by Luigi Pagano
29th October 1831
I shall first begin by saying I am very well & then go on to give you the glad news that by the time you receive this letter, cousin Molly will have been wed to John Forster. I would like to say happily but it is a marriage of convenience, she being a seventeen-year-old convict and he a 50-year-old widower.
They met on board the transportation ship ‘Forth’, on which he was a junior officer, and he took a shine to her. Oh, how lucky she was that fate intervened; if you had seen the shocking sight of the poor creatures that came out of that ship it would make your heart bleed; they were so feeble that they were almost dead. It was, to be sure, a melancholy sight.
She thanks her lucky stars that the unfortunate incident that befell Jane Taylor, who accidentally dropped 11 feet down the hatchway, brought them together. In the melee that followed he was quickly by her side and took her out of harm’s way to his cabin. She is looking forward to new beginnings in this foreign land.
I heard from her the news of poor pa’s passing and I can’t say I am surprised; I always knew that the poitín would be the death of him. I am so pleased that Seamus Fitzgerald is on hand to comfort you.
As for me, life is improving. I still stand by my political convictions but shall hold my tongue on the views that earned me seven years and transportation to the colonies until the day that our country is free from British rules.
Having served my full sentence, often in harsh conditions being part of a chain gang building roads, I have now been given a certificate of freedom and granted 60 acres of fertile land at Parramatta that l cultivate with my wife Charlotte and my son Thomas who joined me from Cork last year.
After some initial hostilities from the natives and occasional raids from the Jacob’s mob we now lead a peaceful existence.
We are resigned to the fact that we are unlikely to return to our native land.
Your loving son,
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Luigi Pagano was born in Italy and lives in England. He has published three collections of poems, entitled ‘Idle Thoughts’, ‘Reflections’ and ‘Poetry On Tap’. He has appeared in several anthologies, including UKAuthors anthologies and ABCTales magazines. His work has also been featured in ‘Take Five Poets’ and ‘Kiss of the Sun’ (I*D Books), ‘Land of Stories‘ (BarNone books), ‘Aged To Perfection‘ (Gwanwyn). He is a regular contributor to the websites ABCtales.com, UKAuthors.com and he is a relatively newcomer to The Flash Fiction Press.
4 thoughts on “Writing Home”
I was intrigued by this presumably faux correspondence, intrigued enough to discover that there was a convict transportation ship called Forth bringing convicts from Ireland to Australia, and a woman named Jane Taylor did have an accident aboard. Perhaps the author wants us to reflect on a time and place that is not in our usual frame of reference, and perhaps the pathos of those involved. I am not sure. AGB
It is indeed a fictional account based on true historical facts. While it is generally known that transportation to Australia consisted mainly of criminals, it is surprising – to me at least – to learn that the same fate could happen for political convictions. Opposition by the Irish to British rules was fierce and transportation was seen as a way of quelling a potential rebellion.
Many thanks for your thoughts.
You did your research to build a fascinating little story. Well done!
So glad that you found this little period piece worthwhile. Your feedback is much appreciated, Thank you.