Victorian Newspaper Princess

Irish Potato Famine

 

 

PROLOGUE

Annie Adams

Baltimore, Maryland

December 26, 1845

 

Dearest Brother Brent,

Though we’ve never met, I feel that I love you. The few letters we’ve exchanged while I attended the Arrondell Seminary for Women and Girls has drawn me sufficiently closer to you since our father came back into my life. You must have been quite surprised to learn that you had an older American sister. I am about to embark on a great adventure across the ocean. My newspaper, the Sun of Baltimore, is sending me as their correspondent to Ireland to investigate the failure of the potato crop. My editor, who charmingly refers to me as his newspaper princess, told me that I will meet with much male crudeness, rudeness, and resistance. I informed him that it is fine by me since I’ve had to grow a thick skin during the two years I’ve worked for the Sun. I plan to put my ladylike manners aside and go toe-to-toe with any Irishman daring enough to get between this newspaper princess and the truth concerning the many starving citizens of Ireland. Once that is complete, I plan to stop off in London so we may finally meet. My ship sails in three weeks, and I should arrive in Dublin this coming February. If all goes well, I should be in England by autumn. Until then—

 With my deepest love,

Annie Adams

CHAPTER 1

The front door opened, I marched through, and swung my small bag in front of my skirts holding it with both hands. “Please tell your mistress that I have arrived.”

The tall man holding the lantern stood dressed in a night robe. The curls on his head twisted in every direction indicating that he had recently risen from bed. I reached inside my coat’s inner pocket, pulled out a watch, and noticed the hands in the one-o’clock position Dublin time.

“It’s after midnight, ma’am,” he said in a thick, Irish brogue, “and I think you’ve come to the wrong house.”

I slipped the watch back inside the pocket and withdrew a note. “This is the Kilkenny residence, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is, but—”

I stretched out my bag with one hand, and he took it. “The driver left my trunk at the base of the stoop.” I pointed through the open door. “Would you be so kind as to fetch it for me … after you’ve summoned Mrs. Kilkenny, that is?”

The man leaned back and the sound of a wounded animal issued from his throat. “There is no Mrs. Kilkenny.”

I jerked my head back. “Of course there is. You’re her servant, aren’t you?”

“I’m Mr. Kilkenny. I alone reside here. Now, do you mind explaining who the devil you are?”

I looked around at the foyer and down the hall past the front parlor for as far as the light would allow. Signs of his living alone jumped out at me; dust on the table by the foyer wall, pictures in the hall slightly askew, the wood floor with several scuff marks—it was as plain as a hat on a rack that a bachelor lived here. I curtsied, fighting the red I felt invading my face. “My most humble apologies. I’m Miss Annie Adams, correspondent on assignment for the Sun of Baltimore in the great American state of Maryland.” I curtsied again. “At your service, sir.”

“Where is Mr. Adams?”

“There is no Mr. Adams.”

He dropped my bag on the floor. I stared at it, looked at him, and raised my eyebrows.

“Of course there is,” he said. “There must be a Mr. Adams, Miss Adams. I am scheduled to be at the Dublin docks tomorrow and fetch a Mr. Adams. Now, where is he?”

I shook my head. “How would I know? Mrs. Kilkenny et al from the Conciliation Hall government was supposed to have met me at the Dublin docks today. Now, it’s early morning of the day after ….” I brushed my hands together several times. “I had a terrible time getting here, you know.”

Mr. Kilkenny groaned. “A female correspondent? How could any tabloid send a female … and a little girl at that?”

I snickered. I’d like to grab his neck and squeeze, but I know better. My male counterparts at the Sun put me through the very same thing. Men hate it when a woman holds what they deem to be a man’s job. “I know I’m not very tall … even for a woman, but I’ll have you know my twenty-second birthday will be in two months … April the eighteenth, eighteen forty-six.” I folded my arms, leaned back, and popped my eyes open wider. “Have you ever read anything I’ve published?”

“No, I haven’t,” he snorted.

“Then don’t judge a book ….” I hesitated.

“… by its cover?” he finished.

“I was going to say ‘by the sex of its author.’” I didn’t dare crack a smile, but I couldn’t help an internal snicker.

He narrowed his eyes. “And I suppose you’ll cite Jane Austen as your prime example.”

“No.” I shook my head back and forth rapidly. “I wouldn’t cite her at all. She’s just … there.”

