All posts by marlenedotterer

Science Fiction and Fantasy writer

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapter 33

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Chapter 33

January 1911

When Terry was about two months old, Casey began to chafe against her isolation. With the greenhouse, she always had plenty to do at Dunallon, and she had no intention of trying to get back into the Horticultural Society. But she and Penny had been used to frequent outings around Belfast, to the markets for window shopping, or over to Susan Cummings’ house to let the children play together. Susan still welcomed her, but now William had to drive them over and pick them up. Casey wanted to walk again.

Tom gave it some thought when she asked him about it. “It’s been several months and you’ve two small children to care for, now. Sloan is ever suspicious of you, but I know he’s had nothing to complain about for a long time.”

He was quiet for a few minutes, staring into the library fire. Casey shifted next to him, restless. “Am I supposed to spend my entire life restricted like this?” she asked him. “It’s like house arrest, but without the judge and jury.”

He took her hand, shaking his head. “No. Uncle Will told Sloan that your mistakes were mostly due to being American. He told him that you have a hard time understanding the disagreements between the factions, and that you just misjudged what could be done. I don’t believe Sloan is convinced, but I think you have enough leeway to get back out there, take your walks, shop, visit friends. Just please, stay away from Catholic churches?” He smiled to take the sting from his words and she put herself in his arms, hugging him gently.

“I will never take the children anywhere it might be dangerous. And I’m never going out alone, again.”

So she and Penny began a daily routine of a late morning walk, with Terry in her pram and Jamie traipsing along with them. Sometimes they walked to town for shopping, sometimes they walked through the university or the Botanic Garden, although Casey avoided the Palm House. She had stared at it for several minutes their first day out, while Jamie begged to see it. She turned to Penny.

“I can’t,” she said, swallowing hard. “I want to go, but I can’t.”

Penny placed a comforting hand on Casey’s arm. “It’s all right, Mistress. You’ll get back there someday, I’m sure of it.”

Casey nodded, her lips in a thin, tight line. “Yes. Someday. I’ll insist on it.”

***

Casey had noticed a beautiful red tablecloth in the window at Robinson’s, so on their next walk, she and Penny went shopping. They bundled Jamie in his coat and wrapped Terry snuggly in her soft wool cap and sweater, lovingly knitted by her grandmother. They would shop, walk around a bit, and if the children were behaving, have lunch before coming home.

The day was cold and bright, with a breeze that carried the ever-present coal smoke and odors out to sea. They walked along a line of small stores, stopping to admire a miniature tea set in the window of one. Penny was talking about a set she and her sisters had shared as children, when Casey noticed an odd movement from the corner of her eye. She turned, just as a brick sailed through the air in front of the pram, crashing into the window like a bullet, bringing an immediate screech from Terry.

They all screamed as the glass shattered around them. Casey covered the pram with her body, yelling at Penny to get Jamie out of there. Glass fell all over her, and above Terry’s screams she heard other yells, and possibly gunshots. Don’t run with the pram. The incongruent thought was calm and clear in her mind. It tips over so easily.

Her shaking arms reached into the pram and picked up the baby and blankets. Holding her daughter tightly to her chest, she turned and ran, seeing Penny, with Jamie in her arms, disappearing around a corner. “Keep going!” she shouted as she caught up with them and they all ran, children screaming, both women determined and intent. Casey had never in her life heard an infant cry like Terry was crying–a screeching, piercing scream–and her heart pounded with fear that her daughter was hurt. She didn’t dare stop to find out.

“Yah! Run, ye Papist-loving cowards!” The yell came from behind them and a rock accompanied the words, missing them by a few inches before hitting the ground ahead of them. They turned at the next street, instinctively heading toward Dunallon. There was no riot on this street, at least not yet, but the sounds from the next block could be heard, and people were taking cover.

“Here! Come in here!” A hand grabbed Penny and pulled her inside the shop they were passing. Penny screamed and tried to pull away, but Casey crowded behind her, pushing her inside.

“Go! I have to see… I have to check…,” breathless and terrified, Casey held her screeching daughter at arm’s length, letting glass fall away from the blankets and cap. She looked frantically for a place to lay her, but the shopkeeper reached over and snatched the baby, placing her on the shop counter, one hand holding her in place, the other placed firmly on Casey’s chest, holding her back.

“You’re covered in glass, ma’am. Let me undress her and we’ll see if she’s all right.” Without waiting, she turned to a young girl standing in shocked silence at the end of the counter. “Molly, take the lad and make sure he’s not hurt. Mind the glass.”

Jamie objected mightily as the girl reached for him, but Penny and Casey both ordered him to obey. Penny knelt next to him as the girl undressed him. A steady trembling shook Casey as she stood, unable to go to either of her children, her eyes moving from one to the other, looking for blood. She watched as glass, mostly as shards, but some as large as a few inches, tumbled from their wraps. Clothing began to join the coat and blankets on the floor and gradually they all realized there was no more glass. Both children had several small cuts and scratches, but there was no gush of blood.

She had to hold her son. She had to nurse her baby. Casey began removing her hat and cloak, glass scraping her flesh before the shop girl grabbed her hands. “Nay, ma’am. Slowly. Ye must do it slowly.”

“Mum!” Jamie tried to move to her and Penny grabbed his arm. The shopkeeper picked up the naked baby, cradling her and covering her with her shawl, as she knelt by Jamie. He stopped and stared at the woman, his eyes wide, sobs suddenly quiet.

“Mum’s b’eeding,” he told her quite clearly. “Make it stop.”

She patted his head, gently bouncing the screaming baby. “Aye, lad. We’ll do that. Ye stay out of the way of the glass, though. Ye hear me?”

He nodded and stayed where he was. Casey’s heart melted. He was so brave and good. Just like his father.

Now that she knew the children were unhurt, her eyes went to Penny. Her maid was also removing her hat and coat, moving slowly and dropping the clothing on the floor. There was no blood apparent, and Casey remembered Jamie’s words. Her glance went to the shopkeeper, who was standing in front of her, now. She handed the still crying baby to the girl, who moved back to let the woman proceed with undressing Casey. “Where am I bleeding?” Casey asked. She seemed unable to feel her own body, so intense was her desire to get to her children.

“Your neck and back,” the woman replied, quickly undoing the buttons on Casey’s blouse and removing it. “’Tis not bad, I don’t think. I want to make sure we get all the glass away before stopping it.”

Casey nodded and tried to help, forcing her shaking fingers to undo buttons and peel away clothing. For a moment, the oddness of undressing in a public store unnerved her, but the feeling disappeared as quickly as it came. The girl had gone to the door, checked the street, then locked it, pulling down a shade.

“The street’s still quiet,” she said, bouncing Terry, whose crying was reducing to whimpers, punctuated by an occasional wail that broke her mother’s heart.

Once down to her camisole and outer petticoat, the shopkeeper seemed satisfied that Casey was glass-free. “Give her the baby, Molly,” she instructed, “and bring me some water and clean towels. I want to check on her maid. I don’t see any blood, but we want to make sure.”

Relief flooded Casey as she took Terry. The baby began searching for a breast, her cry growing urgent again. Casey was led to a chair and commanded to sit. She held a hand out to Jamie. “Let the girl pick you up, sweetie and bring you here.” Molly picked him up and settled him on Casey’s lap. She held him with her free arm, trying to cover him a bit. He had to be cold, dressed in just his underwear and shirt. The shopkeeper retrieved a sweater from her stock and slipped it over his head. It was large for him and covered him completely. He pulled it tight around his feet, and snuggled against his mother, patting the baby’s leg gently. Terry nursed fiercely, occasionally stopping to emit a heart-rending cry, as if she suddenly remembered what had happened to her. She went right back to nursing, though.

The shopkeeper gave Penny a chair and wrapped a blanket around her, and another around Casey, which she pulled forward to cover the children, too. Casey smiled up into the concerned face. “You’re an angel from heaven, ma’am. What is your name?”

The face crinkled into a small smile. “I’m Mrs. Hogan. Mr. Hogan and I own this store and Molly’s our daughter. Mr. Hogan just stepped out to oversee a delivery. He’ll be back, soon.”

Casey searched her eyes. “Not near the rioting, is he?”

“Nay. He went ‘ta other way,” was the calm reply and Casey let it drop.

Mrs. Hogan began poking at Casey’s neck, pulling the blanket down a bit. “It’s clotting, some. I’ll have to wash it, though. We don’t want any small shards of glass stuck in there.”

Casey nodded, noticing that her blouse, crumpled on the floor, was covered in blood. She had bled a lot. “How long is it?”

“An inch or so. Your hat and coat protected you in that way. It’s deep, though, ma’am. Probably was a large piece.” Mrs. Hogan moved the blanket farther down and lifted Casey’s camisole. “Your back is pretty badly scratched, too. Some of those pieces went right through your coat.”

She could feel it, now that things were calming down, but she kept her arms around her children and sat straight, eyes closed, as Mrs. Hogan thoroughly washed the deep cut and staunched the bleeding. She was not entirely successful in this last part and set Molly to holding a towel tightly against it while she worked on sweeping up all the glass and checking the street for any signs of rioting.

Mr. Hogan returned while this was going on, upset at first about the door being locked, but shocked at the sight of the women and children wrapped in blankets, with glass everywhere. He said he’d heard the rioting, but that it was already stopped, the perpetuators driven off the street and scattered.

“Too bad they didn’t catch any of ’em,” he grumbled, on his way to his office in the back of the store. He glanced at Casey. “Would you like me to call someone for ye, ma’am?”

It would have been more practical to call Mrs. Pennyworth to arrange for clothing and a ride, but Casey dismissed that idea. She wanted Tom. Mr. Hogan took the information and disappeared in the back.

Mrs. Hogan provided tea for them all, with plenty of honey and milk for Jamie, who was finally coaxed off his mother’s lap and allowed to sit on the now clear floor and sip his tea. Molly got the bleeding to stop enough to tie a loose bandage around Casey’s neck. Mrs. Hogan suggested Casey see a doctor. “Might need to sew it up, Mrs.”

