“It’s not a bad little place. I had two shepherds before the sheep got drowned. Then it was no use them staying. I don’t think there’s much in the way of furniture—”
They looked at each other. In each other’s eyes they saw a plea to be alone together in their new world, and said, in a breath, that they would live in the hut.
“Oh kid, I’m so glad,” said Mrs. Twist when the men went off to see what damage the dust-storm had done. Marcella was extraordinarily happy as she was taught what to do in the Homestead.
The hut was on the edge of a great patch of gorse that Mr. Twist said stretched for twenty acres or more, right to the limit of his holding. It was giant gorse, quite unlike the mild edition of it found in England. In many places it towered above the hut and the stems were almost as thick as tree-trunks, while the spines played havoc with clothes and skin. It was burnt dry now, by the sun. In the cooler weather, Mr. Twist said, the whole place was a golden blaze of bloom.
The cottage consisted of three rooms, built on the same plan as the Homestead. The middle room was a sort of kitchen. There was a big table and a bench of planed wood.
“There isn’t a grate,” said Mr. Twist, “they got their rations up at the house, you see.” The absence of a fire-place did not trouble Marcella. She had often cooked on Wullie’s open fire at Lashnagar, and Louis quickly explained that he would make a bush oven outside. Neither of the rooms leaning against the kitchen had any furniture, but Mrs. Twist seemed to have laid in a whole ship’s stores of navy hammocks, which she said they could have until Louis had carpentered bed for them. There were hundreds of very fat, furry spiders who crawled about solemnly and fell with heavy bodies down swift silken threads as Marcella opened the door of the bedroom.
For the next few days they certainly did not earn their wages. They were like two children with a new doll’s house, and at the end of the week the hut was unrecognizable. Louis, unskilfully busy with saw, hammer and nails put up a shelf for the box of books they were going to get from Mrs. King’s as soon as someone went into Cook’s Well to take a letter. Marcella wished a little that she had some money to buy things for her house, but it was the sort of wish she found it easy to conquer and when, in a spirit of mischief she took the tar brush with which Louis had been caulking the sides of the hut, and tarred CASTLE LASHCAIRN on the corrugated roof, she saw Castle Lashcairn rising there.
“After all, imaginary castles are the best,” she told Louis after two days spent in clearing away dust and spiders, and limewashing the interior. “It only needs imaginary cleaning.”