Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Nov 03


Jewels was out chasing butterflies. Mother Nature had painted bright colours of different hues. With her activities taking all her time, she didn’t heed the warning signs of the storm brewing up.

Suddenly a loud clap of thunder and streaks of electric blue lightening filled the evening sky. She realized she must find shelter and find it quick.

Racing down an overgrown dirt track, in the distance she noticed an old log cabin hut. She crept up to the cabin very quietly, just in case someone was living there. Then from behind her she heard the voices of two men approaching.

Jewels had nowhere to hide! Two disgusting looking men dressed in filthy clothes came into view. They had been out rabbit hunting.

When they saw Jewels, one of the men said to the other, “Now we are we going to have some real fun! Me being the eldest will show you young brother a few tricks.”

Jewels instantly felt cornered. In a split second she reached into her leather bag and pulled out a razor sharp knife and before he knew it, she had slashed the side of Tom’s face. He howled out in pain as blood ran down his cheek. With another quick swipe, she slashed Karl the younger man across his leg. He yelped. It felt like his leg was on fire.

“Don’t you dare touch me!” she yelled out. “Next time it will be across your throats, so be warned!”

Jewels felt a little bit sorry for them, so she added, “Go and have a shower and get cleaned up, then I will mix up some herbs to treat those wounds.”

When they returned to the kitchen, she had dinner on the table ready for them.

The following morning there was a knock on the front porch. They all went outside to investigate. There in a bassinet was a tiny baby. The baby had huge shiny brown eyes; in fact the eyes were nearly black.

The men didn’t bother much about the baby as that was women’s work. Jewels made the men breakfast and a mug of coffee each. When they weren’t looking, she slipped some herbs into their coffee.

She knew the herbs would knock them out and put them to sleep for about four to five hours.

While the men were sleeping, she took the baby and left as fast as she could. Pretty soon she became lost. When lost, she did what her mother had told her to do. Always follow the river.

Jewels took her petticoat off and ripped it up to make a sling to carry the baby in. As she walked along, she gathered some herbs along the way. She knew she could make use of them later.

Sitting in some bushes, she watched the birds and animals drink water from a stream. She now knew that it was safe to drink this water.

The mother of the baby had left four bottles of milk on the porch with the baby. The baby had now consumed the milk and Jewels needed to find some more quickly. She rinsed two of the bottles with water from the stream and filled them with water.

With the material left over from the petticoat, Jewels made some nappies for the baby. There were plenty of bulrushes nearby, so she wove them together in a criss-cross fashion to make a basket. She found some flax which she used to make a handle. She could now put the baby in the basket and pull it along on the water, if she needed to.

Jewels continued walking along the path. Eventually she came upon a small house. As she approached the house, a dog barked loudly. The person living there, a little old lady emerged from the doorway and told the dog to sit and be quiet as she patted it.

“What do you want girlie?” she asked.

Jewels said, “I need some milk for this little baby that was left on the porch where I stayed.”

She then told Mrs Jolly the whole story and also about the men who were after her.

Mrs Jolly said, “You can stay here two nights, but will have to leave then because Mr Jolly will be coming home.” She said, “Mr Jolly would take sides with the men because that is the way it is here. But in the meantime I can sell you some milk from our cow, for your baby.”

“You look dirty. You go and have a hot shower and I will keep an eye on the baby for you.” Said Mrs Jolly.

On the third night, Jewels and the baby left at midnight, as Mr Jolly was arriving home at 3.00am that morning.

Mrs Jolly had everything nice and tidy as usual. You could not fault her at all.

Being stalked kept Jewels alert. As she walked along the path, in the moonlight she could see a man approaching in the distance. It was probably Mr Jolly heading home. She immediately turned off the track and headed in the opposite direction.

Later that morning, after the sun had risen, she saw some men on horses approaching. Once more she panicked but had nowhere to hide. She heard them talking to each other, saying that they were looking for horse thieves.

An idea popped into her head. She would cross the river pulling the water-proof baby basket behind her, hopefully without being noticed.

At this stage she felt safe, but then she froze! There in front of her were fresh horse, hoof prints on the soft ground.

Hiding behind a big oak tree she saw a single Indian.

“Was this a trap?” she thought.

Then without warning the Indian leaves, but Tom and Karl are right there with their horses and catch Jewels and the baby. They tie her hands together with rope. They then lift her onto a horse and head back to their home.

There was a thrumming of drums and smoke signals throughout the nearby hills. What had happened? All the Indian tribes in the area were at peace.

A lone Indian approached the tribe and asked for permission to see the chief.
He told the chief about the white girl who was looking after an Indian baby.

Tom and Karl were ecstatic! They thought they had won the battle. Little did they know that the Indians were watching their every movement.

The Indians snuck about their business quietly. Their mission was to get the baby out of the cabin and back to their tribe at the reservation.

One Indian crawled under the porch and threw a stick outside making a loud noise. Tom and Karl rushed outside to see what made the noise. Another Indian sneaked in through the back door and untied Jewels and took her and the baby back to the Indian camp.

The chief and his woman were ever so happy to have their baby back again.

Because Jewels had compromised herself, the chief let her live with the Indian tribe forever.



Hilda Oakley
Copyright © 29.07.2018

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