|By John William Haynes, active 1852 – 1882|
Our families had known each other for years and I got on well enough with George. We grew up; played together during the school holidays; at first he was like a brother. He looked well enough and everyone said I must be pleased with the prospect of such an auspicious match. But I sensed an anxiety and restlessness within him; I wondered - should I.
Despite little recompense of love our families expected us to marry and set great faith on our union. I did my duty; I did what I had to do to keep him. But it was all to no avail. It was far easier for him to escape the demands of society than I could ever have hoped for myself.
For months I had no idea I was in disgrace. The very sentiment filled me with fear. What could I do? I reached for all sorts of potions to try and save a yet more disgrace. But none were effective and only served to heighten my melancholy.
I had taken to wearing ever more extravagant dresses to hide my growing expanse. And had almost starved myself to try and deny my predicament. But when it was far too late there was no denying the unsightly truth.
Little was said; but looks could shame. It was then that I was sent here. To have the child out of the gaze of enquiring eyes. I blame my abstinence for a week and sickly darling. They don't expect it to have long to live. Society will have its revenge on me.
I cannot let myself get too attached to the little fellow. But I cannot help praying for its survival. All I can accomplish now is to watch with anxiety. I cry when they say it's for the best.
The consequence is I'm unlikely to ever have another child again. Something I have spent my whole life desiring and planning. It's the only task I have been brought up to accomplish. I'm damaged goods and no one will endure me.
So my life is forever over. I can see what beholds me, to die a sad spinster, passed from one resentful relation to another, ever dependent on their goodwill, ever looked on in unspoken shame. And never to speak of this pain again.
Many would, no doubt, condemn me if they knew the truth. But none could torment me more than I do myself.