A Small Victory

Patricia Rogers


Vincent was in his element. All the girls were making such a fuss of him; he never gave a thought as to what Father might say. He didn’t care anyway; he was enjoying himself too much. Of course he was only four, so although Father had said that he wasn’t a kitten to be petted, the girls, and Vincent himself, chose to ignore that. At least while Father was out of the way.

"Vincent, would you like me to brush your hair?" Sally asked. "You’ve got such pretty hair, I wish mine was like yours."

"Yeth pleathe," he lisped, because he was still having problems with his fangs.

Of course the girls thought his lisp was so cute. She sat him on a high stool and got his brush.

"You won’t pull my hair, will you Thally?" he asked somewhat worriedly. "’Coth thometimeth when grownupth do it they pull it."

"Of course I won’t, I’ll be very careful," she assured him.

"Awright then."Thus reassured he settled himself and let her brush it.

While she was brushing it he noticed that another girl, Jessica, had her hair in braids, and he thought how nice it looked.

"Thally?"

‘"Yes Vincent."

‘"Will you braid my hair pleathe?"

‘"Are you sure Vincent, usually only girls have their hair braided?"

‘"Not alwayth," he argued. "In Dev’th comic book the Injun’th have their hair braided."

She laughed. "You’re quite right Vincent, they do." She set to and did two perfect braids. "There you go Vincent, all done."

Because Vincent was so young, he didn’t have any problems with mirrors, so he asked if he could see how his hair looked. A mirror was duly presented, and Vincent thought that his hair looked wonderful. "Thankyou tho much Thally."

"You’re welcome Vincent. Although I’m not sure what Father will say."

"Don’t care what Father thayth, it’th my hair."

Just then they heard a message on the pipes asking where Vincent was, and that he had to come for his bath.

"Would you like me to take you back Vincent?" Sally asked.

"No thank you, I’m a big boy now, I can go by mythelf." He set off to the children’s chamber quite happily, but as he turned a corner he was confronted by a group of older boys. He hesitated because he knew that sometimes they could be a bit mean, despite what Father had told them. Unfortunately for Vincent, this was one of those times.

"Hiya Vinnie, where’re you goin?"

"To the children’th chamber, it’th time for my bath."

"Ooooh it’th time for his bath," one boy mimicked.

Vincent tried to get past them, but they kept blocking him. "Pleathe let me patht, I’ll be late."

Suddenly another boy noticed the braids. "Hey guys, look at this, Vinnie’s got braids. Guess he must think he’s a girl."

"Do not," Vincent protested angrily.

"Only girls have braids, so you must be one."

"Injun’th have braids too. I’ve theen them in Dev’th comic book."

"Don’t tell lies."

"Am not, I have too."

"Liar, liar your pants are on fire," they started to chant. And then,

"Vinnie’s a cissy, cissy, cissy, cissy," they chanted

"Am not," he shouted, and launched himself at the nearest boy. Of course with the boy being so much bigger than him he just bounced off, and ended up on his backside. He picked himself up, and by now he was starting to get really mad, and of course the boys knew it, and knew eventually that he’d start yelling. They continued taunting him, knowing that at any moment…, so when Vincent took a deep breath, threw his head back and opened his mouth, they were expecting a yell. But what came out was a roar, albeit a fledgling one, but quite impressive all the same!

They were all stunned, including Vincent himself, and they couldn’t quite believe what had happened, and looked at him with something akin to awe.

"Wow Vincent, that was pretty impressive, I didn’t know you could do that."

"Me either," Vincent said bemusedly.

"Do another one Vincent," another boy asked.

"Don’t know if I can."

"I bet you can if you try."

So Vincent obliged them, and the second roar was just as good as the first one.

"Way to go Vincent, that’s so neat."

"Yeah, it really is," they all agreed.

"Father might not think it’s neat, so I wouldn’t do it when he’s around," one of the boys advised.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to all of them, Father and Mary were heading their way when they heard the roar, and it made them both jump.

"What in God’s name was that?" Father asked. "It sounded like a roar, but it couldn’t have been, could it?" Then they heard the second one. "It was a roar…but who…?"

"You don’t suppose it was Vincent?" Mary asked.

Father shook his head. "I very much doubt it, he’s only four."

"Yes, but all the same…"

They hurried along in the direction the sound had come from, and when they rounded the next corner they came upon the little group, just in time to hear the boy advising Vincent ‘not to do it when Father was around.’ They all started guiltily when Father and Mary appeared, and Father asked, "Not to do what when Father’s around?"

No-one answered.

"I’m waiting." He singled one boy out. "Philip?"

"Not to roar."

"That was Vincent was it?" Mary asked amazed.

"It sure was. It was pretty neat, wasn’t it?"

"Yes it was," Mary agreed, but then she looked at Father, and he was not impressed. Father suddenly caught sight of the braids, as did Mary.

She put her hand to her mouth to hide a smile, and Father asked,

"What on Earth happened to your hair Vincent?"

"Thally braided it, now I look like an Injun," he said proudly.

"Yes, well…" was all Father could manage.

