I’ve written another chapter of my children’s story set in 1952; Peggy an her younger sister Barbara are staying with their grandma who lives by the sea. Grandma’s friend Mr Benbow is taking Peggy out on a trip to Farholm Island:
All aboard the Puffin
I was very excited but I tried to keep calm and sensible and above all not silly. We learned ‘above all’ in our English lessons and my teacher said phrases like that made our writing more interesting and varied.
Granny said ‘You must be really excited, Peggy!’ as if that was a good thing. I hoped I wasn’t being over-excited because Mummy gets cross.
I’d tried to be kind to Barbara because she wasn’t coming on the adventure. I don’t think she really wanted to come but she was crying because she said she did, even though Granny said they would go to the shop. I’m afraid Barbara said she didn’t want to go to the shop because it was boring and old fashioned. Well, I thought that was very rude, but I didn’t say anything.
We all walked down to the quay. I was wearing my new trousers which granny had bought me, and a new blue and white stripy jumper which she had made me! I thought it was very kind and I liked them a great deal and thanked her very much.
“Ahoy, Peggy!” called Me Benbow when he saw us. “Ahoy, Miss Barbara!”
Mr Benbow was standing on the edge of the quay and as we went down the steps, I saw that Ben was already aboard The Puffin and smiling up at us.
“Hello Mr Benbow! Hello Ben!” I shouted and then thought maybe that was over-excited but Granny didn’t say anything and Ben shouted ‘hello’ back and gave me a big smile.
“All aboard The Puffin!” said Mr Benbow in a hearty manner. There were steps going down from the quay and we went down and I thought I could burst with excitement. Ben held out his hand and helped me across the gap between the boat and the stone steps.
“Welcome aboard, shipmate!” he said and winked at me.
“Here you are, put on this life-jacket,” he said. It was orange and had straps. I had never seen one before but in my Children’s Book of Real Life Adventures a brave cabin boy gave his life-jacket to the Lord’s daughter and saved her life but sadly he drowned. The Lord had a nice gravestone made for him to commemorate his bravery.
I told Ben I could swim so I didn’t need it but thanked him very much. He pulled a funny face and said oh yes I did need it because the sea was very dangerous here, especially going out to Farholm Island. I’m a very good swimmer but I said thank you and took off my knapsack which had my sandwiches and bottle of orange squash and my notebook and pencil. Ben helped me with the life-jacket and to be honest I did feel as if I was properly going to sea. I always am honest but ‘to be honest’ is another phrase I learnt at school.
“I’ll show you round so you know where everything is,” Ben said and we went inside the cabin and he showed me the lockers and he showed me the heads which is really the toilet, and he showed me the little galley which is the kitchen. It was all really interesting.
“Before I show you the rest, I have a favour to ask, Peg,” said Ben looking quite serious. “Can you help me out, and can you keep a secret?”
Gosh! Yes, if I could help him out I jolly well would, and I’m really good at keeping secrets. At Christmas I never tell anyone what I’m giving them as presents. It’s not difficult to guess actually because we have to make our presents, but I would be really good at keeping a secret!
He took something out of his bag, it was wrapped in what looked like a jumper.
“It’s a secret present for an old gentleman who lives on the island. I don’t want to tell Captain Benbow because it’s actually his birthday present! The old gentleman asked me to get it as he can’t get out and about much as he’s a bit shaky on his pins!” Ben winked at me and I winked back. I’ve practised winking so I don’t screw up my face because in stories people are always winking secretly and it wouldn’t be very secret if my face is all screwed up. “You could put it in your knapsack Peg, and then I could secretly give it to the old gentleman.”
Mr Benbow is so kind I was really pleased to help make sure he had a lovely surprise birthday present.
I took my sandwiches and drink and things out and Ben put the secret present, still wrapped in his jumper in my bag and I put everything back on top.
“I knew I could trust you, Peg!” said Ben and held out his hand. It took me a minute to realise he wanted to shake hands! I shook his hand properly and was delighted that he was treating me like a grown-up and not a little girl. “Our secret, eh, Peg!” said Ben.