|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||A Life's Punishment|
In taking up my pan to commence a awry, or more correctly speaking to make notes of.
those incidents in my life that have made or j marred its happiness. I feel that I owe an apology to many men whose example I now follow. There waa a time when the word " diary" was hateful to me. I disliked that species of literature, and wonld hare ohosen rather to abandon reading altogether than be forced to read a diary. It showed bad taste on my part, of course, and I hare not a word to eay in my defence.
I hare nerer, to this day, thoroughly read the diaries of Evelyn and Pepys, but I hare read and sympathized with fiobineon Crusoe. I can understand that his diary filled the place of a companion to him in his solitude, and that it gave even more comfort to him to write in it than to talk to his man Friday. And I am in somewhat the eame position as CruBoe. I want a companion. I am on an island, but it is more like a garden than a desert; there are more than a eoore of men within hailing distance of me, but lam alone. It is a true saying that a man may be solitary in a crowd. I hare plenty of people around me to whom I can speak, and who speak to me, but I hare not that one particular friend to whom I can speak from the depthB of my heart. I hear men talk now and then of haring such a comrade, but I am inclined to doubt them. They don't, I am sure, tell him erery thing, and we would require to know a man for a lifetime before one could feel sure of his derotedness and secresy. But then there are many men who bare nothing of oonBeqnence to confide If erery secret thought that erer crossed their mind was published no one, perhaps, would be a whit the wiser, happier, more sorrowful, or in any way disturbed. Maybe I am happier in not haring found any one worthy of my confidence. How 1 should daily have suspected him of haring betrayed me 1 I know I should. But l can hare ho such feeling towards this book in which I am writing, lean tell it just so muoh as I wish, and it cannot press me byquestions to eay more. - No eye -but mine will see it. It will be" locked away in iny desk when I am from home. Being insentient it is beyond the reach of the temptation to gossip, or in vague terms to hint at what might be told if it were not for a promise. In short, it is free from most human weaknesses. I may, with safety, put down the story of my life. And the sombre hue of the ink will be in keeping with its tone.
i am writing in a rongh two roomed hut on the Pamatta Bun. I hare been here for many years, and I hope to end my days in the same spot. But though a bushman aud living in the bush, it is not the profession for which I was intended; neither am I Australian bora.
To look back to the daya when I was a clerk in London seeme an age, aud yet counting by time it is not bo long ago. It is not time but things that brings age to men. To say that I was a clerk is not assuming a a very high position in society; but it was one in a merchant's oifice, where, if I had stayed, 1 had the prospect of rising to a partnership. I was an only nephew to the senior partner.
When my position admitted it I married. The day, the ceremony, the honeymoon, everything connected with that period, are as fresh in my mind as though they had taken place yesterday. But the most bright and vivid memory is that of the face of my bride. It springs up before me in an instant as I meditate, in all its beauty aud maiden
But behind that comes a memory which with its shadow mars and blots out all the brightness. I had a besetting weakness—no matter of what description—but one stronger than I was. I fonght against it time after time. I fought desperately, but yet feeliag that it was a hopeless fight. I was vanquished. I committed a second wrong—no, crime is the word—a second orime to conoeal the first. I trusted to being able to hush everything up, and to escape detection, fool that I was. I might have known better , than to suppose I
could avoid the consequences of wrong- i doing. That I mast leave my home—leave
England—became more certain day by day. j t had no reet hardly day or night. Fear 1 walked beside me to the office, haunted me
all day long, eat opposite to me at the 1 dinner table at home, and perched upon my pillow dnring the long weary nights.
I knew then why people took away their own lives. It is said to be cowardly that a man Bhonld not face hie troubles. I know that if relief bad not come to me just then I should hare acted like a coward.
The business I was in had branches in Europe and in America, News came one day that the Manager in America had levanted. I was ohosen by my uncle to be the one to go across and make things straight again. I had been seven years married at this time, and ten years in the bnainess. An older clerk might nave been eent, but it woe considered a good opportunity for me to make the trip, and it was believed that I was thoroughly competent to undertake the work.
There k ho heed to say how relieved I felt at having this loophole of escape opened to me. A vessel left Liverpool in two days'
time, and I was to sail in her. There was. little time for leavetaking, or indeed for pre paration of any sort. My wife understood that I should not be away for very long, and was charmed by the thought. She was to go down to the country to her friends. But as I kissed her good-by and took my boy in my armB and hiBBed him too, I knew th&tawe should not meet again for a very long time perhaps, and certainly not again on England's
Before I placed my foot on American soil my misdeeds would be known to my uncle, my wife, and all my friends. I had formed as yet no plan of procedure upou which to act when I had crossed 'the Atlantic. But
, that I was debarred from t iking a part
in the American business was a point I had quite decided in my o vn mind. As the train hurried me towards Liverpool I had plenty of time to think. Bat my reflections were not pleasant companions, and to escape them I opened a paper purchased at the railway station. Glancing down its columns my eye was arrested by an article on the Australian ColonieB I bad read and had been interested by previous notices concerning that country. After reading the article it flashed across me that 1 should do better in many ways by going there than to America. Onr firm was unknown in Australia. Turning to the ship ping column, I saw that a vessel was to depart from Liverpool to Adelaide on the following day. It seemed as though fate had arranged everything to my hands. My mind was made up long ere the train reached its destination ; I would go to Australia. And for reasons which were not quite clear to me at the moment, I determined to mislead any enquiries that might be made in the future as to my movements.
Arrived at Liverpool I learnt that the American vessel the Heartsease and the Australian vessel NemeBis were to sail within an hour of one another. I paid fur a passage by the Heartsease and went on board. There was a great crowd and much confusion. A number of emigrants were going by her, and the deckB were thronged with people coming and going, and with luggage and goods of all sorts. Entering my cabin, 1 changed my dress and altered mv appearance as much as possible. Then I mixed on deok with the crowd and slipped quietly away unobserved.
At the office of the Nemesis I shipped under the assumed name of Woodman, and stayed in my cabin until we were well away from the shore. It was here that I wrote a full confession to my wife; told her where I was bonnd for, and entreated her, if she thought she could still care for me and over look the past, to write to the Adelaide Post Office and tell me so. If she oould do this, I would strive hard to make a home for her in the oolony, and would write to her when to
The pilot took my letter when he left as, and promised to post It. He said he would be
certain to remember it. But I believe that my wife never received that letter.