By now Mary realised that the other boys were waiting to see what would happen next, so she said, "I think it’s time you boys were heading back to your chambers, don’t you? And it’s time for Vincent’s bath."

"Ok Mary," they reluctantly agreed.

She took hold of Vincent’s hand and started to lead him away, but he pulled back

"Want to go with the big boy’th."

"You go with Mary now Vincent, we’ll see you tomorrow," Philip told him.

"Awright. Thee you."

When they got back to the Hub, Mary took Vincent for his bath, and as she was leaving Father said,

"When you’ve done, will you come to my chamber please Mary?"

"Of course I will."

She led Vincent away, and when they got to the bathing chamber Mary helped him get undressed, and then was going to undo the braids.

"No Mary, I want to keep them in."

"But Vincent, if I don’t take them out your hair will get tangled, and it’ll be hard to brush."

"Don’t care, want to keep them. Pleathe Mary." He had such a pleading look on his little face that she relented.

"Alright, but you must have them out tomorrow."

"Awright."

She got him bathed and into his pyjamas, then took him to the Children’s chamber. Once there she tucked him into bed, and kissed him goodnight.

"Goodnight Vincent, sleep tight."

"G’night Mary."

As she was leaving he called to her. "Mary."

She turned back. "Yes Vincent?"

"The big boy’th like me now, ‘coth I can roar. Do you think it’th neat Mary?"

"Yes Vincent, very neat." ‘But Father doesn’t,’ she said to herself.

She went straight to Father’s chamber, knowing what was coming. He didn’t disappoint her.

"What are we going to do about Vincent?"

She made out that she didn’t know what he meant. "Do what about him?"

"You know perfectly well what I mean Mary. About the roaring."

"I’m amazed that he can do it."

"Nevertheless…he must be stopped."

"Father, he’s only four, what harm can it do?"

"He must be made to realise that it’s not acceptable."

Mary bridled. "Not acceptable to who Father?"

"To…everyone," he said rather lamely.

"To you Father, you mean," she told him.

"No…I didn’t mean that at all." He tried reasoning with her. "Mary, if he continues to do it, it will only draw attention to his ‘differences’ and set him apart, and the other children might come to resent him. Plus the fact that he now thinks the older boys like him, but they don’t, not really. It was just the novelty of what he did."

Mary knew that he was right, although she hated to admit it. (But they were both wrong.) "You’re right of course, but how do we stop him? Although you must admit that it was quite impressive."

"Yes it was," he admitted grudgingly. "But…"

"I know. Would you like me to talk to him?"

"No, I’ll do it. I’ll be the ‘ogre’…again."

She smiled at him. "Yes you will, but you do it so well." Then she said, "I’ll be going now Father, Goodnight."

"Goodnight Mary."

When she’d gone Father sat for quite a long time, trying to decide how to tackle Vincent the next morning. He knew he’d have to be very careful what he said.

The next morning after breakfast Father took Vincent to his chamber. Of course Vincent knew that he probably was in trouble because Father was very quiet, but he couldn’t figure out what he’d done wrong. Unless of course it was because he’d roared yesterday. But there was nothing wrong with that, was there?

When they reached Father’s chamber Father sat in his big armchair, and Vincent stood in front of him with his hands behind his back.

"Now, Vincent, do you know why you are here?"

Vincent shook his head. "No Father."

"Think very carefully Vincent."

"Ith it ‘coth I roared?"

"Yes Vincent, it is."

"But why must I not do it Father?" he asked innocently.

"Because…well…you just shouldn’t."

"But why not?"

Father knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. "Because it makes you…different."

Vincent thought about that. "But I am different," he said with all the logic of a four year old.

Father sighed. This was going to be more difficult than he thought. "Yes you are Vincent, but you shouldn’t draw attention to it."

"But why not?" Vincent persisted.

"Because…"

Vincent looked at him expectantly, and Father decided to try another approach. "Do you want to be like the other boys Vincent?"

"Yeth I do."

"Well there you are then, the other boys don’t roar do they?"

Vincent thought about that too. "’Coth they can’t, ‘coth they’re not like me."

‘Back to square one,’ Father said to himself. "Look Vincent," Father said exasperatedly, "I don’t want you to do it anymore."

"But…" Vincent began.

Father decided to tell a little white lie. "No buts Vincent, if you keep doing it the other boys will think you’re showing off and they won’t like you anymore."

Vincent however, thought differently. The big boys had thought it was ‘neat.’

"Vincent, I want you to trust me about this, and promise me that you won’t do it again."

Although Vincent was only four, he was a very intelligent child, and he’d worked out that Father was just going to keep on at him until he promised, so he took a deep breath and said, "I promithe Father."

"Good boy, you may go now."

When he got outside Father’s chamber, the same boys from the previous day were waiting for him, because they’d seen Father take him from the Dining Chamber. "Hi Vincent, what did Father want?"

"He thaid I muthn’t roar anymore."

"But why not Vincent? We think it’s neat."

"He made me promithe."

The boys’ faces fell. "That’s a pity Vincent."

A wide grin split Vincent’s face. "But it doethn’t count, ‘coth I had my fingerth crothed when I thaid it!"

The End.