The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 9 (December 2, 1935)
The next morning in defiance of both the wireless forecast and the predictions of local weather prophets, rain fell in the high country at the back of Jack Keene's place. Good steady rain that soaked into the cracks of the parched hillsides and, towards evening, brought down a slip which effectually dammed the creek a mile or so above the spot where it crossed the road by Miss Green's cottage. Throughout the next forty-eight hours the water backed up behind this extempore dam, until, on the evening of the second day after Christmas it burst its way out.
Miss Green had gone to milk her solitary cow. To do so she had to cross the creek on a light plank bridge which had been constructed on that side of her cottage farthest from the road. Returning, she had but set foot upon the bridge, when she was startled to hear a rushing and a roaring as though a great wind lashed the trees in her patch of shelter bush. But there was no wind, instead there came foaming between and beyond the banks of the creek a yellow, crested wave.
Miss Green started to run, but before she was half way over, the wave struck and swirled with alarming force around her knees. She let go her milk pail and grasped the hand rail of the bridge. When the first rush of the flood was past she began to work her way gingerly forward. The water was rising and the frail bridge quivered. It lurched ominously and Miss Green leaped for the bank as the whole structure swung sideways. Her feet sank into loose earth thrown up by the broken sill, roots tore out as her hands grasped them, for an instant she struggled waist-deep and then the muddy water closed over her head.
Earlier that afternoon, Jack Keene, who made his money raising fat stock, and thus had not the ties of his dairy farming neighbours, returned from two days’ absence. He was surprised and not particularly gratified to find his place inundated, for there were cattle in the paddocks bordering the creek, and he made haste to change his clothes and ride over to see how they fared. He found them safe, but marooned on the farther side of a lagoon nearly a hundred feet broad.
Abruptly he turned his horse and cantered along the edge of this everwidening sheet of water until he arrived at the slip.
His first impulse was to return to the house for gelignite and fuse with which to weaken the obstruction, but on second thought realised that such a head of pent-up water suddenly released must cause damage to properties further down; especially Miss Green's ten acres which lay in an elbow with the creek on two sides of it. In imagination he saw the flood sweep down through the shelter bush, carrying away beehives and fowlhouses, and surging right into the cottage itself perhaps. In any case, there was danger of which the girl must be warned.
He arrived at the cottage five minutes after the plank bridge had collapsed and his horse's hoofs splashed soggily over ruined flower beds as he turned a corner of the cottage to view a scene of increasing desolation.page 31
The beehives gone, the fowlhouses upended. He made a cup of his hands and hallooed, and was answered by a faint cry. The next instant horse and rider were plunging in the direction of a bedraggled figure that clung desperately to some overhanging willow branches.
“Please,” said Miss Green, some minutes later, when, aided by Jack Keene's gallant mare, they had emerged from the flood and found themselves, dripping but safe, in the cottage kitchen. “Put me down. You don't have to carry me all round the house you know.”
Her rescuer grinned. “Well,” he said, “I was just considering where to put you. You see you aren't fit to go in the sitting-room, you'll make the cushions all wet. If I leave you on the verandah you'll be in a draught, and the kitchen chairs are rather hard. It's quite a problem, isn't it?”
“I suppose,” said Miss Green, “that where I really want to sit doesn't matter?”
“As Miss Anne Green of the ruined bee farm—no. As the future Mrs. Jack Keene of Kotare Station—perhaps!”
“I don't like that ‘perhaps',” said Miss Green, “I warn you I am in the habit of having my own way.”
“My dear,” replied Jack boldly, “If it's your own way you're having, when you hold me as tightly round the neck as you are at this moment, I shall never have any objection to make!”
Early in the New Year, the neighbours of Cabbage Tree Flat were gathered at the home of the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Jack Keene. In a corner of the dining room Mr. Bean and Mr. Dean were weaving patterns in the air with their beer glasses as they slapped each other's backs in mutual congratulation.
“Harry,” said Mr. Bean, “this is a great occasion.”
“It is that,” agreed Mr. Dean.
“This morning,” said Mr. Bean, “I had a visit from the agent. I'm getting shaved to come up here, so I ask him to have a look round by himself. He's away for about half an hour and when he comes in he says, ‘I congratulate you, Mr. Bean.’ ‘What for?’ I ask. ‘Why,’ says he, looking surprised, ‘for getting rid of your noxious weeds—you must have worked like a galley slave!’ with that I look out of the window, and as true as I stand here, there's not a Californian thistle to be seen. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather, but of course I don't let on. ‘Oh that’ says I—‘well now, Mr. Sellers, what about putting down an artesian bore or two—you know you promised—‘Say no more, Mr. Bean,” he says, ‘I'll send out a diviner next week'.”
“Haw, haw, haw,” laughed Mr. Dean. “Well now, what d'ye think happened to me? You remember I bought Miss Green's electric stove at her clearing sale? Well it's a hummer! All we have to do now if we want a cup o’ tea or a four-course dinner, is press a button, and—give her her due, Charlie—the old Missus can cook if there's anything fit to cook with.”
“Ha, ha,” said Mr. Bean, “You'd look as if you'd been doing a bit of stoking lately, Harry.”
“I have that,” replied Mr. Dean, “d'ye know what's been wrong with me the last year, Charlie? Indigestion, all on account of that rotten old stove I bought in town.
“You know,” he added sagely, “things don't look the same to a man with indigestion, he can't work and he gets bad tempered. If he can't work, little things like a bit of gorse along his boundary get him down. If he's bad tempered he's no good with cows—I '”
In the vast city warehouse where Santa Claus carried on his business, the blonde secretary was doing a little tidying up. In the bottom of the clothes closet she came across a crumpled envelope, and straightening it out discovered it to be the missing list for Cabbage Tree Flat.
She studied it a moment, then tossed it into the waste paper basket.
“Well,” she said, “it doesn't look the same to me as the one he sent—but maybe it'll turn out alright!”
(Courtesy, Great Western Railway.) An antiquated method of filling the boilers without stopping the engine, before the introduction of the water-trough system.