He pointed at my head. “I see your hair matches your temperament.”

I untied my bonnet and removed it. “Mr. Kilkenny, red hair affecting red tempers is an old wives’ tale. I don’t anger, sir. I drive with determination. Please don’t mistake one for the other.” I lowered my hands in front of my skirts and allowed the bonnet to dangle from its strap. “So, you’re the local government official who’s to show me around Conciliation Hall.”

He nodded, and we fell into an uneasy silence staring at one another.

I raised an eyebrow and offered a smile for a truce. “Mr. Kilkenny, it’s far too late to take me to a hotel, so I suggest you offer me a room for the night.”

He drew back and opened his eyes wider. “Miss Adams, that is not possible.”

I threw a hand to my left. “You don’t mind, do you?”

He thumped a finger on his chest in time with his words. “Whether or not I do is moot.” He threw a finger toward the front entrance. “I have neighbors and a reputation to uphold.”

I swept my hand toward the door. “Then you prefer I sleep on the stoop? It’s February in Ireland, sir. I would think a young, unmarried, American woman freezing to death outside your house would be far worse than one sleeping comfortably inside it. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Mr. Kilkenny drooped his shoulders. “As soon as I bring in your trunk, I’ll show you to a room.”

I smiled. “I’m glad you decided to let me stay with you.”

“On the contrary, Miss Adams, as soon as I’ve secured your trunk, it’s me intention to walk three blocks and wake up a good friend to beg him to keep me for the night.”

I splayed a hand across my chest and batted my eyelashes. “You would leave a lady alone in a strange house?”

“I wouldn’t leave a lady.” He walked outside, returned with my trunk, and set it down. “But I could leave you, for it will be safer for you than for any intruder foolhardy enough to trespass.” He shut the door and bolted it.

I laughed. “You’ve the poet about you, sir, but, in all probability, so may most of your Irish brethren.”

He turned and sneered. “I’d say there’s some truth in that.”

“Good. Since that’s settled, tell me about the situation in Ireland.”

“It can wait till morning, can it not?”

“I was anxious to hear a little of the situation on the ride from the docks, only you never graced me with your presence.”

He walked closer and scrutinized me, his face immobile. “It’s ‘An Gorta Mor,’ Miss Adams. That is what’s happening.”

An Gorta Mor?

An Gorta Mor. Hard times. Do you know the core of it?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. I just didn’t know the Gaelic term for it. It started in the fall of forty-five, I believe. The potato crop failed last summer, and many tenant farmers couldn’t earn enough to pay off their loans for planting their potatoes or to feed their families.”

I looked at the door. “Even at this late hour, I noticed several people poorly attired against the cold. They walked along the docks and streets as my carriage transported me in relative comfort.” I nodded. “And what’s the story behind the band of vagrants waiting for my ship to dock on the quay? Is that normal, since the fall of eighteen forty-five, I mean?”

His hot glare could have melted the heart of the staunchest adversary, but never a hardened correspondent.

An Gorta Mor,” he said. “Do you know the literal translation?”

“No, sir.”

“It means ‘the great hunger.’” He looked away again. “Moreover, the Irish people don’t like the English, Miss Adams, and that extends to those of English descent. So, you see, it’s not because you’re a female correspondent. It’s because you’re sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. Requests to England have been made for assistance, but they offer only a deaf ear.”

I felt my brows draw closer as I nodded. “I know. It’s a horrible and untenable situation. I intend to extract the truth and deliver it to the sympathetic ears of my Baltimore readers.”

“I, like most true Irishmen, feel the English have no right to rule the Irish at all, hunger or no.”

I’ll take that as an insult. “If ample help did arrive, I wouldn’t be surprised if your own political agenda would blind you to it.”

He bounded toward me, shoulders hunched and leaning forward to better display his larger physical presence. “Just hard times.”

I leaned forward and met him nose to nose—my granite versus his papier-mâché. “Just give me the facts, Mr. Kilkenny, and I shall write a fair account of them.”

Mr. Kilkenny sucked in his lips. He hurried into the front parlor and worked on starting a fire in the hearth.

He’s run off. I believe I made him blush. I stepped into the archway. “I’ve come to report the situation, not to go around boohooing and allowing my feelings to become bruised by a lack of sentiment toward the English or the descendants thereof. What do you take me for, a woman?”

He stopped working in the hearth and turned his head. “Hardly that, Miss Adams.”

