One evening, Joe and Mary meet in a clearing on the Moore River Settlement. Mary has brought Joe a present: damper she made with emu fat and raisins. They talk as they eat. Mary has been at Moore River for three years, and says she hates “everything in it,” except for Joe.
Finding Joe has made life bearable for Mary. Although they are (luckily) not biological family, they have become chosen family and provide each other with physical and emotional support.
Mary doesn’t mind Matron and Sister Eileen, but she doesn’t like Mr. Neal. She finds him scary and predatory. He often hangs around the Aboriginal girls when they’re cooking or sewing, threatening them with lustful looks and his cat-o’-nine tails whip.
Mary reveals that Mr. Neal threatened her once, because she didn’t want to go work for a white farmer. Mary cries as she tells the story of a friend who went to work on a farm and returned pregnant, having been beaten and raped during her service. When the girl had the baby, black trackers killed and buried it. Joe jokes that he doesn’t like Mary, and she pulls away. He clarifies that he loves her, and the two kiss. They make plans to see each other the next night.
This story shows an intersection of personal apathy towards Aboriginal wellbeing with high-level cover-ups of horrible crimes against Aboriginal women, which are allowed to occur because the government takes no effort to stop it. This also shows white disdain for Aboriginal families and lives. Even if the children were products of rape, the women should be given the opportunity to decide if they want to keep their babies.