Mystery at the River.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
To boys wander off and find a sack.

Submitted: November 04, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 04, 2016



Henry and his mate, Tubby, absconded from the scout camp on banks of the Waipara River.  They had come to the camp with their respective families because it was parents’ day and their older brothers were experiencing their very first tent camp. The pair reckoned that the bell tents were floating because the side flaps had been rolled up and just the ropes seemed to be holding the tent from flying off! They didn’t notice the central pole. They weren’t much impressed with the camp furniture made from sticks and ropes and they thought the dunny stank something awful, so they left the confines of the camp and headed to the river.

The pair had wandered off downstream because they had seen the skylark twittering and flapping its wings high into the blue sky as they do, and they watched as it plunged down like a stone to the ground. They knew that the bird would then walk to its nest, so they set out to find it. They couldn’t find the nest, nor did they again catch sight of the bird. But their attention was draw to a rabbit so they each took a stone with the thought of taking supper home but the bunny kept just ahead of them, out of range and they lost sight of it when it ducked under willow stump.

The two boys walked along the stony riverbed, looking in the water for fish and they caught sight of a few bullies. In his rush to trap one in his hands, Tubby’s feet went from under him and he fell on his bum! Luckily the water was shallow and warm, so the boys laughed and Henry splashed him and got splashed back. They knew they would soon be dry in the warm summer sun.

There was a big splash and the boys saw a fish skittering across the shallow water, dorsal fin out of the water, jetting towards a narrow gut!

‘That’s a big trout!’ Henry exclaimed.

‘Nah, I think it’s a salmon!’ Tubby called. ‘It’s trapped in that gut. Let’s catch it!’

The gut was knee-deep for the boys and they shepherded the big fish towards the shallow end, sensing victory!

‘It’s a big ‘un,’ muttered an excited Henry, ‘I think it is a salmon!’

Of course the fish was too shrewd for the boys and it quickly cut back past them and swum off to freedom.

The boys sat resting with their feet in the water, laughing about the quick fish.

‘You hear that, Tubby?’ Henry asked.

‘What?’ asked Tubby.

‘Dunno,’ whispered Henry, ‘like a cry. Shhh!’

Tubby picked it up too so they walked away from the sound of the rippling water so they could hear it better.

The sound was coming from the riverbed, not far down-stream.

‘It’s a baby crying over there!’ Henry pointed.

‘Yeah, 'tis too!’ And they ran to look.

There was a sack lying there, half buried in sand, and there was movement in it! And the crying of a baby!

‘There’s a baby in that sack!’ exclaimed Tubby.

‘Yeah, and it’s still alive!’ replied Henry quietly, shocked.

‘What’s it doing in there?’ questioned Tubby.

The boys were shocked and a little frightened, but knew they had to do something!

‘Somebody must have wanted to do away with it.’ Whispered Henry.

‘You mean murder?’ asked Tubby.

‘Dunno,’ replied Henry, ‘but anyhow, its dead now, look its not even moving now and there’s no crying.’

Tubby found a stick and poked the sack with it. He got a fright when the movement and crying started up again so he stepped back!

‘We better have a look.’ said Henry bravely.

‘Ewww is that a good idea?’ Tubby knew they had better.

Henry held the sack while Tubby fumbled to undo the twine and apprehensively Henry slowly opened the flaps of the sack.

There was no baby inside but there was a bundle of fur, puppies with eyes still closed. They released them from the confines of the sack, three were alive and one seemed to be dead. Henry opened an eyelid, nothing happened, so he brushed the eyeball with his finger and it didn’t blink, so they thought it must be dead!

‘Someone must have thrown them off the bridge.’ Tubby mused.

‘Yeah,’ replied Henry, ‘they must have floated down to here and run aground. Poor things.’

They threw the dead pup into the river thinking the big fish might eat it and carried the rest back to the camp.

‘No, you can’t keep one,’ said Henry’s unenthusiastic Mum, ‘they haven’t even opened their eyes yet!’

‘That’s right,’ agreed Tubby’s Mum, ‘but look, we can go to the shop across the road and ring the SPCA, they’ll know what to do with them.

Within the hour, the SPCA van arrived and the kind woman had a box with a nice dry blanket inside. She seemed very gentle. Before the SPCA van departed, another car arrived bringing a reporter from the Press! The puppies were brought back out and the boys had their photos taken with them. The reporter asked some questions and their mothers did the answering. Well that’s an adult’s job, isn’t it?

The next morning, Monday, Henry heard the thump of the newspaper being thrown off, and he was quick to retrieve it. He was a bit disappointed that their picture wasn't on the front page but there it was on page three!  

The heading read: Boy Heroes Save Puppies.

Heroes eh?





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