Romance Fiction posted June 26, 2012 Chapters:  ...26 27 -28- 29... 

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Mrs. Kennedy's wake

A chapter in the book A ROUGH BEGINNING

Chapter Twelve Part One

by c_lucas

This novel is written in the Omniscient point of view. The story takes place is New York's Irish slums. Points of history are intermingled with fiction.


JUNE, 1875

End of the last post:

Breanna looked around the room. “We be the only ones left and tomorrow will be a busy day…..She turned her attention to Phillip. Yeh’ll be needing a place ta bed down…. the benches be too small.”
“Me Phillip can be sleeping in me bed.” Heather kissed him lightly on the lips.

Under the hawkish eyes of his future mother-in-law, Phillip tried to give Heather a chaste good night kiss.  She had her own ideas. Heather wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a passionate kiss.
“Save those weak kisses for when my fader is present. Me mudder is more tolerant.”  She stepped away, winked and walked over to join her mother at the table.  When she turned back toward Phillip, all she saw was slight movement of the curtain.
Mrs. Sullivan and Heather’s attention was drawn to a different curtained-off area.  Mrs. Wiley came into the room and walked to the pot-bellied stove. “Yeh cuppa of tea be okay?”

The two ladies nodded.
Kathleen drew a new pail of water and replaced the old pail on the stove, using the remainder of its content to brew a new pot of tea. She brought the pot and set it on a towel to steep.
Breanna cleared her throat and glanced at Heather. “Yeh be on top of the world, tonight. Why don’t yeh tell us what yeh be up ta since yeh left the church, scaring everybody?”
Heather glanced at her mother and Kathleen. “Do yeh be remembering the demonstration Mrs. Kennedy showed us before Mrs. Powers sailed off with her husband?”
“Do yeh be meaning setting our hair on fire with the hep of St. Brigit?”
“That be the one. St. Brigit gave me Phillip a demonstration, using me. It be scaring him so bad, he threw a bucket of water in me face and on me head. Brigit's fire continued ta burn until I showed me Phillip how ta put it out with his faith.”
 “How did yeh be showing Phillip it wasn’t a trick?” Breanna studied Heather’s face.
“Trust me, Mudder, Yeh not be wanting ta know how I convinced me Phillip, besides Brigit stood by th' bed.”
“Bed? Yeh be saying?”
“Aye. I be standing in the middle of th' room and me Phillip be sitting on a chair. St. Brigit watched us both.  After th' demonstration was over, the police officer arrived with Arthur and Conor. I be needing ta clear up a matter with me Phillip, so I told them ta wait in the barn.”
“An Arthur and Conor be leaving yeh alone in a man’s bedroom?”
“They not be having a choice, I blocked the doorway and St. Brigit would not let them enter. Then Arthur be trying ta lift me out of th' way, but Mrs. Kennedy wouldn’t let him.” Heather stared her mother who was full of questions. Brigit I be needing yeh hep, again.
The sacred bond among the three women allowed a gold band of light to encircle them and be filled with the pink mist.
Kathleen spoke first, “I be seeing a fire engulfing Mrs. Kennedy.”
“Aye, I be seeing the same thing,” Breanna answered.
“Hold hands,” Heather commanded. When they held hands, a fire flowed around. “Thank yeh, Briget. Yeh wishes will be carried out.” Heather allowed the flame to disappear by removing her hands from her mother and Kathleen’s. The three of them remained still until Breanna broke the silence.
“That be th' strongest I ever felt Briget.” She studied her daughter's serene facial expression. “I be never doubting yer word, again.”
“Thank yeh,
Mudder. Now, we must prepare for tomorrow morning when Mrs. Kennedy’s guest’ll  start arriving.
A light rain introduced the beginning of Mrs. Kennedy’s wake. Even when the shower increased its intensity, a steady flow of females and a much smaller flow of sober males visited.
Father Murphy escorted The Reverend Mother and twelve of her nuns, bearings gifts of food, and arrived just after dawn. The priest led a small caravan of food-bearers to Hennessey's.  The Father and the men entered the establishment, but the ladies waited outside until they were relieved of their burdens. The group returned to Mrs. Kennedy’s without Father Murphy and most of the men.
