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Australia Felix

Australia Felix by Henry Handel Richardson
By: (1870-1946)

The story of Richard Mahony, a doctor trained in Edinburgh who comes to Ballarat in the gold rush of the 1850s. At first he runs a shop but later he marries and returns to medical practice. His story is interwoven with that of his wife’s brothers and sister. Even after his medical practice becomes successful he is still unhappy living in the colony and decides to return home to Britain. Richard is a restless irritable man whose character is said to be based on the author’s own father. This book is the first of the trilogy ‘The Fortunes of Richard Mahony’, but stands well on its own. The other two books of the trilogy are still protected by copyright in the USA, but may be found on Project Gutenberg Australia.

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Australia Felix


Henry Handel Richardson


In a shaft on the Gravel Pits, a man had been buried alive. At work in a deep wet hole, he had recklessly omitted to slab the walls of a drive; uprights and tailors yielded under the lateral pressure, and the rotten earth collapsed, bringing down the roof in its train. The digger fell forward on his face, his ribs jammed across his pick, his arms pinned to his sides, nose and mouth pressed into the sticky mud as into a mask; and over his defenceless body, with a roar that burst his ear drums, broke stupendous masses of earth.

His mates at the windlass went staggering back from the belch of violently discharged air: it tore the wind sail to strips, sent stones and gravel flying, loosened planks and props. Their shouts drawing no response, the younger and nimbler of the two he was a mere boy, for all his amazing growth of beard put his foot in the bucket and went down on the rope, kicking off the sides of the shaft with his free foot. A group of diggers, gathering round the pit head, waited for the tug at the rope... Continue reading book >>

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