As I sit in this cell, waiting to hang, I am at peace. I wouldn't change anything that led me to my conclusion.
Her name was Susannah. She was a dark haired beauty, with porcelain skin and deep, blue eyes that had seen too much. She was a convicted murderer. I first saw her on a cloudy day in The Port of Bristol. She had chains on her wrists, and looked small next to the other Sydney bound prisoners waiting to board the 'Cleopatra', a convict ship set to embark on the notorious year long voyage to the land down under.
I was in charge of all supplies aboard, the Jack of the Dust is what they called me. It wasn't an easy job, but I took pride in what I did. A year is a long time at sea, and in that time I would hear many a story from the prisoners, about what they left behind, the loved ones they lost and what might lie ahead for them. Some stories I don't recall, but hers I will never forget. She had married a drunk, plain and simple. He was a hateful man. A violent man. She took his beatings for 6 years until one night she couldn't take it any more. She made his dinner and poured him his whiskey, then stuck an 8 inch meat cutter into his stomach. They told her she'd hang. She said she'd take that over another day waiting for him to come home and feel the burn of his hateful fists.
It didn't take long for me to fall in love with her. No time at all really. And those dark ocean nights when I could release her from her cuffs, and be with her while the others lay sleeping were the best of my life. The cold, the hunger and the smell of the gangrene from the other prisoners didn't bother me anymore, I'd become desensitised, But the thought of her body hanging by the noose got to me. I would die before I let that happen. I devised a plan. All I had was a gut instinct and an old friend who owed me one.
We arrived in Circular Quay late in the Autumn. The land felt foreign after so long away. Foreign, but heavenly. Jonathan Delehunt, a Welshman who captained a freight ship about to embark for New Zealand was anchored in the same harbour. A few years back I was a seaman on his ship. His son had fallen overboard on a night of revelry and I had jumped into the icy waves to retrieve what I thought would be a lifeless body. By the love of Christ, he lived to see another day. Captain Delehunt had sworn that he owed me his life, or anything I ever needed. On this day, there was something I would. After freeing her and smuggling her into the remaining supply crates, the captain and I were able to sneak her aboard the Kororareka bound ship.
He gave me his word he would keep her safe, and get her to New Zealand in one piece, or die trying. I trusted very few men, but I knew in that moment he was worthy of all the trust I had. I shook his hand and told him we were square. The guards were alerted to a missing convict, so time was of the essence. I knew I had only a lone moment to say goodbye. I kissed her one last time, but not before she told me she was not alone.
"I'll name him Jack" were the last words she ever said to me.