“I myself am of recent English origin, and I could take equal offense. However, I choose not to be injured by it.”

“Have you no feminine feelings?”

I nodded. “I have, but I know when it’s appropriate to display them. I’ll get what I came for, and you won’t wrench a single feminine feeling out of me until you yourself warm up.” He piled clumps of peat together. I stepped forward, clasped my hands together, and let them bounce off my skirts. “Mr. Kilkenny, the fire won’t be necessary. The hour is late, so if you would show me to my room, I’ll retire for the evening.”

He turned around. “You’ll not be wanting to partake in a little sustenance then before bed?”

“I’m amply …” I swung an arm in front of me. “… sustenanced.”

He shook his head. “Strange grammar for a tabloid writer.” He abandoned his efforts at fire making. “I’ll build a fire in your room then.”

“There’s no need. I’m quite capable of igniting a fire.”

He glared at me. “Oh, I’m willing to wager you are.”

I shook my head. “I meant building one in a hearth.”

He stood up holding his lantern, and I watched his breath expel from between his thin lips and float toward the ceiling until it drifted out of the lantern’s range. His late-twenties handsomeness is striking. I wonder why he’s never married? Of course, if his manners toward me are the same toward all women, it isn’t hard to guess the cause of any woman’s reluctance.

“I’m sure you are capable, Miss Adams, of building a coal fire. However, we use peat in Ireland, and there is a bit of a trick to it. I had better show you.”

“We use wood where I come from. Do you have water available?”

“There is a bowl upstairs. Is that sufficient?”

“And a pitcher?”

“You’re a lot of trouble.” He walked toward me while holding the lantern. Arriving, he extended his other arm. I took it, and he led me up the stairs to the second floor. Upon entering a cold and cramped bedchamber, he lit a candle on the nightstand beside the bed, started a worthy fire in the hearth, left, and returned with a pitcher.

“This was me sister’s room. She married a few months back and moved to Prince Edward Island.”

“I see.”

“In Canada.”

“I know where the island is.” I scanned the claustrophobic but well-kept room. Hmmm. His sister has a more expensive taste in accommodations. Good choice in the canopied bed, the mahogany furniture, and the elaborately dressed windows garnished with generous lace. “You were fond of your sister, I take it.”

“How would you know?”

This room is opulent compared to the shabbiness I‘ve seen on the first floor. I harrumphed. “Trust me, I know.”

He harrumphed back and shook his head. “Ah, you’re a woman after all.”

I shrugged. “That I can’t deny.”

“I hope you don’t rue the day you arrived in Ireland.” He marched to the door, spun around, and glared at me. “I’ll return with your trunk.” He pivoted but turned back again. “And a charmingly beautiful female throwing away her assets to pursue the felonious profession of news correspondent … well, it’s … it’s ….”

“Appalling?”

“I was going to say ‘unforgivable.’” He buckled his lips and spun away from me.

The sting hit my heart, and I wanted to throw something at him. “You think so little of me, then?”

He grabbed the door handle. “As little as possible.”

“And that has nothing to do with my being female?”

A huff of steam burst through his lips. “On the contrary, it has everything to do with it.”

I eased toward him and stared into his eyes. “If you would treat me as just another human being instead of a female, an obvious solution to my housing may quickly present itself.”

Mr. Kilkenny hunched his shoulders. “Let us understand one thing, Miss Adams. You’re here to report on the condition of the bad times befalling me people. You may keep your womanly opinions in your head as long as you keep them out of your tabloid.”

This is getting out of control. I placed my hands in front of my skirts. “To answer your concern of a moment ago, I won’t rue the day I came. I only hope you won’t rue it.”

He stood still, apparently drinking in my inflection trying to decipher its interpretation. I want him to be certain of the sincerity in what I said—and what I hope—and that these final departing words could help set straight our bad beginning.

“I truly mean that, Mr. Kilkenny,” I said as forthright as I knew how.

He grimaced, turned, and left the room.

CHAPTER 3

Mr. Kilkenny adhered to his promise and moved in with his friend three streets away leaving his home to me. He escorted me to see the people he wanted me to interview, and I’m sure they gave me the answers he wanted me to have. Not once did I meet Mr. Quigley, Mr. Kilkenny’s immediate superior, because he had gone to England to speak to members of Parliament—or so Mr. Kilkenny said.

