Godfrey, known to be fussy about always having shoes on his feet before venturing outside, rushed to the car in his bare feet with me in hot pursuit. Mother called “I’ll ring George, he’ll know what to do. He knows everyone”. Our neighbour George Croxford was the local fire chief, ring master and general leader in all things rural. We reached the river paddock in no time at all leaving the gate open, breaking a golden rule. Who cared about the cattle? Our daughter was lost and the sun had gone down.
All the family except mum were there. Farmers from all over the Goomalibee Rd area had come as if they had been waiting for such a call from George. The police came in their van. People were calling Marion’s name only I noted that I could not hear people twenty metres away only the lap, lap of the river as it moved past its steep bank. The police van moved off seemingly to Benalla. ‘Gone to get reinforcements’ I thought and went on calling.
The police van came back “We’ve got a young boy here”. There was Marion with her short red curls in her brother’s footy jumper! She had walked away from the river towards a light put in place just the week before at the Forestry Nursery along with a caretaker. I threw my arms around the Police Officer and kissed him.
Apparently while Lennie was checking the traps the two kids were arguing, as they usually did, about who was picking up the stock whip they had brought to play with, when Marion announced she was going home and set off. What did Luke care - after all he had no comprehension of distance; he was only five and who worries about a nuisance of a little sister. He and Lennie were fine.
Now forty five years later all has changed. We have seen Lennie win the two mile at Stawell. There are houses where there were paddocks. George has died along with most who were out that night. Both children now have grown children of their own. However the story and the memory stays on in the family, turning up in all sorts of places, such as when family members meet and even in writing classes.