ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tragedy after tragedy follows Ruth, but she bounces
back, getting more and certain she’ll get her revenge.
Irish colleen full of life and fun, which invariably
gets her into difficult situations, but her kind Irish heart always sees her
Comes from a wealthy family.
Good education, trendy holidays and friends, but married to a playboy who
finally gets his desserts.
incredible, devastating, suffocating heat.
hair was saturated. Salty sweat trickled down my cheeks and down the back of my
neck. It was intolerable.
The few clothes I was wearing were firmly stuck to me. I'd swallowed numerous glasses of water and taken salt tablets.
air conditioning was on and the fans swirling at full blast above my head.
The kookaburras and the cockatoos were happily stuffing themselves and dropping seeds all over the garden.
and the tropical hibiscus bravely waved their dazzling orange and purple
blossoms towards the blazing sun.
would defeat them. She always did. By lunchtime they would be shriveled up and
was a cruel climate but it also had the power to hold and devour you. Eventually
you surrendered and became part of this land. The Tablelands held me enthralled.
I knew I would never leave.
arrived every day in buses and cars from Cairns to see the tea, coffee, rice and
tobacco plantations, also the mountains, the volcanic craters and the amazing
Tablelands certainly looked like the Garden of Eden, but it held many secrets.
had merely unraveled one of them.
1 (part sample)
Morning…good morning. You lucky people enjoying life in the tropics."
radio blared on echoing in the background. I turned towards the cupboard in the
kitchen and put my breakfast dishes away. I must get down to my writing, I'd
promised a poem for our St. Patrick's Day party. Ruth would be over. That was
inevitable. Her visits were becoming more frequent. I couldn't be rude to her. I
really wanted to get to know the people, but I needed some privacy to do my
writing. I was a newcomer and my immediate neighbours were charming. I hardly
saw them. They were as busy as I would like to be. Ruth was different. She
visited me at least three times a day armed with fruit, preserves, pickles and
the hot favourite of everyone, the lamingtons. I'd tried to repay her, but I was
fighting a losing battle. This merely incurred more.
as the days passed I discovered the real Ruth and without exaggeration, she was
the most shocking gossip I had ever had the misfortune to meet. She hadn't one
good word to say about the neighbours or anyone else. I doubt she ever heard one
word I said. Her only interest was watching and imparting gossip. The minute she
entered my house she made her way over to the window to watch the neighbours.
She missed nothing.
I had a brainwave. I would write about the Tablelands. I gave her a coffee and
settled her down. "Ruth…I am writing an article about the Tablelands.
Could you tell me about life here when you were a teenager and show me the
comparisons from then until today?" Strangely Ruth became eager and excited
to help me. I must admit it took a very long time because she still made her
excursions to the window, but eventually I managed to get the most amazing story
from Ruth. Ruth had a very lurid past. She certainly surprised me.
Cogan had three brothers and one sister. They had always lived just a short
distance from Mareeba. They had a small property and were a very close family.
At fifteen Ruth had left school and her parents got her a live-in position at
the Convent in Mareeba. Her duties were to help Sister Concepta with the cooking
and the cleaning. Sister Concepta was an excellent cook, and. Ruth was well
trained. She was also very happy there. The sisters were a cheerful crowd. They
were kind to her and she had her own room.
was just two years later that her parents told her they were moving to Ingham.
Her father had sold the property. It had been so dry the last two years and the
year before the cyclone had ruined all their crops. It was impossible for him to
provide for this family. He had taken a position on a large cattle station and a
house was included. Ruth took one look at their glowing faces and decided she
also would like a change.
nuns were all very nice, but life was rather dull for Ruth. The sisters were
sorry to see her go. They all turned up to wave them off and cheer them on their
was a very tired and bedraggled family that finally arrived in Ingham. Mr. Cogan
had been worried that the old truck would not make it, but it did. As soon as
they entered the town they pulled over and all got out to stretch their legs. A
tall, spare man was busily unloading a truck and Mr. Cogan went over to him and
asked him if he could direct them to the Henderson’s property. He said he
would be delighted and if they could wait a few minutes, he was going out that
way and he could show them.
discovered later that everyone called him 'The Pommie". He had an English
accent, but they all liked him because he had a great sense of humour.
Everything was fine until they reached the house they were to live in.
mother was in shock. It had two bedrooms and a very small room. Their parents
had one bedroom, the boys squeezed into the other and Ruth and her sister
Rachel, tried to manage in the small room. After supper mother gathered them all
around her. "Ruth and Rachel my dears, I am afraid we shall need the small
room for young Peter and that will mean you two girls will have to find
live‑in positions until we can at least start to build on
extensions." They all agreed. There was no alternative. Rachel was now
sixteen and quickly found a position with a good family in Townsville. Her
mother took her there and was very happy with the family.
problem was Ruth. There was only one position in the paper for someone older.
This was for a home help. She insisted on going out by herself and if she were
suitable, she would stay. Her father, by now friendly with the 'pom' asked him
if he would take her out there. He agreed, but he did not seem at all happy
last they arrived and Ruth asked him if he would wait in case she didn't get it.
