Romance Fiction posted December 26, 2011 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 6... 

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Heather finds Mrs. Wiley unconscious.

A chapter in the book A ROUGH BEGINNING

Chapter Two Part Two

by c_lucas

This novel is written in the Omniscient point of view. It is about life in the Irish Slums, which filled to overflowing after the 1850's Potato Famine.

Chapter Two
Part Two
New York City Slums
Five Points

January, 1868

Ending of the previous chapter:

Kathleen had a vague notion of sunlight peeking through the only window and Caitlin’s nursing. Sean's rambling complaints, and cursing as he dressed in work clothing faded as her world went black. She came to with Caitlin sleeping at her breast and Sean nowhere around. “Ah, wee one, I think I’ll be in trouble when yer fader comes home.” Kathleen held her baby to her breast and eased back into unconsciousness. 
Heather Sullivan heard Sean stamping down the stairs. She got out of the bed she shared with her younger brother, Liam. As quietly as she could, she relieved herself, washed her face, and dressed before she stepped from behind the sheet partition. She spied her mother, Breanna, working in the kitchen area.
“Morning.” she mumbled. Her father and oldest brother, Arthur, had left for work.
Mrs. Sullivan turned and smiled at her daughter. “Would yeh check on Mrs. Wiley? I took some breakfast over, but Sean blocked the door and not be letting me in. He took the pot and closed the door in me face. I be having some bake goods here for her."
Heather picked up the bread and other baked goods for Mrs. Wiley and slipped out the door. She knocked softly on Mrs. Wiley’s door. When she didn’t get a response, she knocked louder and heard Caitlin crying. She opened the door.
The baby was lying on Mrs. Wiley’s chest, under covers. Mrs. Wiley was naked and virtually coverless. At first Heather thought the woman was sleeping, then she saw the large blood stain. She hurried to Mrs. Wiley's side and shook her. “Mrs. Wiley, ma’am!”  No response. She tried wakening the woman for several minutes without success.
Heather picked up the crying baby and hurried back to her mother’s apartment. She jerked opened the door, surprising her mother and sister, Doreen. “Come quick, I can’t wake Mrs. Wiley.”
Mrs. Sullivan handed Doreen the kitchen utensil she was holding and hurried past Heather.  She opened Mrs. Wiley’s door without knocking.
Heather, holding a quieter baby, followed her as she hurried to the bed. “Kathleen,” Mrs. Sullivan patted her friend’s cheek. She continued to say her friend's name while patting her cheek. It seemed like a lifetime before she got a response.
“Brea, I’m so tired…Please let me rest.” Mrs. Wiley spoke without opening her eyes. She placed her hand on her chest and began moving it around. “Caitlin…where’s me baby?” She opened her eyes, her face white with fear.
“I have her, ma’am.” Heather brought the child into Mrs. Wiley’s view. “She be fine.”
“Yer bleeding is worst. What happened?” Mrs. Sullivan asked.
“Sean came home drunk. He complained about the baby crying and forced himself on me…” Mrs. Wiley began to weep.
Mrs. Sullivan stroked her friend’s hair. “We’ll be getting yeh ta Mrs. Kennedy.” She turned toward Heather. “Hep me dress her, then tell Conor I'll needing him, and take the babe ta Mrs. Kennedy, then come back ta hep me. Tell Mrs. Kennedy we’ll be bringin’ Kathleen ta her.”
Heather left, shifting the baby in her arms. She opened her door. “Conor, Mammy needs yeh at Mrs. Wiley’s. Hurry.”
“What’s wrong?”

