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2-354 (Text)

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Newlands, Port Fairy
23rd December 1849
My dearest Mother,
We received a letter from Mr LeMann about a fortnight since containing the very best news to us we have had since we came to the country. I need not tell you it related to my dear sister and the prospect of seeing her here at no distant period. I cannot express to you the unbounded joy and happiness it gave both George and me, for although we had built many a castle on the subject we were afraid they would be merely castles in the air, and indeed I have partly resided in that very light element since. I know she will grieve at parting from you but hers will be much sooner removed than yours.
With regard to any imaginary privations you may fancy she will have to endure, you may make your mind quite easy. Port Phillip, is a different country to what it was ten years ago and the Bush a different place to live in. You now see houses and furniture there that would not shame a town and as good living as they have in Northumberland, very different from what I had to put up with. Besides, is she not coming to friends who know her through me and will be ready to welcome her as soon as she sets foot in Australia, to say nothing of those she will have for her husband's sake who is universally respected and is every way worthy of such a wife?
Mr Dawson was here yesterday, he had got a letter from LeMann. Mary had, he said, won the hearts of all his family. He wrote in capital spirits and was most anxious for Mr Dawson and George to have everything nice, but we all laid our heads together and determined upon putting up no building until they both should see the place. As we could not agree where the house should be, our plan is that they should come here first. Of course it will take Mary and I a long time to talk over the events of ten years, quite as long as getting the house ready. Besides if everything is so very comfortable, she will think we have been exaggerating all this time.
If Mary arrives safely here, I shall begin to think there is a good time coming and we will get on by degrees. I am thankful to say my health is better now than it has been for many years.  My friends tell me I am growing young, but I shall never be strong. My only fear now is of anything happening to dash the cup of happiness from our lips, but we are in the hands of a Higher Power and must put our faith in Him.
I do not despair now of seeing others of the family here. My sisters would get good situations as governesses until married and you might live like a queen on your income. Now what have my sisters to look forward to at home? Slavery all their lives to keep up an appearance. Kate must really make a move after her cousins have done so well. She had better seriously think of the offer I have had for her, but I fear the gentleman will not wait long. Courtships are always very short in this country, seen one week and married the next. Another peculiarity of this country is that men, gentle and simple, are rather fond of beating their wives - a gentleman residing in Belfast killed his the other day. He had not been married six months.
Our harvest will soon commence. I hope men will be more plentiful this year. Oh servants are a bother and the newly arrived ones the worst, for they have their heads filled with such absurd notions before they leave home. I have an Irish woman lately arrived who can do nothing but boil a potato, but she grumbles at everything and wishes herself back in Ireland where she had cream in her tea.
Your always affectionate daughter,
Penelope Selby.

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