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The Ds train

Dorothea and Dick lean out of their train window in the BBC adaptation Swallows and Amazons Forever!

The Ds are Dick Callum and Dorothea Callum. As a pair they are usually listed in that (alphabetical) order, Dick and Dorothea, often abbreviated to Dick and Dot in speech. Other terms for the pair include the D's, the Picts and the Scarabs (PM). The Ds are a very loyal partnership, and cooperate to solve problems.

Dorothea is older than Dick: In matters like these (signalling), though she was the elder of the two, she always felt that Dick knew best (WH2). The Japanese translations of the books say that Dorothea is older than Dick.

They take delivery of their own sailing dinghy Scarab in The Picts and the Martyrs, having learnt to sail in Coot Club. Despite being younger, Dick is captain and Dorothea mate of Scarab.

Dorothea thinks that Peggy can not be much older than herself despite being one of the four elders (WH4), though later she is one of the four brats with Dick, Titty and Roger (WH12). Sammy the policeman finds Dorothea's sandshoe prints under the trees. Peggy's hoof fitted .... fitted exactly and he concludes that the Beckfoot burglary was the Amazons up to some game. But Peggy's sandshoes are the same size as Dots: Nancy says that Dot's got biggish hoofs for her size (PM21).

Dick is a scientist and Dorothea is an author: In Winter Holiday Dot says to the Swallows Dick's an astronomer and Dick says Dorothea writes stories, e.g. The Outlaw Of The Broads (WH3). Dot recalls that day when Dick succeeded in making sulphuretted hydrogen, and unluckily stumbled by the door and sent his whole apparatus flying into the spare room where Mr Jenkyns was to sleep (WH21). In Pigeon Post Dick's a geologist, and Nancy's turned him on to reading all Captain Flint's mining books .... says Peggy. Dick deduces that Timothy is an armadillo: Nancy checked herself when she says to Titty Dick .... We've been looking through the natural history books, and we're pretty sure it must be an armadillo (PP1). So Dick had a slip of paper on which the careful Dick had noted down the usual size of such animals (PP2).

So Dick's recommendations carry the weight of expert 'scientific' opinion and are often deferred to by Dot. When they are Signalling to Mars from the barn, Dorothea always felt that Dick knew best as he could think out things like this better than anybody although he could not make up stories about people. Dorothea's instructions to Dick are delivered with some authority and usually complied with, eg (like Susan with Titty and Roger) telling Dick not to stand in the middle of the road (WH8). But when the cautious Dorothea was on the point of saying that Dick had better not go (on the sailing sledge) she stopped herself in time. She knew Dick's face very well, and one glance at it showed that at that moment it would not be any use to try to keep him back (WH16).

Dorothea lives in London as she had been seen off by her mother at Euston. Dick, coming straight from school, had joined the train at Crewe. For Dot: London last night, and now Beckfoot (PM2). Their father is a professor.

In Winter Holiday they had a railway journey north with Mrs Dixon (WH1). Later Mrs Dixon says that Mrs Callum gave them (the return tickets etc.) to me just as we were catching the train (WH9). In Coot Club they travel unaccompanied on the train (CC1); and also in The Picts and the Martyrs, when Dot is seen off by her mother at Euston .... and Dick.... had joined the train at Crewe {PM2}.

The D’s are referred to as town children in Winter Holiday:

  • At home, in the town, Dorothea had seen snow more than once …. growing grimier from the smoke …. (WH6).
  • Good for those two town children thinks Nancy (WH20).
  • Susan says People oughtn’t to be allowed to be brought up in towns (WH27).
  • John thinks of Dorothea, a little town girl (WH27).
  • When Dorothea hears the noise of sawing and hammering for the new sledge she says to Dick that the sheep’s died after all, and I can hear them making the coffin (WH13).

Dick may be unaware of what is happening around him when concentrating on something:

  • Dick started and Dot says Well, you ought to hang out a notice when you’re not there (WH2)
  • Dick was thinking after the sheep rescue about birds of prey .... but Dorothea's question woke him and he says that the sheep has Mr Dixon’s mark of a red tag (WH12).
  • Testing for gold Dick might have been alone in a world empty except for two test-tubes .... He did not hear the sudden stir in the house .... The opening and shutting of doors might have been in some other house a million miles away. Voices in the hall might just as well have been in Jupiter or Mars. Dick heard nothing, saw nothing thought of nothing but the test that was at last to be made (PP33).
  • Dorothea knew Dick’s steering face, the look he always had when he was busy with something and thinking of that and nothing else. She had seen it when he was thinking of stars, of mining, of sailing, of birds or even of caterpillars ... (PM28).

But Dot can be preoccupied too: Dick says I'd better steer for a bit hadn't I. He glanced back at their wake that showed by a big curve that Dorothea had been thinking of something else than sailing (PM16).