I thought that I might, from time to time, post parts of my current work-in-progress. I haven’t named it yet – and I’m open to suggestions.
In 1883, a young couple immigrated from England to Australia following a hasty marriage. Within weeks their first child was born. They were both only in their teens.
This is their story, based on facts. What happened to their hopes and dreams of a life in a still developing, distant colony?
Chapter One – Plymouth, April 1883
Tom observed the rocking Kapunda with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The winter of 1882-83 in England had been snowy and had been followed by a dry spring, placing harvests in doubt. And while he wasn’t a farmer, poor harvest meant inadequate food supply and increased prices, prices that he could not afford to pay. But the impact on the harvests was of no consequence to him now. He and Harriett had travelled via third class railway carriage beyond the point of no return. Tamworth, Staffordshire, was now a place in their past, their memories. It was the harvests in Queensland and the capacity to feed and support his family that was important now.
So much had happened in such a small amount of time. When Harriett had told him that she was expecting a baby, his first reaction was panic: she was 18 and he only 17 and he worked in a shop on poor wages. How was he meant to support them? And his father: oh how his father would hit the roof! Joseph Wilday had already made it clear to Tom that he considered him to be a failure and now he would add an embarrassment to the list. Tom had started to pace the room, running his hands through his thick hair, and Harriett had started to cry. It was at that moment that he knew he had to become a man: he had created a baby with the love of his life and he meant to look after them both. He remembered clearly the day that he told his father that Harriett was pregnant.
© Kerry A Waight
Image at top: The ‘ Kapunda’ on Fletcher’s Slip at Port Adelaide abt 1880. [PRG 1373/7/12]. Photograph held by State Library of South Australia as part of the A. D. Edwards collection.