Little Irish Belle

Summary: A background story on how Cal fell into Rose's life. Three parts.

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Part i

Almost every day there is some vile adult that comes up to me and congratulates me on how lucky I am to live this life--the parties, the clothes, the fiancée-- but I would give it all away now if he would just come back to me. No, I was never in love. I am not talking about a silly schoolboy or forbidden love or anything of that romantic sort. I am talking about my father.

My father--the one person who truly understood me. All the spirit and bravery that I have now it all due to the lessons that he taught me. I try so hard to please him. If I ever do anything that I think might disappoint him, I drop everything--and I mean everything-- that I'm doing and I run to the church to pray for his soul: to pray because I have sinned and kept his memory in vain. I am always forgiven, of course; with my last name anyone would forgive me.

My father was one of the richest men in all of England. He was the savviest businessman that I had ever met, and he sure knew how to strike up a deal. His name was Ryan--he named me after his own first initial. I once told him that I thought that if I were a boy it would certainly make things easier for him. I mean, he could officially name him Ryan and not have to settle for a Rose, and he could have someone to inherit the family business. But he never listened to my talk.

"You're such a silly, darling," he would say, ruffling my namesake hair. "Don't you ever, ever think that I don't want you! That is completely untrue, I would not exchange you for a thousand boys!"

I was impressed. A thousand boys? That statement really made an impact on me. From then on I always came to him first for anything, even if it was a girl-thing that daughters usually talk about with their mothers. I knew he would understand—he was my father. My silly mother didn't care about anything but her fancy gowns and impractical hats and who knows what else.

Daddy also had a nickname for me. He called me his Little Irish Belle. Oh, how I thrilled to hear him utter those words in times of praise!

"Good job, my Little Irish Belle!" he would exclaim. No one else would beam as wide as I did at that moment. He also wouldn't retire in the evening until he had "kissed his Little Irish Belle goodnight."

Then, at about eleven, I stopped coming to both of them for my diminutive problems. They would keep me up at night, yelling and screaming at each other until dawn. Well, mostly mother was doing the screaming part. Daddy would never raise his voice, unless I criticized myself or put myself down. I could only hear in lapses: "…money, Ryan, money!…what do you mean, low?…I'm trying my hardest, Ruth…well, that's not good enough…disgrace to your company…"

I never understood what they were talking about. When I asked him about it, he would assure me that nothing was wrong. I wanted to believe him, but something at the back of my mind was telling me otherwise. It said that I shouldn't believe him; that he was lying.

I pushed that voice away, however, and went with the easier route. The less painful route—the deception. He never suspected that I suspected, and after a year the arguments seemed to disintegrate completely. I was satisfied.

Yet on February 9th, 1907, the year I turned twelve, everything changed. I woke up to my mother and her hysterical crying. I didn't understand in the least. I thought that she was just annoyed at her tailor or mad at the cook or something again. Oh, how wrong I was.

Delilah, my personal servant, came to investigate me when she heard the noise. She knew what was the matter, and her number one goal was to make sure that I didn't find out. I wanted to pull those words out of her mouth like a pair of pliers.

"Delilah, why ever is Mother crying?" I asked. She looked nervous as if she had something to hide; but I had just woken up so I couldn't tell very much in my groggy state.

"Oh, she ruined her morning robe," she lied. I may have been tired, but my normally sharp senses were nevertheless alert.

"Stop lying at once!" I commanded. "Falsehoods will get you nowhere. Fetch my father, maybe he will tell me what's wrong!" I exclaimed. As soon as I had mentioned Papa her face went white. Hmm, that's strange! I had not time to ponder, however, because at that second all I wanted were answers.

Instead of obeying my commands as a loyal servant ought, she just up and walked out of the room. I was shocked—how dare she leave without responding! Wait until I tell father what she did…

I jumped up, pulled my morning robe overtop my night attire, and hopped out of bed. I marched over to the direction of my father's office, but stopped in my tracks when I saw blue-uniformed officers standing in the foyer. Maybe he knew what the heck was going on.

"Excuse me?" I asked, my embarrassment of lack of proper clothes overpowered by my hungry curiosity, "but why are you here?" The man looked at my sympathetically and said nothing. I didn't understand.

I didn't understand any more when another man in the same outfit appeared, and started to lead me into the parlor where my mother was currently settled.

"Miss Rose," he started. "My name is Charlie Stevenson. I am with the police, and we regret to inform you that your father will not be returning to you." I just sat there for a moment. What did he mean?

"He is, well, he's passed," the officer tried to explain. But I was still in the dark.

"Passed what?" I asked. The man sighed.

"Rose, this morning when your father went to his office, he keeled over. A very kind civilian brought him to the nearest hospital, where unfortunately he died from a heart attack. The proper funeral arrangements will be made in due time, of course." The last statement was directed at my mother, and she nodded quietly, the shock of hearing the true realization of our loss being uttered from the lips of an outsider seemed to throw her into a severe state of shock.

My mouth suddenly went dry. I felt like fainting, but I couldn't. I needed to hear what was going to happen next; I had to be strong because I knew that Mother couldn't be.

"Who was the civilian?" were the next words released by none other than myself. I wanted to know the identity of the person who saw my father in his last few minutes of life.

