|Newspaper Title||Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)|
|Trove Title||The Best Christmas Box|
; : CHAPTER II. ' ?',..'!
CHRISTMAS came round again., Little Prank Lad' bis stocking lilied with toys and; bon bons. Having no playmates nt home, ho got accustomed td playing, with a neigh- bour's little girl, about his own age. ' They spent most of their time in the Bhade.of some' wattles that grow on a small rise a few . . chains out .'behind their house. A short
distance further began a thick, forest, in the middle of which was a lake abounding with
fish and wild fowl.
. At five o'clock in the afternoon Frank's
parents were, startled, by a shrill scream. :
. . They recognised the cry of their boy, and both rushed out to his assistance, hut saw only the girl flying towards them, shrieking in a terrified manner, pale ns death i and scarcely able to speak. ? . ?
On " hoi ng asked whore was Frank ehe' could only gasp "Man took him; Man took Lim," pointing to tho bush.
They asked her if it was a white : man. '? She sa'id " Yes''; and when asked again if it Was a black man gave the same answer.
Getting no satisfaction from her the : father ran into the bush calling loudly for Frank, but receiving no answer returned for help. The mother bad fainted, and waa restored by some neighbouring women, who
bad been attracted by the shouting. AI messenger was despatched for the police, and search parties wore formod. Tho signal of success wns to he three shots fired in
rapid succession. All went forth equipped with arms and provisions, some scouring the forest from left to right, while others went straight to the lake, for it was believed by the majority of thom that Frank had been stolen by some stragglers of a mob of aborigines, who had passed tho day before on a hunting and fishing expedition, whither they went twice a year.
On arrival at the camp the men gave every place a thorough searching, and cross questioned the blacks, who denied the theft or that they knew anything about it.
One old fellow who spoke better English than the others, and had received many favours from Frank's parents, stood up and said, ' Master, me likum your little boy ; rae likum you too, no fear me takum your boy. Supposum my countryman bringum your boy here, me dellum you. Me ging,' showing them his breast plate.
? They all believed the old king spoke truthfully. The search was kept . up for nine days. They searched every' ' mortal where,' as one of them expressed it.
A description of the missing boy was sent to all the police stations around.' The father offered five hundred pounds for the recovery of bia child, dead or alive, but all
their efforts were fruitless.
Finally they submitted to their! fate,
Bimply mourning their loss. 1 The mother, maintained that her darling was not dead, saying, if so, surely some trace of him would have been found. The news of his death, however, would have been lighter upon her than the suspense she now-lived in. ¡The night Frank was stolen the mother dreamed that be was carried off by. a' woman, but when she told it they only laughed ; st ber.
She never dreamed of him on any night- but
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; The years passed wearily on, and strange to say she saw him every Christmas in her dreams, grown a year older and bigger. He was with the same woman each time, but never twice in the same place. She told her husband that if she were permitted to pick ber boy out of a thousand youths she could do it easily, so vividly did be come before her in her dreams. "When Prank bad been gone about fifteen years another trouble came.upon the poor mother... Her,husband waB taken ill with low fever, and died in less than three' weeks. ' His last words to her
were, ; ' Good-bye . my, dear, [ wife ; may ' God bring home your long lost boy to you,' as you have al way B hoped.' ? ' ! . ' ; ' '; '
', 'When the , father was buried the - poor mother was, very 1 lonely, indeed. ?. Minnie, who was now dyer fifteen, was a comfort to her, and she was buoyed up with the hope of seeing "Prank again. ' She decided to change the, place of her abode, and being blessed with that universal provider of every- thing but happiness, she chose a picturesque looking spot ' in the suburbs of Melbourne, and purchased it for her. own, intending to end her days there in peace; at least, such peace, meagre as could be enjoyed by ono who has had a long and bitter experience of the proverbial " Hope ; deferred," which maketh the heart sick. ; She dreamed of her son regularly, who is a fine full-grown man now if her dreams are correct, and she wnitB patiently for his coming, which she believes will be on a Christmas day. ; v";i