Across the Blue Mountains





The next morning we took our breakfast, and packing up our beds and provisions, prepared to depart, but during the night our team of bullocks and Hawkins' horse had returned to Emu. It was thought most desirable that we, with two drays, and Tom for our guard, should proceed to Springwood, as there was a house to go into. From the difficulty they had the preceding day with the bullocks they took from our cart the two horses, and gave us two bullocks. After a most fatiguing journey of nine miles we arrived. The house was inhabited by a corporal and two soldiers, kept there, I believe, to superintend the Government stock. Formerly a greater number of men were kept there, and there was a large room or store where provisions had been kept. A good barn in England would have been a palace to this place. There was a large kitchen, with an immense fireplace, and two small rooms behind. With the exception of a green in front, the house was completely in the wood.

The corporal's wife, an old woman, who had been transported above twenty years, with fawning manner, came forward to show us in. We entered the kitchen, which contained a long table and form, and some stumps of trees to answer the purpose of chairs, of which there was not one in the house. Several people were here to rest for the night, journeying from Bathurst to Sydney. We were shown into the small back room, which had nothing in it but a sofa, with slips of bark laid on it for the seat. Here I felt desolate and lonely. It was nearly dark; still Hawkins did not arrive, and we got quite miserable. At length the storekeeper from Emu arrived, and said to us that he could not get on without some horses being sent to his assistance. It was nearly nine o'clock before he arrived. I went out (it was dark), but such a scene of confusion as there appeared from the glare of the fires, the carts and drays, the men, tired with their day's work, swearing as they extricated the bullocks and horses. It was long before I could distinguish Hawkins. I felt comparatively safe when I did. The old woman, a most depraved character and well-known thief, with a candle held high above her head, screamed out: "Welcome to Springwood, sir !" He said, when he looked round, he felt sure his welcome would be the loss of whatever she could steal from us. He was much fatigued, not having had any refreshment all day.

It was my intention when I first arrived to have pitched one tent on the green, but it unfortunately was on top of the dray left with Hawkins, but having my mattresses, I spread them in the storeroom. The earth was dirty, damp and cold. We could not think of undressing the children, and when in bed all looked most miserable. I lay down with my baby. A very few minutes convinced me I should get no rest. The bugs were crawling by hundreds. The children were restless with them and the confinement of their clothes. The old woman had contrived to steal some spirits from our provision basket, which with what had been given to her made her and the soldiers tipsy. All was noise and confusion indoors ; without, swearing and wrangling with the men. Never did I pass a night equal to it. Hawkins remained all night on the green or in the cart watching. In addition to other noises, a flock of sheep had been driven into the yard, and they, to avoid the men, came close to the house and kept up a continual pat with their feet. Could any of our romance writers have been in my situation they might have planned an interesting scene to add to the horrors of their volumes. You may be certain we were happy when the morning came. We got our breakfast, and packing up our beds, bade adieu to the house at Springwood.






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