The Recruiting Matter Reprise -Rachael is picked up

Millicent arranges a meeting of her recruits so she can protect them from Smith. None have signed on, but some will. Rachael is not one of those, but she will get to hear about the journey first hand. First she has to make it to the dinner.

Author’s note

I need to work on Rachael’s voice a bit. I am not very good at accents and generally avoid them. However, Rachael maybe educated, but she is working class and rough on the edges.  This section provides some background on John O’Malley and why he is leaving. One can resort to desperate measures to escape an abusive relationship.  This is also an excerpt from a longer chapter. You do not hear Rachael’s father accepting the invitation on her behalf and requiring her to go to the meeting.  You don’t see the fight scene. You do not know if they make it to the pub.  But you can read more in “Rachael Is Picked Up.”

For your enjoyment. Look for more tomorrow.

Racheal Is Picked Up

They walked down Gold Street to where his hansom cab was parked. The horse eyed her and flicked it’s ears. The driver scratched the horse’s neck and said “I expect a proper ride out of you. We’ve good people tonight” and then to Rachael as he assisted her up into the cab, “I’ve got to pick up John O’Malley and then we’ll be off.” She started at the name. She and John had both been from Stepney, but he had tried to fit in with the West Enders. Unfortunately, he had taken on some of their more obnoxious traits. She was surprised he was still in the neighborhood. They probably never saw him as an equal.

The cab only went a short distance and parked next to a lamp. “The O’Malley’s are over on the other side of the field.”

“I know miss. It seems that John Jr. don’t have proper permission to come out tonight or some such. We’re to meet him here,“ the driver said dryly.

A voice called from the dark and a refined tone, “and I am here. Liam O’Hannigan.”

“There ye are lad. Sorry we’re a bit late. It’s Stepney ya’ know,” the driver said and hopped down.

“Tis fine. I had to work a bit to get my bags out of the shop window anyway.” Lapsing a bit into the East ender accent.

The taxi driver, Liam, moved into the shadow. She heard him exclaim, “Lord, son, how did you carry those things. This is going to take a bit.”

Rachael couldn’t see much as they shifted the bags. A couple of times the cab seemed to tilt a bit. The two men had maneuvered the bags on top of the cab. The last one seemed heavy as Liam grunted it into place, “Sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What is in that box? Bricks?”

“Books, Liam. I brought what I could.”

“You left some back?” And the driver was silent as the implication sunk in. “Millicent said you were trapped. You’re taking this jelly[1] sight unseen?”

John slipped into his Cockney, “Twon’t be anything but an Irish mechanic here.”

“Listen to what the lady says carefully, lad. You may be getting more than you bargained for,” the cabby said urging caution.

At that point, John climbed into the cab. “Miss Weiz, I didn’t know she asked you.”

Liam piped up, “Miss Millicent has no truck with class. And she only wants the good ones. Now sit down you damn ox while I get the two of you to dinner.”

“Surprised, Mr. O’Malley?” Rachael smirked.

“I knew she was asking others, but I hadn’t known who. She had hinted about you. She wasn’t even subtle about it now that I think about it. I just didn’t connect the dots.” he said and sighed. “She said I would need to revise my view of the world. I’m working on it.”

Rachael snorted at the unintended insult. “What’s with all the bags?”

“I’m taking her offer. I’m leaving,” he said simply.

Rachael looked surprised in the dark. “You don’t know what you’ll be doing or where you’ll be. You won’t see your friends or family for 10 years or more. That seems rash for you.”

John looked ahead, “I can’t take my Dad’s shit at home and work anymore. University was my refuge; my way out and I still ended up a mechanic. Poppa’s my boss.”

Rachael tried to be positive, “And I ended up in the clock shop. It’s not so bad.”

John was quiet for a bit. “Not for you. I always envied you.  Bet you didn’t’ guess that. Your da’ and uncles helped you in school. If I had half that support, I might think twice of leaving here. Life was a bit different in the O’Malley house.”

Rachael had never heard this side of John, “How so?”

“My da’ had no use for education. The teacher, Mr. Brown, came and made a special appeal to Da’ so he’d let me stay. Otherwise, my father would have yanked me from school and I would have ended up like him. He barely finished his letters and numbers. I got into the University and Mr. Brown arranged a scholarship. Didn’t get a penny from Poppa. Summers I would come home and he would make me do janitor’s work ‘to keep me humble’ he’d say. I had to hide my notebooks because he would rip out pages when he was on a drunk roll. He knocked books out of my hands if I started reading. At least until I was bigger than him. When he couldn’t knock the books, he would have the other mechanics start fights with me. He said he was ‘toughening me up…getting all the English lace outta me’.” He looked at his hands and clinched his fists and opened them.  “After a few rounds the other mechanics stopped trying to fight even if he threatened them.”

Rachael was shocked. She knew other families weren’t quite as nice as hers but she had no idea. Her house had always valued study and even broke old world tradition so she, a girl, could study on her own. She couldn’t imagine John’s life. The idea that leaving was easier than staying was beyond her ken. She stuttered, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“It’s not something I talk about. Not sure why I am now. Mostly I wanted to hide my home life. I figured everyone thought I was rube. I didn’t see a reason to give them one more reason to believe that.” He smiled, “Me hanging out with the Westenders made him positively barmy.”

“My da and uncles were always reading or debating some strange nuance of law or rule. They would go to the temple library, bring me along and read there. Others were shocked that a girl was there, but Morris and Poppa always defended me. But I never thought anyone would have a problem with a boy doing that.”

“Try meeting a poor Stepney Irishman on his third pint. We haven’t been known for our scholarship,” John said a bit bitterly.

