Annie stood on deck waving frantically at her family. Tears streamed down her face and she noticed that Bridget was also crying. They had one valise between them and didn’t want it to be snatched away before they had even left the shores of their beloved homeland.
Bridget grabbed her sister’s arm and said, “Annie, what have we done? Oh, I think I want to go back home.”
“Bridget, stop that right now. We talked about this and you said you wanted to go to New York with me. Don’t turn back now. Well, you can‘t because the ship is moving.” Annie picked up their scratched, worn valise which was heavy with the clothes and few personal items each sister had chosen to take with them on this voyage across the Atlantic.
Annie put her arm through her sister’s arm and encouraged her to march along to their tiny berth in the lower deck. “This will be home for a while, sister. Now give me a big Bridget smile and let’s explore the ship.”
“Okay, Annie. Sorry I was a baby. Maybe we will find a couple of handsome blokes before we get to our destination.” The sisters smiled at one another and Annie thought, "She charms every man she sees and they are courteous to me because I can introduce them to my beautiful red-headed sister."
Days went by and Bridget no longer wanted to find a handsome bloke. Annie was bringing her water and crackers to get her through the seasickness. One evening, one of the stewards asked Annie about her sister.
“She is so sick and can’t keep food down.” She carried a cup of tea and a hard biscuit back to her berth. She felt a hand on her shoulder and she turned around. “Oh, it is you,”
The steward named James stood there with two oranges. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you, Miss Annie. I thought maybe you both ought to have a piece of fruit.”
She thanked him and he followed her to her door. He handed her the oranges after she put the cup and biscuit on a tiny shelf. The ship was rocking. He grabbed Annie’s elbow to steady her.
“Miss Annie, the storm will end soon. When it does, would you join me at the dance Saturday night?”
“We’ll see, James. Thanks for the fruit,” she shut the door and blushed.
Bridget rolled over in the lower bunk and giggled. “Annie, he likes you. You will go to the dance whether I can go or not. If you can go across the ocean, you can dance with James. Peel that orange for me. I am not going to die in this bunk.” In the middle of the night, Annie heard a knock on her door and she recognized James’ voice. “Annie, tie yourselves around the waist to your beds until the ship quits rocking!”
Annie carefully got out of her bunk and pulled her blankets with her. She moved her sister over, got in bed and managed to tie a blanket around the narrow bunk, herself and her sister.
Bridget begged Annie to let her go jump off the ship. “I can’t take any more of this. I just want to die. Please, Annie.”
“Stop that, right now,” Annie answered and held the small bucket for her sister as she again vomited. We will get through this. James says it will quit soon.” Just then the ship turned on its side and the sisters were hanging sideways almost to the floor. They could hear people on both sides and across the narrow hall screaming and wailing.
“Let’s pray, Bridget. If we don’t survive this, at least we know we are going to be in heaven with Granny.” First one and then the other prayed aloud with eyes squinted shut. Suddenly there was a massive shift and the ship righted itself.
“Holy Mother of God, He has heard our prayers, Annie.” There was a knock on the door and James shouted, “Annie, are you okay?”
“Yes. We are all right.”
“The sea is calming now. We are going to be all right. I’ll see you later,” he shouted.
“Annie, we will live to see you dance a jig with Mr. James out there,” Bridget said with a giggle. “I think I am feeling better. Can you untie us from this cradle of death? Are you game to dance with your new gentleman?”
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