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U3A Writing: Innocence

..."Hullo, girls, waiting for the next ferry to Commodore Heights? It's a long wait isn't it? But if you like you can come with us and well have you there in ten minutes."...

Ilse Erber tells the story of an offer which was declined.

On a glorious spring Saturday in 1951 two eighteen-year-olds, Alice and June, stood on the ferry wharf at Brooklyn on the banks of the Hawkesbury River on the northern fringe of Sydney. The waters of the river sparkled in the sunshine as families in sailing boats and motor cruisers enjoyed the waterways which make Sydney a mecca for the lovers of all kinds of water sports.

But the two girls were not admiring the beauty of the scene before them. They were gazing disconsolately at the retreating stern of the local ferry which transported passengers from Brooklyn to Commodore Heights in Kuringai Chase National Park. There was a Youth Hostel among the bushland on Commodore Heights and it was there that the youth group to which the girls belonged was spending the week-end.

The other members of the group had traveled to the hostel on the previous evening but Alice and June, both pharmacy apprentices had had to work on Saturday morning and had intended to catch the lunchtime ferry. It would be an hour before the ferry returned and there was nothing they could do but wait.

It was then that a neat white painted cruiser with two middle aged men on board pulled up at the wharf.
"Hullo, girls, waiting for the next ferry to Commodore Heights? It's a long wait isn't it? But if you like you can come with us and well have you there in ten minutes."

The girls looked at each other, hesitated, and then fiery red-haired Alice went to pick up her bags. June looked at the men and there was something, she didn't know what, about them that she didnt like. They were older than her father and they didnt look or sound like the sort of people her father would introduce her to. She shook her head.

"No, Alice we can't go with them. Remember, Peter and Joe said they would meet us here and if we're not here they'll start to worry."

At the mention of the boys' names the men started their engine and in no time at all the boat was on its way to who knows where. And the two girls settled down to wait patiently for the next ferry.

Alice turned to June." I didn't know that Peter and Joe were going to meet us."

"Neither did I," replied June, "but I didn't like the look of those men. Who knows where they might have taken us."

But neither girl added. "And what they might have done to us."

The teenagers of fifty-five years ago were less worldly wise than the teenagers of today.

Now, in her senior years, June sometimes wonders what fate might have befallen them had they gone with the men or indeed whether they would still be alive to tell this tale

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