Had my father occupied one of the fat positions of the land, no doubt as his daughter my life would have been so full of pleasant occupation and pleasure that I would not have developed the spirit which torments me now. Or had I a friend—one who knew, who had suffered and understood, one in whom I could lose myself, one on whom I could lean—I might have grown a nicer character. But in all the wide world there was not a soul to hold out a hand to me, and I said bitterly, “There is no good in the world.” In softer moods I said, “Ah, the tangle of it! Those who have the heart to help have not the power, and those who have the power have not the heart.”
Bad, like a too-strong opponent in a game of chess, is ever at the elbow of good to checkmate it like a weakly managed king.
I am sadly lacking in self-reliance. I needed some one to help me over the rough spots in life, and finding them not, at the age of sixteen I was as rank a cynic and infidel as could be found in three days’ march.
Possum Gully Left Behind. Hurrah! Hurrah!
If a Sydney man has friends residing at Goulburn, he says they are up the country. If a Goulburn man has friends at Yass, he says they are up the country. If a Yass man has friends at Young, he says they are up the country, and so on. Caddagat is “up the country”.
Bound thither on the second Wednesday in August 1896, I bought a ticket at the Goulburn railway station, and at some time about 1 a.m. took my seat in a second class carriage of the mail-train on its way to Melbourne. I had three or four hours to travel in this train when I would have to change to a branch line for two hours longer. I was the only one from Goulburn in that carriage; all the other passengers had been in some time and were asleep. One or two opened their eyes strugglingly, stared glumly at the intruder, and then went to sleep again. The motion of the train was a joy to me, and sleep never entered my head. I stood up, and pressing my forehead to the cold window-pane, vainly attempted, through the inky blackness of the foggy night, to discern the objects which flew by.
I was too full of pleasant anticipation of what was ahead of me to think of those I had left behind. I did not regret leaving Possum Gully. Quite the reverse; I felt inclined to wave my arms and yell for joy at being freed from it. Home! God forbid that my experiences at Possum Gully should form the only food for my reminiscences of home. I had practically grown up there, but my heart refused absolutely to regard it as home. I hated it then, I hate it now, with its narrowing, stagnant monotony. It has and had not provided me with one solitary fond remembrance—only with dreary, wing-clipping, mind-starving recollections. No, no; I was not leaving home behind, I was flying homeward now. Home, home to Caddagat, home to ferny gullies, to the sweet sad rush of many mountain waters, to the majesty of rugged Borgongs; home to dear old grannie, and uncle and aunt, to books, to music; refinement, company, pleasure, and the dear old homestead I love so well.