If there is one thing I really really don’t like, it is being Falsely Accused. Especially the kind where you can’t say anything in your defence and nobody will listen and they will never know that you are nice really because they won’t let you tell them and there’s nothing you can do and it’s all so unfair. The end of this chapter makes my insides all cold and explodey.
But there’s lots of lovely stuff first.
The fire is still burning! Susan’s first attempt at building a charcoal kiln has been a roaring (or crackling) success. I’m interested in Titty’s comment about the ‘fire in a savage temple’, though – I would associate this with Greece, or possibly the Vatican, neither of which quite fits the usual definition of ‘savage’.
There’s a beautiful description of John teaching Roger to swim, with encouragement from Titty. I love how eager Roger is, how much he trusts his big brother and how keen he is to show both John and Susan what he can do.
The rest of the chapter, really, is about John’s horrible dilemma. As the captain of the Swallow – and as a socially mature, honourable young man – he has a responsibility to pass on the charcoal burners’ message. But this involves confronting a man who already dislikes him, and going against the powerful influence of his exciting and unpredictable new friends, both of whom know the man in question much better than he does.
And then the actual conversation goes even worse than he had feared. Having carefully worked out his script and compartmentalised his responsibilities, John is faced with a shouting adult who has no interest whatsoever in anything he has to say.
‘”I always said we ought to sink the houseboat,” said Titty.’
You know what, Titty? I agree.