by Angus Von Stulpnagel Jnr.
Once upon a time, in a town not very far from here, lived a little girl called Morag. She had four big brothers and a dog called Ludwig. The house they lived in was very small and cramped, but to Morag it felt empty because her dad had died in an unfortunate accident with a giant ice cream making machine in Borneo the year before.
Morag missed her dad very much and, although her brothers were very good to her, and her mum was very kind, she would often go for walks with Ludwig, just to be quiet and get away from the constant noise of four big brothers. One of her favourite walks was along the hills at the back of her house and to the garden of a big fancy house. Mrs. Lavender, the lady who lived there, would often see Morag sitting in the garden, but as the garden was very big and Mrs Lavender was usually busy with her housework, she never said anything. Besides, Morag was not doing any harm, just sitting there on the grass, being good as gold and quiet as a mouse.
One hot and sunny day, when the brothers had been especially noisy, and Morag was feeling very hot, she went to the big garden and sat under a tree to cool off. It was lovely sitting there listening to the breeze in the trees, the birds sing, and away in the distance a tractor engine droning away. She had just closed her eyes when she heard footsteps behind her. It was Mrs Lavender, with a big basket of flowers she had just picked from the garden. She was walking very slowly as it was hot and the flowers were very delicate. Without really stopping she said to Morag, “I am going inside to make some lemonade, would you like some?”
“Thank you very much” Morag said as she got up and followed her into the kitchen, as it looked much cooler inside, and Mrs Lavender’s voice was so calm and friendly.
The kitchen was very different to Morag’s wee busy kitchen, mainly because Morag felt her whole house would fit inside it, but also because the ceiling was curved like a wooden barrel with lots of big pictures painted directly onto the wood. Each picture seemed to be of a fine lady, in a fine dress, sitting outside in the garden. Underneath each picture was a verse in a language Morag could not understand.
Mrs Lavender put her flowers in vases of water, and then made the lemonade, using real lemons, eggs and crushed ice, but neither said a word; there was no need to talk while they enjoyed the coolness of the kitchen. All the time Morag gazed at the ceiling. Her eye was always drawn to one picture of a very beautiful lady in a long pink dress leaning with her back against a tree. In the background were bushes with huge white flowers, and what appeared to be a motorbike half hidden in one bush.
Morag screwed up her eyes to see better, because the picture was very old, and a little faded, but she knew the motorbike didn’t quite fit in the scene. As she screwed up her eyes she felt funny, and didn’t know if she was floating up to the picture, or the picture was floating down to her. Either way, the next thing she knew was that she was sitting next to the lady in the pink dress.
“Isn’t it warm today, and hardly a breeze. Let’s go for a run on my bike to get a bit of air”
So they walked to the bush and there indeed was a huge motorbike, with a pink petrol tank, the softest pink suede seat and a surprisingly quiet engine. The two of them climbed on and cruised around the garden, which seemed to go for miles. They didn’t go at all fast, and didn’t leave even the slightest tyre marks in the beautiful green grass. Now and again the lady would talk softly about the trees, flowers and little rabbits they saw on their tour of the garden. Other times they would say nothing, just enjoying the garden and listening to the birds singing, or the quiet drone of the engine. The air was cool and tasted of lemonade.
“Are you all right dear? The lemonade is ready,” said Mrs Lavender, as she put the big jug and two glasses on the table.
“Thank you, this is lovely. Who is the lady in the painting?”
“I don’t know, my dear. The paintings are over two hundred years old, maybe some distant relative,” she said, looking up as if she had half forgotten they were there.
Morag thought it best not to mention the motorbike.
“Do you mind me sitting in your garden sometimes, and may I come again?” blurted out Morag.
“Not at all, and of course you may,” giggled Mrs Lavender. “Now it is probably time that you were heading home I see your dog coming up to the garden gate looking for you”.
Morag thanked Mrs Lavender again for the lemonade on the way out the kitchen door, where she noticed her gardening gloves were hanging. They were odd, looking just like pink suede motorbike gloves.