Playing Beatie Bow

by

Ruth Park

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Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl” Character Analysis

The fierce, fiery, headstrong foil of the book, Beatie Bow is a young girl who finds herself able to move through time—though she does not know that that is what is happening to her. She follows the cries of children shouting her name through a well between worlds, which allows her to see the playground game named after her, Beatie Bow, in full swing in the Mitchell courtyard. Beatie then unwittingly lures Abigail Kirk on a chase through the city streets, culminating in both girls’ return to the past—to 1873, to be precise. Beatie’s family takes Abigail in, and as Abigail grows to know the Bows, she continues to see Beatie as her way back to the future. Beatie insists time and time again that she does not know how she even got to Abigail’s time in the first place, though she is dreadfully afraid that she has the Gift—the ability to see into the future. Beatie knows that the Gift is the family legacy, and will be passed down to one of the Bow children, but she does not want to be the recipient—instead, she wants to be a learned woman and a scholar. Beatie is loud and obnoxious, often contrary, aggressive, and explosive. Her desire to carve her own path and receive an education makes her an outlier in her own time, as well as wise and determined beyond her years even by the standards of Abigail’s time. Beatie can also be read as the antagonist of the book, as she seems to stand in the way not only of Abigail’s return to her own world, but also in the way of Abigail’s love of Judah and of Abigail’s acceptance into the Bow family.

Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl” Quotes in Playing Beatie Bow

The Playing Beatie Bow quotes below are all either spoken by Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl” or refer to Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl”. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin Books edition of Playing Beatie Bow published in 1980.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Her eyes turned instinctively to the corner of the wall where it met the street. There lurked Natalie's little furry girl, looking cold and forlorn.

“She looks the way I feel,” thought Abigail. But how did she feel? Not quite lost but almost. Baffled. A sense of too many strange ideas crowding around her, a feeling of helplessness and difficulty with which she could not come to terms. She thought, “Maybe they're right. Maybe there is such a thing as being too young and inexperienced to know your own mind.”

Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

“What’s your name?”

“Beatie Bow.”

Abigail scowled. “Quit having me on, whoever you are. That’s the name of a kids’ game.”

“I ken that well enough. But it’s my name. Beatrice May Bow, and I’m eleven years of age, though small for it, I know, because of the fever.” Suddenly she grabbed Abigail’s arm. “Dunna tell, I’m asking you. Dunna tell Granny where you come from, or I’m for it. She’ll say I’ve the Gift and I havena, and don’t want it, God knows, because I’m afeared of what it does.”

Related Characters: Abigail Kirk (speaker), Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl” (speaker), Granny Tallisker
Page Number: 38-39
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

The first thing was their kindness. How amazingly widespread it was. […] They had taken responsibility for her, nursed and clothed her. Someone had given up her bed, probably Beatie; no one had complained when she was snappish and rude about Dovey's best clothes, about the lack of sanitation; no one had condemned her unsympathetic attitude towards Gibbie.

“I'm not kind,” said Abigail with a sickish surprise. “Look how I went on with Mum when she said she wanted us to get together with Dad again. Look what I did to Dad when I was little, punched him on the nose and made it bleed. Maybe I’ve never been really kind in my life.” […] These Victorians lived in a dangerous world, where a whole family could be wiped out with typhoid fever or smallpox, where a soldier could get a hole in his head that you could put your fist in, where there were no pensions or free hospitals or penicillin or proper education for girls, or even poor boys, probably. Yet, in a way, it was a more human world than the one Abigail called her own.

“I wish I could stay awhile,” she thought, “and find out why all these things are. But I can't think about any of this till I get home. Getting home, that’s what I have to plan.”

Page Number: 75-77
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

In a way she felt as she had felt when her father went away and left her. Fright, anger and helplessness, the sense of being nobody who could make things happen. But then she had been only ten. Four years of schooling her face to be expressionless, her thoughts to be her private property, had not gone to waste.

After her first despair, she thought, “I won’t let them beat me. If that dress is hidden around the house I’lI find it. Or I'll bribe Beatie, or coax Judah, into telling me where it is.”

She had learnt a lot about herself in this new rough world. Her own thoughts and conclusions of just a month before filled her with embarrassed astonishment when she reviewed them.

“What a dummo I was! I knew as much about real life as poor little Natty.”

Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Abigail saw ahead of her the lamp that lit the steep stairs to the alley which ran down to the playground. Beatie kicked angrily at the kerbstone. Her face was undecided, back to its crabbed urchin look.

