and The Quest to See
Chapter 14 - The surprise box!
Before breakfast on the following morning, while Monique was showering,
Amelia Black sidled into Priscilla's bedroom carrying a sad-looking
cardboard box with the imprint BONE CHINA. THIS SIDE UP. printed along
its bulging side.
'I kept this without your Father knowing. Don't know why. I just didn't
feel that it was right to throw it away. Maybe I thought he might want
to look inside it again one day in the future, when he was over the
shame... shock! Haven't looked inside it for all these years since...
well since it happened. Even then I only gathered up what he discarded.
He was so distraught, wounded. He couldn't understand why Loretta...
your Mother... did what she did, and he had you and Henry and his
work... I think everything piled up on top of him. I tried to help, to
take a lot of the everyday burden off him. Directly after he brought you
both back to Melbourne I took care of you two while he went back to
work, but at night I heard him crying out his sorrow as he went through
her clothes and toiletries and personal things, boxing them to be sent
to the Salvation Army or recycling. I don't think Matty kept much,
perhaps a few photos and legal papers. This box though has some folders
of stories, drawings, thoughts... I started to read some of it, but
didn't have the heart to go on... Seems like Loretta had an interest in
writing and art even when she was young.' She heaved a huge sigh. 'Then
of course we moved interstate again, all over the place, and then
Matthew met Rachael with little Louis in tow and they somehow hit it
off. Never been quite sure how that came about. Perhaps it was because
they had both lost their partners. Anyway, I've kept this through the
years. Now is the time to give it to you Priscilla. May well be that it
gives you some closure on your Mother and helps you to understand her,
even to her doing... well... promise me you won't tell your Father about
this right away. Now that he knows you know about Loretta and what I've
told you about how she ended her life, it might be best to let that sink
in. Maybe when you read what she wrote it will give you some kind
thoughts of her... And perhaps ease the way to break it to Henry.'
Priscilla gulped and brushed a tear away. 'Oh Gran, thank-you! Thank-you
so much for this. You don't know what this means to me, to have
something of my... our Mother. I'll read it all and if it isn't too
hurtful I'll share it with Henry when the time comes to tell him about
what happened. I hope that will be soon, like when Mum... Rachael and
Dad come home, because we all, Henry, Louis and me and you know bits of
what really happened but not everything, and everybody should finally
know the truth, no matter how painful.'
Amelia drew her Grand-daughter close and hugged her. 'You're growing a
wise head on those young shoulders Priscilla, even if you are a feisty
teenager at times, and sometimes I think your Father's still so boyish
as he strives to do all he wants and to keep his family safe and
protected.' She gave Priscilla an affectionate stroke to her cheek,
wiped a tear from her own eye, and walked rather stiffly out of the
bedroom. 'Old bones are beginning to give me some trouble. Not as young
as I used to be. Breakfast in half an hour. Don't dawdle.'
Hearing her reach the stairs, Harry cocked his head and blinked up at
Priscilla. 'You thinking what I'm thinking?'
Priscilla dropped to her knees and embraced him. 'Oh Harry, this box is
where we'll put the diaries. They could easily have been overlooked in
all the confusion and Granny said herself that she didn't go through
everything. I'll bet Dad was so upset that he wouldn't have known what
he packed up.'
'Looks like you've hit the jackpot and got a bonus as well with some
more of your Mother's writings. Maybe they'll give you further insight
about her... Now if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you'd unhand
Priscilla drew back, releasing the dog. 'Gee Harry, don't you like a
'Sure. But not when I... need... to scratch... Feels so... good...'
'If you come through with info on my... awful, gross, murdering
Grandfather I'll get you a new flea collar.'
'That's it? A flea collar?'
'O.K. How about some cans of Sea-Dog? You go for that don't you?'
'Fish-flavoured chow is alright, but there's this cute little poodle
bitch I see once in a while down at the park...'
'Just an introduction. You can chaperone... to begin with.'
'And end up with a litter of alien puppies. I don't think so.'
'I'm not that easy.'
'You might be an alien, but you're also a guy-alien full of
'I think it's actually testosterone, and I'm not full of it.'
