That Which Wills Thee [Chapter 5]
After their return from the country, after allowing young Marie and the growing James to experience nature and the pure, fresh air, Jane finally went to her father. She appeared before him alone, bringing with her the sentiments of her husband and the condition of her daughter.
“Father, our Marie is not in fine health,” she began, pulling the influential man’s attention away from his work.
“My dear–” he began, focusing his concern and directing his sympathy, “I cannot help but pray she returns to proper form.”
“As it stands, that isn’t likely.” Jane shook her head.
“And you have talked to Doctor Gregory? He is the best money can buy.”
“It is his diagnosis. Her condition is terminal.”
“What sort of plague or sickness is it? And James?”
“None of those things, and it is only the girl. Father—“ Jane prepared herself, “he said— the doctor— that her health may improve if we bring her away from the conditions that worsen her own.”
Mr. Flint leaned back in his chair and prepared himself to be open. “Tell me, and I shall make it so.”
“The thick air of the city; the smoke, the dust, the fumes. All those invade the lungs, and turn her breathing ragged.”
Flint’s optimism fled and he stood to head to the nearest window of his office, sealed in fine clear glass. “All the people of this city breath this same air.”
“It is hardly air. Outside the city, that is where one can truly breathe. That is the sort of nourishment that I… that we believe would be the necessary nourishment for your granddaughter.”
“That William is attempting to manipulate your mind and take you away from here, from where you belong.”
Jane frowned and waited for her father’s gaze to find her again. “Marie’s condition, her painful coughing and hacking and spitting are no manipulations.”
Flint huffed and sat upon his desk and ran his hands up and down his daughter’s arms. “What do you know of the world outside the city, love? How would you manage?”
“William is of that life, he knows how to make a living off the land.”
“That sort of life is not for the modern person, digging and mucking about with one’s bare hands. Even William and his father, as you told me, were bought out by the plantation owners. Their land is now being worked over by the machines of industry.”
“Then we shall go farther away from the city.”
“And leave decency behind. Marie may gain some vitality, but your James is almost at the age to begin his learning, to be able to take on the world and the challenges of rising to greatness.”
Jane pulled away and stomped about the room. “I can provide an education for him, for the both of them. It was your doing, father, to make sure that I keep up with my brothers in their educations.”
“I only wished for you to remain by my side,” he said hopefully.
“To what end?”
“Now that I wish to coddle my own daughter, to protect her, and see her grow up strong and be able to succeed, you want to deny her— the both of us that.”
Flint sat in the visitor’s chair of his office and placed his head in his hands. “I see. I do not wish to see you go, but… if you believe that you can make a better life for your daughter… then I will support your decision.”
Jane sat with her father, rubbing at his back. “It will not be forever. We are likely to visit, Marie’s health depending. You shall be able to watch them grow, I promise that.”
“You are just like your mother…” Flint mumbled, looking up and into his daughter’s eyes. “We will have to find someone with skills as adequate as yours to take over your position… William’s too.”
William had already decided on a destination upon his map of the country. It was to the north, beyond the plantation farms, by the coast, perfectly between the thick forest and the lowlands and the swampy areas. Some folk lived in the area, still unaffected by the reach of the industrial world, living the lives that the O’Malley family were in search of.
Gerald Flint wished to send them off with multiple carts full of furniture and building timbers and seeds and clothes, but William talked him down to a singular cart with only the necessities. They had with them their simple tools, a few cases of clothes, food for a handful of weeks, a rooster and chicken to continue their supplies from there, and finally the determination to continue on.