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MARVEL Mansion Gang
By Connie Ellen
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2012 Connie Ellen
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMarvel Mansion Gang
Randall Ray came out the front door at a run. The girls were already up in the tree waiting for him. It was easy to tell why he was late—he had "put-away duty." All the kids had to help with certain chores and doing the dishes was one of them. His job this week was to put away the dishes, which meant getting done last. He had to wait until all the drying and washing was over.
After the screened door slammed, Randall Ray turned and jumped off the porch and over the bushes. Now these were not ordinary bushes. They were majestic. Each stem had a little bouquet of small white flowers, and when you touched them they would scatter in the breeze causing a white cloud of flower pedals. Corrie Ellen thought they were the most beautiful flowers she had ever seen and she spent her time, when she was not swinging in the old porch swing, gathering the little bouquets. The majestic bushes surrounded the house on three sides and there was a jumping-over place at each end of the porch. The bushes had been jumped over so many times they had grooves on their tops.
"I hate putting away," yelled Randall Ray. "Next week its your turn Corrie Ellen." Corrie looked down at him as he started to climb the massive oak tree that stood in the front yard. She was sitting in her usual spot near the top.
"Its not my fault. I washed as fast as I could. Bernice Betty is too slow drying," exclaimed Corrie Ellen. Randall Ray took his seat, and they looked in the direction of Nelda Lous house. This house had been the subject of their meetings for about a week.
Donna Belle said, "Do you think "It" will be out tonight?"
Randall Ray shuttered, "Probably, we have to keep watch." They agreed and would all try to be back. Down they climbed. Each went their separate ways, except Corrie Ellen and Randall Ray.
Corrie Ellen wondered, "Do you think Donna Belle will get to come back tonight? She has to be very careful sneaking out. Last night her brother Donald kept watch for her, but he cant do that every night."
Randall Ray explained. If she couldn't come all the time, he would have to keep her informed about "It." "We will need everyone to help," he reasoned.
School vacation was hard enough on farm kids. They knew they would not be able to see their friends for three months. So what do they do? Play, work, and make—believe. Some of their make-believe will come true as their adventure unfolds.
Farm kids had to make up something to make the summer go faster. This was not the case with the gang that lived within the south boundary. From an ole tree to an old man, this gang was surrounded by magic. They did not realize it, but it was there. Read on and imagine yourself as one of "The Marvel Mansion Gang."
School was out for the summer, and already the gang at Marvel Mansion was up to something. Marvel Mansion was not really a mansion. It was just a big, old farmhouse with three bedrooms upstairs and one bedroom downstairs. It did have a bathroom in it, but it was pretty crowded with eight kids and their parents.
Marvel Mansion came about its name by accident. Down the road, Nelda Lou lived with her family. They owned the Marvel farm. Their house was very modern and nice, but it just had Nelda Lou in it. Nelda Lou liked our house better. She called it her Marvel Mansion, meaning to her it was a special place to play. So we became the Marvel Mansion Gang—just to ourselves though; we didnt want anyone knowing our business.
Randall Ray started thinking. He was the oldest of the gang, and he had a big responsibility keeping everyone safe. He was the only boy so far this summer. He thought about his little brother, Allen Robert. Maybe he could bring him into the gang. Allen Robert was smaller and younger than the rest, but he had grown this past school year.
Randall Ray looked down the road where Donna Belle was walking back home. She lived about a quarter of a mile away in an old, rented farmhouse. Her family didn't have much, and Donna Belle was not too healthy. She was born with a crooked back, but she was a good climber. She was not afraid of anything.
Bernice Betty was one of Randall Ray's sisters. She had long legs and could run very fast. Corrie Ellen was Randall Ray's sister too. With her good eyes, they really needed her. Nelda Lou was not like them at all. She could not run, couldn't climb very good, and she complained a lot; but she still was one of the gang. They had all grown up together about seven miles from the nearest town. With all the jobs they had to do, it was going to be a busy summer.
Chapter ThreeThe Bull in the Barn
The sun had already made its appearance in the eastern sky. It had spread sunrays of red, gold, and yellow. The birds had taken up flight and were singing their morning songs. Indeed, farm country is an exception to the ordinary. It has lots of open spaces where the span of sky is so big you cannot look at the whole thing at once.
A cool, spring breeze floated through the white, sheer curtains as Corrie Ellen turned to look at the clock on the nightstand next to her bed. Seven oclock. She could hear her brother moving around in the room next to hers. They had their own rooms. The younger brothers and sisters had to share. Through the floor vent in her room, she could hear her father talking. "He is too old to have this happen to him. That old shack he lives in could fall down any day now. The only possessions he has are his silver dollars." Corrie Ellen knew he was talking about the hermit at the end of the bean field.