On Wednesday, February eighteenth, I found myself out of patience and waiting with the doorman outside a restaurant for Mr. Kilkenny to return from quartering his carriage horse. I took notice of a young woman with two small children standing at the end of the block. The west wind gusted frequently to about thirty miles per hour, probably freezing the three indigents down to the bone. I knew it must have, because it smartly stung the flesh on my face.

As I started to move toward them, the doorman coughed. “Miss, where are you going? You can’t be walking about unescorted. You must wait until your party arrives.”

I turned and flipped a hand at him. “If you have any complaints, send a post to Her Majesty recommending that my description as ‘a lady’ be revoked. I must do this.” I turned and sauntered away.

The headwind tore open my coat. Securing it, I plunged on, but was forced to turn my head to one side in order to breathe properly. The exposed ear on the windward side took less than thirty seconds to send signals to my brain that all normal feelings would be replaced by a sharp stinging until further notice.

I approached the destitute family and discovered them wearing rags. The legs and arms lay bare to the bitter wind, and their feet bulged partly exposed through the cloth wrapped around them.

Pulling my thick muffler from around my neck, I handed it to the woman. “Here,” I shouted above the roar of the wind. “Take this and make use of it. My name is Annie Adams.”

“Margaret Cavanaugh,” the woman responded, her jaw shuddering against the cold with every syllable.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“County Cork. The town of Skibbereen.”

“How are things there?”

The woman exploded with a scowl on her face. “Why can’t you English do something? You’re splurging in your easy way of life and allowing us to perish from the Earth. Is that your intention?”

“I’m not English. I’m from America.”

The woman stared into my eyes and softened her expression. “I’m sorry, miss.”

“Don’t apologize. You have a right to be outraged. Nothing is being done and, as a tabloid correspondent, it’s my intention to let them know that in Baltimore … the city of my newspaper.”

Checking my emotions, I knew that, in confronting poverty, empathy must be placed on hold. It tore me apart to do so, but I knew a correspondent must. “Can you tell me, please, what’s going on in County Cork?”

“The landlords are throwing us off our farms,” Mrs. Cavanaugh said, telling me what I had already suspected. “And it’s the English who keep the price of grain so high that a decent family can’t even afford to eat.”

“But the landlords think the price is not high enough.”

The woman glared with her deep-socketed, shadowy eyes. “Not high enough? Their pockets are already lined with gold!”

“Mrs. Cavanaugh, where is your husband?”

“He went to work on relief. Relief the English used to help us into an early grave. Ten pence a week. That was his pay. Four people need twice that amount to survive. No. What do you think happened? He caught pneumonia in his weakened condition and died.” She spit on the ground. “A curse on all English scum.”

After she threw the shawl in my face, I brought it to Mrs. Cavanaugh’s eight-year-old girl and wrapped it around her. I removed my overcoat and slipped it around the girl and her younger brother.

“Miss Adams, what on earth are you doing?” I turned to see Mr. Kilkenny scurrying toward me, the wind blowing his coattails out behind him and forcing him to hold his top hat to his head. Mrs. Cavanaugh hurried away with her children as if the coming of a member of Conciliation Hall would adversely affect her. Mr. Kilkenny reached me and offered up his worst glare to date.

“Stay away from the indigents, Miss Adams,” he snapped over the moan of the wind. “Worthless beggars the lot of them. They talk up a good story first, and then trick you into giving up your goods with a cheap and easy lie.”

“She threw my muffler in my face when I gave it to her.”

“A trick … and now I see you’ve been fooled into giving up your muffler and your overcoat. You’re easy pickings, Miss Adams … easy pickings indeed.”

I would have spit in his face just then if I hadn’t been downwind. Instead, I scowled as the anger fired up again deep inside. “I can get another for ten shillings.”

“Not in Ireland.”

“I can still afford it,” I snapped, reflecting his vexing glare.

He smacked his lips. “Come, let us get into the restaurant before you freeze or something else ridiculous happens.”

He threw his coat over me, ushered me to the restaurant, and then pushed me inside. I could sense the extreme disturbance in him.

After the meal arrived and I had warmed my body and cooled my mood, I eased down my soupspoon and watched Mr. Kilkenny shovel the nourishment in his face that was presumably unavailable to much of the farming community.

“Mr. Kilkenny, that woman was from Skibbereen. I know you’ve told me this-and-that about every ‘thing,’ but what is really going on in County Cork?”

