Konstantin wanted to call his daughter Raduzhka, it was a beautiful name, a flower taken much pride in. Margaritka, however, knew the English would somehow shorten it, give her a nick name just like how she was called 'Dyeĭzi.' Margaritka was called Dyeizi because her real name sounded too prestigious for a servant, according to her mother-in-law, the Countess. They would call Raduzhka something else. She didn't want her daughter's name to be shortened. When people spoke to her, she wanted her whole name be heard so she would be respected and seen as equal or above those she spoke to. Margaritka didn't express this to her husband, as she never expressed anything to him. Instead she suggested an English name. Konstantin renamed her Iris, but kept the tradition of the middle name coming from the father.
A few days after Iris's birth, a change came over Margaritka. First the woman became irritable, wondering if she was a good enough mother for Iris. Margaritka became frustrated with the smallest things. She was upset when Konstantin took forever to return the baby to her so she could nurse Iris. There were times she was jealous when Iris would lift her tiny arms in his presence in the evening, even though she did the same when she saw her mother in the morning. The parents couldn't doubt she was such a sweet baby.
However, there were other days that Margaritka wished Konstantin would keep Iris, take the child away, knowing any mother could be better. She was already aware that he thought his past mistresses where more attractive than her, and even thought about them, despite the women's current presence being a mystery. Margaritka had other jealous thoughts; she came to a point where she thought Iris hated her. It was that one night, Iris wouldn't let down, she was waking up the entire neighborhood as Margaritka walked Iris throughout the hallway. Then their neighbor , a lady who had five children and eight grandchildren, came out and calmed Iris for Margaritka. Why would she calm down for the neighbor and not her own mother?
Konstantin recognized his wife needed help. Most of the mothers he had known had nannies, nurses, governesses, and tutors for their children. He, himself, had been raised by four personal servants. Iris had none, making it stressful for Margaritka. He knew it would make his wife uncomfortable having someone waiting on her if someone was hired for Iris, and he could never afford it. Konstantin though, didn't ask his wife these things, he just wondered about what she was thinking. He never tired to figure it out even when he was willing to contemplate it.
It was one morning, about a month after Iris's birth, in the early hours when the town was at its quietest, except for the cry of their daughter. Margaritka couldn't figure out what was wrong with Iris, she didn't need a change, she was fed, and she was burped, she wasn't sick, she wasn't in pain, what could this little girl want?
Konstantin offered to take the baby for a walk and let her rest. He never thought of Margaritka's needs, since she was here to wait on him. He figured, to himself, that since she was raising his child for him it would be best to keep her stability at a healthy level. It was late April; he walked their daughter to the docks and through the alleys, he would have walked the entire British Isle for her, of course.
Margaritka gathered her thoughts. She snapped out of her depression and realized how much she enjoyed Iris. She loved the way Iris laughed at her, and how she lifted her tiny arms to Margaritka when she was in sight. She broke from the postpartum depression.
Decades later, Margaritka was there to help Iris when she had the same feelings after Petunia, her first grandchild, was born. Unfortunately, neither of the two were able to be there when both of Iris's daughters had postpartum depression. Both were confused about why their babies hated them and both felt guilt for fearing their infant sons. They both wished ether Iris or Margaritka were around to give them the comfort they needed, and wondered if their sister was going through this anguish.
However, when Margaritka's third great-grandson, Collin was born. His mother went through a period of postpartum depression. Zinnia was able to endure it through the wisdom of her mother, Tulip passed on through Margaritka's experience.
The first year caused a lot of changes in the Ossipov. Konstantin and Margaritka became bonded in taking care of their daughter. Margaritka was no longer as afraid of him though she did remain infer to him until his death, even Lily and Petunia witness the inequality of their marriage. Margaritka started to feel less like his servant and more like his wife. Konstantin began to see her as the mother of his child.
When May hit, a routine started. She was allowed to breast feed at the table as he read the paper. He would kiss both of them good bye, leaving Margaritka alone with the baby. A time she enjoyed very much, Iris was a happy baby and always laughing. Margaritka would hold her as she cleaned the room they rented, and laughed as Margaritka did the laundry. Margaritka then packed Konstantin lunch. She put Iris in a carriage and white lace bonnet to walk to the mille.
Konstantin would enjoy those visits very much. Even though he didn't have much to say to Margaritka, he appreciated the effort and seeing his daughter. It made the day of hard work much easier.
