Aaah, welcome back.. Might just drop the whole rest of the bugger tonight so
I can get back to other things.... disc and other in part 0/prelude. :)
"Pass the bowl, Kitty."
Watching my brother take advantage of the fact that I'm sitting next to
Marie to size up her exposed neck and half bare arms from scrubbing
vegetables, I wink. "Aye, just a second."
Logan shakes his head and avoids the stare Ma has locked on him. "People
are starvin' over here, lass, pick the bowl up and give it to me."
"Here. Ma, did ye need help with the roast?"
She seems genuinely surprised to hear the question. "Aye, I do. Why don't
ye and yer sister fetch it and leave me to talk to yer friend and brother?"
Jean eyes me suspiciously. Does she really think I've said where she's been
since Mass? "Aye, Ma."
"Margaret, fetch the extra bowl for the gravy. I'll nae have dirty hands
spilling muck into our food as we pass dishes."
"Aye, Ma." With a well-restrained sigh Jean stands up, pushes her chair in
and stalks into the kitchen without a word.
When I join her however, she turns around quickly, speaking softly but
accusingly. "Ye told her."
"I didnae! Marie and I have been in our room talkin' since we got back from
O'Leary's. I'm surprised Ma knew we were here."
"Then why did she ask me about downtown?"
"Were ye and Scott there this afternoon?"
Her quick glance to the dining room is a worried one as she pauses to make
sure the somber conversation at the table is continuing uninterrupted. "Not
so loud, Kitty! We went for tea and scones at Harry's. If we were doing
anything besides eatin' and talkin' Ma would know at first glance."
Digging for the serving fork, I match the glance. Kitchen gossip is nae for
overhearing under any circumstance. "Have ye two shagged?"
Jean wraps fingers carefully around Ma's good serving bowl, trying her best
not to drop it in exasperation. "I'll tell ye--I'll tell ye all-- when Ma's
tucked in bed, alright? Will that make ye happy?"
"Completely. Can Marie stay? She'll sleep in my bed; she's nae a snorer."
Apparently the massive, triumphant smile on my face is betraying, because
she starts back towards the table and turns her head to look at me. "If
this gets back to Ma..."
"Ye'll have me for a porridge?"
I grin and sniff the roast as I walk out with it effortlessly. Marie's
right, I got a skill when it comes to the kitchen, but the question is, do I
really want to indulge it for the sake of wantin' to leave New York?
"He does nae!"
"He does too, dear sister." The wry smile, framed by damp red curls as Jean
combs her hair, makes the pair of us on my bed giggle.
Marie leans forward, almost conspiratorially. "Do all the Protestant boys
do it, or did ye find the one that be a rebel to his own kind?"
"His Ma loves him no matter what, and she fixes us supper when I stay over
for a bit too long."
My jaw drops. "She KNOWS?!"
"Aye, she knew almost right away. She's the one who suggested we go West
and get out of this sodding burgh."
She says it so casually. Next to me, Marie squeals. "Will she let ye get
married to him?"
Jean half-shrugs. From experience I can tell ye that it has a lot more to
do with uneasiness than disinterest. "She says I'd do right by her son, but
his Da is hooked on the fact that I'm Catholic."
"Ye'll corrupt his son to the Pope and away from him, no doubt," Marie
drawls next to me, nicking a bit of maple candy from the table next to the
"Siblings?" I ask.
"Older and already married."
"Ach. Baby of the family," Marie lowers her head, the crunch of the candy
in her mouth breaking the seriousness of her groan.
"Aside from the fact that I'm more than happy to leave Feast Days and
confession behind, I've still got Ma. Out West she can only write how ired
she is at me, and ye, Kitty, are here a bit longer unless Bobby is doin'
more than just staring at ye from a distance."
"He'd drivel on my skirts if I gave him half a chance," I start, then stop.
Why is it every time I mention him I can calculate how much longer
confession will take? He's a friend, nothin' more... I think. "Which I
don't. He's nae gonna marry me, and despite the fact that I think Johnny of
the Fiery Hair is a complete burke, Ma does'nae dislike him that much."
Marie cocks an eyebrow at me. "What about Georgia?"
"I cannae just pick up and leave no matter how much I want to."
"Georgia?" Jean's attention is suddenly solely on me.
"Aye," I sigh, glaring at my friend. "Ye'll nae say any of this to Ma... ?"
"Just like ye won't tell her how much I've seen of the Sumner boy."