He stopped the spoon midway to his mouth and returned it to the bowl, as if he had finally realized that his integrity hung in the balance—and it did, as far as I was concerned.

“That is why I’m taking you to all the officials of Conciliation Hall.” The reservation in his face read as plainly as the surface of a dried-up creek bed. “And elsewhere in the government of Dublin, Miss Adams. All for the intent and purpose of getting you the answers to your burning questions. You have already sent a story to Mr. Woodmoor, I presume?”

“Yes, I have. However, it seems to be a one-sided story lacking in satisfactory answers to the most pertinent questions; and now that I rethink it, it’s a story I should have never sent, because I’ve found out some astounding facts that can’t be explained.” I reached into my handbag and removed a piece of paper. A glance at Mr. Kilkenny exposed his growing interest.

Opening the paper, I scrutinized it and continued. “You are familiar with Mr. Ray, I take it?”

“Our secretary at the hall. What of him?”

“It seems he is employed there at a salary of three hundred and fifty pounds a year.” I leaned forward and raised my eyebrows. Mr. Kilkenny smirked and blew out a cacophony of nonsense sounds.

“His assistant,” I continued, “Mr. Crean, earns two hundred pounds … or perhaps ‘earn’ is the wrong word here.”

He threw his napkin on the table. “And what do you mean by that, Miss Adams?”

“I may not know much about salaries, but I do know that schoolmasters in England get far less than a hundred pounds per annum, and, in fact, few occupations get paid one hundred pounds or more.” I stopped looking at the paper and stared into his eyes. He jerked his head away and shook it.

“Have you heard enough, Mr. Kilkenny? I have more. The clerks Mr. Dwyer, Mr. Dowling, and Mr. Spratt, for example. My father, before coming into money, held a position as a clerk as well. Yet, whereas my father made just under the equivalent of fifty quid clerking, these three men make a hundred … each!”

“Miss Adams, I don’t know—”

I shot a hand in the air and knew then what it must have felt like to be a cat closing in on a cornered rat. “Wait. It only gets better. It seems that a Mr. Kit O’Connor gets one hundred pounds for doing …” I batted my eyelashes. “… absolutely nothing!”

Mr. Kilkenny snatched the paper from me and tore it to shreds. “I don’t know where you found such foolishness, but you need to talk to no one unless I say so.”

His look projected the expectation of me either throwing my hands in my face and crying or blowing up like a miniature volcano. I gave him only a short, sweet smile.

“Oh, Mr. Quigley was in there, too, Mr. Kilkenny.” I pointed to the torn paper shards lying on the table next to his plate. “The poor man, he only gets eighty quid.”

“Stop it,” Mr. Kilkenny snapped. “Stop it right now.”

I smacked my hands on the table and leaned toward him. “Did you see yourself on there as well, Mr. Kilkenny? A hundred and fifty pounds per annum for ‘undisclosed services.’ What are ‘undisclosed services’?”

I felt my arm suddenly wrenched and looked down to see his hand still on it. I tore it away. “I think I need to get out and have a chat with the common people: the farmers, the food merchants, the indigent walking the streets half naked in the freezing cold, the very people feeling the effects of the famine firsthand.”

 He slapped his hand on the table and gritted his teeth. “I told you, it’s An Gorta Mor … a great hunger, not a famine as the English like to call it.”

“Nonsense.” I picked up my spoon and dipped it into my split pea soup with the appropriate backstroke etiquette. “Call it a picnic if you like, but it’s still abject poverty. Nonetheless, after we finish this meal, I’ll hire my own cab, purchase another coat, and go out to interview those same indigent beggars who made such good pickings of me.”

“I forbid it,” Mr. Kilkenny snapped, with an insistence that would have withered the stoutest heart.

“Forbid what you will, but from now on I will regard you the same as a picnicker regards a fly.” I flipped a hand at him. “Shoo.” I smirked and turned my attention to my soup. “And before I gather the stories of suffering from the indigent, I shall purchase charitable items so the beggars will have something to ‘pick’ from me, easy mark that I am.”

“I absolutely forbid it!” Mr. Kilkenny slammed his hand on the table again.

I dabbed my mouth with the napkin, sipped some wine, and then dabbed it again as I had painstakingly learned at the all-female seminary. Forcing my emotional ship into calmer waters, I sat back and placed my hands in my lap. “And how do you intend on stopping me?”