“I know you hate me because I fell in love with your brother. Well, he doesn't love me, never did and never will. And I did save Dovey for him.”

“’Twas no more than what you were sent for,” said Beatie churlishly.

Abigail lost her temper. “Oh, you know everything, don't you? Let me tell you, you sulky little pig, you know nothing about love, that's one thing. You have to experience it to know how powerful it is.”

Here she stopped, dumbstruck, remembering who had said the same words to her.

Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

The Bible was a mighty volume. The green plush had hardly any pile left at all; the brass edges were black and bent. They had not been polished for many years.

“Justine had it at the top of the linen cupboard. It belonged to some old great-great aunt or such. She used to be headmistress at Fort Street School, you know the old building up near the Observatory that the National Trust has now?”

“So she made it, the little stirrer!” crowed Abigail. She beamed at Robert, who gaped at her.

'She wasn't any little stirrer; she was a perfect old tartar. Mother remembered her quite well; she was in an old ladies' home or something. Mother was petrified with terror of her, she said.”

“Old Miss Bow!” Abigail laughed marvelling. “Who would have guessed it? I guess that's how that kids’ game sprang up . . . terror lest Miss Beatie Bow would rise from the grave and give them all what for.”

Related Characters: Abigail Kirk (speaker), Robert Bow (speaker), Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl”
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Playing Beatie Bow LitChart as a printable PDF.
Playing Beatie Bow PDF

Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl” Character Timeline in Playing Beatie Bow

