Western Fiction posted October 4, 2012 Chapters: Prologue Prologue -1- 2... 


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Caitlin's (Jo) home life.

A chapter in the book AN ORPHAN NAMED JO

Chapter one, Part one

by c_lucas



Background
This will be the story of Caitlin Anna Wiley. Her name will change to Jo Wiley when, as an orphan, she will be arrested for stealing an apple, valued at two cents.





NEW YORK CITY
FIVE POINT SLUMS
APRIL, 1877

CHAPTER ONE
PART ONE
 
After being elected the Alderman of the Sixth Ward, Cullen Sullivan changed his lifestyle. He no longer spent his evenings at the saloon, but with his wife and children. He finished his dinner of roast beef and cabbage and dismissed the remaining three children to their own apartment under the watchful eyes of thirteen-years-old Joleen. Then he enjoyed a cup of tea with his wife.
 
Cullen looked at the newly installed door connecting the two first floor flats.  “Joleen seems to have everyone bedded down.”
 
“Aye, she reminds me of Heather. The children obey her and she be reading Heather’s manual….” Sounds of the Wiley’s nightly arguments interrupted her. “Poor Kathleen.  At least Conor has stopped Sean from beating her.” She frowned.
 
“There be something yeh not be telling me?” Cullen stared at Breanna, who did not return eye contact.
 
“He be striking her in places Conor can’t see. Shannon brought Caitlin to their flat, but there is little she can do for Kathleen. They have a bed for Kathleen and Caitlin, but Kathleen is too proud to accept their charity.”
 
“Maybe I need to be having another talk with Sean.”
 
“It not be doing any good. Sean will wait until yeh be gone and give her a worse beating. At least he doesn’t strike Caitlin.”
 
“That be a good thing.” He took a sip of tea and nodded for Breanna to sit.
 
 She placed the latest tin-typed portrait on the table. “This came in this morning mail.”
 
He picked up the portrait of Phillip and Heather holding their three infant daughters. “Yeh told me Heather said she be pregnant before they left for Boston. Yeh be worrying over not having any wee grandchildren. Heather be having triplets and is pregnant, again. Arthur’s Mona be presenting yeh with twins. Conor’s Shannon has a wee lad and cailin. Doreen has two wee cailins and Belinda just gave birth to a strong strapping lad. How many does that be making for yeh?”
 
“We be having ten grandchildren with more on the way.”
 
“And yeh be filling Mrs. Kennedy’s shoes with Doreen and Belinda’s help.”
 
“Aye. I be training six neighbor women, including Kathleen.”
 
“I told yeh what I’ll be doing ta yeh if yeh kept beating yeh wife!” Conor’s  angry voice could be heard all the way from the fourth floor. Sounds of scuffling reached Cullen, who stood and walked toward the door.
 
He was half-way up the first flight of stairs when he met his son hauling Sean by his collar.
 
Conor stopped when he met his Father. “This bastard takes his pleasure in beating his wife. Mammy will have to go take care of Mrs. Wiley. Shannon is trying to calm Caitlin.”
 
“Let him go, lad. You can’t interfere.”
 
“But, Mrs. Wiley's face is all bruised and her nose is bleeding. The bastard may have broken it.”
 
“Let him go.” Cullen repeated.
 
Breanna hurried up the stairs carrying Mrs. Kennedy’s old carpet bag.
 
“Yeh got no right ta interfere with me disciplining me wife!” Sean pushed Conor aside and started back up the stairs.
 
Cullen reached out, grabbed the drunk by his arm, and drove his fist deep into Sean’s stomach. “I’ll not be having yeh mistreating me boy.”  He struck Sean on the nose, breaking it.
 
Sean bounced off the wall and Cullen hit him in the ribs, which made a clear cracking sound. He grabbed Sean by the hair and gave him an upper-cut to his jaw, laying him out flat.  Cullen dusted off his hands. “Yeh be drinking buddies until yeh reach the dark streets. Offer him yeh comments and load him on a train. Make sure there be no witnesses.”  Cullen walked up the stairs to check on his wife.
 
 
Shannon was comforting a crying Caitlin when her own children began to cry. “Yeh be having to quit crying. I be needing help getting me two back to sleep.”
 
Caitlin controlled her tears and wiped her nose with the back of her hand which she cleaned on her nightgown.
 
Shannon held her infant daughter, Wee Shannon, out to her. Caitlin cradled her in her arms. Smiling and cooing, she began singing a lullabye.
 
Shannon did the same with her infant son.  Soon, both infants were back to sleep. She put her son back in his crib and reached for her daughter.
 
“Can’t I hold her for a bit?” Caitlin asked, swaying the infant back and forth.
 
The mother smiled. “Aye, yeh be making a wonderful mother, someday.”
 
