Five Go to Billycock Hill, Page 2Enid Blyton
‘It’s not, as the crow flies,’ said Julian, taking back his glasses and surveying the countryside around them again. ‘But it’s a long, long way through those hundreds of little winding lanes. Any more sandwiches, anyone?’
‘There aren’t any more left,’ said Dick. ‘Or fruit cake either. Have a humbug if you’re still hungry,’
The humbugs were passed round and Timmy waited hopefully for his turn. George gave him one. ‘Not that it’s much use to you,’ she said. ‘You just swallow it without even one suck!’
‘We’ll rest for half an hour more,’ said Julian. ‘Gosh, I do feel sleepy!’
They all snuggled down into the soft clumps of heather, and soon they were asleep in the warm sun. Even Timmy snoozed, with one ear half up just in case someone came by. But nobody did. In fact it was so very quiet on the top of the hill that three-quarters of an hour went by before anyone awoke. Anne felt something crawling up her arm and woke with a jump.
‘Ugh - a big beetle!’ she said, and shook it off. She glanced at her watch. ‘Dick! Ju! Wake up! We must get on, or we’ll never be there by tea-time!’
Soon they were once more on their way, tearing down the hill at top speed, shouting as they went, with Timmy barking madly beside them. Really, the start of a holiday was the happiest thing in the world!
The Five certainly cycled fast that afternoon, and would have arrived at Billycock Hill even sooner than they did if it hadn’t been for Timmy. He panted so much in the heat that they stopped for brief rests every fifteen minutes.
‘It’s a pity he’s so big and heavy,’ said Anne. ‘If he had been a small dog we could have taken turns at carrying him in our bicycle baskets.’
Billycock Hill was soon very near. It certainly was a queer shape, very like an old-fashioned hat. It was partly heather-clad and partly sloping meadow land. Cows grazed in the meadows, and farther up the hill, where there was shorter, wiry grass, the farmer had put a good many sheep.
Nestling down at the foot of the hill was a rambling old farm-building, with outhouses and stables and a big greenhouse. ‘That must be Billycock Farm,’ said Julian. ‘Well, we’ve made very good time, you know - it’s only half past three. Let’s wash our faces in that stream over there - we all look rather hot and dirty. Timmy, you can have a bathe if you want to!’
The water was cool and silky to the touch, and the children laved it over their faces and necks, wishing they could do as Timmy was doing - lie down in the stream and let the water flow over him!
‘That’s better,’ said Dick, mopping his face with an enormous handkerchief. ‘Now let’s go and present ourselves at Billycock Farm. I hope Toby’s remembered that we’re coming - he promised to lend us all we wanted for camping out.’
They combed their hair, brushed down their clothes with their hands, and then, feeling more respectable, made their way across a field-path to a farm gate. The field was bumpy, so they rode slowly.
Soon they were in a big farmyard, with hens pecking around them, and ducks swimming on a round duckpond. Farm dogs began barking from somewhere - and then something ran round the corner of the old house - something very small and pink.
‘Whatever is it?’ said Anne. ‘Oh - it’s a pigling! What a pet! Oh, it’s come right up to us - little pigling, have you escaped from your sty? How clean you are!’
The tiny pig gave funny little squeals, and ran up to Timmy, who sat back on his haunches in surprise, staring at this unexpected little creature. He thought it must be some sort of dog without any hair.
The pigling butted Timmy gently and Timmy retreated backwards. Julian laughed. ‘Tim can’t make it out!’ he said. ‘No, don’t growl, Timmy - it’s quite harmless!’
‘Hallo - who’s this?’ said Dick as a small figure came round the house. It stopped when it saw the Five.
‘What a dear little boy!’ said Anne. ‘Is he Toby’s brother?’
The child didn’t look more than five years old. He had a head of bright yellow curls, big brown eyes, and a grin just like his big brother’s.
‘That’s my pig,’ he said, coming slowly towards them. ‘He runned away from me.’
Anne laughed. ‘What’s your pig’s name?’ she said.
‘Curly,’ said the small boy, and pointed at the pigling’s tail. ‘He’s got a curly tail. It won’t go straight.’
‘It’s a nice tail,’ said Anne. The pigling ran to the small boy, and he grabbed it by its tail. ‘You runned away again,’ he said. Then he picked up the pig and walked off.
