Eliza # 3

I'd had no longing to cross the seas, become a 'colonial'.  At the time, I thought books would somehow be the saving of me from a lifetime of preparing dull food and destroying my body with babies.  The preacher in the pulpit wasn't keen on women having any thoughts of their own, but he was keen on everyone being able to read and write so they could read the Bible whenever they weren't doing God's drudgery in the kitchen and on the fields.

The Bible has been no saviour for me, and reading and writing hasn't prevented the endless housework and baby rearing.  I've managed to keep my babies tally down compared to some, but more about that later.

The boat trip over to Port Chalmers gave me a chance to learn a little off the other women.  There were many who were very pious - we were on a boat from Greenock to some vision of a brave new world free of sin after all - but by no means everyone.

There were, it turned out, a couple of 'fallen women' on the boat.  Properly fallen and having earnt some money for it, as it turned out.  Mammie thought I was 'fallen' for having kissed George once.  I left the antics of Julia and Margaret out of my later letters home, but they certainly gave me some smiles for their daring.  No knitting baby garments demurely on the edge of beds filled with children for them.

One time I followed them up as they crept through the divide between the women and children's section and the men's section.  I wasn't about to ply my wares like they were; I merely wanted to see what was out there, maybe smell a bit of fresh air, even say hello to George.

We got caught and hustled back down the back, placed beside some Bible reading hens with millions of human chickens around them, and refused dinner that night.  Worth it for a giggle, I thought at the time, but when George heard and got a message to me, I realised we still knew very little about each other, and that George was quite clear as to who should be in charge. 

Still the same right now.  Tomorrow I'll see if I can fit in the story of teaching Jessie how to read and write.

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