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For twelve-year-old, nearly thirteen, Jessica Gordon there was little prospect of eventual marriage in 1870’s Ireland. Being the sixth daughter in a large family, there was no money for a dowry, and without that no young man in her class could afford her. The fourth daughter, Sarah, was already sixteen years old, and there was no dowry for her either. An arranged marriage with a settler in the colonies was the best that could be done for her. She was to sail half-way around the world to marry a man she had never met. When Sarah offered to swap her cabin-class ticket for two in steerage, and take her younger sister with her, Jess accepted gladly. The shortage of women in the colonies would offer her the best prospects she could hope for. As they boarded the sailing ship Haldia in the London Docks, Jess little expected what the sisters found aboard that crowded emigrant ship. The friendship and rough humour of both passengers and crew saw them through nearly four months of being buffeted about by every wind that blew.

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