Protection and Preservation, Book 10
Chapter 23

She slowly exhaled. "Bobbi and David know most of this story and they are my checks if I am lying or leave a false impression." I looked at David. His poker face was on.

Natoomah said, "My original name was Sophia Brown, with a nickname of Sophie. My parents have a farm in the area of Perth and my father is the current leader there. I turned fifteen less than a month ago.

Before that birthday, I had become sexually experienced with more than one different guy. I liked it. When Duck came in and I met George Moore from their group, I already knew that they had an age of consent and that girls younger weren't supposed to be like me. I lied to George about my experience totally because I was terrifically attracted to him. I know now it was puppy love. I didn't really love him and I don't think that he ever really loved me.

"I went with the expedition in the Duck to Sydney. One evening, a married man, Basil Ashcroft, caught me alone. He kissed me and fondled my breasts. He wanted to go further but I didn't like him that much. Later, a fellow my age made a play for me and I went along with it. I had sex with him and even spent the night under a blanket with him. I was caught by George and he washed his hands of me. He was more upset because I had lied and continued to lie about my experience. I don't blame him. I was dishonest.

"When the Duck left to explore further, I stayed in Sydney. I had relations with two other guys there. Then, George came back with Trina and I realized what I had thrown away by lying. I was saddened to see the joy they had in each other and knowing that I could have enjoyed a similar joy if I had been honest.

"I swore then that I would be who I am and never lie or allow a knowing false impression to exist about me. Not that it really mattered, but I also decided that I would have no further sex until and if I married. I went out from my parents' farm and talked to the night spirit. I was given this name and told that it will be mine. It means magical stone. I also was told that being true would become a magical experience for my life.

"That's who I am. I am Natoomah Stone. The stone needs polishing but it is the real me. I will be true to who I am. Over time, I hope to regain my pride. I know I am attractive on the outside but the inside needs more cleansing before I am satisfied with who I am and can be the kind of person that I want me to be."

She looked at Eddie a bit wistfully. "I'll go back to my pack and rifle and leave now." She started to get up.

Eddie said, "Wait. Let's go to the beach and the ocean. Water has a cleansing effect on many people. You should try it. We'll enjoy it."

Natoomah was crying but nodded to him. Eddie took her hand and they left for the beach.

I said, "David, that was brave and true." He just nodded and let me cry. He held me close gently rocking me.

A few minutes later, I kissed my husband and said, "We're going to the beach and then to bed."

David smiled and said, "I'll follow you." I smiled back. I gave my behind an extra shimmy for his benefit as walked to the beach. As soon as the path widened, David walked by my side. We arrived at the beach and, doffing our clothing, went into the ocean. It felt delightful and we enjoyed swimming and playing in the water with our friends.

While in the water, I noticed two beautiful and different females, Trina and Natoomah. Both seemed happy and both seemed to be totally involved with their partners. I decided that this was good, for all of them.

David and I went into the hut we had claimed for our stay. He fulfilled his promise and we both enjoyed our afternoon. It was almost supper time when we cleaned up and put on some clothing. We went to the terminal and checked on everyone. The crew of the Yellow Rose was preparing supper for us. Some of our people had brought some additional items to the feast. I saw Eddie standing with Natoomah as he watched over the spit and the slow fire over which it was turning. They had made some kind of sauce and were basting the beast with it.

Natoomah saw me and said something to Eddie and came toward me. She said, "Bobbi, may I talk to you privately?"

I nodded and we went back outside and found an out of the way place to sit and talk. I said, "Natoomah, I'm here and listening."

She said, "Thank you. I have an offer that I would like to get your honest opinion about before I make any kind of commitment." I nodded.

"Eddie has asked me to join the crew of the Yellow Rose. I think, no, that's not true. I know he likes me and I like him. It's too early to know if there is anything deeper but it looks promising. Bobbi, I have two questions. First, what would be my status in the Port Lavaca community if things do work out? Second, do you have any objections to me indirectly joining with your communities?"

I thought for a moment before replying. I said, "Taking the second question first, I have no objection to 'Natoomah' joining our communities. About Sophie, I wouldn't have said the same." She nodded. "On the first, you would become part of the crew and expected to learn and work with the others. If you did not, you would be miserable. Your status would depend upon you. If Natoomah continues on her current path, you would have the equal status that every person has in the community. You would be a single person over the age of consent.

"Natoomah, you are a physically attractive woman. What you are and will be depends upon only one person, you. If you stay on your current track, I think your chances of finding happiness are good. It may or may not be with Eddie but could be with someone. You will have to remember that what is in the past is in the past and leave it there. You have been honest with Eddie and found that he didn't shy away. You will find that honesty works well and is easier in the long run. I am hopeful."

She said, "You think that I should go?"

"That's not quite what I said, You asked if I had any objection to you going. My answer was that Natoomah was welcome to go. Whether or not you go is a decision you must make. It won't be the same as the bush. A boat is like the Duck. You are with a small group and you must get along with others. I think you can do that. The real question is what do you want and what actions should you take to satisfy those wants." I took a deep breath. "Whatever you do should be something that you can be proud of doing and having done."

She nodded slowly. "Thank you, Bobbi. I will think about whether or not I will go with the Yellow Rose or head into the bush on my own. Either way, it will be what I think I should do."

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