'Oh yes Harry. You certainly are full of it!'
The BlackEagle girls, Marsha and John-boy were again gathered together,
this time in the school quad. It was Monday afternoon and there were
only a few students strolling in twos and threes across the broad
expanse of bitumen while the flag monitors hauled down the last of the
international standards in the watery sunlight. Yellow and golden leaves
were fluttering on the faint breeze, down to the piled drifts that would
be gathered up by Hopewell's groundsmen and mulched back onto the many
'She wrote about all kinds of things, lots about nature: the sky,
clouds, wind and rain, sunshine, the starry heavens at night, rainbows,
heat of day and chill of evening, little streams tinkling over rocks,
what pebbles taste like, Bush-fairies and forgotten Spirits, what
grasses taste like, the strong smell of the earth... Oh just everything,
the calling of birds, the sunrise, twilight, midday when the sun is
directly overhead and for a very short part of time you don't own a
shadow because you're suddenly too poor. Beautiful, lovely things...
Memories, little flash-backs to child-hood, only the happy memories, not
like in her diaries. I'm not even sure whether the stories are actual or
if she just wished that they were; trying to block out reality.'
'I should like to read her writings.' Monique said. 'That is if you
would allow me to.'
'Oh yes Mon.' I think that Loretta's stories should be read by
everyone.' Priscilla wistfully replied. 'You know, what I don't
understand is why they're always so cheerful and uplifting. I mean how
could she manage to write like that when her own early life was so
'Escape? Fantasy?' Offered Narenda.
'A wall against the awful truth.' Said Belinda. 'I mean how do you fight
against what is actually happening to you if you have no power? If there
is nothing you can physically do to ward off the terror, do you not
resort to some inner protection of the mind? At the last, the mind is a
place that is beyond surrender.'
'And if the mind creates places of beauty and harmony, where demons
cannot invade because they are struck down by the imagination that over
comes them in stories and tales, is this not a place of refuge? Oh yes,
yes please! Thank you very much!' Said Narenda.
Priscilla looked up from her Mother's folders, her eyes glistening. 'I'm
so lucky to have you all as special friends. Let's do some copies for
you, and then... then...'
'Then Cilla?' Monique queried.
'Well I'm thinking of somehow sorting her work, you know, along with all
the little sketches and detailed drawings. Putting it in a kind of order
that reads like O.K. Because in these folders it's all over the place,
and maybe do it as an online Ebook.'
'You want to sell it?' Belinda asked.
'No. I want to give it away.'
'So it isn't about money. It is about setting the stories free, like a
captive bird from its cage!' Narenda cried clapping her hands.
'The Diaries should be there along with it. The real story behind
Loretta's writings and the truth of what happened to her.' Priscilla
'And your thoughts, Cilla?' Marsha enquired.
'Oh yes, and maybe Henry's. But not til we have all the facts that will
tell the whole story. Hopefully some day not too far off.'
The following week, a chill Wednesday evening after dinner, the girls
and John-boy were all crammed into Belinda's dorm. Narenda keeping watch
at the door, while the others were gathered about the miniature,
unfolded, untraceable BlackEagle voice-communicator.
'A graveyard.' Came Harry's voice. 'In a small town up north. That's
where your Grandfather is buried. My agent there, Skippy...'
'Nooo! Not Skippy the Kangaroo? They're replaying the old T.V. show.'
Said Priscilla, managing a little smirk.
'Nah! Skippy the wombat.'
'No way. Why would you give a wombat a name like that?'
'Would you be happier if her name was Antoinette? Besides, Skip's pretty
light on her feet... for a wombat. Anyway, she says that his grave is
alongside your Grandmother's...'
'You're kidding! That bastard! How could that have happened!'
'Well holes get dug with shovels...'
'This is no time for levity Harry!' Belinda reprimanded.
Priscilla slowly shook her head in disappointment. 'Well, that's it
then. He's gone without paying for his crimes. Did Skippy find out how
'Not recorded on the gravestone, but what is recorded is the date of his
death. And it's thirteen years before your Grandmother died.'