The timeline below shows where the character Beatie Bow / “The little furry girl” appears in Playing Beatie Bow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
The Wisdom and Power of Children  Theme Icon
...begins to cry. Natalie tells Abigail that the game the children are playing is called “Beatie Bow,” and it scares her—nevertheless, Natalie says, she likes to watch. (full context)
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...circle of children—a girl in a white sheet is walking toward them. Mudda cries that Beatie Bow has risen from the dead, and the circle of children breaks—they begin shrieking and... (full context)
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Natalie explains that if the person playing Beatie Bow catches someone, that person then becomes the next Beatie Bow. Natalie tells Abigail that... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...child without her brother around, but still is drawn to watching the frightening games of Beatie Bow. As the game begins, Natalie points out the little furry girl to Abigail—Abigail notices... (full context)
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Natalie suggests they go speak to the little girl . As they approach her, Abigail notices that she is probably eleven, but small for... (full context)
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...is falling, and many children are being called in for supper. Abigail again sees the little furry girl in the corner of the playground, and thinks that she does look rather forlorn; the... (full context)
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Abigail follows the little girl down an unfamiliar alleyway, calling after her, promising that all she wants to do is... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Though the little furry girl tries to lose Abigail as she winds through the streets and alleyways, Abigail pursues her—sometimes,... (full context)
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Abigail finally catches up with the furry girl , but stops when she encounters a beggar with a wooden stump for a leg... (full context)
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Abigail pursues the furry girl to the doorway of a corner shop, and a familiar smell of burnt sugar stops... (full context)
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...her hand. She hears a woman’s voice, speaking in the same Scottish accent as the little furry girl , urge another person named Dovey to change Abigail’s bandage so that they can see... (full context)
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...a long, thick, uncomfortable nightdress. There is a warm compress against her ankle, and the furry girl is sitting on a stool beside her, so close that Abigail can see her freckles... (full context)
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...of madness. Abigail asks the little girl her name, and she replies that it is Beatie Bow. Abigail tells the girl to stop joking—Beatie Bow is the name of a children’s... (full context)
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Abigail asks where they are, and Beatie tells her that she is in the best room of her father’s house, behind the... (full context)
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Beatie tells Abigail that she knows she shouldn’t have gone to watch the children’s game, but... (full context)
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...senses a profound goodness emanating from her. Abigail relaxes into Granny’s embrace, and Granny tells Beatie to go fetch Judah. A few minutes later, a tall young man enters the room... (full context)
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...her from her bed and brings her over to the shuttered window, and then instructs Beatie to open the shutters wide. As Abigail looks down at the street below, she marvels... (full context)
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...a “stranger.” As the two women continue their conversation at the door to the room, Beatie creeps closer to Abigail, staring at her with big eyes. Abigail whispers accusatorily to Beatie,... (full context)
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...be better in the morning. She leaves to heat up some broth for Abigail, charging Beatie to stay and keep her company. Alone in the room with Beatie, Abigail whines that... (full context)
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As Abigail listens to Beatie speak, she realizes that Natalie’s belief that the little furry girl was unhappy was true—Abigail... (full context)
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Beatie asks Abigail how the playing children all knew her name, but Abigail insists she doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...upstairs, which she takes to be Gibbie’s; screams from another room, which she knows are Beatie’s; and lastly she hears Granny’s calming voice, making peace in the house. (full context)
Time and the Past Theme Icon
...name, and that she is fourteen. Dovey is surprised—she tells Abigail she’d assumed she was Beatie’s age, as she hasn’t filled out at all. Dovey tells Abigail to get dressed. When... (full context)
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...can read. Dovey and Granny are pleasantly surprised that Abigail can read, and lament that Beatie and Gibbie have not been able to have a good education in the colonies. As... (full context)
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...she is “godless,” and Abigail claims that she doesn’t remember. Granny implores Dovey to tell Beatie to read to Abigail from the Bible later that day. (full context)
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...since his wife Amelia died, and he begins talking about Abigail being the Stranger, but Beatie, who has been listening at the door, appears and shushes him. Dovey asks Beatie what... (full context)
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Dovey tells Beatie that Granny wants her to read the Bible to Abigail, and suggests she read her... (full context)
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Beatie tells Abigail she does not want to go against Granny, since Granny thinks Abigail is... (full context)
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Beatie asks if people still die of fever and smallpox in the future, and when Abigail... (full context)
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
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...the next two days, Abigail learns a lot about the Bows and the Talliskers from Beatie herself. Dovey Tallisker is a cousin of the Bows, and she was raised by her... (full context)
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Abigail asks Beatie to tell her next about the mysterious Gift, but Beatie says it’s a family secret.... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...in time, but not in space, and she’s happy to know that she doesn’t need Beatie’s help getting back after all—though she resolves to wait until her wounds have healed before... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...ankle has gone down to its normal size, and she is wearing more comfortable shoes. Beatie goes off to school, excited that Judah’s ship is supposed to make port again tonight,... (full context)
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Abigail has had to field endless questions from Beatie about the future, however, but Beatie does not always believe the things Abigail tells her.... (full context)
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After Beatie has gone off to school and Granny and Dovey leave Abigail alone in the shop... (full context)
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As Abigail passes the school where Beatie attends classes, she stoops low, hoping the child will not see her, but nonetheless hears... (full context)
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...face, but he dodges her blows, and bites her on the leg. Abigail screams out Beatie and Judah’s names, but then a horrible-smelling sack descends over her head and she cannot... (full context)
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...devise a plan. She realizes that the only hope she has is that Judah and Beatie heard her cries for help back on the street. Abigail starts to try to get... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Dovey gets Abigail ready for bed and leaves her alone, but Beatie enters the room and sits at the edge of Abigail’s bed. She angrily asks Abigail... (full context)
