Western Fiction posted April 27, 2013 Chapters:  ...20 21 -22- 23... 


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The Orphan Home.

A chapter in the book AN ORPHAN NAMED JO

Chapter Nine-Part One

by c_lucas



Background
Caitlin/Jo is unable to find her extended family.



NEW YORK CITY
FIVE POINTS, IRISH SLUMS
JANUARY, 1879
 
Ending of the last chapter:  Around noon, Caitlin started to walk pass a fruit stand. She stood, admiring the apples. She raised one to her nose and sniffed it, enjoying the fragrance.

“Stop thief!” The vendor hurried toward her.

Surprised, she held on to the apple and turned to run.

Someone grabbed her and lifted her off the ground.

“I’ve got her, sir. She hadn’t bitten into the apple, yet.”

Caitlin looked into the eyes of one of the boys from yesterday. Soon, other hands took hold of her. She recognized her other two enemies.

“We caught her red-handed, sir.”
**
 
A foot patrolman came over to check out the disturbance,  took out a short length of chain with a collar attached, and secured the collar around Jo’s neck.
 
She kept quiet as he led her through the streets of her old neighborhood to the precinct’s substation. A sergeant, nearing the age of retirement, looked up from his paperwork. “Caught another one, Smith?” He unsnapped the chain and snapped the collar to a longer chain fastened to a bench leg.
 
“She’s holding the apple she stole from MacDougall’s fruit stand.”
 
The sergeant took the apple from Caitlin, rubbed it against the sleeve of his jacket and bit into it. He glared at her. “Take off your coat.”
 
Her fingers trembled as she struggled with the buttons.
 
He set the apple on his desk, grabbed the collar and pulled the coat over her head. “What’s this?” He turned the coat upside down and rocks scattered along the floor. He spied the iron pipe in the belt of her dress. He glared at the new officer. “You didn’t search her before bringing her in?”
 
Smith stuttered.. “I didn’t think there was a need to….”
 
The sergeant cursed. “You’re going to get me killed right along with yourself! Always search your prisoner before bringing them in here!” He glared at Jo, whose eyes were on the rocks.
 
She looked up at him. “Those are for protection.” She took the metal rod and offered it to him. “I wouldn’t use them on you.”
 
“Are you the one who threw rocks at the Mother Superior and one of her nuns?”
 
“They wanted to punish me for something I didn’t do. The Reverend Mother knows where my grandmother moved and wouldn’t tell me. She ordered Sister Abigail to lash me with a leather strap. I had to protect myself.” Jo made eye contact with the sergeant.
 
“Who is your grandmother?”
 
“Breanna Sullivan, she’s not my real grandmother, but I asked her if she would be after Mrs. Kennedy died.”
 
“What’s your grandfather’s name?”
 
“Cullen Sullivan. He was killed by an angry man, Two of his sons, Arthur and Conor, were wounded.”

“I remember you from Mrs. Kennedy’s funeral. You were a tiny mite who walked with the nuns.”
 
“I walked between my mother and grandmother.”
 
The sergeant shook out her coat, undid the rest of the buttons and held it for her so she could put her arms into the sleeves. He buttoned it for her and tied the belt. “There you go. Would you mind putting all of that in my trash can?” He waved at the rocks on the floor and dropped the metal pipe into the trash.
 
“Yes, sir, I will.” Jo scurried around, picking up even the smallest particle.
 
The Sergeant walked over to the patrolman and tore up the papers he was filling out. “You have never seen this young girl. Do I make myself clear?”
 
“Yes sir. May I ask why?”
 
“Normally, I wouldn’t, but this time I will. She’s the adopted granddaughter of Cullen Sullivan; the man who always spoke out for our department. Watch her. I need to go send a wire.” He walked out the door.
 
The patrolman took the collar off Jo and pointed to the bench. “You’re to wait for the Sergeant. He has a surprise for you.”
Jo sat on the bench and waited.  She dozed off to restless sleep, blended into the background, forgotten by all.
 
A strange officer sat behind the desk, relieving Patrolman Smith. “You can go back to your beat.”
 
With sleepy eyes, Jo watched him leave without leaving any instructions about her. Sleep claimed her.
 
 
Jo awakened to the sound of a loud angry female voice and noise of shuffling and male voices cursing.  Scorpion, shackled at her neck and wrists with chains, fought the two policemen holding the chains. Jo jumped up and backed into a corner.
 
“You bitch!” With a burst of adrenalin, Scorpion broke free and grabbed her wrist chains, charged Jo the best she could on a damaged knee and foot.
 
Jo reached for her metal rod and realized she no longer had it. She jumped aside, causing Scorpion to miss with her overhand swing. The smaller girl gave the free end of the chain a jerk, causing Scorpion to lose her balance and crashed to the floor.
 
The two policemen hurried to grab the chains. Jo jumped over her enemy and ran out the open door. Soon she was lost in the crowd. She ran until she was behind the Catholic Church and hid in the alley nearby. That policeman had a surprise for me. I didn’t know he was a friend of Scorpion's.
 
 
Jo hid in a crawl space gasping for breath. Her head filled with ideas of different means of escape. She was tired from the exertion of her run and almost dozed off. I’ll return to the bakery. Mrs. Rossellini said she would take care of me. She came out of hiding and started walking toward the street serviced by the second horse trolley. With a plan, Jo hurried along, ignoring her rumbling stomach. She spied some kids her age, going through garbage cans and joined them. Soon, her hunger was abated.  She slept with her new found- friends, huddling together to fight off the cold.
 
The ensuing night became her last night on the streets. The early morning brought its own surprise. A small gang of boys, including those who had helped with her arrest, raided the children.
 
Caitlin and a couple of others fought back, but it was a losing battle. A police whistle sounded and Caitlin found herself crowded together with friends and enemies. Her coatless body bruised by sticks and stones. Her ripped dress offered little protection; nose and lips dripped blood on her damaged clothing. She was an easy catch for the patrolman who collared her.
 
The police took their juvenile prisoners to the New York House of Refuge. Caitlin/Jo and other detainees sat on the cold floor waiting to be processed into the system.
 
A young woman, wearing a nurse's uniform, walked among the children treating their many cuts and bruises. She was followed by a girl holding a clipboard and pencil. The woman dabbed at Jo’s bloody lip. “What’s your name?”
 
Jo answered, “Caitlin Jo Wiley.” The young girl wrote Katelyn Joe Riley. Another nurse led Jo into a side room where she was treated, bathed and given a uniform dress to wear. She was led to an upstairs dorm where she was assigned a bed with a small chest at its foot.

The second nurse brought her a small bundle of undergarments, topped with a white cotton night gown. She show Jo where to store the undergarments into the chest and had her placed the uniformed dress on top. She helped her into her night gown and tucked her in, bidding her a good night sleep. Jo spent a restless night in a strange bed getting very little sleep. When Jo did fall asleep, Scorpion visited her in her dreams.
**

 


Recognized


Thank you, GaliaG for the use of your image, "Trouble Waters."
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http://american-education.org/1461-orphan-asylum-society.html

19th century early attempt to help the thousands of orphans in New York City.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by GaliaG at FanArtReview.com

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