Protection and Preservation, Book 10
Chapter 9

We stayed over and got to know the people of Perth. They were independent and friendly though they had a strange accent. I mentioned this to Matilda and she laughingly said that I had the accent. She was probably correct in this case.

One event of note was George meeting Matilda's oldest daughter, Sophie. There was an instant connection! However, they were both fourteen and I explained to Matilda that George was below the age of consent. Matilda asked, "When will he turn fifteen?"

I responded, "Ask him yourself. He and Sophie are behind you."

She turned quickly. George said, "I turn fifteen in another month and will then be an adult according to the laws of Protection. Sophie beats me by four days." He smiled. "We thought we might celebrate together."

Matilda said, "That's possible. Bobbi and I will talk about it."

George nodded. Sophie said, "Yes, Mom." They left us holding hands.

Matilda said, "Where are his parents?"

I said, "His parents and siblings were on our other plane. It was shot down at Taiwan when the people there tried to take us over. David and I have been acting as parents to him. He is a very good young man. His grandfather was the founder and long-time leader of Protection. His mother or his father could have been director but they chose a different path. He is a very thoughtful and mature young man."

Matilda said, "I like what I have seen and heard of him but we'll see. What about the birthday?"

I replied, "That presents a problem of two parts. First, it's still some days away and we hadn't planned upon staying that long. Second, there will be opposition to him staying if the youngsters are or become serious. I don't know how you would feel about Sophie leaving with us but that would give you some idea of the pain if George didn't leave.

"Matilda, George's family is one of the leading ones in Protection. He is now something of an heir. His full name is George Andrews Moore Doctor George Andrews was his mother's father and founder of Protection. The Moore family has long been involved in leadership in Protection though never as Director. David and I would find it difficult to leave him here even if that were the wish of the youngsters. There would be repercussions."

Matilda nodded. "We'll have to determine how this shakes out. I'm not sure how George wants things to be. I know Sophie. She has never been interested before. We could have a problem." I nodded back. We went on our ways.

About two hours later, George came to me and said, "Sophie and I want to talk with you and David." At that moment, Sophie came around a corner pulling David by his hand.

I said, "We're all here. Let's sit down and talk."

David gave me a hug and said, "Do you know what this is about?"

I responded, "Yes and no. Let's hear George out." My husband nodded. I sat down beside him leaning on his shoulder. I loved my Bennie Dad but David was, for me, an even better rock. We listened.

George started out. "We're not sure where this is going or even if it should. However, Sophie and I have made a strong connection that is worth exploring. I want to propose to the group that we stay for an extended period of time. It should be at least through our birthday. We don't really have a time table and we need time to make some big decisions. Staying would allow us to make those decisions and be at peace with them no matter what they are." Sophie held his arm.

He paused for a moment and then continued. "If we had to make a decision today, both of us would stay or both would leave. No matter what that decision might be, there would be serious emotional pain and potential adverse consequences. It could affect our future friendship with the people of Perth. If I stay, my grandfather will not be happy nor anyone in the family. It would be devastating for my grandparents, all three of them, to lose their daughter and her entire family. They have other children and grandchildren but I'm the only grandchild named after my grandfather.

"Sophie, if she left with us, would be subject to some of the same issues. She is named for her grandmother who was killed with her grandfather in a wildfire saving their family. Matilda has some scars on her back from that fire. Her grandparents and parents are very important to the leadership of their community.

"We are both aware of the ramifications in any relationship between us. We need time to work this out and to bring peace in the minds of the family who will have to say good bye to a loved one. I don't know that or if anyone from Protection will return to Australia. I am aware that for the two of you and for SJ and Jacob, this is a final trip. Losing Mallard has probably cemented that thought in your minds.

"Bobbi, David, we need time. If you will back giving us that time, we will use it wisely to figure this out and develop a solution for both family groups." I looked at Sophie who was nodding and looked just as troubled as George during his speech.

I then looked at David. He looked back and then slowly said, "Without taking a side in what the two of you do, I would be willing to support your argument for staying a while. We need to explore Australia and try to help here. Though it's far from anywhere, it would be a viable base for us.

"Our original flight plan from here went east into the rest of Australia, then New Zealand, back to Australia. We would eventually fly to Africa from Darwin. I don't know if we want to change to fly from here but we could work that out.

"Sophie, would your parents or their representatives be willing to go with us and explore?"

Sophie looked very confused for a moment as she digested what David asked of her and the quick move of subject. She looked at George and then back at David. She said, "There is a couple that my parents would trust to represent them and I believe they would go. They would be acceptable chaperones also." She grinned. "It would take some talking time but not too much."

I said, "Do the two of you need chaperones?"

George said, "A little less trust and a little more oversight would be easier."

I grinned. "Easier for who?"

George and Sophie just grinned at us but said nothing.

Edmund, call me "Eddie," and Minerva, call me "Minnie," Johnson was the couple chosen to represent Perth in the upcoming trips. Sophie would be going. Eddie and Minnie had no children yet though she was just pregnant enough to show a little.

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