Sunday, June 14, 2009

Frank Bee

Taken from the Bee Family Reunion book 1986

Chapter Four

Frank Bee

"Anne sat on the veranda of their homestead looking over the beach and foe beautiful blue sea, her baby on her lap. Nearly ten years had gone by since they had first shifted to Ocean Beach (Waipuku run). Ten years had taken their toll of Anne. Her hair was beginning to turn white at the temples and there were times when her mouth had a slightly downwards turn instead of the smiling expectancy of youth. She shifted her gaze to the hills in search of Francis coming back from mustering. They had indeed prospered, their flock of sheep now exceeding one thousand and their cattle numbering nearly one hundred. Her lifestyle had improved a little as the long promised house had eventually materialised. Little Annie and Ellen were now young women and she supposed that before long they would be getting married and making a grandmother out of her. Presently she discerned a cloud of dust on the horizon and then the bark of dogs. A flock of sheep came over the hill followed by Francis and young George.

Anne thought back over the years when Frank had also been with his father and her eyes filled with tears. Frank was no longer with them - there was no changing that. She had been warned of that day a few years back when Frank had been drowned as in her dreams of the previous night her Mother, long since dead, had come to her and said, "Annie watch for Frank" and then Anne had dreamed of a surging mass of water and great waves roaring and taking Frank out to sea. She woke in a cold sweat from the nightmare and as she lay trembling she heard the call of the morepork - three times it called. The eerie sound haunted her as she remembered that the Maoris believed the morepork's call was the forerunner of death. She had told Francis of her dream and he had laughed at her saying, "Don't worry so much, old girl, don't you know Frank is almost a man and can swim like one of those dolphins out in the bay. Frank drown? Hardly likely"

So she had watched Francis and young Frank ride their horses down the hill to muster cattle. Frank had turned and waved to his mother, a smile of youth or his face.

The sea was roaring, the creek was in flood but Francis had quietened her fears a little. She told herself that she was being silly and set about doing the daily tasks, but all day long she felt uneasy.

Later in the day, from her vantage point on the hill she had seen the party return and her heart missed a beat as she had counted the distant figures and found one missing.

As they came nearer the house Anne could see the look of dejection on Francis' face. When he was in calling distance he shouted "Anne I don't know how to tell you - we've lost Frank."

Her stomach turned over and the blood rushed from her face leaving her deadly white. "Lost Frank — how could you?" she screamed.

"He was washed out to sea when we were crossing the Waingongoro Stream - it was very high. Frank was holding on to his horse's tail as it swam across and an exceptionally big wave came right up the stream and washed him out to sea. There was nothing we could do - he is lost, gone forever."

Anne stormed at him losing her temper in the first shock of her grief. "You fool, you fool, why didn't you look after him better? You just didn't take enough care" but as she saw the look of notification on Francis' face she could have bitten her tongue for uttering those condemning words. "It must be twice as bad for him, knowing he was responsible", she thought.

Francis groaned, "My God Anne - it just happened so quickly - we crossed the usual way holding on to the horse's tail. It was a damn freak wave that took him and he didn't have a show. We searched for him but the undercurrent would have taken him right out to sea. I know it was my fault, I should have been more cautious."

Anne put her arms around Francis and the tears of them both flowed freely as they though of the son they had loved so much, who was lost to them forever."

From "Smoke Across the Bay"

Margaret Wilson Wairoa (H.B.)

Frank Bee was born in 1845 and drowned at Ocean Beach about 1858.

No comments:

Post a Comment