Pansita stood beside her great grandmother’s polished walnut rocking chair, holding the determined woman’s hand. Although her face was etched with fine lines, and the skin under her chin had formed a small wattle, you could see the high cheekbones of her superb bone structure. Her visage reflected the years of struggle and the steely character she used to rule the Montiga clan. Pansy set her stubborn chin a little higher than normal and the ninety-year-old matriarch put little pressure on Pansita’s arm as she rose from her rocking chair on the deep veranda of their Victorian ranch house.
Here in the outback on their vast cattle and sheep raising station, it was out of place, but the modern adaptations made it comfortable. Now they flew in and out in their Beechcraft twin engine her father bought only a year ago. The fuss and disruption of building a runway close to their main compound had been worth it. She couldn’t wait to get her pilot’s license. Pansita horrified her mother with her wish to fly, but Papa was sure she could do anything she set her mind to. Amelia Ehrhart had shown the way. Women could become excellent pilots.
But Grandma Pansy had been telling of how their stock station got started. Who knew she’d been a convict! All because of a stolen loaf of bread, and the apple she’d slipped out of the market stall basket. It had been the next-to-last year of the great transportation bringing so many wrongly accused poor to Australia. England’s loss had been their magnificent country’s best misfortune. And Grandpa Mauro, a sailor? She only remembered him as a wizened old jackaroo.