A young child pulled a light green leaf off a tree in the front garden and a small procession of children followed him down the garden path, through the gate, and onto the pavement.
First came Carl Carter and one of his friends, Den, who is little worth mentioning and holds no important (or otherwise) role in this story. Six-year-old Olivia Cryer came next, her chubby hand clutching that of her older sister. The child who had pulled the leaf off the tree was four-year-old David Carter, and five-year-old Harry Cryer was walking next to him carrying a favourite lime-green frisbee. Finally Rosetta and Carla took up the rear with the baskets holding the food prepared for the picnic they had promised their parents to bring about.
They walked for about fifteen minutes along the pavements, then paused to give the younger ones a rest. Five minutes later they were off again, and soon they had reached a field in the countryside sheltered by a canopy of trees, the sunlight pouring through them to make a pretty dappled pattern on the path. A small clear stream ran parallel with the path. This field and copse was a favourite picnic spot with the three families.
The octet set up camp near the stream. They spread out the picnic mat and the girls laid out plates of ham sandwiches and jam sandwiches, apples and bananas and a pile of fairycakes baked that morning by Mrs Cryer, who was as fond a cook as she was busy a mother; unfortunately the busy mother generally won over the fond cook. Jessica poured out drinks and they settled down to eat lunch. The younger ones were very hungry after such a long walk.
When they were full, Carla made Harry, Olivia and David lie in the shade to have a nap, while the boys went off on some escapade on their own and the girls met for the meeting they had been forced to forfeit for this expedition.
Talking in whispers so they could see the children and talk without waking them, Rosetta began.
"We have some things to talk about now. And decide on a way in which to thwart Vienna, if Carla's still sure about that."
"Of course I'm sure," Carla said impatiently. "You keep saying that but the answer will always been of course I'm sure."
"We'll see," Rosetta said under her breath. "Now, self-explanatorily, Vienna was elected as class rep on Thursday. That means we have something to act on."
"What's self-ex...self-ex something?" Jessica queried.
"It means it explains itself."
"But what does it explain?"
"It means that as Vienna was elected we can do something without being petty, mean or friendly." Rosetta looked slyly across at Carla at this point, putting unnecessary emphasis on the last word.
Carla lost patience. "Vienna has ousted Rosie from the councillor post even when Rosie would do the best job in the class. Therefore we are to get rid of her."
"Isn't that mean?" Jessica asked, raising her pale eyebrows.
"I'm guessing that our dear Vienna will turn into an even more goody-goody person, and will infuriate me even more," Carla said. "We don't have to obey her orders. That's not foul play, is it?"
"I don't think it's too bad," Rosetta agreed grudgingly. "One thing: is Vienna really goody-goody? She gets shut up for talking in class at least once a day."
"As does everyone," snorted Carla, who is not, as you find, the most likeable character in the universe. "Anyway, if you feel that way you can back out if you like."
"Of course we won't, Carla. You know quite well that if you insist on it, we're a team. We're all in on it."
"I insist alright, and since when do I go back on my word?" Carla inquired heatedly. The day was too hot for her temper.
"Never - and that's half the problem!" Jessica muttered tactlessly.
Carla glared at her, but for all that she felt her anger cooling. She knew her friends would back her up, however they felt, and that made her feel good. She hesitated. In the silence she thought she heard a faint call. An extraordinary fluting trill pealed indistinctly through the trees. It seemed that Carla had heard that before; five, six, days ago.
"Did you hear that?" she asked.
Neither of the other two had, but at this point Harry Cryer woke up and demanded a game. The other two woke also and Carl and Den returned from nowhere, attracted by the noise.
A game of hide-and-seek was arranged, but the three girls refused to play, so they manned 'base' while everyone else did.
"Just don't go further than the trees," warned Carla.
Carl volunteered to be 'on' first, and could be heard counting quietly, his head resting on a treetrunk a few metres away. Everyone scattered. Rosetta waited until no one was in sight,and began again.
"Our action against Vienna will be that we refuse to do what she says because we don't have to. We must all take the solemn swear not to do anything she says against our wills. By the name and principals of the Secret Triangle I vow that I will never obey Vienna unless I feel inclined to do so."
Carla and Jessica repeated this and then they exchanged the 'secret handshake', an odd contraption devised many years ago. It consisted of touching right hand fingertips and with the left hair winding imaginary pulleys.
After that Jessica grinned and said, "I have our new name. It needn't be too different. How about the Secret Triangle Revolutionaries?"
"That'll do," Rosetta approved. "We all need code-names too. Just for special purposes that I don't know yet. They ought to be something to do with our hobbies."
"I like music, so shall I be 'crotchet', or 'quaver'?" Carla put forward.
"'Quaver'," Jessie decided. "I'll be 'Pirouette'."
Rosetta looked at them helplessly, for once. "How about me? I'm not amazing at anything in particular."
"I'm not amazing at ballet. I'm considering quitting," Jessica replied.
"No, don't do that. You're really good, and you're going to bring fame to the Triangle when you go to the Royal School of Ballet and perform in an opera, if ballet is featured in operas," Carla said, horrified. "As for you, Rosie, how about tennis? Your aunt used to be famous and your parents are both good. And you are too, of course."
"I'm not, but I have enough to do with it, so I'll be 'Volley'."
Arrangements for the sale went underway, and the five playing hide-and-seek got through a number of games before Carl and Den hurried back to the picnic baskets looked agitated.
Carla knew there was something amiss as soon as she saw her brother's face. She got to her feet. Rosetta sensed it too.
"It's David. We can't find him. He's been hiding since the start of our games and we thought he had just found a good hiding place and wasn't coming out; we haven't seen him for twenty minutes."