The nights are long as I lay awake and wait for the next transport to Port Arthur on Van Diemen’s Land: the ass end of the world. Because of this, I’m in solitary confinement. That can happen when one takes some spuds from respectable people in Sydney Town without asking first. Hunger is as much a motivator here as in the old country.
I’m in luck tonight because it is the time of the month when my jailers are not coming near me. “You stink, you slut,” they say when they bring me my gruel. Otherwise they come to my cell to take what does not belong to them. Still, I can’t sleep in peace. Rats and other vermin make sure of that. They have to eat too.
I can think of a better life than the one I’m having. I should have taken up the offer of a squatter out Parramatta way. He promised me a small plot where I could have erected a small cottage, keep some fowls and have a vegie patch. For sure, it was not from the bottom of his heart that he made the offer. He is a married man. But we know, what men are all alike. At least he would give me something in return for my favours. Life is like that. One has to make do with what one has and nothing is for free.
I would want my cottage near the river so it is not too far to fetch the daily water and it must have a stove for cooking and heating. I’m sick of those bone chilling nights in the prison. And when I open my window in the morning I will see the warming sun and hear the birds singing in the trees. I will have a tub, and once in a while, I will fill it up with hot water from the stove, and have a bath. What luxury! I would feel like a French Queen. Oh, yes, I will have a cat to keep those pesty rats away and I will have a good night’s rest.
“Stop that racket out there, you drunken bastards!”