‘Hey! Is this Billycock Farm?’ called Julian. ‘Have you got a brother called Toby?’
‘Toby? Yes, Toby’s over there,’ said the boy, and he pointed to a big barn. ‘Toby’s ratting with Binky.’
‘Right,’ said Julian. The little boy disappeared with his queer pet, and Julian laughed. ‘He’s rather a pet himself,’ he said. ‘Come on - let’s go and find Toby and Binky. Perhaps Binky is another brother.’
‘Or a dog,’ said George, and put her hand on Timmy’s collar. ‘Better be careful. He might go for Tim.’
‘Yes - Binky might be a dog, of course - probably a good ratter,’ said Julian. ‘Dick and I will go to the barn and you two girls stay here with Timmy.’
They went off to the barn. A great noise came from inside as the two boys approached. Shouts and barks and the rap of a stick came to their ears.
‘Get him, Binky - look, he went under that sack! Oh, you fathead, you’ve lost him again!’
Wuff-wuff-wuff! Rap-rap! More yells! In great curiosity Julian and Dick peered into the rather dark old barn. They saw Toby there, prodding under sacks, with a most excited collie beside him, barking incessantly.
‘Hey, Toby!’ yelled Julian, and Toby stood up and turned a red and perspiring face towards the two boys.
‘Oh - you’ve arrived!’ he said, going quickly to the door. ‘I thought you were never coming. Glad to see you! But are there only two of you? I got out tents and things for four.’
‘There are four of us - five counting Timmy,’ said Julian. ‘We’ve left the two girls over there with him - he’s our dog. Will yours be friendly or not?’
‘Oh, yes, so long as I introduce them,’ said Toby, and they all went out of the barn. As soon as Binky, Toby’s dog, saw Timmy, he stood still, made himself stiff, and growled, while the hackles on his neck slowly rose up.
‘It’s all right,’ shouted Toby to the girls. ‘Bring your dog here. He’ll be all right with Binky in half a minute.’
Rather doubtfully George brought Timmy across. Timmy was a bit doubtful himself of this big collie! Toby bent down and spoke into Binky’s ear.
‘Binky, shake paws with this nice girl - she’s a friend.’
He nodded at George. ‘Hold out your hand,’ he said.
George bent down to the collie and held out her hand. At once the dog put up his paw and allowed her to shake it solemnly.
‘Now you,’ said Toby to Anne, and she did the same. She liked this dog Binky, with his bright brown eyes and long, sleek nose.
‘Does your dog shake hands, too?’ asked Toby. George nodded, ‘He does? Right - tell him to shake paws with Binky. Binky, shake!’
‘Timmy, shake,’ commanded George, and very politely and solemnly the two dogs shook paws, eyeing each other cautiously. Timmy gave a sudden little whine - and then the two were tearing round the yard together, barking furiously, chasing one another, rolling over, and having a wonderful game.
‘That’s all right, then,’ said Toby, pleased. ‘Binky’s quite all right with anyone, human or animal, so long as he can shake hands with them. I’ve taught him that. But he’s a dud ratter! He just can’t seem to nip a rat. Well - let’s go and see my mother. She’s expecting you. She’s got a whopping great tea.’
This was all very satisfactory! Just the kind of welcome the Five liked. Anne looked sideways at Toby. She thought he was rather nice. George wasn’t so sure. H
e had a rose in his button-hole - was it a trick one, and was he going to ask her to smell it?
‘We saw a little yellow-haired boy just now,’ said Anne. ‘With a tiny pigling.’
‘Oh, that’s Benny with his pet pig,’ said Toby, laughing. ‘He calls it Curly - and he adores it! We’ve offered him a kitten or a puppy - but no, he wants that pigling. They go everywhere together - like Mary and her lamb! Benny’s a pet - he really is. Kid brothers are usually a nuisance, you know, but Benny isn’t.’
‘Kid sisters are a bit of a nuisance sometimes, too,’ said Dick, glancing slyly at Anne, who at once gave him a determined punch. ‘Still - Anne’s not too bad, is she, Ju?’
Toby’s mother, Mrs Thomas, was a plump and jolly woman, with a smile as wide as Toby’s and Benny’s. She made them all very welcome.
