Western Fiction posted March 21, 2013 Chapters:  ...17 18 -19- 20... 


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Caitlin returns to Five Points

A chapter in the book AN ORPHAN NAMED JO

Chapter Seven - Part Two

by c_lucas



Background
Caitlin has lost most, if not all of her social network. She is cast out onto the streets and forced to fend for herself.
CHAPTER SEVEN PART TW0
NEW YORK CITY
 
JANUARY, 1879
 
End of the last chapter: Caitlin relieved him of Beetle-face, knelt down on the cold floor, hugged the child tightly with her left arm, and crossed herself with the other.  Liz and Rudolpho also crossed themselves. The woman crossed herself, and knelt on the other side 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 were using.
 
When they finished praying, the woman retrieved the frozen child from Caitlin and hurried to the back bedroom.
 
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.
**
 
Caitlin awakened on the cold floor, sharing a heavy blanket with Liz. She stared at the wall. The picture was gone. Surprised and frightened, Caitlin jumped up and ran behind the counter; a chair stood under the spot where the image had graced the wall.
 
“Looking for this?” Liz asked and chuckled, showing Caitlin the picture. “You kept staring at it and kneeling in prayer. Mrs. Rossellini climbed on the chair, got it down to hand to you. I had just finished my bath and came out wrapped in a blanket. I helped her down.” Liz offered it to Caitlin, who took it and held it to her chest.
 
“Where did we get our nightgowns?” Caitlin fondled the soft material.

“Mrs. Rossellini brought them out to us when she told us Beetle-face was sleeping peacefully. Rudolpho came in while we were changing you. His mother chased him out. He bedded down the five children in his bed, and made the couch up for me.”
 
“I told Mrs. Rossellini I would rather sleep with you, and she told Rudolpho to sleep on the couch. She mentioned to him that I would make a fine wife since I‘m Italian.”
 
“Yes, you would, and a fine mother, too.”
 
They heard a noise and went to investigate. The five girls were getting dressed. Caitlin noticed the five pennies on the table. “Who left the coins on the table?”
 
The blonde named June-bug spoke up. "Rudolpho dropped them there before he went to the couch. Do you think he wanted us to buy our breakfast?"
 
Caitlin looked at the young girl and turned toward Liz. “When we were going for you, he mentioned some of the children his mother took in stole from her. I told him we were not thieves.” She looked at the five younger children. “Remember that. We aren't thieves.”  
 
“What about the bowls on the sink?” Liz walked over and picked up a piece of paper. "It's a note telling us there's cold breakfast makings in the ice box."
 
Caitlin opened the door and noticed a large pan of dry porridge with a half bottle of milk beside it. Another bowl contained diced apples. She smiled. “I know how to cook, Liz. Do you?”

"I made my own breakfast since the age of five."
 
A fit of coughing came from the other room. Caitlin and Liz hurried to Beetle-face, who sat in the bed, holding a small towel to her face.  
 
She wiped her mouth. “Where are we?”
 
“An angel opened her home to us.” Caitlin walked around to Beetle-face’s side and held her forearm against the girl’s forehead. “You have a little bit of a fever. Did Mrs. Rossellini offer you anything?”
 
“I remember the man offering me something warm when I woke up coughing.”
 
Caitlin walked back to the icebox and studied the contents before picking up a small mixing bowl. She touched the mixture with her fingertips and brought them to her lips, before giving the bowl to Liz. “Heat this up and then let it cool. Wash your hands before you stir it with a clean spoon.” Caitlin leaned her ear against Beetle-face's chest.
 
“According to my Aunt Heather, you have fairies in your chest. If her Phillip was here, you could listen to them.”
 
 
The girls were separated into two groups. Two girls to clean up the breakfast and the other three, under Liz's guidance, began work on the front room. Caitlin found the shovel, bundled up, and started shoveling snow off the sidewalk, throwing it into the streets.
 

Everything was in good shape when Rudolpho and his mother returned. He carried two boxes of clothing and his mother had eight winter coats over her arm.
 