Corrie Ellen got out of bed knowing it was going to be a fun day. No school for three months. She had some catching up to do. She put on her play clothes and went down the narrow stairs to the kitchen. Her father was at the table drinking coffee and talking to her mother. When he saw Randall Ray and her coming around the corner, he included them in the conversation. He was explaining why the neighbors bull was in the barn. He warned their mother not to let them go near the barn. The old bull might be ornery right now. When he left for the fields, he reminded them again—don't go near the barn.
With downcast faces, their lower lips so low they could have touched the ground, Randall Ray and Corrie Ellen walked slowly out of the kitchen. They took their favorite spot on the porch eating the bacon and gravy their mother had made. It was their favorite breakfast. Sitting on the steps, Corrie Ellen remembered how the old bull had looked yesterday as he was lead out of their dad's old, red truck.
Randall Ray said the old bull was an Angus. He explained this type of cattle were generally all black and could become very mean. The neighbors bull was black, and he was very nasty looking. He was very big and had a large head with two, white spots where Randall Ray said his horns had been. He had a big, round, metal ring in his nose with a rope tied to it. He didn't like the rope and tried to get away by tossing his head and stomping the ground with his feet. When that didn't get rid of the rope, he kicked his hind legs high in the air and tried butting their father with his big head. His eyes were huge and he looked all around for ways to get loose.
Corrie Ellen was scared as she watched the old bull, but her father just twisted that ring in his nose to make him settle down.
They had a big, tall, red barn with a second story that was called a hayloft. The hayloft was one of their favorite places to play. They would build tunnels and hay forts and then have make-believe wars with their brothers and sisters. Corrie Ellen and Randall Ray were both anxious to wake up the others and start to play.
Randall Ray looked longingly at the barn trying to figure out a way to get into the loft without going into the barn. The barn had lots of doors. One door was on the outside going up to the second floor. It was closed and they knew they could not open it. Besides, they could not climb up the hay loader without their mom seeing them. They just sat and looked at the barn.
Their brothers and sisters, except the little ones, finally came outside and sat on the steps with them. "Do you want to try and sneak into the barn?" Randall Ray asked. Corrie Ellen was afraid but did want to go, so she said, "Yes." Randall Ray told his brother, Allen Robert, to watch for their mom and off they went. They ran to the gate next to the smokehouse and across the barnyard to the door in the middle of the barn. They knew the one in the middle was the closest to the loft. The problem was getting past the old bull.
"We have to be very quiet," Randall Ray whispered. Corrie Ellen nodded. Her legs had become very wiggly. She was afraid. Randall Ray made a motion with his hands to get down and crawl past the manger. Then they headed for the aisle between the mangers where the animals are fed.
The old bull was standing with his head in one of the mangers. As they crawled by, they did not stop and look up at him. They could hear his breathing as he ate his hay. They made it past the manger and went up the ladder as quietly as they could. Once they were in the loft, Corrie Ellen asked Randall Ray how they were going to get back down. Randall Ray said, "I'll think of something." He was Corrie Ellens older brother, and she knew he would.
There were some cracks in the floor of the loft, and they crawled over to them. Randall Ray looked down and whispered he could see the top of the old bull's head. As they moved, some straw fell down through the cracks and landed on the old bull's back, and he started stomping his feet. Then he started prancing back and forth trying to get the straw off. They were scared now, and Randall Ray yelled, "We have to get out of here!" Randall Ray grabbed Corrie Ellen's hand. He ran towards the ladder and started down with her. When they reached the bottom of the loft ladder, they took off running down the barn aisle towards the middle door. As they ran by the bull's stall, they heard a loud breaking sound. They knew the old bull was trying to get out of the pen. Randall Ray never let go of Corrie Ellens hand. She tried her best to run fast.
They came to the door just as the gate gave way. The bull was free! They ran as fast as they could to the corner gate. Here their brothers and sisters stood yelling at them to run faster. Corrie Ellen never looked back She knew the bull was out of the barn. They reach the yard gate and ran through it as Allen Robert slammed it shut.
The old bull charged at the closed gate. This made him angrier. He was mad as he ran up and down the fence trying to get into the yard. He would throw his head back and forth. With his hind legs up and his head down, he charged. They all ran to the porch and sat down. Corrie Ellen began to cry and so did her brothers and sisters.
Their mom came out of the house and watched as the old bull ran back and forth along the fence. She made them go inside. When their father got home, he got hold of the rope on the metal ring in the bull's nose and led him back to the barn. The excitement was over. The bull finally calmed down.
