|Rose spent the whole afternoon shopping in stores up
and down Sixth Avenue. She was amazed by the variety of shops all available within a few
city blocks. Molly's thoughtful purchases had given her a good head start on a wardrobe,
but Rose had many household necessities to buy in order to furnish her new home.The wide avenue was crammed on both sides with
department and specialty stores, each trumpeting its wares with banners, flags and large
posters, like so many cannons aimed at the competition across the way.
"Thousands of shoes on
all pairs $1.75!"
"Only the finest laces!"
"2000 beautiful Women's
dresses- all $12.75! Silk stockings- 79c per pair!"
Rose bought just the essentials,
leaving any luxuries until after she had found a job.
A job, she thought. Now
that sounds strange.
She purchased a travelling trunk
much like the ones she had brought onboard Titanic, though not nearly as stylish,
and she stuffed it to bursting with the first batch of goods. Rose didn't want to stoke
the curiosity of her landlady or neighbors, and she could imagine them questioning why all
of the items she was bringing into her apartment were brand new. She hired a carriage to
bring the trunk around to her building and tipped the driver well to help her maneuver the
box up the narrow stairwell and into her room. She immediately locked the door behind her
and headed back to the shops.
Several round-trips later she
found she had furnished her new rooms with adequate supplies for everyday living. It was
late afternoon before she felt satisfied with her progress and decided to call it a day.
Various boxes were strewn about the apartment and Rose was in the middle of putting items
away when she heard a knock at her door.
"Rose, are ya in there?"
"Yes, Mrs. O'Reilly,"
she replied as she moved to admit the woman.
Mrs. O'Reilly appeared at the
threshold, cooking apron on. A man stood at the foot of the flight of stairs, looking up
at them expectantly.
"I'm glad I caught ya, Rose.
The ice man's here and I wondered if ya might want a delivery today?"
"Thanks for asking, but I
don't expect I'll be cooking here for at least a few more days."
Rose called down the stairs.
"Sir, would you kindly bring
me some ice on your next rounds."
"Suit yerself. That'll be in
The iceman turned abruptly and
headed back down to the street.
Mrs. O'Reilly looked around Rose
into the apartment. Her eyes flittered with curiosity over Rose's belongings.
"Settlin in, are ya,
"Getting a start, at
least," Rose answered.
"When I told Cora you'd be
livin above us she just about jumped to the moon. Would ya like to join us for dinner,
seein as ya likely don't have any food in here yet?" Mrs. O'Reilly moved close, as
though planning to let Rose in on a family secret. "Me husband's always a bit nosey
about our new tenants, dont ya know."
Rose smiled. She hadn't yet
decided whether to return to the Waldorf that night and she found that Mrs. O'Reilly's
offer made up her mind for her.
"Thank you, yes, if it
wouldn't be too much bother. I wasn't looking forward to the trip back to my hotel."
"What's one more, I say. I'll
send Cora up for ya when dinner's near ready, say in about an hour, then."
Rose walked idly to her window as
Mrs. O'Reilly returned downstairs. To the east, towards Sixth Avenue, the sidewalks were
crammed with people speeding homeward to a hot dinner. In front of her building the ice
wagon lazily moved down the street, seemingly out of place among the faster carriages and
It seems like it belongs to
another time, she thought.
Rose found a proper place for a
few more of her purchases and then washed and changed for dinner. She enjoyed the look and
smell of her new clothes, and chose another simple floppy hat to go with a pale yellow
She was nearly finished putting
away her new tableware when Cora simultaneously called to her and banged urgently on her
"Rosie, Rosie, are ya
Rose opened the door and Cora blew
in like a tornado. The girl moved from place to place around the apartment, looking but
never stopping, and ended her tour by leaping up onto Rose's bed.
"Rosie, Mama said I should
come fetch ya. Do you like stew? It's my favorite. I made some more drawings today, do you
want ta color with me? Mama says not to bother you, am I bothering you, Rosie?"
"No, Cora, you're not a
bother. Do you like my apartment?"
Cora spun her head for a very
quick look around.
"It's okay. Are you
"Yes, let's go."
Cora nearly pulled Rose down the
stairs, talking the whole way.
"Rosie, you're much nicer
than Mr. Roberts was. He used to live in your apartment. I didn't like him too much.
You'll get to meet my stupid brother.
"Mama, Rosie's here!"
Mrs. O'Reilly introduced Rose to
her husband and to Cora's brother, John.
Mr. O'Reilly was a powerfully
built man and his skin felt a laborer's rough against Rose's palm as they shook hands.
John greeted Rose absently; he was entranced in reading an adventure book.
Rose sat in a comfortable chair in
the family room. The O'Reilly's flat was bigger than hers but with so many bodies in it
really didn't feel that much larger. She had a vague feeling of strangeness, of being out
of place, though she couldn't pinpoint its cause.
Cora ran to retrieve her coloring
book and knelt beside Rose's chair. Rose paged through it slowly, emitting gracious 'oohs'
and 'aahs', much to the delight of the girl. John's frown as he glanced at them told of
his practiced disdain for things so childish as coloring books.
In response to questions from Rose
John related that he was ten years old and hoped to grow up to be a ballplayer just like
his hero, Frank Merriwell. He was excited that the new baseball season had just begun.
