Miss Arabella Braithewaite of Switherby knows there is no future for the ten orphans—a remarkable mix of genteel and working class children—she has gathered together in these years of England's grim factory growth in the early 1820s. Her plan, quite outrageous in the eyes of most, is to take the children to Australia to take up a land grant. Thus, one day the townsfolk gather to watch a line of departing 'pilgrims" led by the fearless "Missabella." On a new continent, and after a daunting ocean voyage, the challenges begin. To the orphans it becomes a life-giving adventure, even when serious unexpected threats must be overcome.
Australian author Eleanor Spence, writing with keen personal insight, sketches each child and adult's engagement with the new land and its people and with one another. From their courage we glimpse the futures of this unlikely band beginning to emerge with hope and personal dignity.
Cassie crouched below the schoolroom window. "I only wish it were more definite, Bella," the Vicar was saying. "You won't know until you reach the Colony just where or what value your land grant will be. It could be miles from civilization, and then how ever will you manage with all those children?"
"That's a bridge we don't have to cross yet," Missabella replied, on an unmistakable note of triumph. "Our first and most important bridge has been crossed, and that is getting permission to sail...Our passages are reserved, and we have only six weeks in which to make our preparations. So we must get to work at once."
Cassie waited no longer. She raced for the schoolroom. "It's happened! It really has! We're leaving in six weeks!"
Did you find this review helpful?