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(A short story of 3886 words)


Historical Fiction Literary

by Kathleen Jones

Aine is a wet nurse on a big estate in 19th century Ireland and her life is in danger unless she can escape. But how can she leave the child? And where is she to get the money to go to America.

Two months ago Jack Farrar left for America. His brother wrote to say that there was good work to be had in New York and no one cared where you said your Sunday prayers. So, as soon as Jack got his half year pay, he was off. ‘Come with me,’ he said. But how could I, placed as I am? And he will be much missed. We’ve been good company since he came to work here two years ago from his lordship’s Killarney estates, having fallen out with the steward there.

Jack was not approved here either, though he worked hard. I heard Mr Lines tell him that he served with a bad grace and should show more gratitude, though what Jack should have been grateful for he didn’t say. Jack made some retort I couldn’t hear and Mr Lines rebuked him in a tight voice, saying that he should keep his politics to himself.

Jack gave me some hard words too before he left. ‘You’re a fool Aine,’ he told me, ‘Save yourself while you still can, for no-one else will. Not almighty God and certainly not that bag of shite on his gilded throne upstairs.’

His lordship’s not a bad man, I think, but just what men are, and as much a slave of what he was born to as Jack Farrar. And not as free, for he can’t take ship and sail away from his great estates and his many relations and their demands. For myself, if I had his advantages, I would get rid of the Lady Margaret, but he dotes on his mother more than he does his wife, who is a pale, limp thing with more pedigree than purpose. This phrase, springing so readily to my mind, gives me a pang, for it is stable-talk and one of Jack’s expressions...

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