As he stood at the grand fireside at Mount Hall, Ann's father lit his pipe whilst speaking sporadically in his paternal fashion. "Well I suppose your brother Julian puff- has gained his leadership proficiency at cadet camp; so you wont be puff puff- entirely unsupervised -puff- at Karen Cottage." "Oh Quentin dear, soothed his wife Emily as she continued to knit in the old fireside chair, we've discussed all of this; Ann is growing up now." "Yes, I'm a teenager now father!" added Ann earnestly. Her father took stock of her as he drew again on his pipe, "But still needing the odd spanking nonetheless. " he said peering though his bushy eyebrows. His wife threw a scowl as she continued knitting. Ann's recall of her recent spanking caused her face to flush but she persisted with her assurances. " And there's Dick and George and Timmy too, so I ll be double safe father!"
Karen Cottage, set in a quiet Dorset village next to the sea, had been a holiday haunt for the family over past years. Now they were older, Julian, Dick and Ann wanted to rediscover it independently for themselves. Naturally their cousin George and her dog Timmy also, because they had always been on adventures together. Her Father smiled encouragingly, "Well you will all have to work together and that will do you good but I expect you all to follow Julian's example and stay away from undesirable oiks and other riffraff." Relieved at his official blessing, Ann ran forward to hug her father just as her other brother came into the room. "Oh Dick" said Ann merrily; we're going to Karen Cottage! " Just us five!" "Oh that's just splendid Ann!" chortled Dick.
That night Dick's sleep was restless with anticipation. Past adventures in Devon were drifting through his dreams. Like the gypsies who'd set up camp near Karen Cottage one summer; they were a strange band and no mistake. Horse-drawn wagons, barking dogs; the acrid campfire smoke swirling in the air some were circus people who could perform strange tricks. Dick had struck up a friendship with one who had a huge snake called Mamba. Being a dirty foreigner he spoke strangely. There he was now, his swarthy dark face smiling at him as he began opening his basket. "Ahh, it my little flend from se cottage. Where you been? Mamba ave waited for you, look!" His hand drew out the great slithering snake. Dick exclaimed in a strange tone. "Mama-mia what a Mamba!" "You like de look of him eh?" said the circus man, " Go ahead I let you stroke him. Don't be frighten" Dick hesitated but the man pulled him closer. "Mamba can quiver and sliver like no other snake. He is the king of snakes." whispered the man into Dick's ear. Dick gently began touching the snake and it felt very queer. "Aahh yes he like you doing that, you have a feel for snakes, that is clear. Have you handled one before perhaps?" "No, this is my first time." said Dick as he got a little bolder. "That's good, he'll be your friend now you do that for him." As Dick stroked the snake's head he suddenly became aware of a coil of snake round one of his thighs. "Crikes." Dick swallowed. "Oh yes the man whispered, he your friend now for sure; would you like him to do a trick for you?" "Trick? Stammered Dick whilst clenching his buttocks, what sort of trick?"