Western Fiction posted May 12, 2013 Chapters:  ...22 23 -24- 25... 


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Jo is sentenced to the dungeon

A chapter in the book AN ORPHAN NAMED JO

The Dungeon-Chapter 9 pat 3

by c_lucas



Background
Jo is sentenced to spend two days in the orphanage's dark dungeon.
 
 



 
 
CHAPTER NINE PART THREE
NEW YORK ORPHAN ASYLUM
 
JANUARY 1879
 
Jo recognized him as one of the boys she fought her first day back to Five Points. “Do you know his name?”
 
Maggie took a deep breath. “I’ve heard him called Johnny. He’s always bullying the young and picking fights. This is his second trip to the Dungeons and he’s only been here a week or so.”
 
One of the older girls walked over to Jo. “You’re wanted in Mrs. Griffin’s office.”
**
 
Jo put down her broom. “Where’s Mrs. Griffin’s office?"
 
“I’ll show you.” She started toward the stair, leaving  Jo to follow.
 
The little girl's mind overflowed with questions, but she maintained her silence. She almost bumped into her guide, who had the turned the corner and stopped.
 
The girl opened the door and motioned for Jo to enter.  Several older girls stopped their needlework and stared.
 
Jo paused and looked at her guide.
 
“That’s her office over there.” The girl pointed to a closed door with a frosted glass in the frame. She went to an empty work station, picked up her needlework, ignoring Jo.
 
The younger girl took a deep breath, went over and lightly knocked. She waited, doing her best not to show her concern. Several of the girls giggled. Jo heard a faint ‘come in’ and entered. The uniformed policeman caught her attention, first. He’s the one that arrested me yesterday. Why is he here?
 
 Reverend Johnson and a stranger sat facing Mrs. Griffin, seated at her desk. No one smiled.
 
Jo curtsied. “You asked to see me, ma’am?” She kept her eyes focused on the woman.
 
“Name…always tell me your name before you speak to me.”
 
“Jo, Jo Wiley,” she answered and curtsied, again.  
 
“Is this the girl you’re looking for?” she addressed the policeman.
 
“No, ma’am. The girl I’m looking for is taller.” He glanced at Jo, who returned.
 
Why is he lying? Oh, he must be looking for Scorpion. How did she get away?
  
Reverend Johnson cleared his throat. “Is this the girl you arrested for stealing an apple?”
 
“She’s too short. The girl I arrested stood a bit taller.”
 
“Thank you, officer, you may go.”
 
“You’re welcome, ma’am.” He stood and left.
 
Why is he lying about me? Jo stared at the closing door.
 
“Miss Riley, do I have your attention?” Mrs. Griffin’s voice caused Jo to jump.

“Jo Wiley, ma’am…Yes, ma’am you do.”  She curtsied.
 
“Are you trying to be cute with repeating your name and curtsying?” Mrs. Griffin glared at her. “I don’t find it to be the least bit humorous!”
 
“Humorous. ma’am?” Why is she angry with me? She told me to say my name before I talked to her. Mammy taught me to curtsey when I meet an adult.
 
“Are you mocking, me?” Mrs. Griffin stood and walked toward Jo.
 
“Mocking, ma’am. I don’t know what you mean.”
 
The woman slapped Jo, shocking the child, who stepped away. “What did you do that for, ma’am? I don’t know what ‘humorous and mocking’ means.” Jo rubbed her injured cheek, fighting to keep control of her tears.
 
“That’s the game we’re going to be playing, huh?” She singled out the stranger. “Take her downstairs and tell Mrs. Becker this is her second offense.”
 
The preacher stood. “Don’t you think you’re being a bit harsh, Mrs. Griffin? The child did not understand the words you were using.”
 
“Reverend Johnson, this is none of your affair. I’m in charge of discipline. I kept quiet this morning, but you were wrong showing favoritism. She thinks she’s special, and I’m going to have to break her of that habit! I can’t deny you access to the children, but I will not tolerate interfering.” She grabbed Jo’s wrist and jerked her over to the stranger. “You have your instructions. Follow them or be dismissed.” She turned back toward the minister. “I will be filing another complaint about your interference. Good day!”
 
Reverend Johnson followed the guard and his struggling prisoner. When they were in the hallway, he placed his hand on Jo’s shoulder. “Don’t struggle. You’ll just make things worse for yourself.”

“But I haven’t done anything wrong….”
 
“Keep your mouth shut,” the guard growled. He stopped to open a door, using a key. Once inside, he locked the door and started downstairs.
 
Jo quit struggling.
**
 
Low-burning gas lamps, stationed at intervals, failed to light much of the way.  Once they were downstairs, the guard picked Jo up and rested his hand on her developing chest. He began to fondle the left side, pinching the nipple.
 
“Ouch! That hurt,” Jo complained.
 
“I told you to keep quiet.” The guard pinched her harder. Jo bit her lips to keep from crying out.
 
“Becker, Where are you? I have another guest for you.” He dropped Jo and grabbed her hair.
 
“What’s her rating?” a female voice called out.
 
“Second offense, talking back to Mrs. Griffin.”
 
“Cell Two. I’m all alone. You know what to do?”
 
“You’ll get your jollies, now,” a male voice called out.
 
“Mind your own business, Gates. Beck is by herself,” Jo’s guard retorted. He worked the padlock off a door, dragged Jo into the dark room and threw her to the floor.
 
She heard metal against metal as the guard put the padlock in its place. Before she could move she felt a hard boot on her back. Jo lay still, trying to control her breathing.
 
“Listen to me. When I let you up, you’re to stand and remove your clothes. It’s dark, so I can’t see you, but I can hear you, even feel you if I’m forced to.”
 
“Why do I need to take off my clothes?” Jo’s voice trembled.
 
“Because I told you to. If you don’t, Mrs. Becker will tear them off, and your sentence will increase to thirty days instead of two.”
 
I’m glad Maggie told me what they did to her. I don’t want to spend extra time down here. She undressed and called out to the guard. “My clothes are off.”
 
A rough hand touched her stomach. “Hand them to me one at a time.”
 
Jo obeyed. She felt the rough hand travel over her body.
 
“Good. Now, hand me the blanket. It’s on the straw mattress.”
 
Jo felt around until she found the mattress and the blanket. She handed the corner to him.
 
“Okay. Sit on the mattress. At one end you’ll find the chamber pot. If you kick it over, you’ll live with your mess for an extra day and clean it up before being released.”
 
Jo heard the sound of metal against metal and felt a cool draft as the guard left her cell. She heard the familiar sound of rats and mice scrambling around.
 
She got on her knees, crossed herself and began to pray, “Saint Brigit, Nana Kennedy, I be needing your help! Please!!”
***


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