TOO Historical Fiction 86 Meg Harper

Tales of Old show

Summary: By Gretchen Tessmer Read by Jane Osborn Caleb and I played jacks on the sun-drenched planks of Deck A for more than three hours this morning. We’ve changed the rules and now require a length of string, three nails and a bit of white chalk to play. Caleb, in his customary discontent, insisted that we needed matches to give the game some spark. But I informed him that a child of seven has no business experimenting with fire. The youngest of the three Jewish brothers played with us for a short while. Unfortunately, he speaks no English and neither Caleb nor I speak Yiddish. The language barrier proved inconvenient. He went back to his brothers after only two rounds and they spent the rest of the afternoon just staring out over the harbor. Sitting and staring have become a regular activity among the passengers of our ill-fated Meridian, though not for me. I’ve found that my brother’s constitution is one of constant motion and infuriating energy. Frankly, if he were to sit still for any amount of time I would doubt the quality of my senses. As it is, considering our long separation, I’m pleasantly surprised by my ability to entertain a brother not even half my age. It’s been six days since steerage was quarantined. I think. I did not take the time to write it down. They moved us all so quickly and everyone was in such a panic. Everything has settled now. The remaining steerage passengers, including my brother and myself, mix here and there on the decks of what were formerly first and second class. But honestly, I don’t think anyone is paying much attention to distinctions of class anymore. Just yesterday, a woman in pearls and a Parisian silk dress asked me, an orphan girl from Yorkshire, if I needed anything. I feel as if I’ve stepped into a Dickens novel.