‘Come along in,’ she said. ‘Toby’s pleased you’re going to camp hereabouts - he’s got all the tents and rugs you’ll need - and you can come every day and get eggs and milk and bread and butter and anything else you need from here. Don’t be afraid to ask!’
There was suddenly the scamper of little hooves and Curly the pigling came running indoors.
‘There, now!’ said Toby’s mother. ‘There’s that pigling again. Benny, Benny - you are NOT to let Curly come indoors. Cats I don’t mind, nor dogs - but pigs I won’t have. Benny!’
Benny appeared, looking most apologetic. ‘Sorry, Mum - but he’s lively today. Oooh, I say - what a tea! Can we have some yet?’
‘I’ll just make the tea - unless you’d rather have some of our creamy milk?’ said Toby’s mother.
‘Oh, milk, please, Mrs Thomas,’ said Anne, and they all said the same. Nothing could be nicer than icy-cold, creamy farm milk from the dairy on a hot day like this.
They all sat down to tea, and the four visitors wished they had not had such a big lunch! A large ham sat on the table, and there were crusty loaves of new bread. Crisp lettuces, dewy and cool, and red radishes were side by side in a big glass dish. On the sideboard was an enormous cake, and beside it a dish of scones. Great slabs of butter and jugs of creamy milk were there, too, with honey and home-made jam.
‘I wish I was hungry, really hungry,’ said Dick. ‘This is just the kind of meal for a hungry day.’
‘I didn’t think you’d have had much lunch,’ said Mrs Thomas. ‘Now then, Toby - you’re the host. See to your guests, please - and, Benny, take the pigling off your knee. I will not have him at the table.’
‘Curly will be very upset if he sees that ham,’ said Toby slyly. ‘That’s his grandfather!’
Benny put Curly down hurriedly, afraid that his feelings might be hurt. The pigling went to sit beside Timmy, who, very much surprised, but rather pleased, at once made room for him.
It was a very happy meal, and Toby was a good host. Anne sat beside little Benny, and found herself liking him more than ever. ‘He’s like a little boy out of a story,’ she said to George. ‘He and Curly ought to be put into a book!’
‘Well now,’ said Mrs Thomas after everyone had eaten their fill, ‘what are your plans? Toby, show them where you have put their tents and everything. Then they can decide where they are going to camp.’
‘Come on, then,’ said Toby, and Benny and Curly and Binky all came along, too. ‘You can help to carry everything - and we’ll go up on Billycock Hill and find a fine camping place. How I wish I could camp out with you too!’
Away they all went, feeling rather full but very happy. Where should they camp? How lovely to sleep out at nights, and see the stars through the opening in the tent!
A FINE CAMPING-PLACE
Toby had put all the camping-out gear in a nearby barn. He took the Five there, with Benny and the pigling trailing after. Binky came, too, so friendly now with Timmy that they trotted along side by side, occasionally pushing against each other like schoolboys!
Julian and Dick looked at the pile of canvas, the pegs and the ropes. Yes, these two tents would do very well, though if the weather stayed like this they would hardly need tents! They could lay their rugs out on the springy heather.
‘This is fine, Toby,’ said Julian gratefully. ‘You’ve even provided a kettle and a frying-pan.’
‘Well, you might want to cook a meal,’ said Toby. ‘Or boil soup. There’s a saucepan for that - ah, here it is!’
He picked it up and promptly put it on Benny’s head, where it stuck tightly on his yellow curls. Benny yelled and ran at Toby, hitting him with his fists. The little pig rushed away in fright and disappeared round a corner.
Anne took the saucepan off poor Benny’s head. ‘You’re all right!’ she said. ‘It was a funny hat to wear, wasn’t it?’
‘Curly’s runned away again!’ wept Benny, and he pummelled the laughing Toby. ‘I hate you, I hate you!’
‘You go and find him,’ said Toby, fending off the angry small boy, and Benny ran off on his fat little legs.
‘Well, we’ve got rid of him for a few minutes,’ said Toby. ‘Now - is there anything I’ve forgotten? You’ve got torches, I suppose? What about candles - and matches?’
‘We’ve got those, too,’ said Dick. ‘And we’ve brought macs and swim-suits - but that’s about all. I see you’ve put a couple of rugs here as well in case we’re cold!’
