From The Family at Misrule (1895)

In the sequel to Ethel Turner‘s Seven Little Australians, the Woolcot family is seen five years later at their house, Misrule, ‘some distance up the Parramatta River’. The stepmother Esther has to deal with her own child – also called Esther – during February’s heat and humidity:

The next day was exceedingly hot, one of those moist, breathless days that make February the most unpleasant month in the year to Sydney folks.

Every one in the house felt utterly limp and cross and miserable, and daily duties were performed in as slipshod and languid a manner as possible. The cook had made a great pan of quince jam, and brought it into the breakfast-room on a tray for Esther to tie down. And Esther was sitting in the rocking-chair trying to make up her mind to do it, and wondering whether it would be easier to use string or paste. Small Esther was making a terrible noise. She owned dolls and bricks, little tea-services, and baby furniture – all the toys that well-regulated little girls are supposed to love; she generally tired of them, however, after a few minutes’ play.

At present she had made a tram of six heavy leather chairs, with the armchair for “motor”, and her little sweet face was scarlet and wet with the exertion of dragging them into place.

In addition to this she had taken the fire-irons out of the fender, and was rowing, or in some way propelling the train forward – to her own satisfaction, at any rate – by brandishing the tongs wildly about while she stood in the motor and shouted and cried, “Gee up!”

“Essie,” big Esther said at last, “you must be quiet. Poor mamma’s head aches. Where’s your doll? That’s not a pretty game.”

“All bwoked,” said Essie; “gee up, old twain.” Bang, bang, clatter, clatter.

“Essie, put those things away at once.” Esther noticed the poker for the first time. “You naughty girl, you are scratching the chairs dreadfully.”

“But I can’t make ze twain puff-puff wifout,” objected the engine-driver, “an’ we has to go to Bwisbane; det up wif you.” She leaned over the tall back of her locomotive, and made vigorous hits at the legs of it.

So vigorous indeed that the chair went over with a crash, precipitating Essie and the poker and tongs and shovel in four different directions.

“Oh dear,” said Esther, and sighed before she attempted to go to the rescue. Essie was always tumbling from somewhere or other and never got much hurt, and really it was terribly hot.

Ethel Turner, Australian, 1872-1958

J. Roarty & Son, Tennis tournament at Maramanah House, 64 Macleay Street, Potts Point (now Fitzroy Gardens), 1 January 1891. City of Sydney Archives

J. Roarty & Son, Tennis tournament at Maramanah House, 64 Macleay Street, Potts Point (now Fitzroy Gardens), 1 January 1891.
(City of Sydney Archives)

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