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John was drunk. He knew that if he were caught he’d lose his ticket again, but right at that moment he didn’t care. As he raised his bottle to take another mouthful, he realized there was a pair of shiny boots in front of him. Boots that lead to the dark blue trousers and scarlet jacket of a soldier’s uniform, complete with the stripes of a Sergeant Major.

John cursed internally, “Shit, it’s Hardman.

John only knew of Sergeant Major Abel Hardman from what other convicts had told him. Hardman by name, hard man by nature, and you really did not want to cross his path on a bad day.

The Sergeant Major ordered John to his feet barking, “On your feet! What’s in the bottle?”

John handed the bottle to the Sergeant Major and made the herculean effort needed to get up. Falling against the wall, John slid half way back to the ground before he regained control of himself.

The Sergeant Major sneered at John, “Papers and name, now!”

John reached inside his jacket and pulled out his crumpled papers. Offering them to the Sergeant Major with shaking hands, he knew he was saying goodbye to his freedom.

John thought regretfully “Three years I’ve had that ticket, why did I have to go and get drunk. Stupid, stupid move.

“Wood, sir. John Wood is my name. I’m sorry sir.”

John Wood and Sergeant Major Abel Hardman were both in Sydney in 1840, John lost his Ticket of Leave that year for drunkenness, and through research I believe the two men could have very well crossed paths. Both men were 4th great grandfathers of mine, and their families connected with the marriage of their grandchildren many years after their respective deaths.