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Thread: Return to Sender - Chapter 15

  1. #1
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    Return to Sender - Chapter 15

    My first attempt at painting freckles. Not sure if she looks like she has freckles, or the measles.

    Chapter 15
    When the town of Ballyickeen came within a five minute walk, I inspected myself to be sure that I had not overlooked something that might identify me as an outsider. Before leaving Boston, Mr. Cohen had arranged for me to get clothing from some recent immigrants from Ireland. It was my hope that the change in clothing, along with my beard, added to the number of years it had been since I had left Ireland, should help eliminate any recognition problems. I doubted anyone would recognize me out of hand, but more importantly, I didn't want my appearance to draw undue attention and speculation as to who I might be.

    Half a block from the house where my cousin Grady had lived, I stopped and sat down on the side of the road. Removing my shoe, as I pretended to be removing a stone, my eyes stayed focused on the house, as I hoped to find some sign to indicate whether or not Maura, Grady's widow, still lived there. To delay any longer would be to draw attention to myself, so, still carrying my uncertainty as to the current residents of the house, I stepped up to the door, and knocked.
    When the door swung open, I had to bite my lip to stop the flow of tears from starting. Staring at me from inside the door, was Maura, Grady's short, redheaded wife. Not a single freckle seemed to have disappeared in the years since I had seen her last.
    "Yes,?" she inquired. "What would you be wanting, or do you have the wrong house?"

    A quick check to be sure there were no other ears around, I answered. "It's the right house, Maura Eaton, and far too long it's been since I was in it."
    The look of suspicion was in her eyes. I saw her hand reach for the broom. "Speak fast, or I'll see how quickly you can dodge a broom stick. Who are you, and how do you come to know my name?"
    "Maura, think back to when you were about eight years old. As we waited outside the church, you threw a rock at me. The rock missed, and broke one of the church windows. To save you the whipping that I knew lay in store for you, I said that I did it, and took the whipping for you. Remember?"
    Her mouth dropped, and her eyes grew wide. "I remember the incident. The next day, I kissed the boy that you speak of. If it's himself that you be, you'll be telling me where the kiss took place."
    I laughed and replied. "If only everything were that easy. The memory is clear in my mind. It was underneath the bridge just outside of Ballyickeen, and well you know it, wife of my loyal cousin, Grady."
    Looking quickly up and down the street, she grabbed me by the arm and pulled me inside, quickly closing the door behind me. "Sean? Is it true? Have you really returned?"

    "Yes, Maura. It is me, and I have returned. Returned to settle accounts for Grady."
    She burst into tears and held me close until she could compose herself. "Grady told me that if the Earl ever had him killed, that I should write to you. He said that if it were humanly possible, you would come back and settle for him. I thought he was expecting too much, but I followed his wishes." She looked me over carefully. "And now you're here. You left a boy, and have returned a man. Do they all wear beards in America?"
    Smiling, I answered. "No. The beard was something I grew to help hide my identity for this trip."
    Pointing me to the kitchen table, Maura asked. "Have you had breakfast Sean? Shall I fix something?"
    "I had enough this morning in the cave. It will hold me for a bit."
    "Well, sit yourself down while I brew up some tea. Tell me what you have been doing all these years in that far away land."
    The morning passed quickly as I told her about the voyage to America, my experience in Boston, including getting arrested and wrongly sentenced as an indentured servant to Ruppert. I told her of my escape, and how I met Mariska on my road to freedom. As she poured my tea, I told her of the winter in the Mohegan village, and my marriage to my beautiful Mariska. She listened with great interest as I spoke of our travels, and how we came to settle in Colorado. When I told her of my marriage to Senta, her mouth dropped a bit. "Two wives? Is this what America has done to you Sean? Have you become a heathen then?"
    Laughing, I grabbed her hand. "No, I'm still the same Sean Eaton. Maura, it's a different world. Where we live, each day is filled with hard work and more than a little danger. Having never been there, it would be difficult to explain to you, but understand this. Mariska and Senta are both happy to be my wives, and I am proud to have them. I have a son with each of them, and they each act as mother to both boys. As strange as it must seem to you, we are truly a family. A family that is closer and more devoted to each other than most I've known."
    Maura got up from her chair, walked over and kissed me on the forehead. "I can't claim to understand it, but I see the happiness in your eyes when you speak of them, so I know it to be true. I'm happy for you Sean. Your mother and father would be so proud if they could see the man you have become. I don't suppose you have learned anything about what happened to your father in America?"

