Chapter 3

Bruno playing up




When they reached the bathroom, the two girls saw that Bruno was not with them. They hurried back into the corridor. No Bruno and also in the living room only Mrs. Baconrind was to be seen, wiping the telly screen. Elfrida’s glance fell on the open cellar door. She nudged Berta with her elbow and pointed at the door. Both nodded and crept down the stairs. Arrived, they saw Bruno, rummaging the fridge for ice cream. All around him deep-frozen chickens were scattered which had hindered his search. He was just taking a basket with parsley to throw it onto the floor when Berta cried in a terrified voice:
“Bruno, stop it. You’re messing up everything!”


Elfrida’s little brother only grunted and continued searching for yummy ice cream.
“He’s hungry”, Elfrida remarked. “I guess he got nothing to eat at home.”
“So why, if you please, does he not ask?”
“He never does, not liking to disturb anyone.”
Now Bruno gave a cry of delight. He had found raspberry ice cream, tore off the paper and threw it into the freeze.
“Why does this miserable child throw the paper into the freeze?” Berta was beside herself with horror.
“Well, he never throws anything onto the floor, he just is a very cleanly ottifant, wishing to look things orderly.”
“But what about the frozen chickens?”
“Them.” Elfrida grinned. “Much too heavy for him, we’ll have to help him.”


At this moment Mrs. Baconrind entered the cellar. She had wondered why the door was open but as she had a broom in her left and a water bucket in her right she as an exception agreed with an open door. However, when she saw the mess, she was so shocked that the full bucket slipped out of her hand and the dirty water gushed down the stairs. Bruno was sitting on the freeze and boredly looked at the events. Then he jumped down from the freeze and started hopping from one frozen chicken to the next.


“He does not like wet feet”, Elfrida explained.


“So, but ice cream? Ice cream at this time of the day?” Mrs. Baconrind groaned and tried to snatch the ice cream from Bruno. He however hopped on from chicken und chicken while Mrs. Baconrind stumbled over one of those deep frozen birds and fell into the dirty water. Furiously she got up and while she started a story about order and cleanliness, she ran after screeching Bruno. In the end she nailed him at the potato box. She gripped the raspberry ice cream but Bruno did not want to let go. Unfortunately he had to realize that he was the weaker one and suddenly let go the ice cream. Now Mrs. Baconrind screeched for all of a sudden she darted backward down the cellar right towards the freeze.


Her shrill yelling stopped when, together with the heavy freeze she collided with the opposite cellar wall. Lamenting, she was just about the crawl down when behind the freeze a water fountain shot up.


“The water pipe has been hit!” she shrieked, jumped onto the flooded cellar floor, landing on a frozen chicken and falling into the cold water. Cursing, she got up and waded through the mounting water towards the water pipe. The result of her trying to turn off the gushing water was her breaking off the tap.


“Shall I fetch dry towels, Mummy?”
“Later, first go and fetch pipe tongs, I have to turn off the pipe!”
Berta set off, stumbled over Bruno who was just playing chicken-drowning and soon returned with the required tool. Mrs. Baconrind applied the tongs, pressed and pressed and nothing happened. Then she did something fatal: She threw herself on the tongs with her full weight. With a loud crack the pipe broke and the water came shooting like from a canon. Berta, just coming down the stairs with a pile of dry towels, was hit by the hard water jet and with a shriek sailed towards the living room, crashed onto the telly, there was a big bang and on she sailed. Her journey ended with some noisy clattering in the kitchen cupboard.


“Buckets, I need buckets!” Mrs. Baconrind shrieked.
“I’m on my way, Mummy”, Berta shouted and slowly got up. With a crash the cupboard collapsed and buried the poor pig.
“Now, are you coming?” her mother shouted.
“In a moment, Mummy!” a voice replied from under the mess.
Berta left the site of the former cupboard, took two buckets and several wipers and ran to the cellar stairs. Terrified she stopped. In the meantime the water had risen and risen. Elfrida and Bruno were sitting on top of the freeze which drifted along. Elfrida tried to paddle with her hands while Bruno searched the freeze for ice cream. At last he found some and ripped off the paper greedily.
“Do not throw the paper onto the floor – er – into the water”, Berta shouted. “Please put it into your pocket!”
“Now will you hand me the bucket”, Mrs. Baconrind bubbled who by now faced trouble keeping her head over water. She gave her daughter an angry look and said: “What are you looking like? Please go upstairs to comb your hair.”
“Should I not first clean the kitchen?” Berta uncertainly asked.
“What for, it is clean”, her mother retorted.
“No longer.”
“What do you mean, no longer?”
“You better look for yourself, Mummy.”


