Read The Forgotten Pearl Online

Authors: Belinda Murrell

Tags: #Humanities; sciences; social sciences; scientific rationalism

The Forgotten Pearl

BOOK: The Forgotten Pearl

About the Book


In 1941, Poppy lives in Darwin, a peaceful paradise far from the war. But when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and then Australia, everything Poppy holds dear is threatened – her family, her neighbours, her friends and her beloved pets. Her brother Edward is captured by the enemy. Her home town becomes a war zone, as the Japanese raid over and over again.

Terrified for their lives, Poppy and her mother flee to Sydney, only to find that the danger follows them there. Poppy must face her war with courage and determination. Will her world ever be the same again?

A forgotten pearl is the key to entering an exhilarating wartime adventure from Belinda Murrell, author of
The Ivory Rose
The Ruby Talisman
The Locket of Dreams.



Glossary of Japanese words and phrases

Prologue – 8 April 2012

Chapter 1 The House at Myilly Point

Chapter 2 A Surprise Visitor

Chapter 3 The Dragon Pearl

Chapter 4 The Drover's Boy

Chapter 5 Alexandra Downs

Chapter 6 Pearl Harbor

Chapter 7 Iris

Chapter 8 In the Mood

Chapter 9 The Warning

Chapter 10 Farewell

Chapter 11 Letters

Chapter 12 Singapore

Chapter 13 The Hospital

Chapter 14 The Aftermath

Chapter 15 Escape

Chapter 16 Journey's End

Chapter 17 Telegram

Chapter 18 Austerity

Chapter 19 The Apparition

Chapter 20 Sydney Harbour

Chapter 21 Epistles

Chapter 22 Homecoming

Chapter 23 Christmas Feast

Epilogue – 8 April 2012

Author's Note

Fun Facts about Australia and the Second World War


About the Author

Also by Belinda Murrell

Copyright Notice

More at Random House Australia

Loved the book

For all the men, women and children who sacrificed so much during the Second World War, and for my husband, Rob, who shared my adventures in the Top End and introduced me to its history.

We Shall Keep the Faith

by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red

That grows on fields where valour led;

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies,

But lends a lustre to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red

We wear in honour of our dead.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields.

Glossary of Japanese words and phrases

Thank you
Affectionate term for a child, used after their name, as in Shinju-chan
Dou itashi mashite
It was my pleasure
Ogenki desuka?
How are you?
Ohayou gozaimasu
Good day
Term of respect, like Mr or Mrs, used after family name, as in Murata-San
Watashi wa genki desu
Very well

Prologue – 8 April 2012

It's hard to believe how completely your life can change in just a few minutes,
thought Chloe.
Take friendship: one minute you have a group of friends to hang out with, gossip and laugh with. The next minute, something happens that changes everything.

‘Are you all right, Chloe?' asked her grandmother, gently stroking her forehead. ‘You seem distracted.'

Normally, Chloe loved visiting her grandparents' apartment. It always seemed gracious and elegant – the polished, antique furniture; the vases of flowers; the paintings on the walls and the piles of books – but today she felt sad and dejected. It was the holidays, the weather was stunning, and yet everything was wrong.

Chloe mentally shook herself. ‘I'm just thinking about my history assignment,' she fibbed. ‘It's on the Second World War.'

‘The war?' asked Nanna, frowning.

Chloe pushed her dark hair back and nodded. ‘I have to interview a relative or friend about their experiences during the war in Australia and how it affected their lives,' she explained. ‘We're supposed to create a video or a website about their experiences, including letters, photographs and relics – anything that brings the story to life.'

A shadow flitted over Nanna's face. She rubbed her left arm from shoulder to elbow as though it ached. ‘That sounds terrifying,' she confessed. ‘You kids are so clever with what you can do with technology these days.'

‘Mum thought I should interview you,' continued Chloe, ‘but I guess the war didn't really affect Australia. It was all fought in Europe, with Hitler and the Blitz and the concentration camps. I mean, I know you went to school here in Sydney during the war, but it's not like your dad was a soldier or anything.'

Nanna shut her eyes and pressed her fingers into the bridge of her nose. She was silent for a few moments.

‘The war years . . .' mused her grandmother. ‘Such a long time ago . . . So many things that we've tried to forget . . .'

Chloe looked at her grandmother with concern. ‘Are you all right, Nanna? You don't have to help me – I could always ask Brianna's grandfather. His father fought in Tobruk.'

Nanna smiled – a smile that was loving and warm and somehow wise. ‘No, my darling, I'd like to help you with your assignment. Perhaps it is time to talk about it all.'

