The family’s world appeared increasingly brighter as William brushed a lather of paint upon each of the 500 palings that formed the new fence. As he cheerfully whistled whilst working the paint brush up and down, his efforts in the morning sun glistened on his tanned face. Cis, watched from the top step of the cottage, holding three month old baby Jack on her lap. She knew that appearances can be deceiving as elements of a picture can change. Life is an evolving force, ever changing, like the wind. Sometimes changes are mindful choices, other times they are left to chance.
With each slosh of glossy shiny white, a rush of intoxicating fumes reached Cis, unsettling her. She already felt unsettled from the letter she received in the post yesterday from Padda. She had been waiting for the right moment to tell William of its contents, although she wasn’t sure that there was such a moment as she watched William happily work on the new front fence. Pulling the folded sheets of the letter from her apron pocket, she began to reread its contents.
The words written in ink were typical of her Father, persuasive. He was offering an alternative life; an alternative future for them as a family.
Cis…I assure you that the Haughton River will be soon a flourishing sugar growing community. There could be a certain future for you, Will and the children. You know that I have taken up a parcel of land for each of you children, yours being on the northern side of the river. If Will so wishes, I am certain there is a future waiting for him as a cane farmer. The move would also mean you can move from the cold of the south.
Cis knew how much William’s work meant to him and wasn’t sure how he would react to her Father’s offer. And, his offer coincided with their move to their very first home. Following years of renting and moving with each Army Post, she finally felt settled in Toogoolawah, happy with their new cottage. The thought of the suggested change was unsettling; it was a blind journey into the unknown.
Had she not ventured into the unknown at the beginning of her journey as Mrs William Lyons? Although the thriving western community of Roma that welcomed them in 1902 was not much different to what Cis was accustomed to. Spending part of her childhood on a property near Charters Towers gave her an appreciation for the freedom of the outdoors. The rolling plains of swaying grains and the grassy paddocks of grazing cattle and sheep were reminders of home. And it was at their home in Roma that they welcomed the arrival of their first son, Ronald Deane. With each subsequent move came sons Kevin Mackay in 1905 and John Austin in 1908.
She had become accustomed to change. Her childhood was in a state of constant change as her family moved with each of her Father’s new enterprises. Since she married 6 years ago, she has moved with each of William’s new postings with the army. Perhaps Padda’s offer will provide some stability.
She watched Ron and Kev as they assisted their father with paint brushes that were much too big for their little eager hands and wondered if an upheaval as large as the one proposed would be the best decision to make. Although she would do anything to move to a warmer climate. The winter frosts on the Downs made life difficult now she had three small children to care for.
Staring down at the letter, deep in thought, Cis hadn’t noticed William approaching the steps.
“What have you there Cis?”
Cis startled at the sound of his voice, and the realization that this was the moment.
“A letter from Padda. Perhaps you should read it.” She replied, handing the letter to William.