Eliza # 1

Mrs Geo. Mitchell to the rest of the world.  Housewife, cook, sometime mother and keeper of the books.  I'll be Eliza in these letters.

I suppose you want to know if I will tell the truth?  Truth, now that is an overused word around here, and seldom does it tell the story from a woman's point of view.  When Albert Jones beat his wife until the blood seeped through his boots, his truth was that she should have had the dinner ready.  I saw her clutching her stomach before he got home.  I'd heard her vomiting of a morning for a few weeks, and wondered what she would do to feed another child.  Now, she is dead, so is the unborn child, and he looks for someone else to look after his brood.

Perhaps you want to know what it looks like where I live.  Dull.  Brown.  Dirty.  Lives spent chasing sheep, scrabbling for long gone gold, and selling bread, gin and God.  Sex and cooking are never in the census, for women are invisible, or perhaps the shorthand of "married" requires no further elaboration.

My name is Eliza Robertson Mitchell, once known as Eliza Kerr.  I was born in Perth, Scotland, and I never asked to come to the other side of the world.  I asked to become a governess or a teacher, to use my brain and not spend my life having babies.  Only to become a teacher, I needed morals of the finest and sternest ilk.  They did not include having a beer at the back of the Albion Inn and flirting too much with the youngest son of a local farmer, called George Mitchell. 

Do I need to spell out what happened next?  The brothers who happily laid with local wenches had different standards for me. The Mitchells and the Kerrs had some heated exchanges and the news of the wedding and a passage booked for New Zealand were delivered to me on the same day.

I don't know how much you wanted from the first letter.  But I've a bottle of gin just delivered and if I don't want a thud to my lower stomach, always where it can't be seen, mark of an aspiring gentleman apparently, then I'd best make some dinner while I drink.

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