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...she is, not understanding anything about her role in the Bow and Tallisker families’ lives. Beatie creeps into the room and sits at the edge of Dovey’s bed, and Dovey, as... (full context)
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Beatie pipes up, cursing the Gift; though she does not want it, she knows it is... (full context)
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A wail comes from upstairs—it’s Gibbie, calling for the chamber-pot. Beatie offers to take it to Gibbie so that Abigail can go and see Granny. Dovey... (full context)
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Dovey whispers to Granny what Beatie saw in her dream, and Granny exclaims that it is the first part of the... (full context)
Chapter 8
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
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...“beat”—she plans to search high and low for her dress, or bribe or coax either Beatie or Judah into telling her where it is hidden. Though she is full of despair,... (full context)
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...the household routine, scrubbing and dusting the house and raking the shop fire. Abigail approaches Beatie about the dress, but Beatie tells Abigail that she has no idea where it is—and... (full context)
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The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
...Granny’s room where Granny—who still has a bit of the healing touch—can attend to her. Beatie takes Dovey’s bed, and as Beatie sleeps like a log through the night, it is... (full context)
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One afternoon, after running home to escape a rain storm, Beatie tells Abigail that she has to talk to her. Abigail has noticed that Beatie has... (full context)
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Abigail is shocked and hurt. Beatie goes on to explain that because it was Judah who caused the accident that crippled... (full context)
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Abigail leaps up, seizes Beatie by the shoulders, and shakes her before dropping her on the floor. Abigail accuses the... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...Abigail says that she doesn’t feel like anything has been spoiled, though she didn’t want Beatie to know her secret. Abigail humbly says that perhaps she’s too young to know anything... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
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...the young can experience true love—and true sorrow. Abigail confesses to Granny that she shook Beatie violently, wishing that it were actually Dovey she was harming. She is afraid, she says,... (full context)
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Abigail sits at the kitchen table washing potatoes. When Beatie comes out of the parlor after speaking with Granny, she is sniveling, and tells Abigail... (full context)
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On Sunday, Dovey prepares a picnic basket for Judah, Beatie, and Abigail, but as they prepare for the outing, Abigail feels only anxiety. As the... (full context)
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Beatie runs ahead of Judah and Abigail through the empty streets down to the shore. Judah... (full context)
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...the one to broach it. Exhausted, Abigail sits on a rock and watches Judah and Beatie hunt. Beatie approaches Abigail after a while and accuses her of gawking at Judah, but... (full context)
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Judah suggests they all get back into the boat and go to another cove, but Beatie insists she wants to climb the rocks. Judah orders Beatie to get in the boat,... (full context)
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...Behind them, there is a sound like a seahawk—they turn toward the shore and sea Beatie up on the rocks, throwing stones at the ocean. Judah realizes she has seen the... (full context)
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Judah rows the boat back into shore, where Beatie meets them in a horrible rage. Judah lifts the tantrum-throwing Beatie into the boat. Beatie... (full context)
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In the boat, Abigail attempts to put a hand on Beatie’s shoulder, but Beatie shakes her off, and says that they should have left her in... (full context)
Chapter 10
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It is a long, wretched boat ride home. Beatie sits with her hands over her ears the whole time, but Judah assures Abigail that... (full context)
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Abigail assures Judah that Beatie won’t say anything to Dovey, as Beatie does not want to hurt her either, but... (full context)
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Abigail chases Beatie, calling after her not to tell Dovey, but Beatie only calls Abigail “Judas” and tells... (full context)
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Abigail runs toward the shop, and Beatie follows her. The inside is full of smoke, and Granny is beating at the flames... (full context)
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Abigail tells Beatie to help Granny outside—Abigail herself will go up and save Dovey. She finds Dovey trying... (full context)
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...but the shop is gone. Abigail feels weak and faint. She spots Granny, Dovey, and Beatie across the street and urges Gibbie to run to them. Abigail then sees Judah running... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Granny tells Abigail that it must be Beatie alone who accompanies her back to the place where she first entered the past, and... (full context)
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Abigail tells Beatie there’s no reason for Beatie to still be angry at her, but Beatie insists that... (full context)
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At the end of the lane, Abigail tells Beatie that she should go to her teacher and ask to be tutored privately. Beatie replies... (full context)
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Abigail asks Beatie to stop hating her—Judah doesn’t love her after all, and Abigail did end up saving... (full context)
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Beatie does not answer Abigail, and so Abigail bids her a glum goodbye before continuing down... (full context)
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...dreams, Abigail has horrible visions of Samuel Bow chained up in an asylum. She sees Beatie, older and studious, bent over a leather-bound book. Beatie is dressed in black mourning clothes,... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...she is about to embark on a whole new life, and soon the world of Beatie Bow will be a distant memory. Abigail apologizes for being such a “dope” to her... (full context)
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...takes Natalie and Vincent to the playground sometimes, but the children have given up playing Beatie Bow, and now play something else. Natalie wistfully tells Abigail that she never sees the... (full context)
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...been suspended somewhere between Mitchell and the Rocks, as if in a dream. She sees Beatie, Granny, and Samuel walking through the street in their best clothes, with Judah and Dovey... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...together. Just then, Natalie leans in and whispers to Abigail, asking if she remembers the little furry girl , who was always their little secret. There is a fumbling at the door, and... (full context)
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...at a school in Sydney—the aunt had “petrified” Robert’s mother. Abigail is delighted, knowing that Beatie “made it” after all. Robert seems confused, and Abigail promises him that after they have... (full context)
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...only a family name, and his great-grandfather’s name was Samuel. Abigail insists that Samuel was Beatie and Gibbie and Judah’s father. Robert points out Gilbert Samuel Bow, who, according to the... (full context)
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...what she and Robert are up to. Abigail coyly replies that they are “just playing Beatie Bow.” Though her mother doesn’t understand, it doesn’t matter—Robert does. (full context)