31st. August 1851.
My good-for-nothing Son,
Your old mother did not answer your last very long letter, because she made sure that you would be seated on the little stool in the chimney corner long before her letter could reach Wellington, or any other of your haunts. But the old lady has reckoned far beyond the mark; and is now feeling certain that instead of returning to Paradice, you have started off to show yourself at the great Exhibition, to let the world see a fine specimen of a "truant son." I only wish I could go with you. Would I not show you off in your true colours? !!!
Don Pedro declares he will not write to you again, and where this is to find you, or what direction to put on it, I know not. I think I will enclose it to the "Duke", he being a "Highland Man," may chance to be in the secret of your movements.
Supposing you still feel some little interest in the affairs of New Plymouth. I will dot down a few items, and chit-chat of out little circles.
Marriages are past all count now. There are but two single girls left at the Henui; and they, no doubt, will be off the list before the end of the year. Births seem to come by the dozen. Deaths but few, - poor Catherine Foreman, and Mrs. Beal are the only ones since you left. New houses are springing up in all directions; but no new road, I am sorry to say. These are so bad as to be almost impassable in many places. The Motu people are obliged to go by the beach, "Black's bridge. being quite down; and the "Herekawe" not much better. If this one gives way, I know not what the Angels of Upper Paradice will do to find a road to their Vallies of Bliss.
You will hardly believe me when I tell you that Sam King has actually summoned Miss Wickstead to appear next Thursday before Capt. King for what he pleases to call a debt of £12:10:0, he having charged her £62:10/- for the section she passed on to you for £50:0:0; and which I most perfectly remember your saying at the time was the proper price; and you, I believe, offered the same section to Mr. Weston for that sum. Miss Wiekstead always objected, and protested against giving more than you had given her. The Kings, for months, tried to get her to say she would give the £62:10/-; but she remained firm.
At last, finding every other means fail, Miss King wrote a very pitiful note, saying that her health required her taking a trip to Auckland; but that her purse was so low that she could not accomplish it, and begged Miss Wickstead would, in charity, admit the debt, and send her the money, or any part of it. Upon this, Miss Wickstead at once consented, but told her she had no cash, but would give them a Heifer. This they refused. She then offered to give them back a section of land for £50:0:0. This they also refused. She then wrote to her brother ro sell a Heifer, to enable her to pay the Kings. Mr. Wickstead, naturally enough, on hearing the whole story, declared it to be an unfair transaction, and taking advantage of his sister's ignorance in business matters, consequently would not sell to raise cash for any such purpose. This was as far back as last February. In the meantime they have sent Mr. Govett to talk Miss Wickstead over to giving them the Heifer. For peace and quietness, and to be done with such a set, she told Mr. Govett that they might send for me to the Omata. She has heard nothing more from them, until last Monday, when she got the Summons. How it will end, time will show. It appears to me, that having obtained Miss
Wickstead's acknowledgement of the debt, under false pretences, and having twice refused the payment she offered, and having, from the first, protested against paying that sum for the section, and £50:0:0 being the sum paid by all who paid in ready money, no Court of Equity would give it against Miss Wickstead. That it was obtained under false pretences is fully shown by Miss King going to Auckland, and remaining there some months. But it is all owing to that Irish rebel of a wife of his. She has been a perfect firebrand amongst us. I have disliked the woman ever since she told me, in my own house, that she was sorry she had not been in Ireland when the Queen was there, that she might have found a Ball for her; at the same time adding, - "It would be of little use to shoot her, as she has so many brats to follow her." This was a fine speech for a female to make!! She never made another under my roof. It was the last time she was in my house. I told her then that such language should not be used in my hearing. Sammy is a fool to put himself into Wickstead's hands. The little man will be up to him like a porcupine; and he may rest assured that my quill will prick his sore. He forgets that Wickstead
came out in the same vessel with him; consequently knows all about the cause of his coming to this country, and why all the land was taken in his sister's name, and not in his own. I suspect that Thursday will bring many things to light, which will not sound much to Sammy's advantage. One would have thought that his having had, twice in his life, to run away from his creditors, would have made him a little more cautious. I must own that I hope the affair will be brought into Court, that the owrld may know the truth of the whole transaction. The Kings' folly deserves to be exposed right and left. If the world could only know all the in's and out's of their conduct, I am sure they would be hooted out of Society. I don't know how I came to allow myself to be humbugged so long by them, as I was. When I look back upon it, I can hardly believe it possible that I was such a fool. It is true my eyes began to open a little during our Wanganui troubles, but was in hopes Mr. Wilson did not see it; and I would not allow myself to see it. In their way, they certainly fleeced me in all ways; and so they did Miss Wickstead. Their present conduct is all we get by it. But enough of such rebels! I have wasted too much paper on them already.
I believe I have said my say, and shall merely add that every time Don Pedro puts on his old hat, he says, - "What can McLean be about with my two hats?" "May be," say I, "he has taken them to the Exhibition!" What lots you will have to tell me, when you come back! Till then, believe me, as ever,
Your loving old Mother
P.S. I find I cannot write to the Campbells this post, so shall send this through the Major. Don Pedro is writing to Mr. Cooper, all the local news about roads, Reform Clubs, etc. etc., so you had better get the cream of such matters from him, as I am but a poor hand at such skimmings.
It is allowed by all that the best part of a woman's letter is always found in the Post Script. The truth is found in this one; for although I do not give the important news myself, I point out to you where you can obtain it. I must positively say "Good-bye, and God bless you." It is getting late, and I must rest my old bones against my work for to-morrow. I have not had a servant for months. I find this hard work wearing me very fast. "Grin and bear it," must be, not only my motto, but that of all the New Plymouth ladies.