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ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



Famous Fantastic Mysteries AUGUST, 1947 VOL. 8 No. 6

BOOMERANG

By George Whitley

They tore the veil of mystery that had hidden the ancient secret of the Queen of Night, and found the answer to whether her pale smile had promised Life—or ruthless Death....

THE old man sat in the thin winter sunshine, watching the Manly Ferry come alongside at the Circular Quay. Off Fort MacQuarie she lost the wind, drifted sluggishly until she was abeam of the shallow gully between piles of fuzed rubble that was still called Argyle Street, then hung helpless and motionless. The old man smiled as he watched the passengers struggling with the long, heavy sweeps. "In the old days," he said to the boy at his side, "they'd 'a' asked fer their money back. But then things was dif'rent here in Sydney. If yer didn't like the ferry yer could allus get a car over the bridge—an' look at it now!" His voice shook with senile grief as he gestured toward the broken towers, the straggle of rusted, twisted girders between them like some monstrous, leggy insect defiling the blue waters of the harbour with its death throes. "Look wot them devils did to our bridge!"

The boy was not listening. He was playing with a flat piece of wood shaped like half a pair of parentheses. It had been given him by the old blackfellow who called himself King Tommy, who was reputed to be the last of his race in Australia. Trying to imitate the practised skill of his aboriginal mentor, he threw the toy. It flew with lazy grace, circled slowly. The boy clapped his hands when he saw that he had at last mastered the knack of making it behave as it should. He reached up childish hands to catch it, succeeded only in tipping it, destroying its equilibrium, so that it fell, with a loud clatter, onto the old man's bald head.

He rose wrathfully to his feet.

"Wot's this yer playin' with? A boomerang? An' 'oo gave it yer? That old rascal Tommy? 'E should 'a' been killed off arter the Risin'—same as all 'is cobbers were. Not too late now—the League committee alius does wot I wants 'em to.... Arter all, I'm the only one In the bunch wot is a Returned Soldier...."

"Yer wouldn't 'ave Tommy shot, Granddad, would yer?"

The old man smiled at the boy.

"'Course not, Dave. 'Im an' me is the only ones left wot can remember the old days. ... I saw this 'arbour when it was full o' ships—ships from the old country, ships from the States, takin' away our mutton an' wool, bringin' ammo for the war.... An' there'd be the big liners—millions o' men they'd take. An' all for the war. An' then, when the war was over, we 'ad the big ships bringin' our men back.... Yair... them was the days. An' there was the wireless, so yer could listen ter the races all Saturdee arter...

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