Western Fiction posted March 11, 2013 Chapters:  ...16 17 -18- 19... 


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The children are rescued

A chapter in the book AN ORPHAN NAMED JO

Chapter Seven - Part 1

by c_lucas



Background
Caitlin has lost most if not all of her social network. She is cast out onto the streets and must fend for herself.








CHAPTER SEVEN PART ONE
NEW YORK CITY
OCTOBER, 1877
 
Ending of the last chapter: Caitlin backed away, hurried to the back door and pounded on it. The same man opened it. “What do you want?”
 
“Decent food for me people. My Uncle Cullen Sullivan is the Alderman and he will pay for it.”
 
“Stay here.” The man turned and came back a few minutes later holding a newspaper. “Can you read?”
 
Caitlin recognized Mr. Sullivan’s face on the newspaper. “Not very good.”
 
“Your lies won’t work. A crazy man shot your so-called uncle and two of his sons last night at a political rally. He’s in no condition to pay your bill. He was killed.”
 
“Arthur and Conor, are they dead?”
 
“Oh, you’re good, young lady. You got those names from this article, but your scam won’t work!” He stepped back and closed the door in Caitlin’s face.
 
Caitlin stood staring at the closed door. Silent tears flowed down her face. “Brigit, Aunt Heather, Mrs. Kennedy; we be needing yer help.”  She fell to her knees and wept with her hands over her face.
 
Liz and the children gathered around her. The older girl placed a hand on Caitlin’s shoulder.  “There’s no time for crying, the children need our help.”
**
JANUARY, 1879
 
The abandoned shed Caitlin and her group called home rattled as the blizzard laid down several inches of fresh snow. The children were on and under cardboard, newspapers and castaway garments. They huddled together to maintain body heat. Guarding the entrance, Liz and Caitlin sat together, wrapped in an old blanket, trying their best to share body heat.
 
A large blast of Arctic wind shook the flimsy shack. The two grabbed the inside handles to keep the doors from flying open. Several tense seconds later, the wind gust abated and they relaxed.
 
Beetle-Face worked her way out of the paper/cloth covering and hurried to the toilet-bucket.  She did her business and caught the big girl’s attention. “It’s almost full and frozen.” She hurried back to the children’s burrow.
 
“Let me have the gloves.” Caitlin held her hand out to Liz.
 
Liz pulled a ragged pair of gloves off and helped put them on Caitlin’s near-frozen hands. She pulled Caitlin’s wool socks onto hers and stuffed her hands into her pockets. She walked back to the toilet-bucket and wrestled it to the entrance.
 
Caitlin checked the sock, serving as a covering for one end of the pipe. She wrapped it tighter and slipped the pipe into her coat pocket.   Ready to meet the outdoors, she took the bucket from Liz, who pushed open the door and held it until Caitlin left.
 
The girl placed the toilet-bucket a few feet away near buckets with like contents. Caitlin fought the bitter cold and wind as she searched for buckets. She found three buckets stacked one into the other. The stack was frozen to the wall. Using her small body, Caitlin slammed herself against the sides of the buckets until they broke free from the wall, but still stuck together. Battered and bruised, the girl struggled with her prize against the cold and the brisk winds.  She fought to control the stack as she made her way to the bakery.
 
The day old bread table was empty. This be the third day. She turned to leave when she noticed a hand wiping the steam from the window. A heavy set woman stared out.  She jumped back when she saw the small bundled- up figure.
 
Caitlin hurried to the door. It was locked. She knocked on the glass until a hand began to clear the steam. The same face stared out. Soon the door was unlocked and the woman beckoned for Caitlin to enter.  The heat was overpowering. Caitlin caught a glimpse picture of “Jesus the Shepherd” on the wall behind the counter, knelt and crossed herself.
 
The woman, who was standing to one side, crossed herself and asked in an unfamiliar language, “Child, what are you doing out in this weather?”
 
Caitlin just looked at her.
 
“Rudolpho!”  the woman called out.
 
The girl jumped just as the beaded curtain moved and a tall young man entered. She froze. He must be Rudolpho.
 
“Yes, Mama?" the man asked and saw Caitlin. He smiled.
 
The woman started her funny talk.
 
“Mama wants to know why you are out in this weather, carrying buckets. I would like to know, also.” He frowned.
 
“I have nowhere to sleep. I share a shed with Liz and the children we are caring for.” Caitlin watched as Rudolpho made funny sounds and turned toward the woman when she started speaking.  

Then back to the man, who asked, “Is Liz your mother or the children’s?”
 
“No, Liz is just a little older than me. There are six children, all under the age of ten. Liz and them have no parents.” Caitlin stared in the Rudolpho’s eyes, sensing uneasiness.
 
He broke eye contact and blurted some funny words to his mother.
 
She gasped and talked faster than she had at first.
 
Rudolpho responded. It sounded like he was upset.
 
The woman continued to speak as she pointed to the wall image of Jesus caring for His sheep. Then her voice softened and she pointed to Caitlin and crossed herself.
 
Caitlin heard the word, “Angelo.”
 