"He identified himself as Caledon Hockley, Miss," the officer replied. My mother suddenly switched into Proper mode again.

"Give us the information on how to contact this man," she said to Officer Stevenson. He snapped his fingers and the other man—the one who wouldn't talk to me not minutes earlier-- came rushing into the room.

"Yes, sir?" he said. "You summoned?"

"Find out how these two ladies can get in touch with Mr. Caledon Hockley, as soon as possible," Stevenson ordered. He nodded briskly and set about his task, using the telephone in the kitchen to follow out his assignment. I sat there, still unbelieving. This was all surreal—surely it wasn't really happening.

But I knew that the correct answer was that it was happening. And there was nothing I could do to stop it. Father wasn't coming back; he would never be here anymore. He could never listen to my problems, or encourage me, or help me in times that I needed most…which was now…

The men stayed well into the afternoon, finalizing every tantalizing detail. Every so often I would interject with my opinion, and I was listened to wholeheartedly. That's the power of a good name, backed up with money. They left soon before we dined for lunch, although I knew that no one in our household would be eating today. But before they departed, they shoved a piece of paper in my hand.

Caledon Hockley Contact Information for the Dewitt Bukaters.

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Three days later the funeral took place. Hardly anyone I knew was there, all of Daddy's business friends and colleagues who all patted my heads and said that they were sorry for my loss.

Mother and I, of course, wore black. I wanted to wear a red bow, because it was Daddy's favorite color. But as soon as Mother saw it on my head she almost fainted.

"Rose, my God, it's a funeral! Have you no respect for your dear, dear father?" she cried in false distress. I just rolled my eyes and obeyed her, removing the ribbon from my hair. I could sense a weight being lifted off of her shoulders at my actions. How stupid, getting worked up over a ridiculous bow. Mother was so asinine at times; it was quite hard for me to bear it. But I knew that Father would have wanted me to be patient, so I persisted and endured many a lecture.

The funeral actually took place at Saint Paul's Church of Worship. Father Edwards, the pastor, pretty much arranged the whole thing when he saw what a horrid state Mother had been in a couple days ago. We were incredibly grateful for his services.

The prayers started, and Father Edwards urged everyone to sit down immediately, we could see the body after the service. That sounded really awkward--seeing the body. There was nothing more horrific in my adolescence than viewing my father's unmoving body for the last time. Mother wasn't going to do a eulogy, of course, she was too distraught to think clearly and make the proper preparations—or so she said. I watched my various aunts and uncles make speeches, and then a couple of Father's business partners and executives and such.

"Would the immediate family like to say a few words?" asked Father Edwards after they had finished. Mother immediately pushed me up out of my seat.

"Go say something, Rose!" she commanded. I gave her a look that said plainly "not on your life!" But she clenched her jaw and whispered something about how everyone would expect it. The whole room was staring at me at that point, and I figured that I might as well just do it anyway.

On my way to the front of the church, I happened to pass a window that was not painted with stained glass. It was pouring and hazy out, which was ironic for such a melancholic day as it was. Dark and gloomy—just like the occasion.

I took a deep breath.

"Hello, my name is Rose," I began. "I am the only child of Ryan Dewitt Bukater, and I speak for myself and my mother in saying how sorely he will be missed. He was a great comfort to me, and I loved him so incredibly much. I still do. I don't think that anyone ever stops loving their parents." Here I had to pause to wipe away the wet tears that had started flowing down my face.

"And…I just wanted to say how grateful we are to so many people in this room, and that I'm sure Father is watching us from Heaven and smiling down on us. He wouldn't want us to be miserable—but that's not always good enough to stop the feeling…" I trailed off, muttering incoherent sentences until I finally stopped and looked at the pairs of eyes that were staring at me. Suddenly, it was suffocating in here. I had to get out—I had to run—I had to…

Without thinking, I bolted to the church entrance. I sat on the front steps, crying, and left the funeral behind. I sat there in the pouring rain; letting the drops mix with my tears until I was soaking wet all over. I stayed out there until it ended, bawling and sobbing and wishing that Father were there to comfort me. My mother was the first one out the door.

"Rose!" she hissed. "How dare you! How dare you make such an uncalled-for scene! Stop your blubbering and tears; they only ruin your complexion! Oh, your face is so red! You know that's not good; it looks positively horrific with your hair…" She continued to yell about how stupid my manner was, until people began to evacuate the church and she had to pretend to be all caring towards me. I tried to shrug her off, but she had an iron grip on my arm.

"We are leaving," she ordered, and dragged me into the carriage that had just pulled up. I didn't care about getting the seat wet; the exterior was drenched, so what would it matter to the interior?

As we were leaving, I barely made out a figure in the rain. Between drops, I spotted a man walking while another one ran up to him.

"Mr. Hockley!" the pursuer yelled. So this was the man that had been with Father in his last moments. I spun around in my position, watching him until the distance and the rain blocked him from view.

Mother never even gave me a chance to say my last goodbyes to Father.

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Well, did you like it? Am I being inaccurate? Was the flow okay, or was it confusing? I tried to make it less confusing, but I don't know how good a job I did. Review, please!