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Text extracts from Nanberry


Nanberry: Excerpt from Chapter 1

The white ghosts chopped down trees. They built big huts. They lived in them all year, until they stank. Their women didn’t know how to fish and when they gathered oysters they threw away the flesh and kept only the shells.

The white ghosts stole Cadigal canoes and spears. They tried to attack the Cadigal women, though the women had fought them and run off. They had even made the stream a filthy stinking thing. Didn’t white-ghost mothers tell their children how important it was to keep the water clean?

How could people be so stupid as these? When they had captured Colbee – maybe so he could show them how to build canoes – it had been easy for him to escape.

Surgeon White: Excerpt from Chapter 2

As Chief Surgeon he had insisted that the convicts eat fresh food in England, at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and at Cape Town on the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, the last port before the final seemingly endless voyage across the almost uncharted ocean. Convicts who refused to eat because the fruit juice stung their mouths were whipped.

The day after they had landed in this poor excuse for a country he’d made sure the tents for his laboratory and the sick had been put up. He’d had a garden fenced off to grow fresh vegetables. The poor wretches, swollen with scurvy, their teeth falling out, too weak to stand after so long at sea, needed fresh food, not medicine. And again, he’d had to threaten beatings if they didn’t eat.

Maria: Excerpt from Chapter 3

Maria peered into the black pot on the kitchen fire. It held wild duck the Surgeon had shot last dusk, and potatoes from their garden, stewed with turnips and parsnips.

Later she’d add wild greens, like Surgeon White had told her to, and use their flour ration to make fresh soda bread on the hearth, near enough to the coals to cook but not to burn.

She and the Surgeon ate better than anyone in the colony except the Governor, she reckoned.

Gran had taught her to boil a pudding and sew a seam. Then Gran had died. She’d eaten flour and water gruel in the workhouse after that, till the lady came to buy her to be a kitchen maid.

Extracts above from Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French, HarperCollins Publishers, Australia 2011 reproduced with permission of HarperCollins, © Jackie French 2011.