Two days later the house was inhabited. The Hill twins and all of their possessions were installed in the rooms, with some degree of assistance from Mr Hill and the removal men.
While Mrs Hill worked out how to operate the picturesque but impractical country stove, and Mr Hill ordered a modern cooker and some electric radiators to help heat the high-ceilinged rooms, the twins discovered a huge garden around the back of the house.
The garden was tree-filled and dark and the wood was quite impenetrable to anyone less agile and ingenious than the twins.
To conquer the many obstacles that the wood brought, Jack and Jill climbed some trees and swung from tree-top to tree-top, or wriggled under bushes in the dirt. Jack tried to scale one bush completely, fearing the deadly thorns lining its structure like shark teeth, but to Jill’s amusement was caught by one of these claws and sucked deep into the heart of the bush where a thousand spear-points jabbed him mercilessly.
By lunchtime the twins had reached the end of the garden.
There was a fence, grey and gateless, in front of them. It stretched East a hundred miles, and it lead West a hundred miles. Every hundred yards was a sign reading, ‘FORBIDDEN’ very clearly.
“We have a neighbour,” wailed Jill dismally. “I wonder if they have any children.”
“Probably not,” grumbled Jack even more dismally. “We’ll never find out anyway. It says ‘forbidden’.”
As many people can tell you, the surest magnet for a child, once they have thought it over, is a ‘forbidden’ sign. It will spur the most conscientious child to rebel, and it will stimulate the sleepiest child to curiosity. Jill lived up to this proven theory.
“Then we shall have to investigate,” she decided purposefully.
Jack was a little less staunch. His cautious green eyes met his sister’s wide grey ones.
The weathered fence eyed them warily.
“But what if a nasty man lives there?”
It was a lame excuse, and Jack knew it. Yet he was not one to rush into things without thinking them over.
“Who cares if there is?” Jill tossed her bouncy fair curls.
Jack rubbed the straight dark hair fringing his head like fur.
Without a word Jill approached the fence and began to clamber over it.
Jack was prompted. He arrived at a conclusion, and a few seconds later saw him swinging himself up at the fence and vaulting cleanly.