Once the bandage was on, Casey leaned back in the chair in relief and closed her eyes, rocking Terry gently in movements that were comforting to her, as well. After a minute, she glanced at Penny, who was sitting in her chair and watching Jamie with a tender smile. Her face was pale, every freckle standing out in bold relief, her eyes tired. Casey stood and knelt beside her, hugging her tight.

“My wonderful Penny. You never even thought about it. You just saved Jamie’s life. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Penny returned the hug, careful of the bandage and the baby. “Ah, mistress. I wouldn’t leave him. I love him, too, you know.” She touched Terry lightly. “And your wee one, too. I couldn’t love my own any more than them.”

Casey gave her another squeeze and returned to her chair. Jamie climbed into Penny’s lap and fell asleep.

After several minutes of silence, the door opened with a bang and rush of wind, as a dark nor’easter blew into the store, in the form of Tom. He filled the space with sudden energy and purpose. Casey gasped to see him, his face angry and terrible, but his presence the essence of comfort. She stood quickly, struggling to hold onto the baby and the blanket, but it didn’t matter, because he grabbed her, taking the baby in one arm, and holding Casey to him with the other. He buried his face in her hair with a sob.

“He said you were all right,” Tom told her, his voice breaking. “Are you? Are all of you all right?” She nodded into his chest and his arm tightened. He pulled away long enough to gaze at his daughter, his face darkening when he saw the cuts. Jamie tugged at his leg. Casey took Terry while Tom lifted the boy and inspected the cuts on his face.

“Are ye okay, lad?” he asked softly. Jamie nodded, then abruptly began talking. He spoke quickly, his words tumbling over each other, as he described in the mostly incomprehensible babble of a two-year old, every detail of the event, complete with dramatic hand gestures and sound effects.

“Window CRASH…, g’ass hurt…, ran FAST…, baby cry HARD…, lady take c’othes off…, g’ass ALL OVER…, Mum b’ed and b’ed…, I had tea.” He stopped talking and stared at his father, who stared back in silent shock. Jamie slipped his arms around his father’s neck and buried his face in the comforting shoulder.

Casey wiped away a tear with the corner of her blanket and smiled slightly at Tom as he held his son, looking as if he might cry himself. “That about sums it up,” she said weakly.

He reached to squeeze her hand. “He said you were bleeding. Where?”

She gestured vaguely. “My neck.”

Penny spoke up. “She covered the pram with her body. Nearly all the glass fell on her.”

The tears in Tom’s eyes gave way and he pulled Casey into another gentle hug. Casey reached over and pulled Penny into the embrace, too, telling Tom, “She got Jamie out of there. She kept him safe.”

“They were all lucky.” This statement came from Mr. Hogan, who was standing behind his counter, his wife and daughter in the doorway behind him. Tom and the women looked over, releasing each other in slight embarrassment. “Good thing it’s winter,” Mr. Hogan continued. “Their coats and hats protected them from most of the glass.”

The moment dissolved into introductions and thanks. In the middle of that, William and Mrs. Pennyworth arrived, with clothing for everyone. They began the confusing task of dressing and showing off cuts and scratches, along with explanations, when Casey suddenly mentioned, “I left the pram on the street.”

Tom caressed her shoulder. “We can replace the pram.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “But maybe it’s not damaged. And the tablecloth we bought was in it.”

William volunteered to go look while they finished dressing. Mr. Hogan went with him. Mrs. Hogan handed Tom two large packages, brown paper and newsprint wrapped around the bundles.

“These are the clothes they were all wearing. Ye may not be able to get all the shards out, and the lady’s blouse is ruined, but I thought ye might want to try.”

The men returned, quiet and disturbed, as the others were climbing into the cars. Mr. Hogan shook Tom’s hand, said he hoped they’d all be fine, and went into his store. William paused next to Tom. “The pram was set afire, sir,” he said quietly, but Casey heard him. “’Tis odd, it is. There’s not much damage to the street. The shopkeepers along there said the riot ended quickly. But they burned the pram.”

They were a quiet group as they returned to Dunallon.

Take a Deep Breath…

Go on, take a breath. A deep, satisfying, relaxing breath. Fill your lungs, let your diaphragm expand with the air. Let it out when you’re ready.

Do you ever think about breathing? Specifically, about the air you’re taking into your body?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’ve been working on a novel where a group of miners escape from their exploding space station and have to take refuge on an unexplored planet. Science fiction is full of people coming or going to other planets – it’s one of the best things about SF, in my opinion. We’ve all grown up with it, or at least been exposed to for many decades. Even people who don’t follow SF don’t think anything about a story, movie, or TV show that has human characters on other planets.

But I as wrote scenes about my characters arrival on this planet, I had to pause and think this through. They know from probe data that they can breathe the air. It’s got the right mix of nitrogen and oxygen, with no additional gases that are harmful to humans. While they have to make drastic fixes to water and food sources, breathing is not something they have to think about.

Except… that’s wrong. They do have to think about it. They’ll have to deal with it.

Think about a human baby, just born. It’s entire existence has been in a sterile environment within a bag of waters inside its mother, with no breathing needed. Indeed, the lungs are filled with fluid. Oxygen and other needs are provided through the umbilical cord. But suddenly, after several strange hours of hard work, the infant comes out of its bag and out of its mother, and into a world of cold atmosphere. During labor and at the instant of birth, many changes take place in baby’s body to prepare the lungs for air and to force baby to take that first breath.

Earth’s air is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and a bit of other gases. Perfect for the newborn human and everyone else on the planet. And…

…and a million other things we seldom think about. Pollen. Dust. Spores. Viruses, bacteria, and microscopic critters. That first breath taken by our innocent babe is full of all of these. And every breath thereafter adds to the load.

For the most part, this is not a problem. Baby is formed of the earth, and that amazing little body has automatic defenses inherited from its time in the womb and supplemented in mother’s milk. Indeed, the human body has even learned to use some of the inhaled matter for growth and health.

Yet the system is not perfect. We don’t all escape unscathed. Hayfever. Rashes. Asthma. Allergies. Gut illness. Even here, on our very own planet, the planet we evolved on… even here, breathing the air can bring us trouble.

So when I think about my poor traumatized characters landing on this unknown planet and stepping out of the their ships and taking that first breath of alien air… what do they take in with it?

I imagine the first thing they’ll do is cough, as their respiratory defenses attempt to expel unwanted spores or pollen (or whatever the alien equivalent is). They’ll sneeze too, for the same reason. If they are lucky (and I haven’t decided yet if they will be lucky or not) then they won’t have any other immediate reactions. They’ll be able to set about the urgent chores of survival as they continue to breathe. And every breath adds to the body’s load of alien matter.

I suspect my characters will have to deal with this sooner rather than later. I imagine it will be an ongoing problem for them.

No, it appears that all the SF we’ve been reading and watching has given us a false sense of security about stepping out on another planet. We’ll need more than the right mix of gases. We’ll need an arsenal of tools to clear our bodies of microscopic TROUBLE.

And bring plenty of tissues.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapter 32

A display in Harland & Wolff Administrative Offices, Belfast. Thomas Andrews was well-liked by all the shipyard workers.
A display in Harland & Wolff Administrative Offices, Belfast. Thomas Andrews was well-liked by all the shipyard workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 32

June–November 1910

The workforce had more than doubled at the shipyard. Tom found it increasingly difficult to be as personally involved with them. He liked the men who built his ships, but he missed the easy camaraderie they used to have. Now there were thousands of workers he didn’t even know.

Still, he had friends, and after lunch with George Cummings, he walked with him to the engine works. George was giving him a step-by-step report on North Down’s latest cricket match, which Tom had missed, and they paused beside the foundation for one of Olympic’s huge boilers. “Taylor smashed it over, but I was out for a duck!” George shook his head as he retold the story. “We really needed you, Tommy. The whole season will be shot if you don’t make it.”

“Can’t let that happen,” Tom agreed, removing a report from a pocket and scanning it. “Jamie’s walking well now, and he’ll need to start learning right away how to play the game.” He held up a finger in mock seriousness. “I promise he’ll only observe for the first few years. Too short for the team, I s’pose.”

They both laughed, continuing on to George’s office, going over the report Tom held. “We’ll need to have that new hydraulic machinery installed by the end of the year. It’s going to help immensely with the riveting; I want to have it available once Olympic is launched.”

“It’s on order,” George started to explain, but a shout interrupted him. They peered over the catwalk, looking down on the boiler room floor. Two men were arguing and it was turning violent. The smaller man was a foreman; they could hear him explaining about an infraction and what it had cost the company. The bigger man kept shouting about his pay being docked, and he began shoving the foreman with quick, short jabs, pushing him against a spare boiler. By the time Tom and George reached the floor, the bigger man was swinging, a blow landing severely on the foreman’s stomach.

Tom threw his coat into George’s arms, reached for the fellow and landed an upper cut right on his jaw. The guy fell against a boiler and Tom stepped back, raising his fists in readiness as the man struggled to his feet. But George and a few others grabbed him just as he began a roaring lunge at Tom. His glare remained fixed on Tom, but he gave in to the men holding him, his jaw the only thing moving. Tom dropped his fists. “See him to the gate. We don’t need troublemakers.”

Tom turned away, as the workers dragged the man through the building, following directions from George. The foreman was still leaning against the boiler, barely recovered from the hit to his stomach. Tom joined him and together they sank to the floor, each catching his breath.

“Thank you, Mr. Andrews,” the man said, shaking his head in shame. “I couldn’t have done that.”

“Aye, well.” Tom rested his head against the boiler and gingerly rubbed his knuckles. “We don’t usually hire supervisors on their ability to fight.” He gestured toward the Administration Office. “Can you go let ’em know what that was about? You’ll have to file a report.”

“Aye,” was the answer. “I got it all written down. He’s a careless sort. Broke some expensive equipment just because he didn’t want to follow the procedures. He was pretty blatant about it, too.”

