As a punishment, he has been sent to the poly tunnel to see if he can work out what is nibbling the broad bean plant leaves. He has a sneaky suspicion that Dada might have planted a bug or two there as he hates broad beans and only grows them for Mamgu. But he also realises that Dada isn't REALLY mad at him, because everybody knows that he is the apprentice gardener and likes to work with plants.
He's beginning to notice that his boots are rubbing his toes. Just at that moment, Bertie rushes in from the other end of the tunnel.
'PETEY! THEY'VE....... why are you wearing your boots on the wrong feet? But anyway they've.....I do wish the dog wouldn't look at me like that. Is he hungry?....Oh, and THEY'VE GONE!' Bertie babbles.
'Who has gone where?' asks Petey, calmly.
'The car people,' whispers Bertie. 'Infact, I think the car has been stolen with them in it. It has been missing all day and Dada is sitting in the house but the car isn't in the yard. Oh, Petey, they might starve!'
'WHAT????' yells Petey.
'I said that they've...' Bertie begins again.
' I know what you said! When I said what, it was what is called a rhetorical question. Something you say when something somebody else says takes you by surprise and you need to stop them talking so you can think. So shut up a minute and let me THINK!' exclaims Petey.
'No need to tell me to shut up. I've thunk and thunk and I can't get a think that is any help at all. What makes you a better at thinking than what I am? I'm just as good at th th th th' says Bertie sadly, before he flops down and begins to cry.
'We should have told Mam and Dada.' he wails. 'If they die, it will because we didn't help them the right way. Maybe we KILLED them!'
' BERTIE!' Petey shouts. 'Don't be so dramatic. Shut up and listen!'
' .....so, if you stay here, they'll never know. I'll get you a blanket and food.Then, when it's Christmas and they are busy, we can slide you in and pretend you've always been there. There are so many kids at Bryn Derw that they'll probably not notice another one. They didn't notice the last ones. If you keep a low profile, for a while, they can hardly chuck you out after you've been there a month or two, can they?' says a familiar, but unexpected voice.
'Robin? What are you doing here? It can't be the end of your school term yet. Why aren't you at boarding school where you belong?' asks Petey.
'First of all, Mr Know It All Petey, I don't BELONG at school, I belong here. I just board at school in term time, but this is my home.' Robin begins. 'And, if you must know, Dada collected me in the car this morning because I was sent down.'
'Sent down? Sent down where?' asks Bertie.
His mind races - had his friend been sent down into the cellar, or down a coal mine, or down the road to fetch heavy shopping? Are schools allowed to do such things? Perhaps he'd be better off if he never went to boarding school himself.
'Sent down, means sent home in boarding school speak.' Robin announces. 'It's another world in those places, ya know and firsters need to learn an almost new language if they are to live long enough to get into Lower Four.'
'Wha.....?' Bertie begins, looking very confused.
'Ignore him. He showing off. A firster is a kid in his first year at the school and he's in a class called Upper Three. Next year, if they have the little show off back, he'll go into Lower Four.' Petey whispers in Bertie's ear.
' So,' he says more loudly, 'If you came home in Dada's car and you and Dada are here, WHERE'S THE CAR NOW? If you can stop showing off about your precious school for two minutes, tell us why you were sent home, where the car is and, perhaps more importantly, who you are hiding.'
'Yes,' Bertie pipes up. 'Are you hiding our car people?'
Robin realises he's still in traditional 'who cares' school boy mode and stops showing off as it doesn't go down well amongst his brothers and sisters.
He tells them, 'I got sent down on account of my hair misbehaving again. It won't go where it should and my school cap wouldn't stay on when we went on an outing. Hardly my fault, is it?
But they sent me down for not wearing proper uniform so Mam and Dada would be cross with me as they pay my fees and I'm wasting their money. Jolly unfair, I call it - they take Dada's money and can't even manage to do their own telling off.
'Anyway, I'm so glad to be home, even if I did miss the end of term party. I was not happy about being a donkey in the school play!'
'Oh, the Baby Jesus story!' says Bertie who loves a good nativity play.
'No chance!' exclaims Robin. ' It was Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream and they gave me the part of a peasant who gets turned into a donkey but, the worst of it is he's called Bottom! You can guess what kind of names the other guys started to called me, can't you?
'But,' he begins to giggle, 'It's worse for poor old Roland. There are no girls at our school so he, ha-ha, he, ha-ha, he, ha-ha, he gets to play a fairy called Peas Blossom!!!! Unless he suddenly grows wild hair like mine or gets the chickenpox, there's no way out of it for him!'
After a couple of seconds of giggling, Petey prompts him, 'And the car is........?'
'Oh, it's gone off for an MOT test and Dada left it at Mr. Evan's garage until Monday. It's taken all those girls with it and a good job too. It was a real squash on the back seat with all of them as well as my friend Em Boo here.' Rob answers, airily.
'It's KENNY!' whispers Bertie excitedly. ' You know. Kenny from that television programme we aren't allowed to watch because of the swears. South Park. They keep killing Kenny but he always gets alive again for the next show. He's Magic Can't Die Kenny!!'
'No, that's just a cartoon. But nobody is called Em Boo, except an alien perhaps.' says Petey.
'Well, a chap can't help being a one eyed alien called Em Boo any more than a chap can help having a permanent bad hair day.' answers Robin. ' Go on, tell them your name.' he demands of his new friend.
'EM BOO!' comes a muffled voice. 'MM A EM BOO! DA GULS MM GUZZ! EY DUNK LUK MI MUSH. EY SCUT UF MI CUZ EY DUN NOH UNNI EM BOOZ.'
'Oh! I see!' says Bertie, who spends lot of time listening to the Sasha babies and toddlers who are still learning to speak properly.
'Wow, Bertie understands alien!' says Robin with new found admiration.
'He's not an alien, silly. He's a boy. He says he's a Trendon and the girls in the car are all Gotz kids. He thinks they don't like him much and are scared of him because they never met Trendons before.' Bertie explains.
'Ur scut ta cun ut uh tar, cuz ah uh kitz yur ah Emboo.' says the boy with one eye.
Bertie smiles, feeling very important and translates,
'He says they're scared to come out of the car because all the kids here are Trendons. I suppose they think they won't be welcome. But, I think Dada said I'm Gotz and so are you, Petey, so the girls made a mistake.'
'Time to tell the grown ups, I think.' says Petey. You guys take Thingy here and go and tell Dada about the girls. Dada is a soft touch, he will take you in, erm, Thingy and he'll rescue the girls too. I better get on with de-bugging beans and tying up the peas.'
As he turns back to the pea bed he hears Bertie's voice.....
'Come on Trendon. We'll look after you and find your friends. But Robin, what's a Gotz and whats a Trendon? I thought we were all Sashas, but Sashas are girls and we are boys and......'