Morning came and still the Rosedale hung from the rocks at the end of the Breakwall. Nell had walked down nearer the dawn when the spray still masked both her thoughts and her face. She had wrapped the shawl about her hair and stood with the other curiosity viewers.
People said there were holes in the Hull of the steamer. People said the tugboat couldn’t keep a hold on her as she tried to enter the River. People said a great many things. And some said nothing at all.
Nell was accustomed to boats striking the breakwall. She lived at the mouth of the Bellinger. A narrow and tricky bar crossing it was. She had seen sinkings and near misses. Some were sad and some were frightening. Some held out chances of rescue and salvage.
The thing that had caught her attention this time, was the sound of footsteps outside the window of her bedroom. Sometime in the middle of the Night. Voices whispering and a low sob. Nell was a sleeper. She didn’t wake at the small night noises which disturbed the restless. She didn’t rouse simply to investigate a possum gnawing on the fruit she put out of an evening. She did wake at the sounds which didn’t belong. Didn’t fit.
Nell had stood at her window for a time. Wondering. She left the investigation to morning. A tinkle of metal. A slight stain on the path and one or two broken stems of plants lining the steps up from the lagoon. She leaned against the wooden staff she carried and watched as the waves ground the metal hull into the rock. Watched the Watchers.
People said that the Crew had all been rescued from the Rosedale. People said there was noone else on board when she hit the rocks. Nell left the River and moved back up the Steps, past her cottage and the broken stems. She walked slowly. A thump now and then on the sandy path with her staff. A blow for anything resting in the track. Wake up and move along. At the top of the crest, she stopped and took a seat on the old log. Her knees sometimes betrayed her as did her breathing but her eyes were usually keen and sharp.
She could see nothing unusual from where she rested but she knew full well that the Unusual was there somewhere. Her eyes turned to the South and into the huge cacti and foot tearing mangroves where the lagoon snaked its way behind the Ocean and back to the beaches.
“We need young legs and young eyes for this one.”
Nell closed her eyes a moment, “ Yes, we do that, Magura. We do indeed.“
She smiled as her friend set herself down on the log beside her. Two old women seeing more than an empty hulk on a rock wall.
“ Not much use taking them to my place”, said Nell. “ Its too public. “
“ Thinking the same. The Camp will do for now. I’ll get the Young Legs to lead them that way “.