He nodded, but didn't say another word. She went inside and the man asked her if
she had brought her clothes with her. She nodded and he marched out and called
out to the 'pommie'. "You can go. She is staying." Ruth watched him
drive away without a word and thought it was all very strange.
hard‑nosed German, Herman Gotleibe owned the place. She didn't know they
had gone through four girls in the past two years. She didn't like the
atmosphere one bit, but it would do for the present. She could look for
something else on her half day off. She was depressed when he showed her to her
was not in the house, but above the cowshed and stables. The room contained an
old dressing table with a mildewed, cracked mirror, a rickety old chair, two
wire coat hangers and a single bed with a flock mattress. There was a pillow
without a pillowslip and an army blanket on top. Ruth whispered, "Home
sweet home". She could hardly believe her eyes. She next met Gerda,
Herman's wife. There were six children and Gerda was around seven months
pregnant. She certainly looked stressed out and weary.
was not allowed to eat with the family. She soon discovered her place was in the
kitchen. The family had butter on their bread. Ruth had dripping. She didn't
really mind the dripping except at teatime when she managed to sneak a spoonful
of jam. The dripping did not go down well with the jam.
had to be up at five am to light the stove, cook the breakfast, put up the
children's school lunches and then dash along to milk the cows. When she
mentioned her afternoon off she was smartly told she would have to be there a
month before she could have that. Life was becoming a misery to Ruth. She had so
little to eat and the work was sheer drudgery
the end of the month she asked Gerda about her afternoon off. Gerda paced the
room, the unborn child heaving up and down.
no have time off. I no look after childer. You must."
was furious. "I must see your husband. This is ridiculous."
she yelled “please he be very angry." Gerda was almost in tears. So Ruth
left it another week.
was eight thirty and Thursday. Sauerkraut night and Ruth was putting away the
dishes. She hated sauerkraut and most of all cooking it. Herman always
complained and said she did not make it properly. She knew this was true. Hadn't
Sister Concepta always told her that if your heart wasn't in it, you never made
a good job of anything? It was the preparing of it she hated most. Chopping up
the onions and the bacon she did not mind. It was that evil smelling tin of
sauerkraut. It made her sick. She never ate it.
had just put the dishes away when Herman appeared at the door. He looked at Ruth
then down at the floor. She'd scrubbed it only that morning but he'd stomped in
with his filthy boots and she'd had no time to clean it up
was in a vile mood. One of his calves had died and she knew he was about to take
it out on her. "'This floor is filthy," he yelled,
"what I pay you for girl?" He puffed out his cheeks. "Get
down and do it now. Do you hear? I not pay you for nothing." Ruth was
almost in tears. She hadn't the strength to argue with him. Wearily she dragged
out the bucket and scrubbing brush and started on the kitchen floor. Her head
ached, her knees ached. In fact she ached all over. By the time Ruth had
finished and staggered to her room it was after ten o'clock. She was so weary
she just fell onto her bed without undressing and fell fast asleep.
awoke next morning to the sun streaming into her room. It was six o'clock. She
had forgotten to put her alarm on. Herman would hit the roof. She raced into the
kitchen and lit the stove and prepared the breakfast. As soon as she heard
Herman's heavy tread coming down the steps she fled outside to milk the cows.
Her head was spinning. She'd not had a morsel of food since the previous
had just reached the last cow when she noticed a mug hanging on a hook near the
door. Quickly she hurried over and brought it over to the cow. Squeezing its
udder she filled the mug and greedily drank it down. She was just savoring the
last drops when Herman's voice bellowed out at her.
in 'eaven girl," he almost choked, "you thieving slut. Now I see why
milk quota is down. You steal da milk and you haf not put childer's lunch
up." He was livid. His face was scarlet. "I stop your wages. You pay
for this girl."
calm suddenly left her. She shot off the stool and faced him.
mean, greedy bastard. You work me like a slave and you don't feed me. I haven't
had a half-day off in six weeks. I've had it mate, you can get another
mug." She started for the steps to her room, but he grabbed her and twisted
back to the kitchen and make lunches and take childer to school."
hurting me you rotten brute. Let go of me," yelled Ruth. His eyes blazing,
he started shaking her. Ruth felt really scared.
do as I say woman. What I pay you for?" He was spitting as he stormed.
the first time, Ruth sensed real danger and her animal instinct took over. Up
came her knee. Slam - bang. Right into his groin. He groaned with agony, then
slumped to the ground. He certainly hadn't expected that from her, but what now?
He was rising and he looked positively evil.
in time Ruth noticed the spade and grabbed it. He'd taken one step towards her
when she raised it and let him have it. His eyes blurred as he sank back to the
ground. Ruth took one look at the blood spurting from his head, then fled
upstairs and picked up her few belongings. She must not forget her five weeks
pay. It was in her top drawer. She knew she was going to need it.
down the steps she ran, took a quick look at Herman, then hurried out of the
door. She hadn't one ounce of pity for him. He deserved it. She hoped he was
she made her way past the house Gerda came outside.
you go Ruth?" she called, "childer’s lunches not done. Where you
quit," called back Ruth "you can put them up yourself and take them to
school. I've had it!"
ran down the drive and out onto the lane gasping for breath. She hadn't gone far
when she heard the truck coming.
Prices in Australian Dollars CURRENCY
(c)2004 Zeus Publications All rights reserved.