Caitlin followed them to the back room. Mrs. Rossellini commented on her cleaned bakery, especially impressed with the baking area. Caitlin picked up the five pennies and handed them to Rudolpho. “I told you we weren't thieves.”
 
“So you did.” He set the boxes on the table, pocketed the coins and followed his mother into her bedroom. They checked on the sleeping Beetle-face, wrapped tightly in a blanket. Mrs. Rossellini laid the coats on the bed,  stared at her son, who retrieved the boxes and set them next to the coats.
 
 Mrs. Rossellini spoke to her son, but Liz answered in their language.

“Caitlin gave her some medicine and wrapped her in the blanket. She said the child has symptoms of pneumonia.”  Liz placed her hand on her friend’s shoulder. “She knows about healing from her aunt and uncle, both being doctors.”
 
The woman looked at Caitlin and spoke to her son.
 
“Why is she walking the streets as an orphan?” he interpreted his mother's question.
 
Caitlin decided to answer for herself. “An evil man stole me from my bed. He tried to sell me, but the woman didn't want me. I escaped and Liz found me.”
 
“Isn’t your family looking for you?” Rudolpho glanced from Caitlin to Liz and back to Caitlin.
 
“A crazy man killed my grandfather and wounded two of my uncles. My grandmother is tending to them. My mother died from the fever. I don’t know where Aunt Heather and Uncle Phillip are.”
 
The woman embraced Caitlin and kissed her cheeks. She spoke to Caitlin with Rudolpho interpreting.
 
“What part of town are you from?” Rudolpho asked.
 
“On the outskirts of Five Points.  I attend ‘The Blessed Church of the Immigrant.’ My grandmother, Mrs. Cullen Sullivan, started her own school when she didn’t approve of Mother Ruth and Sister Abigail’s treatments of her children and me.”
 
“Have you been back there since your abduction?”
 
“Abduction?”
 
“Your being stolen,” Rudolpho answered.
 
“No. There wasn’t a need to go. I learned of the shooting and then the death of my mother. My father ran off right after I was born.” Caitlin glanced from Rudolpho to his mother, who spoke rapidly to her son.
 
“Couldn't you find a family member to stay with?”
 
“I don’t know, maybe, but I have Liz and the six girls as my family.”
 
Rudolpho and his mother began to carry on a conversation in their language. Finally, he reached into his pocket. He looked at the coins and spoke to his mother.
 
Caitlin looked at Liz and she started to interpret, “Mrs. Rossellini wants Rudolpho to take you to Five Points and help you look for your family.”
 
 “Why would she do that? I thought she was happy with me.” Caitlin felt a tense cramp in her stomach. “Doesn’t she want me?”
 
Liz looked at the two adults who had stopped talking. “Jo wants to know if you want her to stay and help with the children.”
 
Mrs. Rossellini took Caitlin in her arms and kissed her cheeks. She said several words in her rapid-fire language, and kissed Caitlin, again.
 
“Mama thinks you would like to be with your family. They may need your help,” Rudolpho replied.
 
“Can I come back here if we don’t find them?"
 
Rudolpho kissed Caitlin’s cheek. “You will always have a home with us. But first, we need to try and find your family.”
 
What if the mean man finds me first? Caitlin put her worries aside as she accepted clothing proffered by Mrs. Rossellini, including a multi-colored coat.
 
Rudolpho took Liz’s hand and the pair left the bedroom, closing the door behind them.
 
Caitlin smiled at Mrs. Rosellini. “Grazi.” She waved at all the children and placed her hand over her heart. “La famiglia mia.”          
 
The woman kissed Caitlin’s cheeks and replied, "Saremo sempre la tua famiglia. We'll always be your family,” she translated in broken English.  
 
Mrs. Rossellini opened the door and everyone filed out. She motioned to her son and gave him some coins. Liz went to change her outfit.
 
Rudolpho smiled at Caitlin. “Mother wants me to take you home to your American family.”


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.
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