Nanna stood up from her armchair, dropping her knitting needles on the sideboard. She was teaching Chloe how to knit a soft, pale-blue, mohair scarf. ‘But before I tell you about the war, I think we need a cup of tea and a slice of my famous Belgian lemon cake.'

Nanna bustled into the tiny galley kitchen to put the kettle on. ‘While the kettle's boiling, come and help me look for an old box of letters and photos I have hidden away in my bedroom somewhere. I haven't looked at them for years.'

Chloe followed her grandmother into her bedroom, with its handmade quilt on the bed, a cedar dressing table and a tall bookcase crowded with books and framed family photos. There were photos of Chloe's own mother, Margie, as a child, with Margie's big sister Daisy and brother Charlie. There were photos of weddings and graduations, birthday parties and newborn babies. There was a photo of her dressed as a mermaid on her sixth birthday, surrounded by all her mermaid friends.

As she looked at the mermaid party she was sharply reminded of the last week of school. For no apparent reason, her best friend, Brianna, had stopped talking to her, and so had everyone else. Chloe had no idea why, and no one would tell her. In English, her usual seat beside Brianna was taken by Stella, so she'd sat up the back by herself. At lunchtime, the girls were not sitting in their favourite place under the apple tree. They had moved lunch spots without telling her. When she'd said hi to Brianna in the locker room, Brianna had completely ignored her, and Chloe had scuttled away, alone and friendless, to spend lunchtime in the library. Chloe felt a fat tear roll down her cheek. Angrily she brushed it away before Nanna could see it.

Nanna was searching the drawers in her wardrobe. ‘Where did I put it? Oh, I think it's right on the top shelf. There it is – the blue-and-white tin at the back there. Can you reach it for me, please, Chloe?'

Chloe dragged over a chair to stand on, reached up and lifted down a round biscuit tin, covered with tiny blue roses.

‘Is this it?' asked Chloe, offering it to her grandmother. ‘It's not very big.'

Nanna turned away. ‘Mmmm,' she replied. ‘You take the box into the lounge room and I'll make the tea.'

Chloe carried the tin back into the lounge room and placed it on the coffee table. She gazed at it, curious about its contents. Nanna returned in a few minutes with a pot of tea, teacups and two slices of crumbly lemon cake.

Together, they looked at the tin on the table between them.

‘Shall we open it?' asked Chloe.

Nanna took a deep breath, then reverently opened the lid. Inside was a fat bundle of yellowed letters tied together with red satin ribbon. There was a slim collection of black-and-white photos. Nanna untied the letters and stroked them with her finger. She lay the photos down on the coffee table, her hands trembling.

There were photos of old-fashioned cars, girls in floral dresses, beach picnics and a gracious-looking white house on stilts surrounded by tropical gardens.

‘Was that your house in Darwin?' asked Chloe.

Nanna nodded. ‘At Myilly Point.'

There was a photo of a young man in uniform squinting into the camera, his slouch hat at a jaunty angle. There was a photo of a young Aboriginal woman, looking self-conscious and shy, with a tousle-headed toddler on her knee. There was a photo of two pretty teenage girls at the beach, their hair salty and windblown, laughing into the camera with their arms around each other's necks.

‘Who are they, Nanna?' asked Chloe.

‘That's my brother, Edward, who went away to fight in Singapore,' explained Nanna. ‘And that was Daisy and her son, Charlie – not your aunt and uncle, of course, but the original Daisy and Charlie, who lived with us in Darwin.'

Nanna swallowed as she continued to brush the long-ago faces with her fingertips.

‘And that was me, with my best friend, Maude,' confided Nanna, with a smile. ‘That photo was taken in 1942 by a handsome young man called Jack.'

‘Oh,' said Chloe. ‘That was exactly seventy years ago.'

‘My goodness – could it be seventy years?' replied Nanna. ‘Where on earth has the time gone? I still feel like a teenager inside.'

Nanna poured out two cups of tea and handed Chloe a slice of lemon cake on a matching plate. ‘This lemon cake is absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself, and is guaranteed to make anyone feel a whole lot better. Do you know that most of the troubles of the world can be solved with a cup of tea, a good chat and lemon cake?'

Chloe bit into the cake. It was delicious. The centre was runny with bittersweet lemon curd, while the base was sweet shortcake.

‘Let me tell you a story,' Nanna began invitingly. ‘A story about friendship and sisters, about grief and love and danger, and about growing up . . .'

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