Disclaimers and that jolly rot back in the 0 parte. :) BTW, I mess this up
ALL the time: the actual spelling of the word in the title is "whisky," IE
the UK version... the us of the word sans the E. sorry, achivers. :)
"Mary Rebecca Darkholme... McCleve," Marie murmurs dreamily in my room,
wearing only a half-laced corset and shift, the white linen barely hiding
the rise of cleavage. "It has a sound to it."
"Aye, " I sigh, curling toes under the old blue and orange plaid. "The
sound of ye trying to figure out how to get my Ma off her dogged
determination to keep her family pure."
"I'm only half German."
"All the world to Katherine Ann, the patron saint of overbearing mothers."
Marie snickers and rolls over to lay on her stomach. "She has to martyr
I point at the empty bed usually occupied by Jean. She's out again,
surprises of surprises. "She will soon enough."
"She's just being rebellious, your sister."
"Nae," I sigh and look into her dark irises. "She's nae that foolish. I
heard she was thinking of going West with him, to teach in Colorado
territory or Missouri, something like that."
"They dinnae recognise the accent there."
I grin and stick my tongue out. "I dinnae have any bloody accent."
"And Mr. Taylor there in the White House?"
Marie affects a haughty pose, then giggles. I giggle as well. "Sounds
like a bleedin' Limey... or worse."
"A bleedin' American."
I laugh. "Exactly!"
"So what're we gonna do, Kitty?"
Propping my elbows up and leaning my chin on hands, I shrug. "'Bout what?"
"Do ye really want to live in the slums of New York all your life, Miss Mary
I cast a dreary thought to the people who named our part of the city 'Hell's
"So what are we going to do? I can mind children, ye can cook, why don't we
go to the capital and work for one of the aristocrats in their big houses
and eat off the fat of the land?"
"'Cause that's ludicrous!"
She shakes her head at me. She really does dream bigger than me, she always
has. "Half the reason Ma is loved in this community is cause she's brought
some of the children here into the world. She could teach me midwiving.
Think about it. Logan can teach ye the rest about the pub and in a few
years ye could be headin' up a household. Mansion, lands, slaves. Servants
quarters are better than this rat trap, especially in the swankier places,
and I'm sure there's some Catholic boys out there that'd love to have ye."
"Or take your sister's route and go for the pre-destined yobs."
I hit her arm and lay back, my hair tangling under me. Great, it's going to
take me a while to comb it back out. "Ye know I still haven't met him,
I shake my head and stick my toes out from underneath the wool edges of my
shift. They're almost as pale as the fabric, a sea of milky white, and I
dinnae think I'll be dangling them in public too much until the winter
breaks. Ma would be upset anyways since I wouldnae have that Victorian
pale. She hates the snobbery of high society, but still somehow wants to be
one of them. I'll never understand it. "Nae. It's better that way. If I
do, it means Ma can browbeat and guilt his person out of me, and then where
would we all be?"
"Getting praised for lusting after Catholic boys."
I offer an arched eyebrow. "Minus the admissions of lust."
Marie chews on her lip, sits up with a squeak as whalebone pokes her hard in
the ribs and reaches for a nearby piece of parchment and plume after
readjusting. "So where do we go?"
She draws a few errant letters. "Where do we go? New England's wrought
with rocks, Pennsylvania is overrun with Quakers and... the South."
"More like the Carolinas."
I wrinkle my nose in disgust. "Tobacco and seaports? Nae not."
"Irish are shipbuilders."
"Makin' us fine dockworkers. Do I look like a pier lass?"
"Nae." Marie scratches out a few words and thinks. "Georgia?"
If my pause were any longer you'd think I'd was praying. "There are worse
choices, and it's nae New York."
"They'll love us there. We're educated whites."
"We're educated northerners," I correct. Bah, bloody big difference. "And
if they think I'm giving up Mass, they have another thing coming."
"So we bring Catholicism to the cotton growers."
I frown. "Or the slaves."
The silence that falls between us is stifling. I think I'm a bit more
bothered by the whole issue of slavery than she is, but that's partially
Ma's fault. Ma rants and wails about the fact that the Negro takes our
jobs, but we-- Jean and I-- know it's nae true. They get the jobs even we
"scurvy Micks" dinnae have to do. I think it's degrading.
Sometimes the New World isn't all it's puffed up to be.
Marie's lower lip is tucked along her teeth. "Maybe the Jefferson
plantation needs people."
"Ye mean two girls with penchants for trouble."
"Aye," she giggles, "he was the big chief here nae too long ago. Maybe he
misses the northern influence in his wanin' years."
"And ye just want to dance on his dinner table. Aye, Marie, ye're a
dreamer. How are ye gonna marry my brother if we leave?"
Her brown eyes narrow in frustration. "He cannae come with us?"
"Nae with the pub and Ma still breathin' down his neck."
"Bloody hell. He's trapped here then."
"Aye." That truth has two implications: I have to leave my brother, my
protector, the one man I can tell everything to without getting lectured.
Marie gets to leave the man she wants, probably loves and would marry should
the chance arise. Who's losing the most here? "So now what?"
"I dinnae know. Would your Ma mind feeding another mouth?"
"Nae if ye help with the dishes. Don't tell her nor anyone else about our
"On me mother's honour I'll nae tell a soul."
Leaping across, I grab Marie in a hug and squeeze until she makes a little
sound, her hand patting my shoulder.
"Let go, Kitty, you'll hurt me."
I grin. "Nae in this lifetime, me friend."
[cont'd in part 3]
"To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel" --"Mysterious Ways," U2