“One more night here, I think,” she said, “and then we can get on our way again bright and early tomorrow.”
The Commissioners and leaders agreed, so they all set to work on preparing supper. They had already made arrangements so everyone could stretch out to sleep comfortably. After the meal was finished and everything cleared away, they decided to have a fireless campfire. Jean Laport, the Guide leader suggested they sing the Kookaburra song.
“I don’t know that one,” Arwin said.
“We’ll sing it for you,” Annabeth giggled. “I love it!”
“Ok, one, two, three,” Jean raised her hands and started them.
"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry, merry king of the bush is he,
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra,
Gay your life must be.
Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Save some there for me!
Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
That's not a monkey, that's me!”
They sang lustily, thoroughly enjoying the startled expression on Arwin’s face. By the time the song was finished, she was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe. When they were finished singing, they all broke down, laughing with her.
After she had caught her breathe again, she asked “where did you ever hear that?”
Nancy Wells, the Guiding Commissioner, explained. “Marion Sinclair wrote the song in 1932 for a contest being held by the Victorian Guides, in Australia.
The competition was for an 'Australian round' song. Her song, the Kookaburra Song won and was introduced by Marion at the World Jamboree in Frankstone, Victoria in 1934. It was instantly a hit with the girls and has become a much loved song all over the world. The Gum tree is a Eucalyptus, and the gum drops are drops of sap that form on the trunk. They are a favourite snack of the bird and the monkeys.”
“Wonderful!” Arwin laughed. “You will have to teach it to me. I’d love to sing it for my friends.” It was agreed, but that would wait until they were on the road again.
They sang some more songs, and ended with “Day is Done” traditional final campfire song before sleep. It wasn’t long before Billy and Annabeth were asleep, and one by one the others followed.
By the time the sun was up, they were on the way again, with Annabeth and Elizabeth teaching Arwin the Kookaburra song. For a while it was clear driving, and they were making good time. Then there were patches of ice where the snow had melted and refroze. One patch was covered in a thin layer of snow, and Arwin didn’t realize the ice was there, until the bus started to skid. It was a fairly big patch, and she fought hard to get the bus back under control.
Unfortunately, before she managed, the bus slid off the road and onto a short but steep drop off. The bus swayed, bumped, and flew off the ground. It landed on its side, and slid a bit before coming to rest. Not a sound was heard at first, and then there was a big sigh from everyone.
Arwin turned as well as she could to look at her passengers. “Is anyone hurt? Someone, say something! Please!”
Billy giggled. “Wow” he said. “That was better than any of the rides at the Edmonton Mall!”
“I think we are all ok, Arwin,” Ted Young said. “And from what I can see, nothing came loose from the nets. But now what? I don’t think, no matter how hard we try, that we can push the bus upright again!”
“No,” Arwin said. “But that can be taken care of. I’ll call my friend who pilots a Sikorsky. It can pick the bus up and put it back on the road. And from now on, I’m going to put all my attention on my driving, and not try to learn any more songs!”
An hour later they saw the big Sikorsky coming, like a huge prehistoric bird. They had managed to undo the seat belts, and get everyone out of the bus. Billy couldn’t resist throwing a few snowballs, until Anthony Heinlein, the Scout Master made him stop. They all watched in awe as the huge helicopter came down over the bus, and a couple of men jumped out. It took some time and a lot of manoeuvring, but at last they had attached cables to the bus, and it was lifted, and set upright again. Then the cables were moved, and it was lifted and carried to the road.
“Ok, Arwin,” the pilot called. “Do you want us to follow you in case you need rescuing again?” he was laughing as he said it.
Arwin mumbled under her breath, and shouted back “No, thanks Pete, I can make it. I just didn’t see the ice. We’ll be fine now. Thanks for the lift!” She smiled and waved, though she was very embarrassed. She had never had an accident, and she knew the story would be all over the airport when she got home again. She would have a hard time living this episode down.
They all limbed back into the bus, and buckled in. “Thank heavens for the seat belts,” Nancy said, and they all agreed.
“And we won’t distract you anymore, Arwin,” Elizabeth said. "It was our fault that you didn’t see the ice.” Annabeth nodded, and soon they were off again, on the way to Dauphin Lake. Once again, Arwin wondered if anything else could go wrong.