Chapter 6: Consecration
Copyright© 2010 by Pedant
Two trucks arrived around 10: Jimmy drove one with the nungungi; Jacky arrived with Alice and a pretty girl I didn't know, another woman neither native nor white. The nungungi came over and said that they were leaving but that he wanted to see Patrick again. Weena came down bearing the newly loquacious infant.
"We will meet again," the nungungi said.
"ma-ma-ma ba-ba-ba," was the response.
We all shook hands, Jimmy thanked Weena again. They left.
"This is my friend Marty," said Alice.
"Hello, Martha. You needn't say 'sir'. I'm Gordy. This is Weena. And this is Patrick."
"That's a lovely frock," said Weena. Alice was wearing a light blue-grey dress; Martha was wearing a sort of rose-yellow.
"Thank you," they both said.
"Gordy, could you take Patrick for a bit? I'd like to talk to Alice and Martha. Girl talk." I took him, he was still babbling. Weena looked at the ladies. "Come with me."
I took the girls into mum's parlour. I'm not sure why I call them girls – they're most likely only three or four years younger than I am.
"Alice, you told Gordy that you wanted to study."
"What do you do now?"
"I take care of the Thompson's three kids and try to teach them to read."
"And you Martha?"
"I'm a maid. Place north of the Warrego, near Mungallala."
"Did you go to Brisbane, too?"
"Yes. I have a degree in Sociology."
"And these were the only jobs you could get?"
"We were glad we could be near one another," Alice said. Martha nodded.
"Well. You know I'm a Sister. I work at the Royal Perth. Gordy's with the CSIRO and the University of Western Australia." They both nodded. "Martha, do you have a bloke?"
"No! They just want to paw you and put you on your back!" She laughed nervously.
"Well, not quite all of them. But I wanted to say something to Alice. And I think it's important for you, too. You have birth control?"
They looked at each other. Alice said, "We both have pills."
"Don't forget to take them. You both want more than you've got now. Getting pregnant will trap you. You're in control. Guys don't have much control. As Martha said. Now, do you want to stay around here?"
Martha said, "I don't; but I hardly know anyone anywhere else."
"Only as long as Jacky wants to stay," added Alice.
"Okay. Do you have email?"
"I did at the Uni. Don't even have a PC now," said Martha.
"I'll get Mr. Hollister to add accounts for you here. They'll be 'martha' and 'alice' – Okay?"
"Once they're working, write me. He's got our addresses. We've got friends. All over. We'll get Jacky started at the TAFE in Roma and then look out for you two. Okay. ritual sacrifice in a few minutes." The girls giggled. We went back into the sitting room.
While Weena disappeared with Alice and Martha, I chatted with Jacky, mum and dad. Meena and the chief arrived. Then Mr. Jackson arrived. He was a pleasant man, just a bit younger that dad. When the girls returned everyone exchanged greetings. I handed Patrick, wide awake, to Weena. Mr. Jackson said that unfortunately he couldn't stay for lunch as he had a baptism at one.
"Are we all here?" We all nodded. "Good. Jacky, you stand here. Gordy, to his left. Alice, beside Jacky. And Martha, to her right." Mum and Meena stood behind me, dad and the chief behind Alice.
"Who gives..." and we were on our way. Jackson said the same words about matrimony that we had listened to in Riverton. Then: "Repeat after me... 'I, Jacky, take thee, Alice, as my lawfully wedded wife'... " and "'I, Alice, take thee, Jacky, as my lawfully wedded husband' ... Rings, please." And I did that again. "By the power vested in me by the State of Queensland, I pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride." Jacky did as asked. We all congratulated, shook hands, kissed. Alice was a genuinely blushing bride, which she hadn't been when nearly nude a few days ago.
Patrick chose this moment to "ma-ma-ma ba-ba-ba" and we all laughed.
"Mr. Hollister?" asked Jackson. "Will you and the chief sign as witnesses?" They both did as asked. "And now, I'm afraid I must go. But, Jacky and Alice, here is a copy of the Bible for you – no home is a home without a copy. God bless you and your union." He shook hands again and left. Mum was hugging Meena, who was the only one weeping.
Mum had prepared a lovely dinner and all eight of us – nine counting Patrick – thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We let Jacky and Alice flee to their house, I'd offered to drive Martha 'home.' Then Meena and the chief departed.
When they were gone, Weena turned to Martha. "Gordy doesn't know about this, but I've an idea. Would you like to study at UWA in Perth?"
"Are you serious?"
"I'm going back to work, part-time. I'm trading infant care one day a week with a friend and Gordy's going to be on duty every weekend. If you apply to the graduate programme at UWA and get in, we'll hire you to take care of Patrick two or three days a week, give you a room, get you a car to drive. What do you think?"
"I don't know what to think. You don't know me. You only met me a few hours ago. How can you make such an offer?"
"Come here. Take Patrick." Martha did. Patrick grinned, babbled and drooled. Martha wiped his chin and kissed him. Patrick flailed his limbs and babbled. "That's why. Babies know. And the nungungi says that Patrick is nungungi-to-be. So he knows."
"What do you say, Patrick?" I asked.
He turned his head to look at me. "ba-ba-ba."
"Yes, I said. She will." I turned to Martha. "Well, he's okay with the concept. I'll see what I can find out at UWA and let you know."
Martha looked at me, then at Willy. She was still holding Patrick. "You are both crazy. Lunatic."
"Yes, they are," said mum. "But they are right and they're both good."
"What do you plan for Christmas?" Weena asked.
"Nothing planned. I guess I'll stay here."
"My mum's way up north. Kowanyama. North of the old mission."
The Kowanyama community has a Deed of Grant in Trust over land originally set aside as a reserve for Aboriginal people. Once an Anglican Mission, this remote community now services travellers and is well-known as an excellent fishing location as it lies 50 kilometres inland but on the mouth of the Mitchell River.