The Terrible Truths
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by Kev Richardson
Description: ?third in the trio after Letitia Munro and To Plough Van Diemen's Land, telling true stories of Australia's founding convicts. It continues the tale of a pioneering family transforming the world's biggest prison into a land of free enterprise and pride. Having grown up in the shadows of their parents' pasts, children face the traumas of holding heads high in a society of change, a change intent on sweeping convict pasts under carpets as even educators lie to them. Parents agonise over preparing the next generation to cope. Must they deny their children their very heritage? The Terrible Truths takes you into the hearts of true characters unwittingly creating the culture of today's forthright Australians. Third in the trio after Letitia Munro and To Plough Van Diemen's Land, telling true stories of Australia's founding convicts. It continues the tale of a pioneering family transforming the world's biggest prison into a land of free enterprise and pride. Having grown up in the shadows of their parents' pasts, children face the traumas of holding heads high in a society of change, a change intent on sweeping convict pasts under carpets as even educators lie to them. Parents agonise over preparing the next generation to cope. Must they deny their children their very heritage? The Terrible Truths takes you into the hearts of true characters unwittingly creating the culture of today's forthright Australians.
eBook Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc., 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: January 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [375 KB]
Reading time: 222-311 min.
"Eighty-six, Charles. And what, fourteen children? And five husbands? I reckon that's a record even for our family. Fancy a woman living to that age after burying five husbands."
Charles didn't answer. He seldom did these days, for rheumatism had sapped his mobility and much of his inspiration. He spent most time on a sofa looking across the valley, and then only if Hannah had helped him get there. And apart from rheumatism, he had gout.
"And sciatica and arthritis to boot, if I'm a judge," Hannah would tell him on his days of being near tears. "Good thing I'm hale. Maybe I'll live as long as MaryAnn and have three more husbands, eh?"
And Charles, who never quite lost his sense of humour, giggled.
Hannah's stepsister, MaryAnn Briscoe, Sarah's firstborn, had died last year, and they had only just heard.
"She was already married when I was born, Charles, so I never knew her as a girl. Yet when she came south to visit Ma's grave, if you recall, she still had that dogged, determined Goodwin air about her."
"A woman must be dogged to take on five husbands."
"To bury them all, too, my love."
Charles sat pensive for so long that Hannah thought he had dozed off.
"You know, Hannah, your pa's been dead what, twenty-five, thirty years? What a different world he would see now--the fruits of what his generation planted for us to feed on. Which we dare not speak of, of course. And the mention of MaryAnn is reminder of it. Her pa a convict, your pa a convict, and dare I say, my dear, maybe mine? I so often wonder what our children really know about that time."
"I'm sure Jane doesn't know. But Alf does, of course. We won a promise from him, remember?"
Charles remembered well.
"I often wonder if that decision was the right one. At the time I had no doubts, yet with hindsight, I feel we maybe did deny some heritage."
Hannah got to her feet and crossed to the writing desk to extract Jane's last letter from a ribbon-tied bundle.
"Now that you've said that, there is something I have to say. But first, do you feel up to looking again at what Jane said? I think she wrote that she has the worries of the world on her shoulders. Women of our family, Charles, by tradition, have never, to my knowledge, admitted to anything like that."
"Are you hinting that our Jane doesn't have the fortitude to face up to life's troubles because unaware of the trials her forebears withstood?"
"Something akin to that, yes. Two years ago when she came to see Prudence married, she looked more tired than any woman her age should look. And I don't believe she ails in bodily health. I had as many children. Her grandma Sarah had more, and her great-grandma Titia had as many. Each in more difficult circumstances than Jane. Yes, Charles, I wonder if she would be stronger for knowing of their trials."
Charles was stunned.
"You speak like a mother I do not recognise. You have always been so protective of her."
"I'm not criticising, Charles, I say simply that lacking the strengths illustrated by her forebear mothers in turn, she may be the weaker in perseverance for not knowing they were of stock bound, or chained if you like, by such pressures as they were."
Silence reigned for several minutes.
"There, Charles, I've said it now."
"Well, I had no idea you felt this so strongly."
"Don't get me wrong. I don't demean Jane. I'm simply trying to put things into their proper holes. When I had my ten children, we lived for the most part in some comfort, in a peaceful valley where quiet complements all the other advantages. She lives on a frontier where the noise of industry keeps her unsettled and where her work is even more exhausting than when she had but three and four children. I just feel she could face those troubles better if she knew her family background."
"It is this sort of trial that a generation or two must live through, for the long term benefits, Hannah. We have already been through, many times, how much better off the younger generations will be for not knowing. We need to be strong now."
"I cry for her sometimes. In the five years since she had Harold in this very house, two more babies and two miscarriages. I do wish Alf could see that she is not well enough to keep this up."
"We cannot interfere, Hannah. She has had our words of caution."
"Yet she doesn't have it in her to talk with Alf on it. He is such a dogmatic man, and she is so, so..."
"Timid. When it comes to Alf, she seems even cowed by him at times."
Hannah wished Charles were well enough to go to the Blue Tier and talk with Alf.
Yet I know in my heart that he wouldn't interfere. I would go myself except I can't leave Charles in his state. But I shall wait and watch, see what develops in the stress of Jane's life.