Romance Fiction posted January 29, 2012 Chapters:  ...8 9 -10- 11... 

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Bringing up Caitlin

A chapter in the book A ROUGH BEGINNING

Chapter Five - Part One

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.


JUNE 1873
Kathleen Wiley placed a bowl of porridge on the table along with a small glass of milk. She smiled as her five-year old child looked out the window, attracted by the red cardinal resting on a clothes line pulley wire. Caitlin laughed when the bird started chirping and frowned when it flew away. She followed its flight until distracted by several children at play, kicking a round ball.
“Yeh porridge be ready, Pumpkin. Come eat it before it gets cold.” Kathleen pretended to be upset at her daughter’s hesitancy to leave the window. “Yeh be wanting ta be big and strong, don’t yeh?”
Caitlin left the window and hurried to her place at the table. “I be wanting ta be as big and strong as Aunt Heather and grow as old as Nana Kennedy. Do yeh think I’ll ever be that strong and old, Mammy?” The child asked and followed with another question before her mother could answer. “Aunt Heather says Nana Kennedy be the wisest woman in the world. Do yeh think I'll ever be as smart as Nana?”
Kathleen smiled as she bent and kissed her daughter on the forehead. “This be America. Yeh can be whatever yeh want ta be. Now hurry and eat, then we’ll go down and see Aunt Heather and Nana Kennedy.”
Kathleen thought of her missing husband, Sean, who left two days after Caitlin's birth. She had never shared any information. The child has no need ta learn about the drunken bastard that nearly killed us both one night after she was born. Breanna’s children'll be making a better example for her.
Caitlin finished her breakfast and drank the last of her milk. “I’m finished Mammy. Can we be going?” She jumped off her chair and ran to the door, jumping with childish excitement.
Kathleen glanced at the dirty dishes still on the table. “Aren’t yeh be forgetting something?”
“I be forgetting to put me dishes in the sink.”  Caitlin ran over and adjusted the foot stool by the sink, grabbed her bowl, spoon and glass. She hurried to the sink. The glass slipped out of the bowl and crashed to the floor, along with the spoon. She stopped and stared at her mother.
“Don’t move, or yeh be cutting yerself on th’ broken glass.”  Kathleen took her broom and swept the broken glass away from the child. Once gathered, she swept it onto a metal dust pan and emptied it into the trash barrel.
Caitlin bit her lower lip and stayed in place, not daring to look up at her mother.
Kathleen put the broom and dust pan away. “Young lady, do yeh have something ta say ta me?”
“Yes, Mammy.”
“What do yeh be wanting ta say?”
“I’m sorry I broke th’ glass.”
“What did yeh be doing ta break the glass?”
“I should of been holding it in the bowl, the spoon, too.”
 “Let that be a lesson ta yeh. Why don’t yeh put the bowl and spoon into th’ sink and we’ll go downstairs. Remember, be careful.”
Kathleen kept from laughing at the child’s exaggerated slow movements of holding the bowl with the spoon in it and walking to the sink. She climbed on the stool, put the items into the sink and jumped down.
“Is that how yeh be getting off th’ stool?”
“No, Mammy.”
“Show me how yeh be doing it properly.”
Caitlin climbed up onto the stool, placed her hand on the sink edge and stepped down, holding on until both feet were on the floor.
“Very good. Let’s go see Aunt Heather and Nana Kennedy.”
“Yeaaaaa!” Caitlin ran to the door, opened it and started to run out.
“Caitlin Anna Wiley! Stop right there!”
The child froze with one foot in the hallway, not daring to look at her angry mother who had called her by her full name.
Kathleen forced herself to keep a stern face. Lord. I wished I had her energy. “Is that the way we be going down the stairs, young lady?” The mother failed to keep the laughter from her voice.
Caitlin turned. “No, Mammy. I’m not supposed ta run in the hallway.”
“What else are yeh supposed to be doing?”
“I’m supposed ta be holding yer hand so I’ll not be falling down th’ stairs.”
“What’d happen if yeh fell down th’ stairs?”
Caitlin stopped and pondered over her answer. “Aunt Heather says I’d break me arm or leg. Yeh be saying I’d break me neck. Nana Kennedy says Fader Murphy’s angels would take me away.”
“So what do yeh think yeh should be doing ta avoid those accidents?”
“Falling down th’ stairs.”