“That’s not true. You read Johnathan Swift. What of Robert Boyle? I think you sell the Irish short,“ Rachael said a bit defensively.

“It’s hard to see the diamonds for all the coal,” John looking out to the side.

“Piffle. How come you didn’t get a job? You certainly had all the right friends,” her voice held a bit of mocking.

John snorted this time. “I was a fool to think that would work. I spent four years bowing and scraping and generally being an arse. When it came time and I needed an opening, all of my supposed new friends couldn’t find a place for me, the Stepney lad. Oh … I might have gotten on with one of the airship companies, but I’d be a mechanic and never much more. I would never get into designing. Aristotle was right ‘To thine own self be true.’” He looked at her and asked, “Why didn’t you get a job? Your work was brilliant.”

She dangled the Star of David, “It seems there were no jobs for Jewish Stepney lasses either. If I even got an interview, I was given some excuse about tight times or that I wouldn’t be a good fit with the company culture.”

He looked at the piece of jewelry and sighed, “I’ve had a few months to think while I repair engines. Da’ was right about me needing a bit of humility. I am not very proud of how I acted at University. I tried everything I could do to get connected to the posh types. I thought if I acted like they did and read the same things and had the same flaws that somehow I could be them. “

She came back at him “But they wave their old school ties in a semaphore you can’t quite understand.”

“I found out that breeding is apparently just that. And an Irish lad from Stepney don’t have it,” John looked at her with a sad smile.

From above they heard, “Oy lad, I know you and you are worth 10 of those priggish garden tools[2]. Same for you Miss Weiz.”

Rachael laughed and asked, “Who is that man?”

“It is Liam O’Hannigan, taxi driver, guide, and roustabout. He is very sharp at getting things done. He always knows who to talk to,” John said.

The taxi driver, Liam, replied “That’s right lad. I also think you are going be glad you didn’t get hooked by those titled gits.”

John leaned back and said “He’s right. I look at myself and how I acted. I have no friends left in Stepney. Last summer I thought that was a great thing. Now I am not so sure.” He was quiet for a bit. “Ah well. Done is done. So if you and I have been asked …who else?”

Rachael mused, “Probably Jason. He knows electronics. That’s not much use. But he knows chemistry, he is brilliant and he couldn’t get any positions either – that damn school tie thing. He’s very sharp, but he has a load of debt too– he didn’t get much help either.”

John answered back to her, “Eleanor. She ended up back at her family furniture factory. I still can’t figure out why she wasn’t taken by some airship company.’

Rachael replied, “Those American and Old Europeans aren’t comfortable with dark skinned engineers. They would probably have to rethink their current practices in the colonies.”

“Lord, I thought being Irish was tough,” John said and whistled.

“I could change my name and get by. Eleanor is a bit stuck,“ Rachael said.

John smacked his head “Oy that is a pickle. Most of the airship work is done by Europeans or Americans.”

Rachael mused “Apparently having the world set against you is a primary qualification for Miss Morgaine’s positions.”

They rode in silence for a bit, the horse making a clip clop on the cobble stones. The fog of the night was just starting to creep in along the river. The warehouses and tenements of Stepney were starting to give way to store fronts and flats.

Rachael sat back and caught her breath. “Do you think it will be better?”

John pulled his eyes from the shocking device, “What are you talking about?”

“This job that Miss Morgaine is offering – do you really think it will be better? Different?”

“You’re wondering about that?” John asked in amazement.

“It’s important. Do you think it will be better? That it won’t matter if I am Jewish or you’re poor Irish or Eleanor is negro? Is that really possible?” Rachael asked.

“Truth be told, wouldn’t it be better if such things were true. Rachael –  you are smarter than the lot of those wealthy Protestant bastards. You’re not getting a job was just wrong and it was stupid.  Who the hell should care if their music box was designed by a Jew? And Eleanor? Have you seen her designs?  She will change aviation. If I were to work with her, I would be lucky,” John waved his arms in excitement as he made these statements.

Rachael stared at him, “that is a new tune for you. For four years, we were the wrong people. And you were the worst of the lot.”

John looked to the side, “I said I wasn’t proud of what I had done in the past. I guess I had to find out that my new friends viewed me with contempt. That left me a bit short on options. I can be like John Sr. and hate them for having the power and hate others below me because I have something to be above.  Maybe I have come to hate Dad so much that the best way to get back at him is to not hate. Everything has gone wrong and I am not sure what to think. All I know is that I have much to make up. “

“Aye you do, priggish idiot…” Rachael said but the anger was fading from the words.

The taxi started to slow. Liam banged on the roof. “I think we got trouble ahead. Miz Weiz, you got protection?”

Rachael replied, “Ain’t daft. Got two knives.”

Liam said, “You’re gonna need em’ both.” He handed something down to them, “John, take this. Press the button, put it on someone, and they fall.”

John looked at the small device with two prongs. He was confused, but took in the directions. Rachael looked it over and the directions seemed straight forward.  Through the fog she could see another carriage blocking the way and three people out.

Liam shouted, “Oy. Move your arses. This is a public road.”

The middle man shouted back, “In a moment Mr. O’Hannigan. But I want your passengers to join me.”  Strangely, he seemed to be wearing a waist coat as if he just finished polishing the silver.

Liam set the brake and hopped down. Rachael could see he opened his coat as he landed. John got out on one side. Rachael exited on the side with Liam.  The people resolved in the fog. The man on the left could have been Edward Wayland, but he didn’t look right somehow. The woman on the right was Winifred Stanhope and Rachael could see she had a sword with her.

[1] Jellied Eel – Deal

[2] Garden tool – fool



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