Eliza # 2

It wasn't so bad, the trip over on the boat.  The Jessie Readman, the ship was called.  The boat was indeed full of crying mothers and babies and the kind of iron rules keeping men and women apart which Mammie would have praised if she'd known and requested if it wasn't like that.  I was a married woman now, but not one who arrived at that state the way my parents intended.

They didn't really know what to make of me, the men at the back of the Albion.  Those who knew my family knew that I should be tucked up in bed with my Bible.  Those who didn't and weren't completely drunk, wondered at my high necked grey dress in a place where women either didn't visit or made money from visiting.  The stupid man who made grabbed at my dress to pull me down didn't count on my brothers walking in at that point.

George Mitchell.  He knew of me, though I was a good few years younger than him.  He humoured me while my brothers were gone, offering me a drink and his arm when I tripped in the mud.  He'd no way of knowing quite what he was in for when I, emboldened by the whisky I'd long coveted as a man's treat, kissed him on the lips to say thank you.  My brothers, who thought they had dealth with the worst menace, took the scene rather seriously when they came back.  No need to talk to Eliza of course, Father would be the one to tell and the one to make decisions.

I gather that my father put George right on what he was in for.  In a town where John Robertson, farmer and staunch Presbyterian, had endorsed the public shaming of fallen women, the Robertsons needed me out of our little village and fast.

I don't know how they secured places on the boat for us so quickly, but I do know that I walked on that boat after a month spent indoors and only hours after I'd taken my wedding dress off and thanked my family for a number of extremely dour and practical wedding presents.  When we got off the boat in Port Chalmers, just over three months later, it was time to start life with a man I'd barely met.  A whiskey and a kiss, it turned out, were not sufficient exchanges for us to know what we were in for.

Usual story, time to make dinner if I know what's good for me.  I'll write again soon.


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