I dreamt a dream dear reader, a dream most strange. And in this peculiar night vision, I was walking peacefully in grassy paddocks near the end of Bourke Street Maitland, not far from the train station I suppose, down that way . . .
I notice animals grazing: horses, sheep and oxen too. I see small crops of corn and other such things growing robustly.
But there are none of the many houses I know, no train line or any real indication of modernity; instead, there are some Cedar trees and a gentle undulation, more perceptible
now than I thought ever existed here; this is a farm I think, a beautiful, gentle farm.
And there is an absence of people – save for the woman, the one woman now walking toward me . . .
She says, “Timothy, you’ve finally come to say hello then my boy.”
And she knows me somehow. She has deep, dark brown eyes and a shock of black, black hair. “I’ve seen you here before my boy, I’ve seen you there by where the water collects in the wet times, seen you there on the High Street too, seen you all about here, my boy.”
She is a small and wiry woman, but beautiful and strong. She looks happy, but wayworn, dangerous, but caring – and she says to me now, as the wind fills her hair, “my name is Molly Morgan, and this is my land, my home.”
And dreams are so strange for I am in two places at once: I know where I am, in the same grassy fields, with their tracks and hiding places that I knew as a child, the same smells and atmosphere pervade my senses. I have the same feeling of belonging that I always have when I am ‘down there’ – yet I also know that this is 1820 and that this is the legendary Molly Morgan standing here before me!
I am walking with her now, through tracks in the grass, worn passages in the soft soil and it feels like it always did. And I’m incredulous that she walked here in these same places, walks here still, across towards where the town hall should be, she leads me on that way...
“Go on,” I say, “I’ll follow thee,” for I know not what else to say to ghosts . . .
And as we walk, she tells me how she came here, on those awful, brutal ships, chained and starving, how she missed her two children; told me of her wrangles and schemes and how she feels like this is where she was meant to be, how she was so glad she found this place, this peace.
She points to where I will live, tells me that on that spot will be my house; she tells me of my friends and neighbours, says she knows them too and has seen them come and go across the years.
We stop near where Victoria Street is, where it will be – she tells me she has watched me play here with my friends, tells me that here I will learn to read, that she has seen me walk here at night with my father, seen me ride a new bike on Christmas Day, seen me carry my first trophy home, watched me living there on her land . . .
She glides on across the farm, towards the bullock track now. She tells me of the troubles of the town, how hard it is for some, and how she tries to help where she can.
She tells me too how the water is good here, how the soil is magnificent for growing, how she knew that this was a good place to be – how glad she is to be living there on the banks of such a fine river.
We arrive on the track, on the High Street.
And I stand with her there, awestruck now, looking east, on my street, our street, with Molly Morgan – she points to her hut, to her tiny house near where the Royal Hotel and Horseshoe Bend will be. She says this will make a fine street, a great street.
She tells me how she loves it all so much, the street and the river, the fields and the soil, the people – she tells me that she wants us to cherish it, she asks me to remind us all to care for it, for this place, for each other . . .
And I tell her I will, I will.
And so it goes dear reader. Goodnight.