Tom nodded and stood, reaching down to help the smaller man to his feet. “See to it, then. And thank you for pursuing the matter. We’ve got too much to do to let a lazy worker get away with trouble.” He watched as the man headed over to George’s office and reflected that this kind of thing was happening more often. He was afraid they were losing control.

He had just returned to his own office when the emergency klaxon went off, with the signal that a man was down. Tom’s shouted “Dear God, not again!” blended with cries of dismay from the drawing office. Other shouts or groans could be heard from outside the office, as thousands of men reacted to what was the third emergency of the month, on the heels of one in May. All had ended in death.

Tom wondered, for a moment, if the angry worker had done more violence. He would almost prefer that, but as he raced through the drawing office, he knew it would make no difference. They had to get this workforce under control. He glanced toward George’s office, but no. Men were looking outside, toward the ships.

Toward Titanic.

Tom ran to the yard. Men cleared a path for him as he pushed his way through the crowd. He didn’t have to go far. On the deck, just a few feet from the ship, a small group was gathered around a body. Tom faltered at the sight of blood and flesh scattered around the victim, and his last steps were slow. There was no reason to hurry.

“John Kelly.” The name was supplied by the foreman as Tom knelt next to him. “He fell from the slipway.”

Tom stared at the body. “He’s just a lad.”

“He were nineteen, sir.”

Tom glanced up to see the owner of the choked voice. Another lad, blinking rapidly through free-falling tears, stood twisting his cap. The boy didn’t look at Tom. “We started workin’ here the same day. His Ma always let me stay for supper.”

Tom stood and put an arm around the boy, turning him away from the body. He saw a couple of men coming with a stretcher. “What’s your name, lad?”

“Danny O’Connor, sir.”

“You can take the day off, Danny. Go home, if you need to. Or…” Tom paused, glancing toward the men approaching.

The boy noticed them, and swallowed hard, swiping a sleeved arm across his face. “I’d like to stay with ‘im, sir, if I may. I… I should be there when ‘is Ma finds out.”

Tom nodded, patting the lad’s back. He had to swallow hard himself, to clear the ache in his throat, so he could give orders. Lord Pirrie insisted that all accident victims be taken to the hospital, even if they were dead. Tom helped them get the body onto the stretcher–a miserable job, but the men who would have to clean off the deck would have an even harder time. George was taking charge of that part of things, so Tom went to get one of the firm’s cars, kept on site for emergencies.

On the way, he spotted Ham. “Call Casey for me, will you? Ask her to meet us at the hospital.” He hated to get her involved. She was five months pregnant, and he knew this would greatly upset her. But she would be furious if he left her out, and in truth, she was a real help. She would be there to talk to the mother, help with other children or with cooking–whatever needed to be done. He couldn’t imagine how he’d gotten through these situations before marrying her.

But as the day went on, through all the painful confusion of helping the shocked mother deal with doctors and paperwork and funeral arrangements, another thought kept intruding. A thought that made him reel with fury and betrayal. But he blocked it off until he could get home and talk to Sam.

***

It was after ten before Tom and Casey limped into the house, having stayed with Mrs. Kelly until they were sure she was well taken care of. Casey had helped with the younger children until Mrs. Kelly’s sister arrived. The usual grapevine had made sure that all relatives and neighbors were aware of the tragedy, and by dinner, many of them had gathered at the Kelly home, bringing food and the comforting tumult of company.

Sam was waiting up for them in the parlor with his latest journal opened in his lap. He was staring into the empty fireplace, making no attempt to write. He looked up as they entered the room.

Tom stared at him a moment, fighting the rage he’d kept back all day. “Did you know?” he asked hoarsely.

Beside him, Casey started, caught unaware by his question. Sam returned the stare, not saying anything. Tom took another step toward Sam.

“Three this month, four in just two months. That has to be mentioned somewhere. Did you know these people were going to die, Sam?”

Sam was shaking his head, but he looked oddly guilty. “No. My god, Tom, no, I didn’t know.”

Tom took another step, hands clenched. “God damn it, Sam. This is not all just about me. It’s not all just about the sinking. People die, Sam, building these ships. If you know these things, you have to tell me. We have to stop everything we can.”

“I should have known.” Sam rubbed his face, wearily. “I’ve been sitting here trying to remember. I know it was told us at some point. And the memorial lists each person who died during construction, but I don’t remember the names. God help me, I should have known.”

“Stop it.” Casey stepped between them, near tears. “Both of you, stop it. Tom, Sam’s been trying to remember everything he can. Do you seriously believe he could have known this and not said anything?”

Tom’s jaw ached from clenching his teeth. “Not deliberately. But we’ve got to do better. What else goes wrong with these ships? What else can we fix?”

“Labor issues, maybe?” She was suddenly angry and Tom stepped back as she rounded on him. “What’s wrong here is the upper-class notion that workers are expendable resources. Management doesn’t have to provide a safe environment, or living wages, because there are always more workers ready to replace the ones who die. Harland & Wolff does better than a lot of companies, but they don’t come close to the right environment. You want to provide safety training for workers? Training they take during work hours and get paid for? Extra safety equipment provided by the company? Safety procedures that are audited and everyone has to follow? Worker’s compensation for injuries or deaths? Giving them time to do their jobs safely instead of rushing to meet a schedule? Want to talk about asbestos? In twenty or thirty years, people are going to start dropping dead because of their exposure to it. Do you want to fix that?”

Stung, Tom looked from her to Sam. “Is that what we need to do? Is that what the company does in the future? All those things?”

Sam held out a hand as if to placate both of them. “Look, this is stuff it takes decades to accomplish. Casey, we can’t single-handedly tear down the social structure and rebuild it in our own image. You said it yourself. Harland & Wolf is way ahead of other companies with its safety practices. Give them credit, Case.” He rubbed his forehead. “So much of this is industry specific, too, and we tend not to think of dangers until they happen. This is exactly why the Titanic sank. A failure of imagination. Not imagining the dangers that could occur and providing a way to survive. It was before your time, Casey, but do you know about the fire in the Apollo space capsule in the sixties? Something as simple as a handle to open the door from the inside could have saved those men’s lives. But no one thought of it.”

“Even when they know, they ignore it if it costs too much,” she said bitterly. “They didn’t change the O-rings on Challenger. They didn’t do anything about the foam shedding on Columbia. Even these Olympic-class ships are going out without a double hull. All management decisions, made even though they knew of the dangers.”

Tom winced, but said nothing. Silence gripped them all, by turns accusatory, guilty, and hopeless.

Casey jerked suddenly with a spasm, reaching around to rub her back. Tom wilted as he watched her, pregnant and weary, but still full of passion. He took her in his arms and she slipped her own around him, hugging him tenderly. “I love you,” he whispered. “I’m going to put you to bed. You’ve done too much today.”

She nodded, let go of him to drop a kiss on Sam’s head, and went to bed.

***

Work did not slow down, and on a late evening in August, Tom left the administration building to head home at last. Nine o’clock, and he had to be back before six in the morning. He was scrambling to have Olympic’s shell complete in time for the October launch date. There was a point in every ship’s development when he despaired that it would ever get done by the deadline. If one more vendor called him to ask for an extension…

He paused as a figure approached him, peripherally aware that there were a few other figures keeping out of sight in the shadows to his side. He was somewhat relieved to see it was Mike Sloan approaching. Trouble then, but not anything he wouldn’t live through.

“Mr. Andrews, do ye have a minute?” Sloan stood stiffly, with an offended air.

Tom thought of the figures waiting out of sight. “I suppose I do. What can I do for you, Mike?”

“Were ye aware, sir, that your wife has been visiting a Catholic church?”

Tom’s face scrunched in confusion. “What on earth are you talking about? I assure you we spend our Sundays together.”

But Sloan shook his head. “Not services, sir. During the week day. People noticed her a couple of times going into St. Patrick’s. Always alone, she is.” Sloan moved a step closer to Tom, who stood rooted to the spot. “Now I won’t suggest she’s working for Home Rule or anything like that. But she meddles, and if you’re honest sir, you’ll admit that. If ye weren’t already aware of it, we think it might be a good idea if you remind her of her place. For her safety, sir.”

Tom’s eyes narrowed as he glared at the man. “You’re coming to me with hearsay about my wife? You’ve no real proof it was even her. You call her a meddler? You are the meddler, Mike, never leaving people to live in peace.”

“There’s people willing to say it was her, sir.”

“I don’t care, Mike. You can come up with fifty people who’ll say what you want them to. Casey would not do something like that without discussing it with me. And my family, Mike,” Tom pointed a finger at him, “is not under your jurisdiction. You will not tell me what rules my family may or may not follow. Is that clear?”

“Aye, sir.” Sloan nodded briefly and stepped to the side. “Perfectly clear, sir.”

The problem, Tom knew, is that the situation was perfectly clear to him, too. As Sloan intended.

***

It was not in Tom’s nature to shout in anger, although he had done it at times. But he had never known anything to drive him to that state faster than Casey admitting she’d been to the Catholic church three times, and had talked on the phone several times with Father McCarrey. It wasn’t just anger that clinched at him, but fear, too. Did she not understand the danger?

He stood in their bedroom as she sat on the divan, her face pale and stubborn, feet tucked up under her, dressed only in her camisole and bloomers, her pregnant belly pushing against the material. Her hands were folded under her stomach as she stared at the floor in front of her.

It was late, and he was exhausted. He’d said all the desperate, ugly things people say at times like this: how could she, why did she sneak around, how long had she been doing it, what was she doing? And the part he kept coming back to: Why didn’t she trust him enough to come to him, first?

He stood and stared at her, shaking with tiredness and anger and fear. And love. Weary, he sat next to her, joining in her investigation of the floor. His voice was hoarse. “I guess I’m done.”

She stirred then, her hands stroking her belly in an upward motion to rest there, as if to comfort the baby. She looked at him and he saw her flinch to do it. All the love between them, and they had still come to this.