“Oh, I should be holding yeh hand.”
Kathleen offered her hand and Caitlin grabbed two fingers. Her mother grasped her small hand tighter. “Let us be going downstairs.”
Caitlin tried to break free when they reached the bottom floor, but her mother held onto her hand. “Would yeh be wanting ta knock on th’ door for me?”
“Yes, Mammy.” The child tried again to free herself from her mother’s grip, but to no avail.
“Yeh’ll not be knocking and charging in. Knock and wait for someone ta invite yeh in.”
“Sometimes, Aunt Heather just walks in and sometimes she knocks before she walks in.” Caitlin’s face twisted in confusion.
“Aunt Heather lives here and helps Nana Kennedy. Yeh and I be guests. We be needing ta be invited in. Do yeh think yeh can knock and wait?”
“Yes, Mammy.” Caitlin’s shifted her feet.
“Okay. Knock and wait.  When I hear someone invite us in, I’ll be nodding for yeh ta open th’ door.”
Caitlin made a fist with her right hand and knocked several times. Both heard Heather’s voice inviting them in. The child looked up to her mother who nodded. Caitlin wrapped both her hands around the door knob and opened the door. Like a bullet, she ran into Heather’s welcoming arms, to be picked up and swirled around.
Shaking her head, Kathleen walked in smiling. “Top of th’ morning ta yeh.”
Mrs. Kennedy sat in her wheelchair at the table drinking her special tea, returned her greeting.
Heather flipped Caitlin upside down and held her by her ankles. The child squealed with laughter. Her captor walked over to Mrs. Kennedy.  “What do yeh think we should do with this wild animal that tried ta attack me?”
Mrs. Kennedy stared at the child dangling in her face. “Is that th’ wild cailin who’s been terrorizing our apartment building?”
Heather began swinging the child side to side. “Th’ one and th’ same. I be almost catching her yesterday, but she got away.”
“Heat some water in th’ big pot. We’ll boil her for stew.”
“Nooooo!” Caitlin coughed in a fit of giggling.
“What? Yeh not be wanting ta fill me stomach?”
“No. I want ta hug yeh and give yeh a millun kisses.”
“Yeh not be wanting ta bite me and eat me?”
Caitlin went from giggling to laughing. “I've had me breakfast.”
Mrs. Kennedy nodded to Heather. “Okay, turn her straight and place her on me lap.”
Heather turned away to give herself more room. “Yeh be ready ta go flying?”
“Yesssss.” She squealed when Heather flipped her into the air, making her do a somersault, and caught her right side up in mid-air.
Caitlin wrapped her arms around Heather’s neck and began kissing her cheek.
“Help! It be wanting ta be eating me alive!”  She pulled Caitlin free and placed the child on Mrs. Kennedy’s broad lap.
Kathleen, laughing, glanced at Heather and then at her daughter who hugged Mrs. Kennedy, and repeatedly kissed her. “Now yeh know what I be having ta put up with.” She walked over to relieve Mrs. Kennedy from the kissing monster. After hugging Caitlin and kissing her daughter’s forehead, she asked, “Do yeh think yeh could be settling down?”
Caitlin accepted the mild reprimand. “Yes Mammy.” She walked around her mother and climbed on Mrs. Kennedy's lap.
The old lady wrapped her arms around the child. “Mothers don't be much fun, are they?”
“She says yeh be sick and I should behave around yeh.”
“Yeh, know what I be saying?”
Someone knocked on the door and Heather went to open it.
“What?” Caitlin asked.
“Yeh be owing me a big kiss before yeh settle down.”
Caitlin reached up and gave her nana a long kiss on the cheek. “Now, I be settling down.” She slid off Mrs. Kennedy’s lap just as Mrs. Powell entered carrying a covered tray.
“Good morning, everybody. You too, Miss Caitlin.”
“Good morning, Auntie Powell. Is that for me?”
“Caitlin, mind yeh manners,” Kathleen gently rebuffed her child.
Mrs. Powell handed her tray to Heather and held her arms open for the child.
Caitlin ran to her and jumped into her arms. She kissed Mrs. Powell on both her cheeks and hugged her around the neck.
“My, you're getting to be a big girl.” She held the child away from her. Tears appeared in her eyes. “I can’t believe this is the little baby I nursed.”
Kathleen reached to remove Caitlin from Mrs. Powell’s arms. “That she be and we all be thankful for it.” After hugging her child, she set Caitlin on her feet.
Heather set the covered dish on the table. “I’ll start Caitlin on her lessons and get my pad and pencils so we can start our class.” She and the child disappeared behind Heather’s curtained-off part of the room.
Mrs. Powell removed the cloth cover, revealing over a dozen small squares of sweet cakes, stacked pyramid style. “I’ll set up tea and sweet cakes before we get started.”
The curtain flew outward as Caitlin burst back into the room. “Can I have some?”
“Caitlin Anna Wiley! Get in here! Yeh’re supposed ta be in class!” Heather called out. The adults broke into laughter.
 Mrs. Powell slipped the child a sweet cake.
"Thank yeh, ma'am." Caitlin curtsied and ran back to Heather.


The 19th century image of a baby and small girl courtesy of Google Images.

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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