Randall Ray and Corrie Ellen decided not to tell their father about going to the barn that day. What a first day of summer vacation! Before they went into their bedrooms for the night, Randall Ray said, "We will meet tomorrow morning in the ole oak tree."
Chapter FourOle Oak Tree
Just out the front door of their old farmhouse was the biggest and perhaps the oldest tree in the country. It was the home of the Marvel Mansion Gang. The ole oak tree was sort of a magical place to be. Not every tree is big enough to seat five small people. But through the years, the branches had spread. It had been climbed so much the tree had grooves for their feet. Once up, they all had their special place to sit. Randall Ray had brought some boards from the corn crib and placed them between the branches to make seats. He had the highest seat, and then next and to his left was Corrie Ellen. Lower seats were for Bernice Betty, Donna Belle, and Nelda Lou. They would add more places if the gang grew during the summer.
Breakfast was over, and again Randall Ray was late because of "put-away duty." All were seated except Nelda Lou. She had to go away with her family for a month. As Randall Ray climbed up, he yelled, "Donna Belle, I hope you did not come here last night. We had big happenings going on." She said her father had told her about the bull being out. She knew she could not chance coming down the road with an animal loose. She didn't ask how it got loose. She just seemed to know what had happened. That was the way it was with the Marvel Mansion Gang.
"Tonight we meet again," exclaimed Randall Ray. There was supposed to be a full moon. They would be able to see a little better. Randall Ray looked around and asked if they had their equipment ready and were prepared to perform their duty. Everyone was in agreement. They were ready. One by one they climbed down from the ole oak tree each knowing the day would be long until dusk.
Donna Belle had to go back home, but said she would be back later that afternoon. The gang went into the house to see if they had jobs to do.
Chapter FivePony Fun
After their jobs were done, they decided not to play in the hayloft; it was just too hot. "Lets ride ponies," Corrie Ellen said. They took off for the pasture. Riding ponies was one of their favorite things to do. They always had a swell time. They did not need bridles or saddles. The gang just hopped on and would use their feet to signal the pony to turn. They hung on to the mane to keep from falling off.
Randall Ray hopped on Frisky. She was the oldest of the ponies and the fastest. Frisky was sort of reddish brown and had a white spot on her tail. Corrie Ellen jumped on Flicka. Flicka was the slowest. She was a light brown color and Frisky's sister. That left Coconut for Bernice Betty. Coconut was all dark brown and a fine pony, but she had a problem. Sometimes she would get nervous and go backwards. Coconut would always start out forward, but somehow get turned around. Backwards she would go with Bernice Betty hanging on for dear life. Even though Bernice Betty was riding backwards, she managed to stay on Coconut most of the time.
Gratefully, they all had ponies to ride, and ride they did—in and out of the barn to the big pasture and back. They would go galloping through the pasture with their bare feet. This was one of the best things in the summer months. No shoes!
Bernice Betty was one of those kids who always seemed to be where trouble was. She would get a forward pony, and away it would go throwing her off in a thistle patch. She would get up and limp to the house to pick the prickly thorns off.
She was never hurt badly, so the others would imitate her falls and laugh. Bernice Betty even tried to run away from home once. She never got past the front gate. They were not allowed to go out of the yard without permission. The rest of the kids just stood on the front porch and waved goodbye at her.
Even though, Bernice Betty was a character, she was still an important part of the Marvel Mansion Gang. Tonight she would be just like the rest of them, at her post in the big ole oak tree ready to watch and see if "It" came out again.
Chapter SixAllen Robert Is In
Now remember our brother, Allen Robert, who held the gate as Randall Ray and Corrie Ellen ran through with the old bull right behind them? He wanted very much to be a part of the gang. That afternoon when Donna Belle came down, they all went up into the big oak tree. Randall Ray started the meeting. "This morning I was asked by Allen Robert if he could be part of our gang." Allen Robert was ten months younger than Bernice Betty, and until this year he was just too small. But during the school year, he had grown two inches and gained some weight, so he knew that would help him. Their mom had put him in charge of the plate-scraping duty after each meal, so he knew he had grown.
Corrie Ellen spoke up. "Allen Robert did help us with closing the gate really fast yesterday." Donna Belle said he was way bigger than she was. Bernice Betty agreed. Randall Ray liked the idea of another boy in the gang, and Allen Robert was a good tree swinger. He could swing from branch to branch and then jump down real fast. They all decided Allen Robert could be in the gang. They would have his "coming in" ceremony tonight, after they watched and waited for "It" to come out.
Excerpted from MARVEL Mansion Gang by Connie Ellen Copyright © 2012 by Connie Ellen. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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