“I was afraid you’d tell me I couldn’t go,” she said. “And I had to go. It’s one thing to do something on my own, even if I think you won’t approve. But it would have killed me to do it once you’d said not to.”

“That doesn’t make sense, Casey.”

“It’s the truth, though.” She ducked her head. “It shouldn’t be a crime to talk to a priest.”

“It’s not a crime,” he pointed out. “Just very unwise. I would have gone with you.”

Her eyes jerked up to his face and color flooded her cheeks. She looked like she might be sick. “You would have?” Her voice squeaked.

He nodded, feeling his heart break further that this had never occurred to her. “It’s the sneaking around that causes the trouble, Casey. People see you and they wonder what you’re up to. They expect betrayal, you see. They’re looking for it. And they punish it very swiftly. If you and I had just gone in the open and talked to the priest, and everyone knew you were handing over the plans—they’d have been unhappy, but it would soon be forgotten. This way…” He shook his head, trying to rid his mind of the pictures there.

“They’ll believe what they want.” His face was bleak. “You could be tarred and feathered. Beaten. Stoned. They might burn our house. All of that could still happen, if they decide you’re actively working against them. My name and my family can protect you against a lot, Casey. But we can’t protect you forever if you keep…doing…these things…” he ended in tears, choking out the words. “They’ll find a way to get to you. Even if we went away, to England or America, if they feel there’s a debt, they’ll find us.”

She stared at him, cheeks flaming, breathing deeply, before abruptly racing to the chamber pot in their room and was sick in to it. He went to her, holding her until she was done, then carried her to the bed. He brought her some water, which she tried to drink, as sobs shook her body.

“I would never put my family in danger,” she said through the tears. “I would never hurt you or Jamie or the baby or any of your family. Those things… what you said, those are illegal in the future. It’s wrong,” a spark of her anger returned, slowing her tears. “It’s wrong that the people I have to be afraid of are the ones who are supposed to be my people.”

He stroked her hair. “I know. And I’ll take care of it, Casey. It’s not gone so far that there’s no hope. Just let it go for now, all right? You’ve given them the plans, now just let it be.” His hands went to her belly. “You’ll have another baby, soon. You have Jamie, and our garden, and the harvesting and canning coming up. You always do a lot to donate food to the poor at that time. Just stay busy here, and at Ardara. We’ll still have music nights, and it will be all right. Just give it time.”

“All right,” she whispered. “But what will you do about Sloan?”

He gripped her hands. “I’ll talk to him. I’ve had to handle this kind of thing for other people. I know what to say to him, although it’ll be different since it’s my own family in trouble. They’re just looking for certain reassurances.” He thought for a moment. “Maybe I’ll ask Uncle Will to talk to him. His reassurances might carry a lot more weight than mine in this situation.”

“Sloan hates me,” she murmured, her eyes haunted. “He hates me all out of proportion to what I did at the shipyard. He always has. Because I’m an atheist.”

Tom nodded. “Aye, that’s exactly right. And Casey, I know he’s wrong about it. But you still have to live as if he’s a danger to you. You have to stay on your guard and for now, at least, not give him any ammunition.”

“I won’t. I promise.” Her fingers caressed his cheek, her face splotchy and tear-stained as she gazed at him. He thought she looked fragile and beautiful. “I’ve done something incredibly stupid this time. Can we recover from this? Will you ever be able to forgive me?”

“ Ah, lass.” He returned her touch, his fingers gentle on her cheek. “It’s not in me to stay angry at you. You are my life, and every year you grow more precious to me. The reasons to love you are beyond count.” He kissed her forehead and lay down next to her, cradling her in his arms. “We’ll get through it.”

***

Lord Pirrie’s talk with Sloan, along with Casey’s voluntary isolation, bought them some peace. The Pirries had begun to work for Home Rule, but on the whole, the Andrews family were all loyal advocates of Unionism, and Casey was not important enough to tip the scales away from that. Tom knew she chafed at being confined though, so he spoke to his father and uncle about arranging for her to have safe time to work with the Catholics. In the large scheme of things, gardens were fairly harmless. They promised it would happen eventually.

For now, Casey spent more time at Ardara or at Maxwell Court with her sister-in-law, Jessie. Jamie was happy with this arrangement and followed his cousins around learning to hunt snarks. It was his favorite game and Casey didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth.

She went to church a bit more often at first, admitting to Tom and Sam that it was a blatant attempt to get back into everyone’s good graces, but gradually, she went back to her regular schedule. Too many of the people at church were the same ones who had voted her out of the Society, and she wasn’t able to feel free about chatting with them.

***

As October moved through its days, Casey counted each one with trepidation, hoping the baby would wait to be born until after the Olympic’s launch. That would happen on the twentieth, and until then there were meetings and reports and lists and details that kept Tom at the yard until ten or eleven nearly every night. They joked that he would just come home one night and find another child in the nursery. But Casey did hope he would be able to be home for a while when the baby was born.

Normally, she and Sam would both have attended the launching, but her advanced pregnancy would keep her home. Although in their time, the Titanic was the most famous of the ships, the Olympic had really been the jewel of the trio. She was the first Olympic-class ship built, the first to sail, and the only one to serve for many years. Tom described her frequently. It was clear he was smitten with her. Her design had a leaner and more elegant appearance than older liners. He thought she was amazingly beautiful, even at this point, when she was just a shell.

“I know you’ve seen pictures of her complete,” he told them one Sunday afternoon as they rested in the garden. “But I have only our plans of what she’ll be like when she’s finished. We’re working on the fittings. The staircases will be grand, with detailed carvings. We’ll have wrought iron detailing in places, a glass dome, and artwork throughout. I can’t wait to have her finished.” He hugged Casey gently. “I hope you get to see her before her maiden voyage. I’ll take you on a private tour.”

“Really?” Her eyes lit up at the thought and she teasingly leaned toward him. “If I get you alone on one of those ships, she may not be a maiden when she leaves.”

His hug tightened briefly as he laughed. “I can arrange that quite easily. I shall look forward to that tour, indeed.”

***

Launching Day dawned bright, cool and baby-less. Tom was at the yard by 5:00 a.m., seeing to the last-minute details for the 11:45 launching. Spectators began arriving by eight. There was no point in any department trying to get actual work done, although many people tried. Tom had not been happy about it, but the managing directors had decided not to pay workers for attending the launch of a ship unless they actually had duties to perform. All other employees were expected to continue working, but it was difficult with the public wandering in and out. They had to keep people safely away from work zones, one more detail to add to the other thousand things to deal with.

Tom had given Sam a ticket that placed him on one of the stands near the ship. He’d have a good view, and Tom hoped he enjoyed the spectacle. He knew that, for Sam and Casey, these ships represented something terrifying, and he really wanted to show them how wonderful they could be.

Indeed, Sam looked awed and happy as he stood with the crowd and watched as they knocked away the last of the boards, and released the hydraulic hold on the ship. Olympic floated backwards, silent and majestic. She settled in the water as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause, and out on the hills someone set off fireworks. Tom let his breath out in relief. She was on her way. There would be a celebratory lunch while a crew brought Olympic into the slip that would be her home for the next seven months for her fitting out. Then he had some time off.

Just in time to be a father again.

***

Theresa Diane Andrews was born bright and early on 23 October 1910, with the apparent goal of making her father smile. Casey said she looked like the grandmother she was named for, and it was certainly clear to everyone that she looked like her mother. Even Jamie was smitten with her, although he tried hard to remember she was supposed to be a pest. He had that on good authority from his cousins, but they had not warned him how much fun it would be to hear his sister laugh, something she did early and often.

***

Fitting out for the Olympic continued, and there were often sudden moments of wonder throughout the yard, as men paused to observe the beauty and craftsmanship that went into her. The ships they built were among the most beautiful in the world, as Lord Pirrie expected their liners to rival the grandest hotels. But they were doing more than ever with these ships, and it made them proud. Nearly every person in Belfast had something to do with building the ships, or had a close relative who did. Shipbuilder Magazine wrote about them in every issue. Harland & Wolff was on top of the world.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapter 31

Chapter 31

March–November 1909

As she packed up her map of Belfast, with its gardens running all over town, Casey hoped that Mike Sloan would be too busy with work at the shipyard to attend the Society meeting. She’d been working on the plans for a year and she knew they were good. There was room for the other members to debate about specifics, but she wanted the locations to stay constant. The locations were the point.

Sam offered to go with her. “You realize it could get nasty. You could use some support.”

She hesitated. “That would be nice, but since you never have attended, it might look strange. As if I’m trying to intimidate them.”

He grinned. “I’m not usually called intimidating, but I see your point. Still…”

She kissed his cheek. “I’ll be fine. Will you read to Jamie for me?”

“Sure. I have a paper on “The Electric Properties of Steel” I’m sure he’d love.” Sam laughed with her, and waved her off to her meeting.

***

Sloan was there. Casey sighed and took her seat, holding her rolled-up plan on her lap and staring at it in consternation. A year spent working on it, and it would be so much simpler to just pretend it didn’t exist. To let it go. To live quietly…

“Goodness, dear. Is that your last will and testament?” Mrs. Herceforth sat next to her and cocked an eyebrow at the roll Casey held. “You’re looking at it like you’re terrified of it.”

Casey flushed and put the roll on the chair next to her. “I might be, at that,” she said noncommittally, unwilling to explain much. “Just some garden plans. I hope someone likes them.”

“Oh, I’m sure we will, dear. Your plans are so inventive, and we haven’t seen many of them lately.”

As Mrs. Herceforth chatted on, Casey nodded and looked around the room. They still met in the social hall of the First Presbyterian Church and the walls were adorned with pictures of Jesus with the children, with the disciples, and catching fish. A large fireplace supplied the only heat, which worked fine when the large congregation was present with food and activities, but the Horticultural Society, like most groups, had a small number of active members. The room was cold. Casey still wore her gloves and a warm cardigan, although she’d hung her cloak on one of the racks in the back. A few long tables were set up front with rows of chairs facing them. The president sat in front and called them to order. They began with announcements.

