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MOONLIGHT ON THE NEPEAN
(By R. Payne-Scott, P.D.S.)
As the sun set over the weir I lay on the verdant turf meditating. I had been there since early morn, and was tired of climbing over rocks and boulders to pick the flowers that grew in their wild splendour there. They were by my side then in an old tin full of crystal clear water. I bent over and plucked a blue-bell. It was azure. So was the sky. In its heart was a golden star, the sun of the world. In the south Venus shone, seeking to surpass in glory even the sun. This is but a small flower, a flower unnoticed by the world in its daily round. It is a replica of the sky, that wonderful heavenly power which is so often forgotten in the excitement of other things. It is only when one is lonely that it is remembered, but who knows what it may do, what an influence it may have, in
even that short time.
As I moved a bough brushed against my face, and, raising my hand, I found myself in possession of a branch of orange-blossom, that pure white flower with which we crown our brides. It is like unto the clouds which crown the fairest head of all, that of the Queen of the Sky.
But the clouds were all on fire and were changing color. Those nearest to the sun were golden, and those further away pink. The sky seemed as a sea on which many-tinted boats, some larger than others, were sailing to no apparent destiny. A breeze from the south caught one of them as it sped along and dashed it against a larger one. The two melted together,
forming one solid mass of gold. Then all was peace. The edges of the clouds became purple, and the glorious pictures shown in these dark frames became more gorgeous than ever. What a gorgeous spectacle this was, yet how many really appreciate it. Poets have told us of the beautiful scenery in far-off countries, and we have longed for a sight of it. Men have travelled hundreds of miles to see it. Yet here is this beautiful picture at our door for those who will to see.
All too soon the sky grew dark. The clouds lost their glory, and appeared as darkened masses against the darker sky. I held a violet up. It was dark, nearly as dark as the sky, but in the centre was a bright star - shedding glory on the darkness. It was the same with the sky.
The new-born moon rose slowly over the tall Blue Mountains, which "stood like sentinels guarding all" (Marion Miller), and was surrounded by a halo of shining glory, as if to protect it from all harm. A few nights before it was full, and the birds were all singing in a heavenly choir. Now all was silence except for the occasional hoot of an owl. I wonder if they love the full moon, and choose that night above all others for their festivals.
As I watched the first star appeared, and then a host of others. It seemed as if the first peeped out to see if the day had gone, and then came with its comrades to brighten the dark night. The tall blue gums threw dark shadows on the rippling water, and through their foliage the rays of the moon gleamed on the river. It ran in a silver winding stream dotted here and there by little islands, against which the rippling waves rushed and darted back again surmounted by white, frothing foam. I dipped my hand into the flowing stream, and, with it half full of the glittering liquid, started in amazement. The moon had lit it with silver rays, and in my hand I held a star in all but shape. I moved my hand in surprise, and the silvery thing slipped from it as silently as it came and dropped
into the ever-moving torrent. Gone was that temporary vision, but I felt as if I were nearer to the stars, nearer to another world.
I stared into the deep river, and, as I lost my surprise, fell to watching the many-colored fish slide gracefully over the weir. I lit my lantern to obtain a better view, but they shrank away from the flickering light. They were used to the steady light of the sun and the moon. I wonder they are not afraid of man. Perhaps it is because
they feel that they have but to dart down to the deep, cool depths of the river to be safe from all danger from him.
I left the river-side and glanced around me. A sharp whistle sounded through the clear moonlight air, and then I saw a flash of light, and, with a rumbling and roaring, all was gone. The thin net-work of steel was there, unshaken, but the train, for such it was, had passed on.
"There's the blue wren's shining
For my lapis-lazuli, There's the flash of living emeralds,
Busy green 'keets flying by."
I thought of Molly McNutt's words that night, only in a slightly different sense. The bush is the treasure- house of Nature. The sun represents
gold and the moon silver. The flowers and the birds are the brightest of
jewels. The sky and the earth form
the box in which all is contained. The clear, crystal water is the key to
all, for without it everything would die, even ourselves. This treasure- house is open to all. Yet how many have ever seen it, over revelled in its glories; and yet how many more have killed the birds and pulled the flowers, to leave them lying on the ground to wither and die. This treasure- house is not built of jewels for vanity. It is a place to love and care for, and we should all be proud of our bushland. The Nepean district has some of the most beautiful scenery in Australia, including the Nepean River, the tributary of the mighty Hawkesbury.
I heard a sound of splashing in the distance, and, wandering along the banks a few paces saw the water running over a boulder and forming a miniature waterfall. There was a clearing amongst the trees, and I gathered some sticks and lit a flre. The light served the better to reveal what would serve as my bedroom. It was oblong in shape, and the close green turf was carpeted with fallen leaves. I made some cocoa, and, after quaffing it, rolled up my blanket and prepared for sleep. But sleep would not come. I lay awake for hours watching a passing breeze blow the leaves in my chamber about. They seemed as fairy-nymphs dancing in that tiny crescent, the new-born moon, which was shining overhead! At
last, however, the splash of the water- fall and the dismal wnil of the mopoke lulled me to sleep.