Saturday, December 5, 2009

Part 2

And now, part 2. The second part. : )
    Katherine O'Hara watched as the hammocks were lowered into the sea. Her ma was in one of them. During that last storm, when seasickness had raged through the steerage, her mother, who had contracted pneumonia even before the ship had left the harbor, had taken her last breath. Pneumonia and the sea was a fatal mix to be sure. Not that her ma had shown much will to live anyways. After Da died, Ma was just never the same. She had no fight left in her. Death was so cruel. And to be orphaned, an only child, on the way to a new country, at 10 years old. No mother, no father, no brothers, no sisters, no nothing except ocean, and a frightening new country. Life was so cruel.

    "Katie, dearie! You must wake up! You don't want to miss your train, now do you?" Jerked out of her dream by the open curtains and kind, motherly voice, Katie sleepily wiped the tears off her face.     "Ah, dear. When will the dreams stop? It's been fifteen years!"

    "They donna come so often now. Only when life gets ta scarin' me. An' when I wake up, I remember that Jesus saved me soul, an' 'e's in charge of it all." Both women's accent fit her background well. While Katie's every fiber screamed 'Irish', her counterpart and fill-in mother since that dreadful day at sea, was a common Englishwoman to the core. Fifteen years in America should have lessened Katie's brogue, even Mary had begun to speak like their American neighbors, but Katie purposely held on to her accent as her last link to her parents.

    Ach, how Aye'm agonna miss 'er when she's gone! Not that Aye don't 'ave plenty others ta look after. And Aye thank Thee, Lord, for every last one o' them, but, Lord, she's the 'ole reason Aye began this orphanage! Aye don't guess that's true, is it? You gave me this idea long before she ever came along. An' it took me losin' me own babies, an' 'er losin' 'er Mother an' Father ta make me listen.

    "Miss Mary?" Katie paused, then sniffled. "Aye'm really gonna be missin' ya. Aye'll write ever' day. And pray fer ya and the babies ever' minute!"

    "Missy, Aye don't want ya thinkin' about your family here too much. You're gonna go be a bride, and you'll need to think about your husband. Startin' a life with someone is hard enough when you know him and know how much he loves ya; startin' a life with a stranger…it will take everything ye've got to make it work. Thinkin' too much about us will only make you homesick and miserable."

    "I'm already homesick. How can a girl like me be going across the country? All I've seen of America in fifteen years was this city! I don't even think I've seen all of New York! What was I thinking signing up to go to Texas?!"

    "You were thinking that you were wanting a husband, and God wasn't giving you one here. You were thinking that, after much prayer, this is the answer that came. You were thinking that this was the best way to break from us and marry a man who will be able to take care of you, and not some man that will work in a God-awful factory his whole life and never make a cent! You were thinking good when you decided all this, and I don't want to hear another negative word out of you! You can't change your mind now, love, so get up, get dressed, and finish your packing. I think I can manage breakfast without you today; I suppose I'll need the practice!"

    Mary's harsh and loving words were what Katie needed to hear. Katie knew Mary was hiding her own pain in anger and the words spurred Katie into action.

To be continued... At some point in the hopefully not too distant future...