Her nervousness grew as the time for new presentations approached. She knew it was radical. She knew she was asking for trouble. She closed her eyes and went over the words she had prepared, hoping to keep the group on her side. Hoping to help them see the beauty behind the plans.

Members were required to place their names on the agenda if they wanted to make a formal presentation. She had done this a week ago, and was pretty sure that’s why Mike Sloan had made an effort to attend. A stab of resentment went through her. Tom was working late nearly every night. Sloan should be working, too, instead of looking for ways to cause her trouble.

“Casey Andrews. We haven’t seen new plans from you for a long time. It will be good to see what you have.” The president beamed at Casey as she stood and moved to the front.

Don’t look at Sloan.

She managed a smile for the president and turned it on the group. “I’ve been working on something for a while, but just in my spare time. It’s based on work done in Berkeley when I was young. Younger,” she added as several of them tittered. She was, by far, the youngest member of the society. The joke had been unplanned, but it helped loosen her up and remember that most of them actually liked her. It also helped that her words were true. She had based her plan on work done when she was a teenager. It was just that the work was done in the 1990s and early 2000s. They had needed to tear up developed areas to free the streams that had been covered over in previous decades. She hoped, in part, to prevent Belfast from making the same mistake.

She held the roll like a cane, letting its end rest on the floor. “The idea was to preserve natural spaces within the city, and nurture the riparian areas. Like Belfast, Berkeley has many streams that run through the town. So my plans are based, firstly, on the geology and topography of Belfast, which is a wide area.” They were nodding, their faces reflecting their anticipation. Despite her resolve to not look at him, she saw Sloan narrow his eyes. He was suspicious.

“As I’ve learned working at the Botanic Gardens, landscaping works best when it’s incorporated into the whole. Isolated, exotic gardens require a much greater effort, and much more expense, to maintain. So…” she unrolled the plan and the president rose to hold one end of it for her.

The first murmurs were because of the beauty and scope of the plans. They had not expected to see the entire city represented. The silence that began to descend over the meeting happened as they realized her plan did, indeed, represent the entire city. All of it. Casey spoke quickly into the silence.

“I’ll leave it up here for you to peruse. I hope we can take the time to discuss it in full.”

“You already know we can’t allow this.” Mike Sloan spoke before anyone could move. “Don’t pretend it’s just another idea we can discuss.”

“I will pretend exactly that, Mr. Sloan,” Casey said. “This plan takes into account the watershed and native habitats as they already exist. I propose that we build on them, in ways that preserve them for future generations.”

Sloan stood and the vice-president tapped a gavel. “Mr. Sloan, you do not have the floor.”

“Well, I’m takin’ it,” Sloan retorted and he turned back to Casey. “Watersheds and natives are all fine, Mrs. Andrews. But ye must keep your plans in the correct areas. Take it home and fix that and then we’ll consider it.”

“It won’t work if you try to truncate the natural environment,” she said angrily. “The watershed doesn’t know or care about political divisions. It just is.”

He pointed at her. “Ye better care about ‘em, lass. They exist for your protection.”

“The land belongs to everyone at once, regardless of religion or income, or…”

“We do not make plans for the Papists!” His voice roared. Timid Lady Talbot put her hands over her ears, and the vice-president stood, his gavel pointing at Sloan, who ignored him. Sloan pointed again at Casey, his face red. He spoke softly, but with more threat.

“Ye, Casey Andrews, have disregarded our laws, our rules, and our way of life, from the day ye got into town. Ye do what ye want, and ye manipulate the people around ye with deceit and lies. And when you’re found out, ye smile real pretty and say you’re sorry. Ye use your feminine charms to keep people under your spell. Ye charm the rich and influential so ye can spread your poison. You’re a danger to this society and to this town. I’m callin’ for your dismissal!”

The small crowd broke into whispers and gestures, some nodding in agreement, most looking uncertain and afraid. Casey held onto her plan and glared at him. “The only thing I disregard is your bigotry, Mr. Sloan. I recognize that all kinds of people live in this town and they all deserve a healthy and beautiful environment!”

Sloan looked over at the secretary, who had stopped taking notes and was staring in astonishment. “I move that Casey Andrews be stricken from the membership of the Horticultural Society, and not allowed to attend meetings. Due to her avowed disregard for the wishes of the Society, and incitement of members.”

Lady Talbot was weeping, but she said loudly, “Flowers. I just wanted some flowers around town. Why do we have to argue like this?”

“I second the motion.” The speaker was in the back, a businessman whom Casey did not know well. He stood and bowed slightly to Lady Talbot. “It is my hope, madam, that we can rid ourselves of troublemakers and get back to planting those flowers.”

Casey’s mouth fell open and she closed it with a snap. I’m the troublemaker! That’s really rich!

Mrs. Herceforth raised her hand and at the president’s nod, she stood. “I’d like to remind all of us that Mrs. Andrews is very young. We do her a disservice with the phrase ‘troublemaker.’ She is only too idealistic, perhaps. Youth seldom understands the larger ways of the world. I’d rather we let her stay and continue to nurture her to maturity. She has a great deal of talent and expertise that have been very useful to this society. I think we can all agree on that.”

“Aye,” Sloan said. “Maybe she doesn’t intend to cause trouble, yet that’s what always follows her. She never minds her place, either; she’s always out lookin’ for some way to meddle. She’s better off at home, taking care of her family, and learning how to behave herself in society.”

The murmurs that followed this were louder and more sincere. Casey fought down her fury and humiliation at the injustice of it, gripping the corner of the paper in her hand, causing it to crumple.

The president was still holding the other end of Casey’s plan and she slowly released it, glancing with regret at Casey before facing the group. Her voice shook. “The motion has been made and seconded, to strike Casey Andrews from our rolls. All in favor, please raise your hands.”

Far too many of them raised a hand immediately and Casey watched, as after a few moments, the stragglers joined them. Mrs. Herceforth sat grimly silent, hands in her lap and tears on her cheeks. Her lip trembled as she gazed at Casey.

“Let the record show…” the president stopped, unwilling to say what the record showed. “If there is no more business, this meeting is adjourned,” she said and they all stood, moving toward their cloaks at the back. But Mike Sloan walked forward, toward Casey, who was still standing in front, holding her plan in front of her like a shield. Everyone turned to watch. Mrs. Herceforth began moving quietly closer to the front.

Casey watched him come, tense, her eyes burning with unshed tears. He stopped in front of her and her chin went up. Her voice was ice. “Are you going to try stripping me again, Mr. Sloan?”

His face flushed with anger, and he clenched his hands into fists as he glared at her. Whatever he had been going to say, she saw him decide against it. Instead, he reached with both hands, and taking hold of her plan in its middle section, he tore it, pulling the Catholic section away from the rest and ripping it in several pieces, before turning and walking out.

***

“Ah, love.” Tom was there when she got home and he held her as she wept. He had not received a very coherent description of the evening due to her crying, but he had enough to know how humiliated she was. The ripped plan lay at their feet in the parlor. He stroked her hair, dropping kisses on her temple, feeling helpless to do anything useful.

“It’s a wonderful plan, Casey. I was so proud of you, watching you put it together. They would not have gotten a better plan if they’d paid a professional a hundred pounds for it.” He tilted her face up to look at him. “When you’re ready, love, you need to fix it and put it someplace safe. Maybe it’s too soon, maybe it’s too “American,” this idea that people of different backgrounds can work together. And too advanced. Remember, you have a hundred years of history and experience that the rest of us don’t have.”

She nodded reluctantly and he continued, “There’ll be a time when Belfast is ready for your plan. We’ll keep trying to get people to listen and maybe it won’t be long. There are people out there who want peace, sweetheart. They’ll like your plan.”

She choked on a bitter laugh. “If the people who plant flowers don’t want peace, who will?”

He hugged her tighter. “Some of them do. And some of the people who build ships, and some of the people who work in stores, or sew clothes, or cook food. There’s people everywhere, Casey, who want peace. They just aren’t very loud about it.”

She seemed to recover a bit as she listened to him and her smile, while small, was suddenly amused. “You would’ve made a great hippie, Tom Andrews.”

He looked alarmed. “If those are the same people Sam has told me about, I don’t think so. I know I’m not ready for Rock and Roll.”

She giggled at the awkward way he said the phrase, and let him help her fold the ripped sections of her plan. Then she locked them in a drawer in the library.

It was several months before she could make herself look at them again. Sometimes she just stared at the drawer. Once she actually touched the handle, her fingers folding around it, before she snatched the hand back and went outside to work in her own garden.

When Tom or Sam asked her about it, she just shrugged it off and said she’d get to it when she was ready. Just looking at the drawer brought back the humiliation and heartbreak of that night. She couldn’t bear the thought of actually looking at the pages.

But she couldn’t forget about it. Resentment simmered in her, that people she thought were her friends would turn on her so easily, that Sloan so effortlessly succeeded in obstructing her, that Tom went to work, day after day, with the man who had set her up as a sworn enemy.

That wasn’t fair, she knew. When Sloan, the next day at work, had tried to act as if everything were normal, Tom confronted him with quiet rage. Word had gotten around. Tom told her that the majority of workers had turned against Sloan, ignoring him outside of work-related discussions. Most of the less fanatic members of his evangelical group had dropped out. When it came to respect at Harland & Wolff, Tom was the clear winner, and no one was happy at Sloan’s treatment of Casey.

But she had to do something with the plans. She couldn’t face fixing them; she didn’t want to look at them. An idea began nibbling at her mind. After thinking about it for several weeks, she made a phone call. Then, on a conveniently windy day in November, with her head covered beneath her cloak, she walked alone through the streets, clutching a satchel, until she reached a Catholic church. This was a dangerous plan. But she could think of nothing else.

