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When Ellie meets Yenohan

Ellie, the daughter of Nola Thompson, befriends Yenohan, a young Aboriginal girl who lives nearby in 1908.

The shadow behind the snow gum grew into a girl. Ellie rose from the rock where she had been preparing the fairy’s tea party and approached her. Ellie removed the wreath of sedge and flowers from her own head and nestled it amongst the dark curls: ‘I crown you Princess… what’s your name?’.

‘Yenohan.’

‘I crown you Princess Yenohan.’

Ellie took Yenohan by the hand and led her to a wombat hole nearby. She bent down and carefully parted the fine branchlets of she-oak curtain covering the entrance, then plunged her arm as far as it would reach into the miniature cave. When Ellie withdrew her arm, the most beautiful creature she had ever seen sat in the palm of her hand. The tiny dress was made from salmon-coloured woolly ti-tree blossom, the hair that tumbled to her tiny waist was the silk from flowers of the reeds. Her lips were ruby red from wild raspberries she had eaten. Ellie spoke into the palm of her hand.

‘Tea is ready, Your Highness.’

Yenohan didn’t understand the white girl’s magic, but she knew it came from her mind. She fondled the plaited crown on her dark hair and giggled with Ellie as she drank make-believe tea from a make-believe cup before their make-believe Queen.

When Yenohan showed her mother the circlet of sedge and flowers, Mooroo turned it over in her hands, admiring the fine work, but knowing it was not of Wolgal making.

‘Have you been to the white man’s house?’

‘Only to the creek nearby. Ellie gave it to me.’

‘Ellie?’


‘Ellie said I can keep it. She is my friend.’

Mooroo handed the crown back to Yenohan. She had feared this moment ever since the day she saw the two girls make eye contact. Her fears could not possibly include such a young person.

‘Well, don’t you go talking to any of the men.’

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