Mother was right when she said that my desire for things of material elegance and resentment for those who were able to attain such enjoyment would be the end of me. But I cannot help it if I wish to lead such a life. Doesn't every person wish the same? To live in a world of splendour and elegance, a world of colourful soft silks and satins which is far better than to live in a cold, drab, miserable existence crammed with poverty. But because of my lust of such unattainable possessions is why I am in the trouble I am in now.
I should never have committed such crimes but a person has to when you are deprived of simple necessities like a functional lodging and adequate digestible food. After father had died not even the wages of William's, my older brother and my own combined were able to satisfy the demanding charges for the lodging rental. I only stole small amounts from the emporium where my brother and I worked in. It was only a brooch or trinket a week, which I pawned in for money that was used to buy our food. But then it became an obsession where I had to steal things, not only to provide for us our requirements but also for my own childish satisfaction of owning such fanciful things. The small trinkets that I usually stole became wonderful gowns of silk and velvets, many of which I kept for myself, hiding them around our around the lodging.
William had caught me on numerous occasions and was constantly rebuking me on how wrong it was. I knew it was wrong to steal. Not only was it against the catholic tradition, in which we followed but it was against the law. I knew the consequences, indeed I had seen the hangings with my own eyes, but it did not matter to me. I thought that I could get away with larceny and I did for the first few months. But I should've known it would not last. Things never last when you are underprivileged.
I can still remember the day I was caught and how the officer believed that it was William who had done most of the stealing. They had invaded our pathetic house and found all the dresses and ribbons I had stole for myself in William's room, where I had meant to keep them temporarily, and believed that it was he who had stolen. I had pleaded guilty and tried to clear Williams name but it was no use. Our trial at court was held on the same day and once again I had tried to clear my brother's name but my contrite weeping and pleading only antagonised the Lord who was sentencing us further more than whatever anger he already felt. The man was merciless and only showed resentment towards us as if our lives meant nothing to him. I tried lying and said that I had a family and children but of course they knew I didn't. William did have a child. The lord who sentenced us knew that. He himself had children. He knew what it felt to be leaving them to go to gaol or anywhere else but he did not care. As long as it wasn't him in the seat he did not care. William was sentenced to death and I was given 14 years of transportation to some place out of England.
I cannot count how many tears I had shed for all those many long months I was confined in the cold, overcrowded, dark, damp prison for my brother. He had taken his sentence without a word for me. It was so dark there I was unable to tell whether it was day or night. Many of the other women who were held in the hellhole were ruthless and unfriendly. Others were weak and feeble, as myself, constantly crying. A few of them died. I was unable to say goodbye to my brother before his sentence was carried out. I could imagine mother standing there among the jeering crowd watching him with her sad tearful eyes. Blaming me.
I am forever in my brother's debt. I still wish it was I who had taken his sentence and not him. In prison the bigger stonger women beat me because of my constant weeping. But what has happened has happened. Instead of wishing I was dead I needed to think about my future and what I was to do when I made it to wherever I was going.
I soon found out that I was to be transported to Sydney in the New Southern Land. The idea of travelling to a new land was frightening. Only God new what dangers there were in that land.
At this moment I am sitting in my bunk of the Princess Royal, the old ship filled with other women convicts that will take us to our destination at Botany Bay. The only possessions I carry with me is the one plain dress I wear at this moment, a few sheets of scrap paper and a bottle of ink, which I had stolen from of the ship. Even now I cannot contain myself. We have been travelling for a five months so far. It is not as bad as I had expected it to be. Although we are all cramped into this dark never ending narrow hall like area filled with bunks we are able to move around freely in some areas of the deck. We are given food that is edible and there are other women who I can talk to. The seamen too are good company. I am now faced with the problem of having nothing to do. Most of the others sleep their time away. I just sit on the deck and watch the water as we sail towards Botany Bay.
Most of the others who are here have stolen to feed their families. I feel so selfish because of the reason I had stolen. And because of my selfishness I no longer have a brother, a shadow I will always have to carry around with me.
But now I guess I can start a new life. I did not cry as I watched the building of Portsmouth disappear slowly from my sight as our ship drifted out at sea. I was not sad or sorry that I was leaving England. She had never done me any good. It was because of her that I was forced to steal.
I am no longer too afraid of my fate. I have heard stories from other women on how wonderful Sydney is. I hope the stories are true and not just myths. Louisa, an old lady was telling me that we have been given an opportunity to restart our lives in a new land and we should grasp it with both hands. I believe her. I believe that I have been given another chance in life. To make the life that I want. If all turns good I do not think I will return to England. Even if things turn for the worse I doubt I'll return.