Inside, she paused and gazed at the elaborate beauty surrounding her. It really did evoke a sense of mystery or worship. A priest was coming her way and she stepped to meet him. “Good morning,” she said, wondering if he expected a ritual greeting of some kind. “I have an appointment with Father McCarrey.”

“Aye, welcome. I’ll take ye to his office.” The priest was young and polite, gesturing with a hand to have Casey follow him down a side aisle and through a door in the back. Father McCarrey’s office was in a building connected to the main church by a long corridor, windowless, but with large overarching beams every twenty feet or so. He greeted her with that kind, dignified air she associated with clergy of all types, and she let him take her cloak and usher her to a comfortable chair in his office. He took the chair’s mate, instructing his secretary to bring tea, then looked at her, fingers together and eyes twinkling.

“It’s not often I get a Protestant visitor, Mrs. Andrews. Not planning on converting, are ye?”

She laughed in surprise. “No sir, I’m not. I don’t have much interest in religion at all. I’m afraid I’m the bane of my husband’s family.”

“Well then,” he leaned back in his chair, “Ye said on the phone ye wanted to discuss a gardening plan for the Catholic areas.”

She nodded, licking her lips nervously. “You see, I’m in a bit of exile because of it.” He raised his eyebrows and she tried to explain what had happened at the meeting, without getting into the history she had with Sloan. At the end, she picked up her satchel and pulled out the ripped pieces of the plan, looking up to catch the blink of surprise from Father McCarrey when he saw the pages. His expression was sad.

“Ach, lass. What a dreadful thing to do.” He reached for the plans and moved to his desk, spreading the pages out and reassembling them. Casey sipped her tea and waited.

“What is it you’re hoping for, Mrs. Andrews?” He spoke respectfully, looking at her from his spot behind his desk.

She went to stand in front of his desk, gazing at the pages, before touching a finger to the largest section. “I want to give them to you.” Her gaze went to his face. “I want you to start your own horticultural society among the Catholics and engage them in this work.”

He sighed. “Lass, the Catholic people are poor and struggling. Building gardens is for the rich.”

Her brows lowered in puzzlement. “I know they’re poor, Father. Yet, they’re able to pay for grand church buildings. Gardens are an act of worship just as great. Better in fact, because they nurture the land and provide food, if you plant the right things.”

He stared at her a moment, pursing his lips. Then he nodded, once. “All right. I’ll see what I can do. I think you’re right about it.” He looked back down at the plans. “This is very generous of you. These plans are a work of art.”

She nodded. “Thank you. I’ll be happy to help any way that I can.”

“I’ll be in touch,” he told her.

The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am – Features – The Stranger

Wow, lots of great information in this article. But I have to address one little bit:

“During the 20th century in America, feminism, aided in part by the convenience of formula, helped bring more women into the workforce. While this was a great thing for gender equality, it shifted focus away from breast milk, which meant that medical and governmental institutions turned away from it too.”

 

No. Women had been forced away from breast feeding at least two generations before this. It happened when childbirth and child rearing came under the “authority” of men, and sadly, under the science these men espoused. Efficiency was king, and emotions or human needs were a waste of time. With happy serendipity, this paradigm shift was accompanied by the industrial revolution and the wonder of factory-made food. One of the first foods was evaporated milk. So much better for your baby than whatever is coming out of your body, plus it saves you time! To go clean the stove!

By the 1950’s, breastfeeding was considered old-fashioned and nearly impossible to do anyway, given that most women were knocked unconscious for birth and remained groggy and addled for those crucial early days. Hardly anyone was doing it.

Source: The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am – Features – The Stranger

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapter 30

Queen's University would be a good source for Sam to find students.
Queen’s University would be a good source for Sam to find students.

Chapter 30

December 1908

Sam had his team working on technologies he secretly intended for the shipyard: higher capacity batteries, more efficient pumps, and stronger rivets, among them. That these technologies would have applications beyond shipbuilding was obvious. Now he was ready to get them started on another huge endeavor.

“Let’s assume something.” He glanced up at the group of scientists and research assistants reposed around the laboratory. They were all watching him, used to these meetings by this time. He would call them to attention, throw out a few ideas and ask them to come back with something. A way to invent it. A way to use it. Prerequisites. Whatever they could think of. They often laughed and shook their heads, but a job in Sam’s laboratory was the most coveted spot a local science student could get upon graduation. Graduate students clamored for part-time work. Word had gotten around that he even wanted women to apply, that he would hire them and pay them the same as the men, and let them do the same work.

Sam encouraged results, but the truth was, if they managed, just a few times a year, to invent something and sell it to a manufacturer, they made enough to support their work for the rest of the year. They came up with results a lot more often than that. Sam’s ideas were often bizarre, sometimes terrifying, but if a researcher followed through, the universe seemed to open up. Now they waited to see what he would throw at them, next.

“Let’s assume our world is heading for extreme technological change. That we’re going to discover ways to travel quickly, communicate faster and more clearly, learn about news from halfway around the world almost the minute it happens. Assume Jules Verne is right and we’ll explore space, travel to the moon.” There was a stir around the room and Sam grinned. It seemed that no matter the era, a scientist always got excited about space exploration. Why was that?

He continued, “What is the one thing we need in great supply, to accomplish all of this?”

He waited. A few of them looked at others, but most seemed lost in thought, staring at the floor or wall. Finally, Ellen Brendan spoke up. “Energy,” she said, and raised an eyebrow at him.

He wanted to cheer. Not only a right answer, but from one of the women on the team. He clapped his hands together and rubbed them.

“Indeed! Energy is exactly right! Where are we going to get it?”

“Rock oil.” Those words were the current name for petroleum, and they were spoken by several of them at once, the others all nodding in agreement. Sam put his hands in his pockets and leaned against the table behind him. Everyone got quiet. When he did this, they knew they had the wrong idea.

But they were frustrated. “Why not rock oil?” Alan Mackey gestured to the globe in the corner. “It’s everywhere, in nearly infinite supply. Companies are making impressive gains in extraction and refinement. It’s the way of the future, no doubt about it.”

Sam stood straight and paced for a minute. He had to go carefully, here. But if he were very, very lucky, he’d be able to completely turn the tide of several future crises. Of course, humans could always find other ways to screw things up, but that wasn’t his problem. He stopped and looked up at his team.

“All right. Let’s make another assumption.” He saw their amusement, but hey, he was the boss. “Let’s assume there isn’t enough rock oil. Let’s assume that there are problems we don’t know about, yet. Let’s just assume we can’t use oil. What else is there?”

With the air that they were humoring him, they began shouting out ideas.

“Water.”

“Wind.”

“The sun.”

“Elephants.”

They all laughed and Ellen spread her hands. “Well that’s how silly the other suggestions are. None of them can provide enough energy, all the time.”

Sam spoke over the agreeing murmurs. “You may be right. But let’s start there. With any energy supply, we need a way to put the supply into a usable form, store it and distribute it. Agreed?”

They nodded.

“Let’s do that with all three of our more practical suggestions. Sorry Ellen—no elephants.” He paused to let the laughter recede. “Think of ways to capture, develop, store and distribute energy from these sources. Wind and water have strong potential for local energy use, but sunlight just might be usable everywhere except for the southern and northern extremes. Let me give you a hint about sunlight.”

He watched them for a moment. Were they ready for this? “You’re going to think in terms of mechanics: what machines and processes do we need to use sunlight? That’s okay. I want to see your ideas on that. But also consider how the planet, and all living things on it, use sunlight. How is it captured, stored, altered? Can we replicate that?”

He left them to it.

***

“So, Altair, still twisting the minds of our youth?”

Sam sighed and turned toward the voice approaching him as he was on his way to see the Dean of the Science Department at Queen’s. He’d noticed Riley in the office he just passed and had hoped he’d sneak by. No luck today.

“Dr. Riley. You’ll be happy to know that despite your efforts, I’m able to set them right in a relatively short time, once they come to work for me.”

Riley’s face darkened as he glowered at Sam. “You’re not getting all of them, Altair. I’ve managed to send some to safe employment on the continent.”

“Excellent!” Sam leaned forward solicitously. “Is there anything I can do for you, sir? I’m on my way to a meeting.”

“I intend to discuss your paper at the regents meeting later this month, Altair,” Riley told him.

Sam’s eyebrows nearly obtained orbit. “My paper? I have no paper out, Dr. Riley.”

Riley stood straight. “It makes no difference if one of your team wrote it, sir. You and I know the truth behind the work you are doing.” He reared back a little and examined Sam as if he were a specimen. “Capturing the sun? Is your plan to destroy the earth, Altair? Is that why you were sent here?”

Sam’s laugh was spontaneous and amazed. He found he couldn’t stop to even respond, so he just held up a hand, turned it into a wave, and stepped back to his path. He chuckled all the way to the dean’s office.

***

Later, Sam settled into his chair in the library at Dunallon, for a satisfying read of Einstein’s latest letter. Their correspondence had become a source of deep enjoyment for him, and he thought, for Einstein as well. Without ever acknowledging, in so many words, that Sam and Casey had traveled through time, Einstein had simply started writing as if it were all true and a simple fact of life. This allowed them to discuss all the ramifications, all the theories, all the dangers inherent in living in another time.

Although his theories were still new, and he had not completely worked out his General Theory, Einstein leaned toward the idea that Sam’s experiment had created an alternate universe. In that case, he admitted, he couldn’t see the point of trying not to change things. From his point of view, the future hadn’t happened yet, so he was open to any suggestions.

Sam loved Einstein’s sense of humor and joviality. Their letters touched on all subjects, including their own lives, frustrations, and joys. Sam wrote often about Casey and Tom, eventually telling him about Titanic and what they were doing. This was in response to Einstein once again inviting Sam to visit, so they could meet and perhaps work together.

“I will come out one day,” he had written, “but not until this situation is resolved. I’m actively helping Tom with the ship and with what I know happened that night. And I can’t leave Casey to face this alone. She is already afraid, but if we fail…I will never be able to leave her. She will need me, and I will stay with her until I die.”