Mrs. Sullivan went upstairs to tend to her brood. After everyone had dressed and eaten, she led the way down to the first floor flat with a wreath on the opened door. She and her children paid their respects to the corpse.
Doreen Sullivan took her siblings to one side and got them involved in telling stories about Mrs. Kennedy. Then they began singing children's songs. Three of the nuns joined them and Doreen went to help her mother.
Heather and Phillip helped until everything was organized. She took his hand and led him out into the end of the hallway. “Do yeh be knowing much about Irish’s wakes?”
“If you are asking if I’ve ever been to one, I haven’t. I can’t imagine it would be any different from any other ceremony, paying tribute to the dead.”
“This be quieter than usual because most of the men will be at Hennessey's. Th' nuns will keep th' children busy. Although Fader Murphy doesn’t approve of keening, he has approved a bench for Mrs. Kennedy’s sake.”
“What are you saying?” Phillip kissed her lightly.
“Me mudder, Mrs. Wiley and me won’t be getting much sleep. At Hennessey’s, the same be true for fader and me brudders. At first, Fader Murphy arranged for th' funeral ta be at noon Friday and our wedding will be at Friday Evening Mass, but I asked him to change them.”
“Are you wanting to put the marriage off until Saturday evening?”
“I’ll be wanting ta have it this afternoon, Mudder and the Reverend Mudder suggested tomorrow afternoon. Fader Murphy agreed. I be thinking, me fader and brothers can arrange the funeral procession tomorrow at noon and  Fader Murphy can hold Mrs. Kennedy's Mass and be burying her by two. He can marry us at four.”
“Aren’t you rushing things?” Phillip took her into his arms. She returned his hug.
“Aye, but I be having my reasons. We need to be getting yer horse and carriage and going to the Bird’s Nest.”
Caitlin Wiley woke with thoughts of Nana Kennedy. She had heard her say, ‘Two things will force one from a bed, nature’s call or hunger.’ At the moment, Caitlin was feeling both.  She used the chamber pot first. The seven year old spied her folded clothing on a chair and hurriedly dressed. The various smells of food increased her speed. Once dressed, she pulled the curtain aside and saw the room full of people. Her eyes settled on her nana. Nana died last night, but she looks as if she be sleeping.”
Hunger overtook her need to comb her hair. She came from behind the curtain and saw her mother in the kitchen area by the sink. Caitlin started toward her when she got a glance at her nana’s resting form.
She changed directions and knelt by the head of the bed. “Yeh look like yeh be resting, Nana.” The child knelt and offered a prayer for her nana.
Mrs. Wiley, spotting her daughter's uncombed hair, went into Mrs. Kennedy’s area and picked up a comb and hairbrush. She waited for Caitlin to finish and called her.
Caitlin hugged her mother and received a kiss on the forehead.
“Let me be getting yer hair in order, then I’ll be fixing yeh some breakfast.  When yeh be ready, yeh can join th' other children.
“Can’t I visit with Nana?”
“If yeh be wanting ta, yeh can.”
After a brief discussion between Mrs. Sullivan and the Reverend Mother, the keeners could use Mrs. Powell’s area.   Soon, the bed was taken apart and stored in the hallway.  Eight of the chairs were placed behind the curtain.
The Reverend Mother assigned a nun to oversee the area and to bring refreshments to those who would participate in the keening.  
“Is there any particular reason you want me to stay home tonight?” Phillip asked as he maneuvered the heavy traffic, hindered further by rain.
“Aye. Tonight will be a service for women only.”
“Are you holding a pagan ritual?”
“A ritual, yes, but it not be pagan. The Reverend Mother and a few of her nuns will be there.”
“Is that all you’ll be doing?”
“I’ll be offering me prayers that yeh not be running out of strength on our wedding night.”


Image source - Courtesy of Google Images

Special thanks to the fellow members:
Tonulak (Ted) for his help and providing answers on Catholicism.

N.K. Wagner (Nancy) for giving me insight on how the Irish spoke in the nineteenth century.

MumEsGirl (Kate) for keeping my dialect on track.

Patrick G Cox (Patrick) for his insight into the early Catholic church in Ireland.

For the Irish FanStory members too numerous to name. For their input on 19th century Ireland.

The Proglogue is a list of characters and chapters' URLs.
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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