Rudolpho stomped off into the back room.
 
The woman put her hands onto Caitlin shoulders and kissed both sides of her face. She muttered more words that Caitlin didn’t understand, but kissing of both cheeks, the young girl understood.
 
The man came back struggling to get into his heavy coat. His hat covered his ears. “Let’s go get your bambinos and senorita Liz.” He unlocked the door.
 
“You want to get Liz and the young ones. Why?”
 
“Mama told me to get them. She thinks you’re an angel.”

The woman touched Caitlin's arm.  Caitlin turned and the woman took off her shawl, wrapped it around Caitlin’s shoulders, then went through the kissing routine. She took the buckets, hugged the girl and pointed her toward Rudolpho, who was holding the door, scowling.
 
 
“Which way?” Rudolpho growled.
 
“Are you angry with me?”
 
“No. At my mother. Some women pick up stray pets. Mother picks up orphans and offers them a temporary home, even when they steal from her.”
 
“We are not thieves.” Caitlin turned down the alley, thankful that the snow and winds had lightened.
 
“So you say. Let’s go get your friends. Mother is waiting.”
 
A short time later she came to the shed, now half buried by snow, and turned toward Rudolpho. “They are in there. They’ll be scared of you. Let me get them.”
 
“Pack Rat, it’s Badger!” The door creaked open, and Liz, shivering, frowned when she saw Caitlin was empty-handed.
 
Caitlin took off the shawl and wrapped it around her friend. “Let’s get the young ones. We’re leaving.”
 
“Who’s he?” Liz asked, backing away.
 
“He’s our friend, Rudolpho.” Pointing toward the girl, she said, “This is Liz.” Rudolpho nodded. Caitlin stepped around her and started calling the children's names.
 
One by one five ill-clothed children worked their way out of the cardboard and clothing. They stood bunched together, staring at the stranger.
 
“Where’s Beetle-Face?” Caitlin glanced at the children and back at the pile.
 
“She’s still sleeping. We couldn’t wake her up.”
 
Caitlin, with Liz’s, help began throwing cardboard and clothing to one side. She was the first to see the child. “No! Brigit, Mrs. Kennedy. Help me!” She reached down and picked the limp form up and hugged it.
 
“What’s wrong?” Rudolpho asked.
 
“It’s Beetle-Face. She’s not breathing.” Liz held Caitlin as she held the child.
 
Rudolpho worked his way into the narrow space, pulled off the right hand glove and placed his hand near the bottom of the young child’s ear. “She has a pulse, but not much of one.” He opened his coat. “Give her to me. There’s room enough for her.”
 
Caitlin turned, realizing what Rudolpho wanted to do, and offered  him the young girl. He shifted until he had his left arm around her.
 
“Button my coat.”
 
Caitlin worked on the lower buttons and Liz worked on the higher one. Their fingers were frozen and it took them a few minutes, but they succeeded.
 
Rudolpho reached down and gathered two of the girls under his right arm and lifted them. “Hold on, so I can balance you.”
 
Caitlin placed the two smallest ones into Liz’s arms and picked up the last one. “We be ready.”
 
 “Okay.” Rudolpho, two girls sitting on his right arm and holding on to the coat’s lapel, looked at Caitlin. “We’ll go back the way we came. Lead the way.”
 
Burdened with the heaviest child, Caitlin started out. Fifteen minutes later, she knocked on the bakery door.  The woman, wearing a different shawl, opened immediately and stood aside so her son could enter and relieved him of one of his burdens. Caitlin came second and set her girl down, turned and took one of the children from Liz.
 
After locking the door and setting her child down, the woman relieved her son of his second child.  Caitlin and Liz began unbuttoning his coat.
 
Rudolpho began to talk to his mother in their language.  
 
Caitlin relieved him of Beetle-Face, knelt down on the cold floor, hugged Beetle-Face tightly with her left arm, and crossed herself. Liz knelt a little in front of her, crossed herself and Rudolpho set next to Liz and crossed himself. The woman knelt to the left of Caitlin, just as she started praying to the Mother Mary.
 
Caitlin was surprised when Liz spoke, using the funny words Rudolpho and his mother was using.
 
When they finished praying, the woman grabbed the frozen child from Caitlin and hurried to the back room.
 
Rudolpho saw the perplexed look on Caitlin’s face and softly said, “Mama will try to save the child.”
 
Liz turned and hugged her as Catlin continued to stare at the picture on the wall.
**
At the close of the third quarter of the 19th century, over thirty thousand orphaned children walked the streets of New York.
 
http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2011/12/lost-1840-orphan-asylum-society.html
Efforts to help the orphans.
 
http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Me-Pa/Orphans.html
Orphan overview of the ages
 
http://www.42explore2.com/orphan.htm
History of the Orphan trains.
 
More on this subject in later chapters.



Recognized


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

I am working on updating the prologue which I use for my notes.

I am improving with my grammar, but I am still weak. Thank to all for your imput.

Irish dilect-I am trying to phrase it out. The following are words in this chapter.
Yeh = you
Yer = your
Ta = to
Th'= the


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