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2-270 (Original)

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author,female,Selby, Penelope,un addressee,female
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Frost, 1984
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2-270.txt — 3 KB

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Yarra River
3rd February 1843 
My very dear Sisters, It is long since I wrote to you but having nothing either new or pleasant to communicate has made me lazy. I fancy I hear you say 'I wish Pen would tell us something about the country,' - Alas, I can say little good of it, for just now it is looking very barren, the grass is all either burnt with the sun or the fires and we are anxiously looking for rain. I have had Captain and Mrs Howey with their daughter staying with me the last week, and as it always happens in this country, George's horses - that is, his mare, my mare and a foal - most mysteriously disappeared out of the paddock the day before their arrival, and he has not found them yet, so that the whole of his time has been taken up seeking them and we ladies could not have any rides, but it is always the case here if you want to do anything or go anywhere. Either the horses or cows cannot be found, and you are obliged to stay at home. The most provoking part of this business is that George has been at great expense enclosing a paddock for these beasts and thought himself so secure and we had them at the door late the night before we lost them.
Everybody in the very worthy town of Melbourne either has or is likely to fail, and the distress they say is very great. The settlers too are nearly as badly off. As a specimen, one settler has a fine run and about 400 head of first rate cattle. [166] [He] put them up to auction and was only offered 22 shillings the head, with the Station and all the improvements to be given in. For cows no better George paid thirteen pounds when he came here. They say that they who can weather the storm will do well and I have no fear that we shall be able to do so. Still, we feel it though we may not be so likely to be uprooted as the proud oak. We only now get 13d for the butter and that we would not have had if George had not made a contract for the year, and I do not think that commodity will ever be higher, for all the large stock holders that scorned making butter when they could get 2/- the pound for it, now that it is half the price are establishing large dairies. If you should chance to meet Miss Martineaux, you may mention this to her, and as she is a great writer on political economy, she may write a book upon the subject.
Our establishment is very much reduced. We have only ourselves and cousin George, who has not suited himself with anything yet, so he is staying with us instead of a boy, and milks the cows and tends them through the day just as the boy did. He is a real good tempered lad. I often say to him 'how are the mighty fallen', and he only laughs, and I am glad he has the sense to put pride in his pocket.
The boys are growing fast and are very useful to me. They have been staying a week with Mrs Dawson and almost as soon as they returned told us with great glee that Mrs Dawson and they had dug a long time near where her little baby was found, and at last they came to one which looked just like a chrysalis wrapped in a piece of brown paper, but that in six months it would be big enough when they would dig it up again and bring it to me - she is a funny body and though she may have the chance to dig out one, it will not be before the middle of September.
With our best and lasting loves to all around your fireside, I remain,
your affectionate
P. Selby