    "No," I answered. "It's a huge land Maura. Ireland would be swallowed up inside it, and nobody would be the wiser. It's a wild land, and there are a dozen ways a man can get killed on the frontier, often without anybody ever knowing about it. My father might have been killed by Indians, drowned trying to swim a river in flood conditions, killed by a lightning strike crossing the plains, or one of many other ways. It's still a dangerous land, but that's what makes it exciting. There are no dull routine days. Every day, you fight to survive in one way or another. It keeps you young."
    Rising from my chair, I walked around the house. "Your home seems to not have changed a bit since I was last here. Say, where are your children?"
    "They are at school Sean. They will be home later this afternoon."
    Walking back into the kitchen, I took Maura's hand. "So, how have you been making it since Grady's death? Is your family still around? Do they help?"

    Nodding her head, she said, "It's been hard, but my brothers still live fairly close, and come over to help me with some of the work when they can. As far as money, they are as poor as we are, so there's nothing much to be done there. I take in some washing for a couple of wealthy families on the other side of town, and the pub owner hires me to cook on Saturdays. It's not much, but we get by. I don't mind being poor, I just feel guilty that I can't always feed the kids as good as I should."
    I reached inside my shirt and pulled out an envelope. "Recently I made a settlement with the man that had me imprisoned and forced into slavery. He saw the errors of his ways, and gave me a bit of money as penance for his evil deeds. Where we live, money is almost useless. We depend on hunting, fishing, trapping, or trading for the things we need. Grady saved my life by helping me to escape from the Earl of Morrison's men. Had he not done that, he would be here today, still taking care of you and your family." Handing the envelope to her, I continued. "There's not a great amount there, but it's enough to make sure that you and your children are fed and clothed properly."
    The protest of pride started to show on her face. "Wait. Before you start. I know that if the situation had been reversed, and if he had been able, Grady would have done the very same thing for my family. With his death, you and your children have become my family also. You cannot, and must not, deny me the right to do what I can, to make sure that you are provided for. He would want that."
    The tears started rolling down her cheeks, and she ran quickly into the bedroom to regain her composure. In a couple of minutes, she returned. "Sean, on behalf of Grady, and my children, I will not refuse this. I do know that he would want me to. Still, this is too much. You must take some of it back with you."

    "I squeezed her hand and answered. "No. I still have some money left over. More than I will need. Take this and welcome. Now, I want to see the children, but not today. I can't afford the chance that they might talk to their friends and word get out to the Earl or his men of my return. So, in the time we have left before the kids return, talk to me, and tell me all you know about what the Earl has been doing, where he lives now, his friends, anything and everything you can think of."
    Two hours later, I told her that in case of trouble, I would be in the cave. We agreed to meet the next morning at the stone bridge close to the farm where I grew up. With that, I headed back to the cave, anxious to see how I could use the information Maura had given me, to form a plan to deal with the Earl of Morrison.
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  2. #2
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    Glad to have another chapter

    I await the rest. Very good Mike.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marilyn Anne View Post
    I await the rest. Very good Mike.
    Glad you liked it Marilyn. Thank you very much. The next chapter should be up soon.
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  4. #4
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    Definitely more measles ..., but the story goes on wonderfully and the lady enjoyed a little tan on her usually pale Irish skin on this summertime. Sean should have probably given to Maura another meeting point and a timetable for them rather than the cave, just in case she might be asked for and forced to tell by the earl's men after the "settlement".
    Last edited by Caesar; 08-02-2012 at 07:19 PM.
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
    Definitely more measles ..., but the story goes on wonderfully and the lady enjoyed a little tan on her usually pale Irish skin on this summertime. Sean should have probably given to Maura another meeting point and a timetable for them rather than the cave, just in case she might be asked for and forced to tell by the earl's men after the "settlement".
    Thanks Caesar. Much appreciated.
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  6. #6
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    I have yet to read this story dear Mike but your painting is looking good her freckles are a little splotchy but maybe
    a touch with the smooth palette knife would help a little
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mannafig View Post
    I have yet to read this story dear Mike but your painting is looking good her freckles are a little splotchy but maybe
    a touch with the smooth palette knife would help a little
    Thanks so much Amanda. Yeah, I used the knife to keep them from looking like dots, but the png was too large to post, and when I changed it to jpg format, the smoothness got lost in the transformation. I'll have to figure out a better way.
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