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapters 28 and 29

Author’s Note: Chapter 28 is very small, so today you get two-for-one. Also, I’ll be giving you three posts a week from now on. It’s a long book!

Built in Belfast.
Built in Belfast. “She was fine when she left here.”

Chapter 28

Entry in Time Journal No. 2 of Casey Wilson Andrews, 1 June, 1908

Dear Mother:

It’s odd, how in all this time, it never occurred to me to write to you, but this time, this entry is for you, and for Dad. I have missed you so much and there have been so many times when I’ve said, “I wish my mother were here.” But I always accepted that you weren’t here and tried to carry on. Yet this is a way I can at least let you know what has happened. I really do wish you were here, Mom. You would be so happy and I think, you would be proud, too. Because, Mom, I have a baby.

He was born yesterday morning at 9:22 a.m., and he is simply amazing. I find I can’t take my eyes off of him. Even as I write, I keep glancing down at him, sleeping beside me as I sit in the bed. He is so soft and perfect, with a light brown fuzz of hair, and blue eyes. He’ll have his father’s strong face, I think, and if he has half of his father’s goodness, I’ll be satisfied. He’s a “bonny baby” as they say around here. His birth redness and wrinkles have faded already and he nurses as if he invented the concept.

His name is James Alan Wilson Andrews, in honor of Dad. This is a departure from Irish tradition, but when Tom suggested we name our first son and daughter after my parents, instead of his, I took the idea as the gift that it was. It helped to fill, just a bit, the emptiness where your voices used to be.

You’ll be happy to know, Mom, that some of your constant talk about pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding sank into my hard, teenaged head. You must have thought I wasn’t ever paying attention, but I was. Your wisdom has been with me constantly these last months, as I’ve dealt with primitive medicine and old-fashioned, misogynist viewpoints. I ate well, I walked and exercised, and I stayed active right up to the end. I tried to follow your ideas for labor and delivery, but in this time, they are so uptight about it. They keep wanting the mother to be “modest,” of all things! Stay in bed, stay covered up, don’t walk around, don’t squat… I had to keep arguing about all that so I could do what I felt I needed to do. I never had a chance to relax, like you always said to do. My doctor is very formal and kind of cold–where are all the kind country doctors I always heard about? But he did treat me with some respect and talked to me about what was happening. So my labor was hard and painful, but without any complications. It didn’t last horribly long; only about fifteen hours for the whole thing. It was a lot of hard work, but I was prepared for that. I heard your voice as I labored. You were with me in spirit, Mom, both as mother and doctor, and I will always be grateful.

It occurs to me that, even if you get this journal, you may not be the same James and Theresa Wilson whose 20 year old daughter went missing one night in Belfast. We are fairly sure that we’re in an alternate universe. If that is the case, I suppose this letter is more for me than for you. I just have to tell you both that I am well, and I am happy. That I miss you so much, and always, I will wish we could be together. I love you.

Casey Ashley Wilson Andrews

Belfast, Ireland

Chapter 29

July 1908

Tom watched in disbelief as his uncle and Bruce Ismay prepared to end the meeting without addressing his agenda item to discuss a double hull and higher bulkheads. This pretty much told him what his chances of success were, but he couldn’t let them just ignore it. As the end of July neared, they were approaching the final design conference before White Star gave the go ahead to start building the ships. There would be months of design work even after that happened, but right now, he needed Bruce’s informal approval. He rapped on the table and held up a hand.

“Gentlemen. There is one more item to discuss.”

Lord Pirrie looked at him in exasperation while Ismay turned to him with raised brows. “Well, Tom, I think we’ve more or less taken care of that item.”

Tom swallowed his anger and tried to speak with a reasonable tone. “Sweeping it under the rug, is not the same as taking care of it.” He leaned toward Ismay earnestly. “Bruce, you are going to have the largest, most luxurious vessels on the ocean. You want the cream of society to use your ships on all their runs between Europe and America. These are people who have choices, Bruce. You need to be able to tell them that not only will they travel in complete luxury, they will also travel in nearly complete safety. The only way to make these ships truly safe is to build the double hull and extend those bulkheads. The design you’ve approved does not do that.”

Ismay shook his head. “Thomas, we’ve been putting out ships all along without these features. You’ve been content with the safety of those ships, and indeed, there have been no major problems at all. With the double bottom and the fifteen bulkheads you’ve proposed, these liners will already be among the safest ships on the sea. Why, as large as they are, and with these features, they’re practically unsinkable. I fully intend to make sure the world knows that, don’t you worry about it.”

Tom gaped at Ismay. “Unsinkable! How can you say that? No one in this firm has ever said such a thing! Any ship can be sunk, and we are obligated to do all that our technology can do to keep them afloat and provide regress in an emergency. Any less is murder!”

Ismay smirked. “Your Irish passions are getting the better of you, Thomas. You and Carlisle have made a lot of demands, including up to sixty-four lifeboats. Now I will remind you, just as I reminded him, these are my ships. And according to our contract, I have final say on the design. I’ll not waste money on extraneous features, and I’ll not have so many of those little boats cluttering up my decks and putting fear into my passengers.”

Ismay turned to go. “Bottom line, Thomas, bottom line. The profit margins are nearly nonexistent as it is. We do what we know will work for these ships. No more, no less. Good day, Gentlemen.”

Ismay walked out and Tom rounded on his uncle. “How can you let him get away with that? He’s going to tell the world these ships are unsinkable? There’s no greater nonsense in the world!”

Lord Pirrie held up his hands. “Of course he’s not going to say that, Tom. You heard him. He said ‘practically unsinkable’ and lord knows that’s true. I can’t imagine a disaster that will sink these vessels. I know you’ve run up a scenario, but honestly, Tommy, it’s just too unlikely. I appreciate your willingness to stick your neck out on this, but keep in mind that Carlisle is heading this project. Although,” he said as he headed out the door, “like you, he does want more lifeboats. We’ll keep working on that, eh?”

He left Tom alone with his thoughts.

***

Later that night, Tom walked the baby to sleep, keeping near the fire in the nursery. The wind threw rain at the house, rattling the windows. He could hear the trees brushing the roof. The peacefulness of the nursery surrounded him, but made no effort to enter. He watched his son sleeping in his arms, the little lips sucking quietly in his dreams.

He loved his work. This was as near a definition of the man he was, as anything in his life had ever been. For eighteen years, he had given himself, heart and soul, to the art of building ships. More than that, his dedication was to the firm that had nurtured him and given him a path through life that, in the joy and creativity it had engendered, surpassed any dreams of his hopeful boyhood. The idea of walking away was a necessity his mind understood, but his heart fought it.

The door opened and Casey entered, a small smile flitting across her face when she saw them. She settled in the rocking chair and opened her book. Tom knew she was just wanting to be nearby. He had not talked to her yet, but Casey usually knew if he was upset. He had not been able to eat dinner, but had just squeezed her hand at her concern. They would talk later, he had promised.

When he thought Jamie was well and truly asleep, he placed him in his crib, covering him as Casey came over to give the baby a goodnight touch. She then slipped her hand into Tom’s and followed him out, leaving the nursery to the storm and Penny’s watchful eye.

He tilted his head toward the parlor and they went, arms around the other’s waist, to sit on the divan in front of the fire. Tom cupped her face in his hands and gazed at her a moment, comforted at seeing the love she had for him.

She caressed his neck. “What’s happened, love?”

He looked away from her, seeing himself arguing with his uncle and Ismay, and tried to ease the tightness in his chest. “Uncle Will and I met with Ismay this afternoon. I knew it wouldn’t go well, but I was… I am… incredulous at how bad it was. Ismay is not giving me anything I asked for. It’s all out, as far as he’s concerned.” He heard Casey’s soft gasp beside him and turned back to her, squeezing her shoulders. “I have only one option left me, Casey. I knew as I left that meeting, and I have been thinking and thinking about it, but I see no other way.” His face twisted with pain. “I cannot build these ships. Tomorrow I’m going to give Uncle Will my letter of resignation.”

Just saying the words caused his heart to contract, and he closed his eyes. As he did, he saw, very clearly, Sam’s drawing of the Titanic, split in two, the stern in the air. Although Sam had not included them in the drawing, he saw the people frantically holding onto his ship, onto the one solid thing in that cold, watery existence.

He finally got a good breath and he opened his eyes. Whatever the cost to him, this one action he took now would forever change the fate of fifteen hundred people. Not just them either, but all of the others on the ship and their families. His family too, and the entire town of Belfast. Oh, they’d get the ships built and people would sail on them. But they wouldn’t be finished on time. Titanic would never sail in April 1912.

Casey was holding his hand as tightly as she could, and he slowly raised her hand to his lips, seeing his pain mirrored in her face. She followed her hand with her lips and kissed him softly. “I will hope that you find another way, but I know you would do anything else before this, if you could. I’m so sorry, Tom.”

He smiled sadly at her. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever even thought of doing, but Casey, if by doing this I save those lives…. There will be a life to live later. I know that.”

He pulled her to him and kissed her deeply. Then he stood up. “I need to work on the letter. I won’t come to bed until it’s done.”

***

In the end, he never got to bed at all. He worked for a while in the library, but as the house settled down, he felt somehow haunted. Casey had gone to bed, so he picked up his papers and pen and moved to the bedroom to be near her. He sat at the small desk in the corner, with the lamp shaded so not to awaken her. Once, after getting up to feed the baby, she touched Tom’s head softly as she went back to bed.

He wrote, scratched out, wrote more, thought often. Twice, he had to throw away paper when a tear smeared the ink. In those moments, every happy year he had spent at Harland & Wolff came to him, from the first bewildering and hectic years as an apprentice in each department, to the rushing days of management. His mind called up drafts, faces, ships of all sizes, rivets with their chalks of approval, crews, laborers, cranes and gantries.

Eighteen years.

