Although we are Mrs Danvers’ prisoners, we are allowed to go out, you know. We have an exercise yard, just like in Wormwood Scrubs.
Mrs Danvers locks us in at night, but in the morning, she unbolts this door.
And behind it is the cat flap. Millie can unlock the cat flap, which is why there is another door with a bolt on it.
It took Scooter and I a long time to learn how the cat flap worked. We are country folk, and not used to the ways of city dwellers. Mrs Danvers rolls her eyes when we say this.
Mrs Danvers says something about a lick of paint every time she sees this bit of the house. And she says for clean creatures, we don’t half make the cat flap grubby.
This is the yard door, that leads out into the back lane. It looked like this a couple of years ago…
…but now it looks like this. Mrs Danvers is going to paint it soon, she says. She calls this house the Forth Road Bridge.
And behind it is the back lane. Millie and Lottie can go out here, over the wall. They are the Trusties, prisoners who can go further than the exercise yard.
The back lane is where the bins live. Millie looks inside any bins if the lids have been left open; she says they hold all sorts of interesting things to eat. Last week she was a bit sick, and Mrs Danvers said it was because of her bad bin habit.
Once a week a terrifying giant wagon comes and empties the bins, and we all have to hide indoors because of the noise it makes.
Mrs Danvers hates the back lanes; she says they’re squalid. She was terribly shocked when she first came to Newcastle and saw these instead of gardens. She says we are going to have a garden one day, but she hopes that that the giant wagon will still come, wherever we live. Mrs Danvers has some strange ideas.
She lets us peep into the back lane so long as she is with us. The dog is our Scout. She checks that there aren’t any horrible things in the back lane that might chase us.
When she gives the all-clear, I sometimes look out of the door. I have to be very careful.
But I am not always very brave.
Then I try again.
And I’m a bit braver.
But not for long. Mrs Danvers is right: the back lane is horrid!
I have to sit under the bench and recover my composure. (Yes, Mrs Danvers is going to paint the bench too!)
And then I go and tell Scooter where I’ve been. Scooter had a Nasty Experience in the back lane recently, when the door banged shut and he had to hide behind the bins and howl very loudly till Mrs Danvers caught him and carried him home. He says he’s never going out into the back lane again.
I wonder if he will be brave enough to go out into our garden when we have one? Mrs Danvers thinks he might, but that I have to go first. I’ll take the dog.