Mokie and Bik lived on a boat called Bullfrog. They lived in it, on it, all around it—monkeying up ladders
ropes, over the wheelhouse and across the cabin floor.
“Twins!” their mother shouted, because the lines of her Art jiggled and jarred
when Mokie and Bik played bumpboats:
bump thump rumpboats
up and down the wheelhouse,
bump thump rumping
from the steering drawers to the bouncy bunk,
mump clump gumping
from sleepdog Laddie to the potbelly hotter.
“Get out from underfoot!”
So Bik bumped Mokie out the door—Splat!—into nanny Ruby’s bucket as she was sploshing the deck.
“Twins!” shouted Ruby. “Get out from underfoot!”
Bik and Mokie monkeyed up the wheelhouse.
“Shh,” said Mokie. “Mum’s still Arting.”
So they sunned like seals on the wheelhouse roof for about twenty hours till Ruby finished sploshing.
“Let’s,” said Mokie.
“Yes!” said Bik.
They monkeyed off the roof to the slippery wet deck, slip slide slippering in soggy socks, skate chase racing up to Bullfrog’s bow—Mokie was bigger but Bik was faster—and Bik balanced on his sliptoes at the very front point.
Mokie slip slid slippered back down the deck, skate chase racing past the wheelhouse, slip slide slippering down to Bullfrog’s stern, to balance on her sliptoes at the very back rail.
“Yo!” shouted Mokie. Slow the tortle pulled his head in tight.
“Ho!” shouted Bik. Ruby stuck her head out the galley hatch.
“Be careful!” she shouted, because that’s what nannies have to say.
“YO-HO!” shouted Mokie and Bik.
Slip slide slippering up and down the deck, crashing in the middle, thump bump crunch—Bik was faster but Mokie was bigger.
“Barnacle bells!” shouted Bik as he flipped over the rail—Splash!—into the sea.
“Twin overboard!” shouted Ruby, jumping out the hatch, snatching her boathook,
and fishing Bik out by his overalls strap.
Mokie and Bik were always overboard or underfoot.
Everyone Who Lived on the Bullfrog
Mokie and Bik’s father had a ship-at-sea with clouds of sails on five tall masts and a brrr-ooping broop for fog, and he salty sailed across the world.
He’d been on his ship-at-sea so long sometimes Mokie and Bik couldn’t remember when he lived on Bullfrog.
“He’s a parrot,” said Bik. “He’ll come home with a pirate on his shoulder.”
“And treasure on his chest,” said Mokie.
“He’ll give me the pirate,” said Bik. “I’ll name it Jezebel.”
“He’ll give me the treasure,” said Mokie. “I’ll buy a botormike.”
Mokie and Bik’s mother had a botormike, with a little boat on the side. Sometimes, if Mokie and Bik were good as good as gold, she took them in the sideboat, roaring brrr-oaring down the road, wind knots in their hair, dust in their eyes, and spitting out flies.
But usually she just took her easel and her Art and sometimes Laddie. “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies,” she said when they asked where she was going.
Ruby looked after Mokie and Bik when their mother was botormiking or in the wheelhouse Arting. Rubies are like red diamonds. Mokie and Bik’s Ruby had red hair and lots of songs but no diamonds.
“Hi, ho, the illy-ally-o!” Ruby sang when she put on the kettle for breakfast, and “I’se the bye that builds the boat, I’se the bye that sails her,” when she polished Bullfrog’s big brass bell and whatumacallits.
At bunktime when she hung her hammock in Bullfrog’s cabin, Ruby sang, “Now her ghost wheels her barrow.”
The song ghosted through the galley, wheeled past the engine room, and barrowed into Mokie and Bik’s cabin where their bunks pointed like an arrow at the very V of the bow.
Mokie and Bik’s bunks had portholes over them to see the sea and drawers underneath to pull out like steps to monkey up at bunktime.
When the sea was calm, Bullfrog rocked them gently like a cradle. When the sea was wild, Bullfrog rollicked them—thump clunk overbunk—to the floor.
“Twins!” shouted Ruby. “What are you doing?”
“We overbunked!” shouted Mokie and Bik.
Ruby knew what Mokie and Bik were saying when nobody else did. She knew that cats were hissers because the cats on the wharf sss sss hissed at Laddie. Fisk were fish, potatoes were tatties, and the illy ally o was a faraway sea.
“What are you yabbering about, Twins?” their mother would say, but most of the time Mokie and Bik were just with each other, and Ruby, and Laddie and Slow, and they could yabber jabber yackety gabber as much as they liked.