Chapter 1

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

11th November 1873

My dear great-great-granddaughter,

I must ask for your pardon. I have been exceedingly tardy with my correspondence since arriving at my journey’s end.  However, you can be assured that it is not without good reason.  My life here in Auckland has been unlike anything I have experienced.

After enduring the horrendous ocean voyage, I felt poorly for some time, as if I was still suffering the perpetual motion of that infernal ship. Dear Dr Hanley with his crumpled brow and his kind words was most attentive to my needs. But alas, much of his day is already taken with his patients.

However, I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of Mrs Dunstan, a rather genteel and elderly woman. Her daily presence did much to lift my melancholia.

“I do hope I haven’t inconvenienced you in any way, Mrs Dunstan,” I once said to her whilst sharing in tea and freshly baked scones.”

She delicately waved a white laced handkerchief. “Inconvenienced me? Nonsense, Mrs Hanley. I look forward to our conversations with much zeal.”

“As do I,” I said, feeling somewhat relieved.

Soon after, I fully recuperated and began to acquaint myself with my new home.

“What think you of our house?” Dr Hanley asked me one morning as he was about to leave. He had just donned his black top hat and appeared quite distinguished.

Our timber home is very befitting for someone of Dr Hanley’s station. It is only one storey high but is fashionably furnished and bears the quaintest of verandas.  “I think it is most agreeable, thank you,” I answered him with a smile.

Every Saturday evening, whenever Dr Hanley isn’t otherwise occupied, we partake in strolls along Queen Street, the main thoroughfare in Auckland. I must confess, at first I was a little tentative about what to expect. But I was suitably surprised.  The buildings are grand and plentiful. And people, fashionably dressed, promenade the street, window shopping, mingling and listening to street orators.  

I thought it quite civilised for a colony. However, I don’t much care for it when the weather is poor; the dirt street becomes nothing short of a quagmire. Nor do I take delight in the constant stench of horse manure and open sewerages.

Dr Hanley has been most kind to me and I have come to enjoy his company; I believe he enjoys mine in return. Sadly, just weeks ago, soldiers came to our home requesting his immediate assistance in a small township named Wairoa. There, many Maoris are sick with disease. Dr Hanley accepted his post honourably, and with much reluctance, I waved him off to his new destination.

Dear descendant, I have recently discovered that I am with child.  The idea fills me with such imitable joy, and yet I sense some trepidation as I begin another new journey.

An extremely distressed Mrs Dunstan has just arrived declaring she has something of import to tell me. I must go and pray it is not bad news.