She left before answering her brother’s question.
Caitlin started crying as Heather hurried down the stairs.  The girl stopped, adjusted her hold on the baby, and placed her index finger into the infant’s mouth. “That’ll keep yeh quiet until I get yeh ta Mrs. Kennedy.”
The infant contented herself sucking on Heather’s finger.
Heather knocked and opened Mrs. Kennedy's door. The old woman lay in bed, watching her. “Morning ma’am. Me Mum and Conor are bringing Mrs. Wiley ta see yeh.”
“What be the reason?” Stiffly, she got up and sat on the edge of the bed. She noticed Caitlin was sucking on Heather’s finger. “Has the wee one been fed?”
“I don’t know. Mrs. Wiley was unconscious, her bed was soaked with blood,  and Caitlin was a’crying when I entered the room.”
Mrs. Kennedy reached for the baby and placed it over her shoulder. She patted the infant’s back until it burped.  “Bring me bag and put it on the bed.”
Heather did as she was instructed. “Mammy wanted me ta hep with Mrs. Wiley after I told yeh.” She noticed the chair Arthur and Conor had remodeled. I wished we had some one ta hep carry Mrs. Kennedy upstairs so we wouldn’t had ta bring Mrs. Wiley downstairs. We don’t have a bed for her. She turned her attention back to the old woman. “I’ll be needing ta hep bring Mrs. Wiley downstairs.”
“Before yeh do, cailin, unwrap this and boil it.” She handed Heather a molded rubber pacifier sealed in waxed paper. "I’ll be needing a big pot of boiling water. Pull th’ curtain closed. I best be getting dressed if yer brother is coming.” The old woman lay Caitlin on the bed, covered her with the blanket, and struggled out of her nightdress.
Heather closed the sheet/curtain, went to the pot-bellied stove and shifted the grate to send the coal’s ashes into a catch-all at the stove’s bottom. Using a poker, she stirred the larger lumps until they burned brightly. Then she added a few pieces of coal to the mix. The belly of the cast-iron stove quickly glowed red.
The teenaged girl placed a pot of water on the edge of the stove, tore the sealed waxed paper covering off the pacifier and put the rubber nipple in the warming water. She set a cooking kettle under the pump, filled it one-third full, before placing the kettle on the middle of the stove. Using a pewter pitcher, she topped the kettle off.
She walked toward the door. “I’ll be going ta hep with Mrs. Wiley.”  She hurried up the stairs and found her mother and Conor approaching the second landing, carrying Mrs. Wiley on a blanket. Her mother was carrying the heavy end and her brother was carrying the lighter end, facing away from Mrs. Wiley.
Upon reaching the second landing, Mrs. Sullivan stopped her son. “Set her down here, Conor. I’ll be needing yeh ta go ta th’ basement and bring up a folding cot and a bassinet. Clean them up before yeh bring them into Mrs. Kennedy’s apartment."
“Yes, Mammy,” Conor replied and hurried down the stairs and went to the back of the building to the basement door.
“I’ll leave yeh the head and I’ll take the feet. I didn’t want Conor ta be a’staring at Mrs. Wiley the way she’s dressed,” Mrs. Sullivan said to Heather. “How be Mrs. Kennedy?”
“She be still in bed and struggled ta get out of it. She had me boil a pacifier and ta put a large kettle of water ta heat up. When I left, she was searching’ her bag, but I not be knowing what for.” Heather took the corners of the blanket folds and lifted the unconscious woman. The two women carefully carried their burden down the last flight of stairs.
Mrs. Sullivan knocked lightly and waited for Mrs. Kennedy's response before opening the door.
Using her cane, Mrs. Kennedy stood, holding some kind of roots, walked toward them as they entered. She studied Kathleen briefly, before placing her finger tip behind the unconscious woman’s jaw.
“Place her on my bed. Breanna, I’ll be needing a tay made from these beetroots. There’s some beef in the icebox, boil it all. Season it with this. Kathleen will be needing the broth.” She handed Mrs. Sullivan three small folded paper sacks. “Cailin,” she said to Heather, “Go fetch Fader Murphy. Tell him I’ll be needing a wet nurse for the wee one and lots of his holy water, oil and prayers.”
Heather ran up the stairs, burst through her door, and grabbed her coat and muffler.
Doreen was dishing up porridge for the younger children. “What’s wrong?”
“Mrs. Wiley is dying and I need ta fetch Fader Murphy. Mrs. Kennedy wants him ta bring a wet nurse for Caitlin.” 
“Should some one go fetch Mr. Wiley?”
“If Mr. Wiley showed up, Mrs. Kennedy would beat him ta death with her cane. Mammy and I’d gladly hep her.” Heather tightened her coat and ran down the stairs, stumbled, and grabbed the rail to keep from falling. Take yer time, girl. Yeh’ll be no hep with a broken leg, or worse.


Image source -- Wikiopedia. The image is old and is not in the best of focus. This is an image of an early rubber pacifier. I could not find an image of the original pacifier. Modern pacifiers made of rubber began appearing sometime after 1840, shortly after rubber was invented...Because of the parts, these pacifiers were a danger to the baby. Sometimes, they would break apart and the child would choke to death by swallowing a part.

This is a rewrite. Regular readers may not get any rewards.

Caitlin Anna Wiley will change her name to Joanna 'Jo' Wiley when she is arrested for theft of a two cent apple.

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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