She looks at both of us and shakes her head. The fact that she's
half-dressed and nae listening for my brother like an intruding mouse is a
bit of a give away to her feelings. "I want Logan to swallow his pride and
ask me to wed him, so that means I'm willingly wishing myself to be related
to the same woman. Your secrets are safe with me."
"We want to go to Georgia to get jobs as servants, like on the plantations
that grow cotton and tobacco. We've the skills, we've the right
"We can read, basically," I interject. We're certainly nae scholars here,
no reason to believe otherwise for a second.
Marie shrugs. "--and we're young. What more could they want?"
Jean is eyeing us. It's partially an incredulous stare, but there's a bit
of curiosity behind it. "Proposals of marriage from ye."
"The upper class cannae marry servants, tis nae done."
"Aye, and Ma's gonna stop me from marryin' outside her Church."
I scowl. She has a point, but I don't think I want to acknowledge it. I
have this nasty habit of eating my words, in confession or otherwise. "I
doubt they'll be wantin' Irish stock mixing with their Southern aristocracy
anyways. I'll settle-- by my will or Ma's-- but I'm nae setting goals to
marry my employer."
Sitting up next to me, Marie offers another shrug. It's something she does
with her Ma, too. "But we'll nae turn them down cold if they ask."
"Aside from Logan courtin' ye."
The knock on the door makes us all jump. Jean, pulling a shawl off the end
of her bed and wrapping it around her woolen shift, opens the door a hair to
see who's disturbing us.
Please let it nae be Ma.
"Are ye lasses decent?"
Though I cannae see her face, Jean relaxes. Glancing over to her shoulder
to us, she surveys our state of dress. "As much as we can be, considerin'
the hour. Care to come in, Logan?"
Marie suddenly grabs for my blanket and drapes it about her shoulders, a
blush creeping into her face. I slap her on the arm and she glares at me.
She's told me what they do when there's no one about the pub, why is it a
big issue right now?
With a slow step, Logan steps into the decent sized bedroom, his eyes
trained a little to the floor. He's lived with enough women to nae do
otherwise. Closing the door behind him-- to be sure that Ma isnae going to
follow-- Jean touches his arm and smiles a little conspiratorially.
He gives her a quick peck on the top of her head, then scowls. "Ye smell
"And ye smell like that bird in the purple hat. What of it?"
Marie's eyes narrow and I purse a lip. I guess I've left out that bit of
common family gossip in our regular conversations. "She's just a lady who
thinks me brother here is the next gov'nor of New York or something equally
Jean shrugs and returns to her bed, slipping the shawl off. "She's just
above a harlot, there's nae a scrap of hope in her getting Logan for more
than a free drink."
Logan nods and crosses in front of my bed, heading for the chair by the
window, using his height to get a full look at Marie before sitting. "I
wouldnae touch her."
"That he wouldnae."
Marie sighs. "A little bit of jealousy isnae all that uncalled for."
"Why?" is Logan's response, to which the pair of us-- his sisters, that
is-- turn to him and stare. "Ye know how I feel, Marie Kennedy."
"Do I now?"
"Aye, ye do. Now what's this the lot of ye have been whispering about?
Ma's suspicious, but I staved it off with a bit of a pub yarn."
I exhale. "Thank ye, brother dear, but it's better off if ye didnae know
There's a pause when I think we're all pondering the other's next words. We
cannae help it; we're all too talkative for our own good. Then Jean, who
seems to be on the assumption that we're all gunning to ire Ma, licks her
lips and breaks the silence. "Kitty and Marie are to the South for a better
"Jean!!" My sister probably wouldn't mind if I hacked her hair off for that
statement of hers... right? "We want to be, ye know, the head of the
households for the rich landowners."
"And do what, precisely?"
Marie cocks an eyebrow his way. "Ma would be happy if I asked her to teach
me midwiving, and your sister here could cook gourmet had she the
Logan's frown is thoughtful. Huh, it's better than the disapproving one
that I expected. "And when they leave, what are ye doing, dear Jean?
Hiding the heathen from Ma under your petticoats 'til he saddles ye and
leaves ye no choice but to wed?"
The look that crosses my elder sister's face is enough to send soldiers
running for camp. Straightening her shoulders, she makes her words slow and
deliberate. "Would that make ye happy, Logan?"
"T'would make me defend ye against Ma, that's what it would do."
"I dinnae need defendin'."
"Aye, sure ye don't."
I sigh and mouth "I'm sorry" to Marie. This is how my siblings fight.
Rather than yelling-- that would only wake up Ma-- they get quieter and more
personal in their insults.
