behind a shower of earth. "Oh bother"
exclaimed Denny "it'll be another hoard of gold ingots left over
from last summer's adventure. I'll have to get to Edward to stack them
behind the potting shed with the others. His family are awfully poor,
and mother says it's just as bad for poor people not to have lots of hard
work to do, as it would be for ladies like her to do their own cooking
Just then a gypsy caravan with
a sinister-looking fellow at he reins, paused outside the gate. He wore
a dirty neckerchief in the throat of a ragged shirt, and a scar ran down
one grimy cheek. "Be they Borsetshire Gussethounds, Missus?"
he asked "for I'll give 'e a good price for 'un." "No thank
you" replied Mrs Antrobus "They are not for sale." "Yes,
be off, you ruffian" cried David" "We have all the gold
ingots we need!"
The man spat on the ground and
uttered an oath. "You an't seen the larst o' me!" he muttered
threateningly, as he drove away.
ejaculated David as the shifty fellow disappeared from sight, "he
needs a jolly good birching!"
"Yes!" agreed Kenton,"and a bath, a haircut, and a job!"
"He was awfully niffy!" chimed in Denny "but if you give
the working classes baths, they only keep coal in them!" They all
roared with laughter. How comical their funny cousin was - especially
for a girl! Lizzy licked her mistress appreciatively.
Time for bed!" called Aunt Jenny. "I'll show the girls to their
room, Jenny dahling!"said Uncle Brian, emerging suddenly from his
laboratory. How kind Uncle Brian could be sometimes, thought Shula as
he tucked her in very attentively, not at all fierce like when he was
disturbed in his fornication experiments.
The sun filtered
through the curtains in the pretty little bedrooms at Home Farm, and the
children were still dozing as the telephone bell shrilled through the
house. Denny sat up abruptly. Why hadn't Lizzy woken her up as usual with
her big, wet licks?
burst into the room, her plump, homely features the very picture of misery.
"Ooh, Master Denny" she cried as she curtsied "a terrible
thing 'ave 'appened! Crooks 'ave stolen Mrs. Antrobus's Nigel away in
the night, and I've called an' I've called Lizzy for 'er plate 'eaped
'igh with biscuits an' swan giblets, an' I think as they've took 'er an'
all, for she ent come!" Poor Mrs. Grundy threw her apron over her
head and burst into tears. "This is your fault!" cried Denny,
flying into a passion. "You know you should have been sleeping outside
my door all night - I'll have Father whip you for this!"
"OH, well, 'twill turn the tables" blurted Mrs. Grundy through
sure the police will soon find the crooks who stole Lizzy and Nigel"
soothed Aunt Jenny over a lovely breakfast of porridge with crocks of
fresh cream, and plates piled high with gammon, eggs, fried tomatoes,
new made bread, cherry cake, pickles and bull's fry. "Borsetshire
Gussethounds are so rare, and everyone will be looking out for them. Now,
why don't you run along and explore, but don't go into any of the catacombs,
or down any of the secret passages which run beneath Ambridge like the
veins in Borset Blue."
"Rather not!" they all chorused.
after trampsing the glorious countryside, the children flung themselves
down on the springy purple heather of Lakey Hill - they suddenly felt
very hungry indeed! Shula, who was a proper little housewife, unwrapped
paper packets of sardine sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, cold stuffed camel,
and a bottle of Cook's home-made lemonade, which Mrs. Grundy had just
had time to make before her whipping.
this heavenly!" murmured Shula. "I think I might get proposed
to here when I grow up, by someone deeply boring who will never have any
adventures." "I say, Denny" said Kenton, ignoring her,
"do buck up, old thing! The Borsetshire Police are such stout fellows
that I'm sure Lizzy won't stay lost for long. Why, we could even have
another adventure and catch the crooks ourselves!"
was shifting uncomfortably on the heather, and began parting the springy
plants with her hands.
"David! Kenton! Shula! Look!"
"What is it, old thing - a hidden trapdoor leading down into the
heart of the moor?"
"No - it's a Methodist Hymnal! Do you think this might be a clue
that will lead us to Lizzy and Nigel?"
the second and final part
parodies - from Agatha Christie to Damon Runyon
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