“Why, I should ring …” Mr. Kilkenny aborted his beginning tirade. “I shall write Mr. Woodmoor at the Sun and have him force you to stay here with us, continuing to gather the news in the same manner we have been doing all along.” He pounded his other hand on the table so hard that it attracted the attention of several couples at nearby tables.

“Mr. Kilkenny,” I said, allowing a faint smile, “do I have news for you. Mr. Woodmoor is an avid seeker of the truth, and he has the utmost trust in me. If he received a letter in the hand of your sentiment, and one from me stating the need to get out amongst the common people, I’d harbor no doubt with whom he would side.”

One look at his reddening face told me that he was internally volcanic, ready to erupt. He leaned into me and offered his angriest glare. I leaned into him and looked him in the eye—just the way a man hates for a woman to do.

“And, Mr. Kilkenny, I wish you’d cease the detestable animal posturing technique of knocking knuckle against wood. It is more simian than the act of a gentleman.”

He charged away from the table, and I didn’t see him again for the remainder of the day. I finished eating, paid, hired a cab to shop for another coat and some bags of food and clothing, and then set about riding around Dublin looking for indigents. When asked why I was a lady unescorted, I told them that my escort had abandoned me—not a lie. I saw no need to mention that my harsh words may have hastened his abandonment.

I gave the indigents portions of food for the information they had on the appalling conditions in their native counties—and, after several hours, I knew what I had to do. On good recommendation, I had the driver deliver me to the Kilgarvas Stagecoach Company on the South Sur Road.

“Hello, anyone here?” I strolled into the center of the stables. A short man with white hair walked out from one of the stalls.

He smiled. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Are you the proprietor?”

“One of two. Mr. Kilgarvas is the senior partner. Me name is Mr. Keating. What can I do for you, Miss …?”

I offered my hand, but he stared at it. I withdrew it. “Miss Annie Adams. I would like to hire a wagon, Mr. Keating.”

“We can have one sent around. Just let me know the address.”

I walked to a stall and patted a horse on the head. Then I turned and raised my eyebrows. “I’d like to hire one to take with me now.”

He pointed toward the back of the stables. “Let me go and fetch a driver then.”

“No, Mr. Keating, you don’t understand.” I hesitated and looked down to hide the invading grin on my face. “I want to hire a wagon that I can drive.”

He jerked his head back. “That you can drive, miss?”

“Of course.”

He looked down, up again, and blinked twice. “And you’ll drive it … alone?”

I smiled. “I did it all the time in America. There, a working woman doesn’t need an escort hanging on her skirts all the time.”

“But … here … fine, young Englishwomen don’t go around riding hither and thither unescorted.”

I smiled broader as I walked closer to him. “Mr. Keating, a fine young Englishwoman would never consider it, but an American journalist would.” I erased my smile replacing it with a smirk, took three steps toward the exit, and turned back to him. “Now, if you won’t allow me to hire one, then please direct me to your nearest competitor.”

Mr. Keating wiped his brow even though it was far from hot. “Well … how long will you be wanting to hire it?”

“I’m not certain. I could pay you for six months and then send more money if it goes beyond that.”

He placed his hands on his hips and wheezed. “Six months, now! And where are you going, may I ask?”

“Cork.”

“Cork?” He stormed toward me and glared as though he felt he had the right to govern me. “Have you lost your wits? A woman driving a wagon alone … a hundred and fifty miles … all the way to Cork?”

I stepped closer and gave him a jab with the point of my finger square onto his chest. “No, sir. A journalist is driving a wagon alone … a hundred and fifty miles … all the way to Cork.”

“Well, I never ….”

“Yes, sir, and you never will again … unless I return someday to do it all for a second time. I would like the wagon today, because I’m leaving at first light.”

He shrugged. “You will never make it. Even if you had the stamina, you would never get past all the road bandits. Why, you would be easy pickings for any highwayman.”

I threw my hands on my hips, stared at the livery floor, and shook my head. “Mr. Keating, I’ve already been easy pickings, and I’ve survived.” I reached into my handbag, pulled out a note, and handed it to the co-proprietor. “Is ten pounds sufficient?”

He took the note, looked at both sides of it, and grinned at me. “Yes, it will do nicely.”

An hour later, I purchased supplies for the journey. The English Wagon, a one-horse, two-passenger version, featured a long, flat bed with a leather cover to keep supplies and belongings dry. I drove it to Mr. Kilkenny’s home and packed my belongings for the trip.

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