In all that time, there had been many disagreements, artistic differences, and contrary opinions, many times indeed. Their work was not mindless; it required all their thought and love to perform to perfection. Disagreements were part of the process. Eighteen years of toil, excitement, joy, amazement, experimentation, laughter.

He saw no other way. Finally, as the clock struck 4:30, he finished a copy of the letter, which he placed in his safe. Then he dressed and woke Casey, needing her touch to get him through the next hours.

***

Last night’s rain had turned into a clear, gleaming dawn. Tom reached his uncle’s office before Lord Pirrie was there, and he decided just to wait. He stared at the floor, but saw nothing except snatches of his letter. He held his hat and unneeded umbrella, for all the world the picture of a man just dropping in and then leaving. It was odd enough that Saxon, the secretary, gave him a hard, concerned look before turning away to the files.

Lord Pirrie arrived within a few minutes, moving quickly and already giving orders to Saxon. He stopped dead at the sight of Tom, who raised his head to regard his uncle tiredly. Eyebrows raised nearly to his hairline, Lord Pirrie greeted him. “Thomas! Good morning!” He gave him an intent look and gestured into his office. “You look like hell, lad. Are you ill?”

Tom followed Lord Pirrie in and stood before the desk. He had not thought of a way to start this conversation, and now he simply removed the letter from his pocket and handed it to his uncle. “I’ve spent the night in thought, Uncle Will. This decision has not been easy, but I am turning in my resignation.”

Lord Pirrie stared at Tom in complete befuddlement, not reaching for the letter. His mouth moved a couple of times before any sound came out. “Well I won’t accept it!” He stated at last, his voice loud in the silent office. “This is about Bruce, isn’t it? Look, Tommy, I know he was out of line yesterday, but he does have final say…”

Tom silenced him by throwing the letter on the desk. “I will not build those ships using his criteria, sir. As a managing director of this firm, when I build a ship and declare it finished, it must meet my criteria, because the world expects no less. These ships are fragile, and you know it. Bruce Ismay does not want a shipbuilder, he wants a puppet. I will not be that puppet.” He straightened angrily. “The question came to this: ‘Would I put my wife and son on one of those ships’? The answer is no, I would not. And that, sir, is my bottom line.”

He seemed to deflate as he pointed at the letter. “My resignation is effective immediately. I would like time to clean out my office and then I’ll be gone.”

He turned to go and nearly reached the door before his uncle spoke. “Thomas.” A choked voice, a voice that made Tom blink and turn around. His uncle was staring at the letter that he had still not picked up. After a moment, Lord Pirrie raised his eyes to his nephew. “Tom, don’t clear out your office, yet. Give me one day. Please. Just go home and give me one day to see what I can do. That’s all I ask.”

Tom sighed. “Uncle, I’m not bluffing about this. I won’t be placated or coddled.”

Lord Pirrie nodded. “I know. Just one day, Tommie.”

Tom blinked back tears of anguish and exhaustion, then nodded, once. “All right. Call me tonight.”

He left and walked blindly to the drafting room. He had promised not to clean his office, but one book locked in his safe belonged to him and he could not leave it under these circumstances. Waving Ham back into his seat for the moment, Tom went in to his office and closed the door. Taking the small key from his pocket, he unlocked the safe and took out his time travel journal, placing it in the raincoat’s inside pocket. He stopped to talk briefly to Ham.

“There’s a situation, Ham. I promise I’ll talk to you about it later, but for now, just cancel today’s appointments. I’ll be at home, but no calls, no messages. Nothing at all.” He patted Ham’s shoulder and left Queen’s Island.

***

Tom was in the parlor after dinner, when the bell rang. He continued to stare into the fire as Mrs. Pennyworth went to the door. A wave of fear, mixed with relief, moved through his body when he heard his uncle’s voice greeting Casey and teasing the baby. He stood, dread nailing him into place.

“Where is that nephew of mine, dear?” he heard Pirrie say. “Will he speak to me?”

“I’m here, Uncle,” Tom paused in the parlor doorway. His uncle was holding the baby, laughing down at him. Was that a good sign? “Come on in.”

He waited as Pirrie handed Casey his coat, hat, and the baby. He returned Lord Pirrie’s appraising stare before gesturing him to a seat. Tom knew he looked terrible–his head had been pounding all day.

Pirrie opened his briefcase and pulled out an envelope. Tom followed his movements warily. Leaving the envelope on his lap, Lord Pirrie steepled his fingers as he gazed at Tom. “You had us running today, lad. I’ve spent most of today talking to Bruce, with a few telegrams to Morgan in New York.” He paused as Mrs. Pennyworth brought in tea and cakes, leaving them on the table.

“I’ll leave out the details for now, but,” he handed Tom the envelope, “you’ve got the higher bulkheads and sixty-four lifeboats, if Alex can come up with a davit design that works. Bruce won’t give on the double hull and I’m taking the chance that you’ll compromise. This is an addendum to the contract for the Olympic Line. All it needs is the Managing Director’s signature.”

For a moment, Tom didn’t move, his eyes on the envelope. We got it. Almost everything we asked for. Slowly, he reached out and took it, removing the papers inside. Lord Pirrie continued, “There’s the original and a copy for you. Take your time and look it over. If you decide to sign, bring it in with you in the morning.”

Tom nodded, laying the papers flat on his lap, then looking up at his uncle. He felt lighter, somehow. “Thank you, Uncle Will.” A twitch moved his cheek and he took a deep breath. “It could be better, but I promise, this will make White Star and Harland & Wolff better companies. These ships will be unbeatable.”

Lord Pirrie smiled at that. “I have no doubt, Tommy.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Tom, did you actually think they could let you walk away? Do you have any idea how that would have looked to the rest of the world?”

Tom laughed a little. “Casey mentioned something about that, today. Believe me, I hadn’t even thought of it. I just knew I couldn’t build those ships.”

“You’re considered one the best shipbuilders in the world, lad, maybe the best. If you had left us for these reasons, both companies would be out of business in a year. People wouldn’t sail on our ships. I’m just counting my blessings that you didn’t ask for a huge raise, too!”

Tom did laugh at that, shaking his head. Lord Pirrie reached over to pat his knee. “Some of us do know what it would have done to you to leave the firm, son. I have no doubt that you would have left, if it came to that. But Tommy, it would have killed you.”

Tom thought of a metaphorical death versus a cold, real one at the bottom of the Atlantic. He smiled sadly at his uncle. “Perhaps. I have certainly never hurt so much as in the last twenty-four hours.”

Lord Pirrie stood to go, reaching out to shake Tom’s hand. “You keep giving vent to those Irish passions, lad. They work well on you, but I want to get one thing straight.” He looked Tom sternly in the eye, still gripping his hand. “You have concerns in the future, you bring them to me and I’ll give them a hearing. But I am the head of this company, Thomas, and you still have a lot to learn. You can disagree, but you better back it up, and when I give the final word, it’s final. I need to know I can depend on you, Tom, like I always have. Can you work under those terms?”

Tom’s mouth tightened, but he nodded slowly. “Aye, Sir. I can.”

He walked to the door with his uncle. “I want you to know how grateful I am that you believe in me as you do. I really am devoted to the firm, Uncle Will. There’s nothing else I would want to do in my life.”

As he closed the door after his uncle, he heard Casey on the stairs, and turned to her. She stood on the bottom step and opened her arms as he walked into them.

***

Final approval for the Olympic-class ships came on 31 July 1908, just in time for the new financial year. Lord Pirrie waved White Star’s letter of approval as he stood on the landing near his office, and the men on the floor erupted into cheers. The first two ships were numbers 400 and 401, and work would begin on them straight away. The directors and shareholders, along with their spouses, celebrated with a dinner at Ormiston House, where Lord Pirrie opened several bottles of champagne, noting that Harland & Wolff did not christen their ships at launching in the usual way, but by gum, they’d celebrate the contract correctly!

The work proceeded in all haste. Tom and the other directors put in many hours wrapping up the designs and preparing orders for construction. In September, they gave the orders to the yard and engine works to proceed with preparations, and made up their reports for material purchases. It seemed to Tom that the entire year would run on adrenaline. The meetings were endless, the workforce was expanding rapidly, and finally, on 16 December 1908, they laid the keel for the first ship. The keel for Titanic would be laid in March; her construction would trail Olympic’s by three months. As he watched them lay Olympic’s keel, supervising from the plans rolled out in front of him, Tom felt as if he had just stepped up and shaken hands with destiny. There was no turning back.

Babies Do Not Manipulate-They Communicate | Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources

When my kids were babies, I was always told that they manipulated me, along with the accusation that I was a bad mother for giving in to them. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now.

You know those months when baby decides, like my youngest grandson has recently done, that “no one but Mommy can hold me”?  That’s not a spoiled baby forcing mom to bend to his will. That’s a baby with a real fear. He doesn’t understand his fear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. A baby at this stage is just becoming mobile enough to reach parts of the world he’s never handled before. Instinct drives him to explore and he wants to be independent, but of course, he can’t be. He’s also reached a mental stage where he’s knows that other people are separate from him and also separate from Mom and Dad. He understands that Mom and Dad can and do disappear sometimes, but he’s not savvy enough to understand why, nor to understand that they will return. He doesn’t understand the passage of time until they do return. He lives in the “now” and he is terrified when Mom goes away. When someone else holds him, this signals that Mom is leaving and he reacts in the only way he can – crying, struggling against the new person, and reaching for Mom.

It’s a stage. Baby will grow and soon figure these out. It’s NOT manipulation.

Babies Do Not Manipulate-They Communicate | Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources.

There Is Poop in Basically All Hamburger Meat | Mother Jones

Avoid the most, and worst, contamination by buying grass-fed, organic beef. The best method for doing this is to buy directly from a local rancher or through a CSA. Search on http://www.localharvest.org/ to find one near you.

Second best: ask the butcher to grind up a roast for you. That way you know your hamburger came from just one animal.

There Is Poop in Basically All Hamburger Meat | Mother Jones.