|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||Ria. A West Australian Story|
Three days after, they were all together again at Baylup, going home. Jim Pitman had been buried, and the young widow in her weedB was sitting on a log nursing her baby, her mother-in-law beside her.
Hitherto she had avoided all discussion about the future, and of what 8he was going to do about the place. It was all her own ; Jim Pitman had nothing but himself to bring, and a few head of horses, when he married her. Her father had known old Pitman long, from being neighbours, and the boy Jim was quick and handy, and had been often useful to him, to help him with the cattle, and in other ways ; and Maria had given up her own desires, and married him to please her father. But by her father's will everything he left was hers-the house, and farm, and run, and the cattle, and small tiock of sheep. He had feared to leave his life's labour at the mercy of his son-in-law, in whom he had found himself much disappointed, and his prudence was now a cause or thankfulness to Maria, for even during the short time passed since her father's death she found her husband had run up a heavy bill in town, which she had made herself responsible to pay.
One thing she had made up her mind about -the Pitmana should not interfere with her; she was not going to be dictated to by them. They were talking, meddling people, and needy ^ too, and they would want her to them selves, she thought, to get all they could out of her, and this she waa determined that they should not do. She would manage right through herself, with a man to J help her; and she would ask Sullivan to atop, she thought that he would suit her. From a child she had grown up on this farm, and was at no loss to know what should be done. There was but a bit of hay to put in every year, and the potatoes and such things, and that the man could do.and she had anola nativ e and his wife who had been with them many years to mind the sheep. The cattle were no trouble to her, she had handled them all by turns as calves ; and with Sullivan to do the ploughing and rough work, and a little extra help at shearing time ana harvesting, she felt she'd get along all right.
So she had managed until now to keep the Pitmans off the subject, and had refused on plea of her late trouble to talk with them, about the farm and what she was to do.
But now the old woman said that she and Pitman had been talking, and that thev would not leave her in the lurch. Tom, now the oldest left, should go up and live at Woodhill, they could box their sheep with hers, the runs being so close together, and Tom could see after both lots, and Maria could come down and live with them. Tom would then mind her place and live there by himself.
But Maria said, " No; thank you, mother, all the same; I'm going to mind the place myself. Sullivan wul stop on, I daresay, and I'll be right enough. I'm not agoing to leave
And Mrs. Pitman answered, "A young female couldn't do the hke of that, the men folk were most good for ploughing, and minding sheep and cattle, ana such like, and
women s place was with the pots and pans j and baby's messes; and she must just come
down and make herself at home with them, ! and not be flabbergastering about the place like a mad heifer on the loose." And Maria, getting heated, said she would not, that's flat, her father left the place to her, and she had done her share towards getting the bits of things together, and keeping of them straight, and what was her own she'd mind and stick to ; and nobody should have a say in anything but she, or be poking in to mess about her place. And Tom could mind their own sheep, and make a job of that. And what she'd eaid-she'd said, and didn't
want to speak about no more.
. Mrs. Pitman-seeing her so resolute and so angry-felt that it would not do to ride the high horse over her ; they did not want to quarrel with her, and lose her from the family. But it was not simply telling that would make her do their bidding, ana that she saw right well: eo she answered that Maria coula please herself, of course ; being grown now, and a responsible widow-woman, with a farm and baby of her own. But if so, she had enough on her hands, God in heaven knew, what with one thing and another; and Bhe was not going to fash herself with stop ping people's tongues when they wagged, as wag they wpuld over a young female doing for herself, and keeping of a young serving man like Sullivan. That was not what slie'a been taught to think respectable, but things was altered now, and Maria could just please herself, of course.
Maria sat still thinking, and gradually sot very red, and said, Well, it mother could let her have one of the girls-Elizabeth Anne
would do-to live with Her-she thought that might be best; live on the place herself she must, and people would say less about Eliza beth Anne than they would aay of Tom if he came stopping there; and with another woman to live with her, she need not fear their tongues. She was not Beared, and never had much trouble to mind herself.
. So Mrs. Pitman was. obliged to content her Belf with this, and Elizabeth Anne, who had also been to tpwn, was transferred to Maria's cart; and then they said good-bye, and went, their roads, the PitmanB turning off at Baylup,' ana the Woodhill turn-off being