“Do yeh think so? I would be like you and Conor and never hit my children.”
 
“That be a good thing. Children should be loved, not whipped.”
 
They were interrupted by a soft knock. Shannon opened the door and let her mother-in-law enter. “How be Mrs. Wiley?”
 
“Battered and bruised. She be asking for Caitlin.”
 
Caitlin kissed the infant on the cheek and handed her back to Shannon. She turned toward Mrs. Sullivan. “Is me mudder okay?”
 
Breanna hugged the girl. “She will be. I don’t think yer fader will bother either of yeh tonight.”
 
Caitlin squeezed Mrs. Sullivan around the waist. “Thank yeh.” She ran out the door and ran into Mr. Sullivan. “Me fader not coming back tonight?”
 
Holding Mrs. Kennedy’s carpet bag in one hand, he stroked her hair with the other. “Nay lass, he had to catch a train. Conor is heping him. He won’t be back for weeks.”
 
Caitlin raised her arms and Mr. Sullivan set the bag down, picked her up and hugged her. She kissed him on the cheek. “Me mudder and me be thanking you.” He set her on the floor and she ran into her apartment.
 
Breanna came out into the hallway.  Cullen offered her his free arm. She linked arms with her husband, and headed down stairs.  “Conor’s helping Mr. Wiley to be getting on his train?”
 
Sounds of Caitlin’s cry came from the Wiley’s apartment. “Aye, I do not expect Mr. Wiley to return anytime soon,” Mr. Sullivan answered. “It be a weak man who has to use his wife for a punching bag to prove his manhood. Me and me boys will be having another talk with Sean Wiley when and if he returns.”
 
 
Caitlin hurried to her mother’s side. Kathleen held up her hand to stop her daughter. “I be a mite tender right now.”
 
Caitlin let out a cry of fright. The girl took her mother’s hand and pressed it to her face. “Mr. Sullivan said Conor took Fader to the train station.”
 
“I be happy for that, but Sean will come back and take his anger out on me.” She slowly pulled her daughter toward her and hugged her tenderly. “This be the third time your fader has been put on a train but he keeps coming back.”
 
Caitlin searched her mother’s bandaged face for a spot to kiss her. Kathleen pulled her daughter on her lap and winched from the pain. “I’ll be saying Sean received the same lesson Victory Harris received when he attacked you and Heather behind the Bird’s Nest.” She held Caitlin for several minutes before noticing her daughter’s drooping eyes. “We best be getting yeh to bed.”
 
 
Nine-year-old Caitlin Wiley kissed her mother goodbye, picked up her stack of school books and bagged lunch. Kathleen placed the dirty dishes and utensils into the sink. “I’ll be walking you down to Mrs. Sullivans and let her check me over.”
 
Caitlin held the door open and Kathleen passed into the hallway.  “Why is Fader always mistreating you?”
 
“It not be yer Fader, but the Divil in his soul. Yer fader be a very unhappy man since he be starting to drink the Divil’s Spirits.”
 
“Can’t he quit?”
 
“Nay, Lass. If he be sober, he would see what a small man he is. He’ll not be liking himself any better. He hits me out of anger with himself.”
 
They came to the first floor flat with the Celtic cross painted in the center and a Red Cross and Red Crescent painted at the foot.  The top of the door had the head of Christ, surrounded by a golden halo. One side displayed Arch-angel of healing, Saint Michael in the acts of healing the sick. The other side displayed a fire tended by Saint Brigit and her nuns.
 
The wall of the first floor hall way displayed several religious images, centered around the Crucifixion.
 
“Joleen did a beautiful job with these walls and door,” Caitlin said.
 
“That she did, me Pumpkin. Now, yeh be off to school. I will be here when yeh be returning.”  Kathleen kissed her daughter on the forehead and received a gentle hug.
 
“I’ll be seeing you then, Mammy.” Caitlin left the building.
 
 Her friend and classmate, Lila Doyle, waited two tenement houses down.
 
“How be yeh this fine morning, Caitlin?” Lila asked.
 
“You best not let Sister Abigail hear you. She’ll snitch to the Reverend Mother Ruth and you’ll get more hours, scrubbing floors,” Caitlin warned.
 
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/childbirth.cfm
History of Childbirth in Early America
 
http://www.victoriaspast.com/ChildMemorial/childmemorial.html
Infant mortality
 
http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/emblem-history.htm
The origin of the Red Cross symbol and organization.
 


Recognized


Thank you, Reuven Azachi, for the use of your image, "Forgotten."

It is the author's intention to do away with the dialect by the end of this book. Until then;
Clarification:
Cailin = Irish for girl.
Divil = Devil
Fader - Father
Help = hep
Me = my
Mammy = mother
Mudder = mother
Ta = to
Tay = tea
Th' = the
Yer = your
Yeh = you

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