The Great Plains

Free The Great Plains by Nicole Alexander

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Authors: Nicole Alexander
utmost to shield her from the past.’
    â€˜You won’t be able to protect her forever, Aloysius.’
    â€˜Maybe not, but I’ll do my best, with the support of our family. You best gather them all together for the announcement, Annie, the announcement and the introduction to the newest member of the Wade family. In the meantime I’ll meet with Clarence Hocking today and have the necessary papers drawn up.’
    â€˜What papers?’
    â€˜Philomena’s granddaughter will be my ward.’
    â€˜I see. You have been quick to make these decisions.’ Annie’s voice grew taut.
    â€˜The child must be protected, Annie, should anything happen to us she would be at the mercy of our children. I don’t want her to be forced to rely on their generosity, nor do I want our children to feel obliged to care for her. She must have her own place in the family, with monies to match. It is only fair.’
    â€˜Joseph was very fortunate to have a brother such as you.’
    â€˜I am only doing what I hope they would have done for me had our roles been reversed.’
    â€˜And what shall we name the child?’
    The baby was crying again. It was a soft, plaintive sound as if the infant wept for its mother, and for the grandmother she would never know. Aloysius recalled the nurse at the asylum commenting on how placid the baby was, how serene. Taking the child from Annie’s embrace, he gathered the little girl up in his arms. How she reminded him of Philomena when she was a babe, and Philomena had grown up into a beautiful woman, the image of her beloved mother Ginny. He had no doubt that this child would be just as lovely, with a temperament to match. Aloysius placed a finger against the child’s dewy cheek. ‘Serena. We shall call her Serena.’

Part Two
    I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.
    Attributed to Geronimo (Goyathlay ‘one who yawns’), Chiricahua Apache chief and medicine man (1829–1909)

Chapter 7
    Ten years later
December, 1896 – Dallas, Texas
    The linotype operator, Brian, often complained to whoever listened that he was manacled to the machine like a hapless bride tied to an unloved husband. Six years of his life had been spent in servitude to the machine: three years in the study of how the contraption functioned and a further three in learning how to repair it before he could officially be classed as the primary machinist. With ten thousand parts, five thousand of which were moveable, Brian may have been highly strung with a tendency to exaggeration, however he was a crucial component of Wade Newspapers.
    The printing room was stuffy at the best of times. Located on the ground floor at the rear of the building, the molten lead used in the process kept the airless room warm. Brian, a perfectionist, demanded the windows remain closed and the room at a constant temperature, much to the other employees’ annoyance, a fact that amused Aloysius, for there was no proof that the machine worked best in a specific environment. Three typesetting machines now sat unused along an opposite wall while at the other end of the room, the printing press operator was carefully oiling and cleaning his machine in readiness for the next edition.
    Aloysius’s greeting was returned by a distracted wave of a hand. Brian sat before the linotype, tapping on keys like that of the ordinary typewriter as he read from the editor’s manuscript. Edmund stood to one side, a newspaper tucked under his arm. Aloysius joined his son and together they watched as Brian typed. There was a rhythmic efficiency to his work. Aloysius kept pace with the typing by tapping his foot on the floorboards – spell, space and stop, capitals, small letters, notes of astonishment and

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