‘Well, it might turn wet and chilly,’ said Toby. ‘Of course, if it snows, or anything like that, you’ll have to come and borrow some more rugs! Now, shall I help you to fix them on your bikes?’
It was too difficult to fix everything on to the four bikes, and in the end Toby found a hand-cart and the children piled everything into that.
‘We’ll fetch our bikes some other time,’ said Julian.
‘Leave them here!’ said Toby. ‘They’ll be all right. Are you going now? Well, I’ll get a package Mother’s got ready for you - you know, ham and new-laid eggs and bread and butter and the rest.’
‘It’s most awfully good of her,’ said Julian gratefully. ‘Well, let’s start - we’ve got everything in the handcart now. We’ll just wait for the food. Dick, you and I can push this hand-cart together. It will need two of us up the hill - and I vote we camp on the side of the slope somewhere, so that we can get a good view.’
Toby came back with an enormous package of food. Benny came with him, Curly trotting behind. Benny carried a basket of ripe strawberries.
‘I picked them for you,’ he said, and handed them to Anne.
‘What beauties!’ she said, and gave the smiling child a hug. ‘We shall enjoy them, Benny.’
‘Can I come and see your camp when you’ve builded it?’ he asked. ‘Can I bring Curly? He’s never seen a camp.’
‘Yes, of course you can,’ said Anne. ‘Are we ready now, Julian? What about milk? Mrs Thomas said we could take some.’
‘Oh, yes - I forgot that,’ said Toby. ‘It’s in the dairy.’ He sped off with Binky, and the others arranged everything neatly in the useful little hand-cart. Toby came back with the milk - two big bottles. They were stacked carefully in a corner of the cart.
‘Well, we’re ready now, I think,’ said Julian, and he and Dick began to push the cart down the path to the gate. Timmy and Binky trotted on ahead, and everyone else followed. Benny came as far as the gate with Curly, then Toby sent him back.
‘You know what Mother said, Benny,’ he said. ‘You’re not to come with us now - it’ll be too late when Binky and I come back.’
Benny’s mouth went down, but he didn’t attempt to follow them. He picked Curly up in his arms in case the pigling should run away after the others.
‘Benny’s a pet,’ said Anne. ‘I wish I had a little brother like that.’
‘He’s all right,’ said Toby. ‘A bit of a cry-baby, though. I’m trying to bring him up properly - teasing him out of his babyishness, and making him stand on his own feet.’
‘He seems to be able to do that all right,’ said Dick. ‘My word - the way he went for you when you put that saucepan on hi
s head! He pummelled you right and left!’
‘Benny’s a funny little kid,’ said Toby, giving a hand with the cart as they reached the slope of the hill. ‘He’s always having queer pets. Two years ago he had a lamb that followed him everywhere. Last year he had two goslings that followed him about - and when they grew into geese they still followed him! They waddled all the way upstairs one day!’
‘And this year he’s got a pig!’ said George, who, like Anne, was very much amused with Benny. ‘Don’t you think Timmy was very funny with Curly? I’m sure he still thinks it’s a puppy without any hair!’
They made their way up the hill, following a narrow sheep-path. The hand-cart bumped and wobbled, and soon it needed four or five pairs of hands to push it.
‘How much farther?’ panted Toby at last. ‘Surely you’re not going right to the top?’
‘No,’ said Julian. ‘About half-way up. We do want to have a good view, Toby, Not very much farther up, I should think. But let’s have a bit of rest, shall we?’
They sat down, glad to get their breath. Certainly the view was magnificent. Far away on the horizon were purplish hills, and in front of them stretched miles and miles of green and golden countryside. Green for growing corn and grass - gold for the buttercups, which were at their best in this sunny week of June.
‘I like those silvery threads here and there winding about the green fields,’ said Anne. ‘Little streams - or rivers - curving like snakes all about! And I like the dark green patches that are woods.’
‘What’s that just down there?’ asked George, pointing to what looked like an enormous field with great sheds in the centre.
‘That’s an airfield,’ said Toby promptly. ‘A bit hush-hush. Secret planes tried out, and all that. I know all about it because a cousin of mine is there - he’s a flight-lieutenant. He comes to see us sometimes and tells me things. It’s an experimental place.’