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2-031 (Original)

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author,female,Fenton, Elizabeth,25 addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Plaint Text :
Private Written
Clarke, 1992
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2-031.txt — 4 KB

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11th August [1829]. - On the River Derwent, in sight of Mount Wellington, and Hobarton.
Though there is but one thought absorbing my mind, I must not anticipate, but tell you that after seven weeks of most awful weather we got sight of land. You may judge my thankfulness, as three weeks we had been under water on deck, nor had the daylight entered my cabin. 'Tis vain now to waste time dwelling on all the suffering of such a period with a baby at my breast, but I may express how much valuable aid I had from my humble friend Mrs. Hughes, and kind attention from Mr. Betts, who nightly stopped to speak and cheer me, sometimes, if it was tempestuous, nursing Flora or assisting to bathe her and beguile our mutual discomfort. [...]
I had taken this miserable voyage in vain, and was alone in Van Diemen's Land, while Fenton was retracing the perilous sea I had just crossed.
Surely I am doomed in everything, and for me there is no haven of peace on this side of time. [...]
14th August Macquarie Hotel, Hobarton
Then we took our way up Macquarie Street. About half-way I could not resist the temptation of stopping to lean upon a fence almost breathless, this being the longest walk I had taken for some years; and further being equipped in black satin shoes, they were penetrated by wet and fringed with mud. Mrs Frankland's recollections of the habits of India soon explained my distress, and the party kindly accommodated themselves to my feebleness and unequal strength until we reached the hotel, when, after inspecting the rooms ordered, Mr Frankland with equal kindness and tact proposed they should all leave me to rest for an hour, when he would return and take me to his house, which proposal I readily agreed to. [123] [...]
On my return to the Macquarie Hotel, I felt so nervous, to sleep was impossible, and I stepped out on a little balcony to look on the waters with which my future destinies and that of my babe were mixed up, and on the strange stars above me. [...]
I have in the midst of other disjointed thoughts to-night half inclined to the idea of returning to India, if Fenton's return is hopeless. I must in this case have seven solitary months to spend here, how I know not [...]
[15th August]
This is the third day since the departure of the whale-boat, one or two more must decide my measures.
[August 17th]
I do not think any comparison can be fairly made between the love of a father and a mother for an infant. But he was evidently delighted with Flora. She could not be passed unnoticed by a stranger, and the dullest parent must have regarded with delight the lovely creature, just able to sit up and know it to be a stranger who embraced her. Visitors came in rapid succession. At length with Flora enveloped under the nurse's cloak, we proceeded to Mrs F.'s drawing room and spent a delightful evening; Fenton and Frankland were in such high spirits, and even the children seemed delighted to see him.
3rd October - The perpetual encroachment of the servants on my time is indescribable. After our breakfast at eight o'clock, I order dinner and go with the cook to the store room, for anything requisite, for I need hardly remind you of the direful necessity of having to lock every-thing up yourself. Here my daily admonition is, "Take all you want now, for I will not come here again." Then perhaps the cook departs to the market for any small articles wanted; in an hour after, when perhaps I am nursing the baby or writing a letter, or arranging my clothes, a knock comes to the door: "Please, mam, will you give me some rice, or some sugar or spice, or something else out of the storeroom?" [124] It is in vain to remind the offender that I said I would not go there again. His or her "Very well, mam" will not supply the deficient article when dinner comes, and the only redress left me of "sending him in" will only give me another to pursue the self-same plan of annoyance, which is repeated in every family in the Colony.
I may tell you here what my establishment consists of: a nurse, a cook, a laundress, a housemaid, a man who cuts wood and is groom; the boy I brought from India I have kept with the idea of training him for an inside servant; I cannot yet reconcile myself to the attendance of a convict, though I see them at every house in town, and admirable servants too. All these ideas I am told I shall lay aside and do as others do after a little experience. So this is my household at present. I asked the housemaid yesterday while I was giving her some work what she had been sent out to this Colony for: "Please mam, for housebreaking"; a very pretty, neat, dark-eyed girl.