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He’d had many conversations in the past with Jo, but now Tim was seeing another side to her. Her beliefs so mirrored his own he was startled. “I think your mother was a wise woman, was she not?” he asked.
A small smile of reminiscence crossed her face as she nodded. “My father also was a knowledgeable man.” She sighed deeply. “If they had not been transported for stupid petty thievery the pair would have ended up in a much different situation.”
“So, how is it they became miners if they were intelligent well-educated folk?”
“That is the sorriest part of their tale. Father became obsessed by the stupid idea of gaining wealth the easy way.” The small sound of disgust she made displayed her opinion of this foolhardy venture. “As my mother told me, he met a man while working out at the sheep-yards, and this person convinced my father that all he had to do was go off into the mountains and gold was waiting there for any man with the strength and will to search for it.” She shrugged. “So as soon as both gained their tickets of leave, off he dragged her. I think she adored him, and that is why she endured such a hard life. I will never make the mistake of loving a man with such brainless ideas.”
Tim let out a harrumph. “Foolish girl. I have been told that love is blind, and when it strikes there is little you can do but go along with it. She gave birth to you and obviously loved you even though she let you run wild and behave more like a young larrikin than a respectable woman of breeding.”
“Hah! No thank you—I would never wish to be a primping simpering female of breeding. Have you observed how the so-called high-class ladies behave in town? And their Mamas!” She made a rude sound in her throat. “When I decide to marry, supposing I ever do, it will be with the man of my choice and not some moneybags chosen by a parent—or in my case, an uncle who cares little for me and more for amassing wealth. Why, he was already suggesting likely husbands for me as soon as I passed my seventeenth birthday. All of them many years my senior.” Another rude sound emphasised her opinion of that.
“Well, you are a free woman now it appears—and soon will be far away from him and any decisions he could have made for your future,” Tim said. What a sad life she had endured to date, even though her parents obviously loved her in some strange way. “It must have been horrific for you when they were killed.” Tim knew she did not like talking about that fateful day but she seemed in a talkative mood right now, so he ventured the question.
For a while, she stared into the distance without speaking. “I still wake at night with nightmares,” she said.