'That is impossible! How could he have committed all those terrible
things: molestation, murder, and have died all those years before she
did? It must be some mistake.' Said Monique.
'Yeah Harry, how come?' Priscilla demanded.
'Because he was your real Grandfather.' Harry answered. 'And
he was not the man your Mother knew as her Father. It appears that he
was the man who came into your Grandmother's life when your Mother was
an infant. Seems your Mother only ever knew him as her Father. By the
way, your actual Grandfather's name was Archie Aruda. More info to come,
'You're telling us that my Mother was killed by someone that got
together with my Grandmother after my Grandfather died, then murdered
Grandma, and years later on, my Mother?'
'I'm telling you all I have.'
'You're telling me that my Mum was molested by some... some creep... who
was there, ready to step in and take over as the man of the house?'
'Confusion?' Harry Offered. 'How badly might your Grandmother have felt
at the sudden death of her husband Archie? I'm just guessing mind you.
How he died? Accident? Seems like it was sudden, not like slow illness.
Heart Attack? He was still young.
Whatever, she was left alone with a baby, an infant, and a man appears.
He says that he can provide for your Gran and your Mum. Your Gran
accepts and walks straight into terrible trouble, perhaps of personal
abuse and certainly later, the abuse of her daughter by this cruel and
violent human. And then he arranges your Gran's accidental
'Could he have also killed Grand-Father Archie?' asked Monique.
'Who knows? Maybe he was just an evil predator who took advantage of a
vulnerable situation.' Answered Harry.
'This is all supposition, apart from the grave-site information. Where
do we go from here?' Belinda asked.
'You might do it through the Freedom of Information Act... or The
BlackEagle Girl's Need-to-Know act.' Said Harry.
'But wait a moment, wouldn't Loretta have realized that her so-called
Father had a different surname to hers? If her actual Father was Archie
Aruda and this other man, pretended to have the last name of Aruda, your
Grandmother would have known... I mean to say, how could that be?'
'Unless... Unless he was really... related... a brother... or a cousin?
Oh yes please, thank you very much!'
'That is a possibility Narenda! Well done!' Said Monique.
'And if that turns out to be true it links him back to Archie. He
wouldn't be just a stranger that came along out of the blue, but family.
Maybe he could have killed Archie?' Harry threw in.
'Why? For what reason?' Asked Priscilla.
'He wanted your Gran Deidre for himself?' Belinda suggested.
'He was also a child molester.' Reminded Monique.
'We know that.' Harry muttered.
'And a murderer.' Priscilla added.
'We're pretty sure he killed Loretta and her Mother, and possibly his
cousin or brother.' Said Belinda.
'Why? What for?' Asked Narenda.
'For money? Revenge? Power? Insanity?' This from Monique.
'Money is out. You don't go around killing and molesting for money when
there isn't much to gain. There was no family fortune from what
Loretta's writings show.' Priscilla said.
'Madness?' Suggested Narenda.
'That's in there, but maybe power and revenge are there in the mix.'
'How so?' Asked Monique.
Marsha turned her blind eyes toward Priscilla, answering, 'Sexual
domination over people can be a motivation of empowerment. Also, it can
be used to degrade the victims, to make them worthless in the mind of
'Revenge. That's also a strong reason for why people rape and murder.'
'And also molest innocent children?' Monique asked.
'Sexual madness? Or part of revenge?' Said Belinda.
'Revenge against who?' Asked Narenda.
'His Brother or his Brother's family? Or maybe Loretta's Mother or her
family? We're just shooting in the dark.' Harry said.
'So how can we light a candle?' Priscilla asked.
John-boy began a whine that ended in a rolling growl as Marsha rubbed
his neck. 'Now we all want to see. Now I'm no longer alone.'
'First things first.' Priscilla said, thinking hard. 'As soon as Rachael
flies in next Saturday will probably be the best time for me to do the
show and tell about how I found the diaries tucked away
amongst all the other folios of writing and artwork in the box. At least
it means that Henry won't have to have the heart-ache I did about Mum's
'And it certainly will be of great relief and comfort for your Father to
learn the truth.' said Monique.
Chapter 15 next