â€œThe saints be warned,â€ Katie said now, banging her fist into her hand. â€œIâ€™ll not be done in by that girlâ€™s lies. Iâ€™ve seen how the world works and how you have to fight for what you want. Aye, fight. And that I will doâ€¦or me name isnâ€™t Katie Oâ€™Reilly.â€
She let out a deep sigh. It was no use. She couldnâ€™t sleep. If only morning would come so she could be on her way to the dock. Hours yet until the sun came up.
Sitting on the edge of the open window sill, her mind wandered back to other times.
Happy times, then sad.
When her da was alive, she oft came to Queenstown with its narrow streets winding up steep hills, seeing him off on his fishing boat until the day he never returned. The sea had claimed him as it had so many others, his body washing up on shore while his soul roamed free.
It broke her dear motherâ€™s heart, kind lady she was, her fingers always entwined around the holy black beads her sister in the convent had fastened for her. Sheâ€™d buried three sons before they reached the age of five. Children lost to the ills of being poor, then her husband to the ravages of the sea.
That was six months ago. Before her mum died, she made Katie promise to join her sister in service. Now Katie had broken that promise and she was running off toAmerica.
With a price on her head.
Leave Ireland? Her home?
Was she daft?
Her parents were buried here. Not even a handful of dirt from their final resting place did she have to take with her.
Only her motherâ€™s black rosary beads.
Katie gripped her hands together and beat upon her breast, calling upon the angels to help her.
Oh, God, please, she prayed, tell my dear mum Iâ€™m sorry, but I have to do this. And please, oh please, make her forgive me.
She would, wouldnâ€™t she?
Had Katie not made every effort to be a good housemaid?
Was it her fault she got sacked because a man looked at her? She never expected the girl would accuse her of being a thief. She ran away from the grand house before the constable showed up.
There was a steep price to pay if she were caught.
Years spent in a cold, damp cell, but the wild intoxication of being free was a heady stimulant that surpassed any grim thoughts she might have.
For Katie had a plan.
That ticket was her passage to freedom.
She was going to America on the next steamship leaving Queenstown.
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