I've always found yelling and assorted rude phrases of Gaelic less painful
"I dinnae, no more than ye and your hopes of getting away from that damned
pub. What, do ye really think that Denis will free ye if ye wave a hand
around and say ye wish to see the great West?"
"Nae," he growls, clenching his fists in his lap. "I have a responsibility
and I'll bloody well accept it."
"Ye've an obligation that doesnae exist."
"Just like the one you're escaping! This is going to break Ma's heart. She
wants grandchildren to play with on her lap and if she gets them the way ye
want to go about it, she'll be torn between lecturing ye about your leavin'
your family and their ways behind, and loving ye and your family for being
bold enough to live in such a hard world."
"Aye, one that's nae flexible enough to allow a lass from Kilkenny to
consider an English Protestant."
Logan throws his hands in the air in order to nae put one through a wall.
"He's English too? Good Lord, Jean. Ma would skin ye if she knew ye looked
twice at one of those, much less... " Letting his sentence trail off, we all
know what he's implying. Marie and I exchange glances.
The colour that creeps into Jean's face tells me that she knows exactly what
he's avoiding saying. "I'm nae that foolish. Think of me what ye like, but
I'm nae that bent on destroying everything I was raised to believe."
"Just parts of it."
"They are'nae all the Devils we've been hearin' about since we were
children. Ye sound like Da, Logan, wavin' your hands around and trying to
proclaim us all as pure as the Faeries. Well, we are'nae. We're Americans
now, whether we signed up for it or nae, we should try to act like them."
"And I should forgive ye for being willing to look beyond what Ma would
consider a proper husband for a McCleve?"
Jean's face is a careful mask. "Aye."
He sighs and glances at the pair of us on my bed. I blink and look away
quickly realising that Jean's right. Ye can see glimpses of Da in the way
he acts, and it's a little intimidating. Marie, however, holds his look for
a moment. She's braver than both of us, I think. "She's got a point, and
I thought ye had already offered to support her when she left?"
"I did," Logan starts, a little exasperated, "but I didnae think that this
"--Limey would be the near opposite of every other boy Ma and Da were
arranging engagements with."
"I'm nae doing it to spite anyone."
His eyebrow shoots up. "Are ye sure?"
"As sure as one can be."
"And ye two?"
"I don't want to live in the slums forever, Logan."
Marie nods in agreement with me. "We can always come home if we hav'ta."
I don't think he believes us. "And Ma?"
"Should be grateful that we want to be more than people think we could be.
Come on, Logan, do ye really think I want to settle with that shitkicker
"Marriage isnae supposed to be easy," he grounds out. Aye, this from the
man that has been dodging proposals since he first shaved.
"Nae! I'll nae hear such insanity from both my sisters in the same night!
Ye're both so determined to get out of this burgh just because ye think that
there's something else out there that is waiting for ye. Well, what if
there isnae? Then what?"
"I dinnae know," I say without flinching.
His voice lowers. "And ye, Marie? Are ye any wiser?"
Marie sits up straight, throws her hair behind her back and takes off the
shawl, exposing her bare shoulders. This garners a bit of a pause from my
brother, and judging by the smile Marie flashes him, it was the reaction she
wanted. "I know of a man I'd like to wed, but if he does'nae ask me soon,
I'm to the wilds outside of New York with Kitty."
Logan swallows vocally, glowers at me and stands. Holding out his hands in
some kind of gesture, clenching his fists and then setting them by his sides
in frustration, he stares of each of us girls in turn.
Aye, he's Da all right.
"Logan, ye cannae stop us from leavin', I just thought it'd be courteous and
tell ye so ye wouldnae think we've been taken by a band of overdetermined
He scoffs and folds his arms over his chest. The sound that comes from
Marie resembles a pleased gasp. I snicker; t'would figure that she'd love
the strong arms of a McCleve man. "And if ye are, Kitty?"
Jean smirks on her own bed. "Dear brother Logan would ride in like
Cuchulainn and rescue us from our peril!"
"Aye, me and me hounds. Saints above, I'll nae have the lot of ye in harm's
"Then come with us Logan."
He knows he cannae go just as much as we do. His eyes darken and he sighs.
"I cannae promise you anything, Marie Kennedy, but I will see ye safe."
Marie blushes and laughs. "Bloody good. Now be a good gentleman and permit
me to dress so ye can walk me home, Logan McCleve."
Glancing to the two of us, he cocks an eyebrow, loosens his self-hug and
nods. "I'll walk ye home, Marie. T'would be a pleasure."
We three girls break into giggles, to which he sighs and stalks out of the
room. Aye, this is definitely my life.
[cont'd in part 4]
"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