Mrs. O'Reilly popped in and out of
the kitchen, each trip asking Rose a question about her past.
Once again, more white lies,
Rose thought, and it made her uncomfortable.
Just a few more times, I hope.
She repeated the story of a
Baltimore childhood and Mrs. O'Reilly seemed placated. Mr. O'Reilly said little as he
rested on a hard-backed kitchen chair, sipping an ale.
Rose realized that she was most
likely in his favorite chair but she knew his pride would prevent their trading places, so
she didn't suggest such. She gazed around the room and realized that the unease she was
feeling stemmed from her unfamiliarity with such a home atmosphere. It was much more
than she was used to.
It's nice not to have to worry
about being incessantly badgered about my posture, she thought, and then she sat up
Mrs. O'Reilly poked her head in
"Everything's ready. Cora,
please take Rose's hat and put it on my bed, then."
Rose removed her hat and handed it
to Cora. She was momentarily surprised by the look on the girl's face until she realized
the cause of Cora's shock.
"Rosie, what happened to yer
Before Rose could answer Mrs.
O'Reilly swatted Cora firmly on the rear.
"Cora, where are yer manners?
Don't ya be so nosey!"
Rose could feel all their stares
but no further questions ensued.
The stew smelled wonderful to Rose
but her full appetite still hadn't returned. She politely tried to eat her fair share but
was put to shame by the gusto with which the family enjoyed their meal.
Mr. O'Reilly glanced down at
Rose's barely-touched plate and looked questioningly at his wife.
"Rose, ya don't like my
cookin?" Mrs. O'Reilly asked.
"It's not that, Ma'am. I'm
just not very hungry."
"Ya been sick?"
Rose looked around the table. Four
pair of eyes stared at her expectantly.
"I've just gone through a lot
After dinner Rose sat on the floor
of the family room playing jacks with Cora. John tried to act disinterested but Rose could
see him glancing over jealously as they laughed together.
Just a couple more minutes and
he'll give in, Rose thought. The poor boy's trying his best to act manly.
John didn't last even that long.
Almost immediately he scrambled over and sat beside them on the rug.
"Let me have a turn,
"No, they're my jacks."
The two children argued back and
forth for a bit, their volume rising slowly, triggering a call from the kitchen.
"John! Cora! Mind me
Rose smiled at how quickly the
"Okay, John, you can go after
Rose gave her best effort with the
ball and jacks but Cora was too practiced a player for either her or John. She studied
Cora when it was the girl's turn to play and watched her become lost in the game, enjoying
It's great to get such a
simple joy, Rose thought. It reminded her of the games of her own childhood, most of
which she had to play alone.
It would have been wonderful to
have had a sister.
If only Mary had lived.
There had been horrible
complications when Mary was born. Rose remembered glimpsing the tiny baby, remembered her
quietness. Her father had tried to keep Rose away as the doctor and midwife scrambled to
save mother and child. In the end Mary never had a chance, and Rose's mom was so scarred
internally that she could never have another child.
I didn't understand the
heartbreak of that silent baby until much later, Rose thought. Much later.
Rose couldn't remember as clearly
as she would like, but it seemed her mother had changed that very night, and when Rose's
father died not long after it was as though the last vestiges of her mother's love of life
died with him.
I wonder how Mother is doing
Later, Rose sat on the edge of her
bed and glanced around her apartment.
She had remained at the O'Reilly's
until bedtime for Cora and John. Cora had asked Rose to tell her a story before sleep and
Rose had obliged.
She wove a story of a prince and a
princess and how the evil forces in their kingdom had tried to keep them apart. At one
point the princess sang of her lost love and Rose did her best to do justice to the song
but Cora's scrunched-up nose told Rose that her future as a diva was limited. Rose laughed
at her own singing, giggling along with the girl. On the second verse Cora joined in, her
voice small and delightful.
Cora lay wide-eyed during the
whole tale and seemed supremely satisfied when the lovers were finally reunited at the
"That's a happy story, Rosie.
Do you think I'll meet a prince some day?"
"I'm sure you will. And then
you'll be a princess."
Rose twisted Cora's nose between
her fingers and the girl giggled.
"I hafta say my prayers
"Okay, Cora. You go right
Rose wasn't prepared for the
effect that Cora's prayers had on her. The little girl recited just a simple version of
the "Lord's Prayer" and an innocent plea for God's safekeeping through the
night, but the words unexpectedly tore at Rose's heart. The quiet intonation of the verses
in her child's voice seemed to amplify the meaning for Rose. She found it hard not to cry.
and if I should die
before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen."
Cora looked up at Rose.
"You're supposed to say,
A tear rolled down Rose's cheek.
She wiped it away with the back of her hand.
"Why are you crying,
"I'm sorry, Cora
After tucking the girl in, Rose
had thanked her hosts and excused herself for the night.
Now she sat listening to the
strange new sounds around her and, leaning back on her elbows, she contemplated her flat.
My home, she thought. Mine.
Her arms ached from having carried
so many packages. Some of her purchases still lay on the table, needing assignment to
Those can wait, Rose
decided as fatigue overtook her and she considered her agenda for the next day.
In the morning, I need to
retrieve the rest of my clothes from the Waldorf and then buy a few more things.
it'll be time to find a job.