Mrs. Baconrind was about to say something but by now had problems to breath and so nothing was to be heard but some furious bubbling. She saw that she had to look for some other place and joined Elfrida and Bruno. Elfrida by now had succeeded to paddle into the direction of the stairs. Arrived, the water by now had risen so high that they drifted into the corridor.


“Berta”, Mrs. Baconrind yelled. “The way the kitchen looks! My God, if some visitor were to come!”
“Well, just now we need nothing but some ducks”, Elfrida grinned and tried to paddle to the front door.
“Berta, take a broom and clean the kitchen! But do hurry before the dishes swim away!”
While Berta desperately tried to catch the dishes with the broom, Elfrida got stuck with the freeze on her way to the front door. Telly and sofa blocked her course. With a cheer Bruno jumped onto the sofa to drift towards the sleeping room.
“Not the sleeping room”, Mrs. Baconrind shouted. “The beds are not made, no one must go in there.”
She dismounted from the freeze to stop Bruno. However, by now the water was so high that she sank at once. When she re-appeared, she held a shoe in her hand and lamented: “Who left that shoe in the corridor! Can you not keep order?” Furiously she threw the shoe at Bruno who ducked. The shoe hit the light switch. 


“Will someone switch on the light?” Elfrida’s voice came out of the darkness. “I can’t see where I’m drifting.”
Some loud crash indicated that the freeze had drifted through a closed door.
“Elfrida, if you are in the kitchen, take a look if the dish-washer is finished! There are matches on the kitchen table so that you can make some light.”
While saying this, Mrs. Baconrind wondered if she had turned off the gas stove. But before she could put her thought into words, there was a loud explosion in the darkness and Elfrida came flying with a matchbox in her hand. Some loud bang implied a touch-down and when she came to, everything felt soft and cuddly. Am I in heaven? she wondered but checking the situation she found that she had landed in the wardrobe. By now Berta had found the switch and the scope of the catastrophe became visible.


“Elfrida, what are you doing with my fur coat? Will you please put if off!”


Angrily Mrs. Baconrind looked at Elfrida but first swam into the living room to check matters. Bruno, to be safe from the floods had there climbed onto the hanging lamp. Mrs. Baconrind gave a yell and nagged: “Come down from the chandelier at once, you will bust it!”
But Bruno did not listen and was merrily swinging to and fro. Enough was enough and Mrs. Baconrind, after putting off her slippers, mounted the living room table and tried to pull down Bruno. He however did not think much about giving up his swing and held to it. Once more Mrs. Baconrind was stronger and once more it ended different to her expectations. With quite a jerk she ripped the lamp together with shrieking Bruno from the holder. Now she lost the balance, fell from the table and together with Bruno and the chandelier landed in the fish tank which went to pieces.


“The fishes! Berta, catch the fishes, they dirty everything.”


However, Berta faced other problems at the moment. She had not succeeded catching the dishes. A big coffee pot had crushed the kitchen window and nearly all the dishes now drifted outside through the broken window. She had at least been able to collect some saucers but the rest was lying in the garden. She shrugged and swam into the corridor to catch some fish but they had long since reached the bathroom and disappeared through the toilet.
Suddenly there was a ring at the front door, just when Mrs. Baconrind was searching for her slippers.


“Berta, go and open the door, I cannot go there barefoot, can I?”


Berta swam as fast as possible. Reaching the front door, she turned the key. By the water pressure the door was forcefully pushed open and water gushed over the visitors.


“Daddy, you are back!” Elfrida was beside herself with joy. “So nothing is broken?”
Bobble wiped his face, took a tea bag which had come along from his mouth and said:
“Everything okay, just a bruise.” He entered and hailed Mrs. Baconrind. “Good evening, Mrs. Baconrind, May I this once keep my shoes on? I do not have my flippers with me.”


“Daddy, could we go home? It’s so unpleasant here.”


“All right, but you have to sleep in Bruno’s room.”


Elfrida swam back to the living room to fetch Bruno. She made a date with Berta for the following day and they jumped into the car to go home. Arrived there, Bobble rubbed both thoroughly dry.


“Now tell me, Elfrida”, he said, “what happened there?”
“O Daddy, that silly Mrs. Baconrind did not want to give Bruno some ice cream.”
Bobble smirked. “I see!”


By now Elfrida was so tired that she no longer minded to share a room with her little brother. At her heart she was even proud of him. Of course the Baconrind family would have to sleep in the loft tonight. Well, nothing wrong with a bit of fun!


In the meantime her friend Berta had made herself comfortable between some old furniture on the loft. She was still very exhausted from blowing up an air mattress. Mrs. Baconrind was still busy hoovering the loft thoroughly.


“Tomorrow I shall scrub the cellar and the rooms nicely”, she remarked. “It’s all soaked after all.”


Berta turned to the side and happily noticed that her mother had said nothing about her helping with it. Nothing would stop her from meeting Elfrida and the others the next day.