It was one night in August of the next year when Konstantin didn't return home. Margaritka became worried because it was late in the evening and a thunderstorm was taking place, causing the streets to flood.
Iris also had an ear infection, Konstantin said he pick up the medicine for her from the Apothecary that the owner of the mill hired to provide for the mill families. He was always home by five and it was seven but he still wasn't home. The food was cold, and she moved on to bathing Iris in the sink. The girl plugged her ears, screaming in pain of an ear infection.
Margaritka was trying to calm Iris as she placed her in a warm night gown and drying her red curls with a towel. Nothing could get rid of the ring in her ear, as the girl put on the light cloth gown around her. She heard the door open; she turned to see Konstantin behind her. He walked in dripping water with a frozen expression on his face; he looked scared and disappointed at the same time. Without saying a word, he sat at the table and placed the bottle of ear drops on it. Margaritka instantly grabbed them and squeezed a dropper. She forced Iris to hold still as she inserted the dropper in her ear. Iris shook at the shock but calmed when her mother put the eyeless bunny in her crib.
Margaritka came back out to the kitchen to see Konstantin sitting silently with his hands folded. She knew something was wrong; she wanted to express her frustrations at having to put up with their temperamental toddler, and her anger with him being late. She then wanted to ask why he was late, and what was causing this strange behavior. What was bothering him? It struck her curiosity, wanting to know if she could help. But, being raised that it wasn't her place to start a conversation, she just went to the stove to heat his dinner.
Konstantin sat at the table not saying anything to her, embarrassed to even look at her. Margaritka placed a plate of chicken kevi, which she got from the market at a very low price. She was able to get him to eat the meals she learned to cook for the servants of his estate.
Margaritka stared at her husband and spoke up, "Like the meal, I got the lemon and herbs from the market at a good price."
"Get some, and eat," Konstantin suggested. He knew it was customary for the servants to wait until after they were done to eat, Margaritka had done that so far, she would sometimes nurse Iris while he ate. She wasn't his servant anymore, and he needed a wife for a time like this. They ate silently. He was silent for the whole evening, even when they tucked Iris to bed and did her mending while listening to the radio. He didn't even read the paper when she sat at his chair.
"The mill is not doing well," Konstantin spoke as Margaritka came to bed after she emptied the basins. He was still awake, not waiting for her with the longing in his eyes, but more of a forceful wake.
"They had to make cuts, I lost my job today." Konstantin said, shamefully. He never thought he be so ashamed in front of Margaritka, but he was, he was embarrassed that he couldn't hold onto a simple mill job to support their daughter. "Tomorrow, I am going to the immigration office to speak with Mr. Thomas."
Margaritka nodded, Mr. Thomas would be the one to understand being an immigrant to Great Britain, himself. He was an American from a place called Arkansas and understood oppression. He outwardly spoke of the opportunities of Britain. Mr. Thomas went out of his way in making sure it was known they were in England for asylum from the Revolution. Konstantin never told Margaritka this, but he prevented her from being deported. She wasn't in danger back in Russia, being a girl from the lower class, and Konstantin wasn't paying her, so she was unemployed in the eyes of the government. She also didn't have time to assimilate due to Konstantin keeping her busy. They didn't take into account at that time Konstantin was letting her live with him and paying for her meals in exchange for her to serve him.
Margaritka nodded, she trusted Konstantin's word. She was scared of what was going to happen next, as much as they missed Russia, they had both accepted that it no longer existed as an option. This new land called the Solvent Union was not in the same place, especially with this new leader Joseph Stalin. Now also, Iris was a factor, she was a citizen of Great Britain. England was their safe harbor, Iris was now their anchor. As long as they were her parents, they wouldn't be forced out.
The next morning, Margaritka got up early to iron Konstantin's suit. He dressed up nicely for his meeting with Mr. Thomas. He went to the immigration office to meet with Mr. Thomas, who was already well aware of the situation Konstantin was in.
Moses Thomas had a smooth nature man, he walked in wearing a gray suit with a yellow tie and a bowin hat. He always had Jazz and blues records in his office. He was tall and muscular with thick black skin and a strange English, that Konstantin had to repeat to understand. He told Konstantin about his journey to England. He was born in a place called Arkansas. An unkind land, with opportunity limited due to his skin color. Jim Crow oppressed his people as feudalism oppressed the Russians. His father worked for the same family that had owned his father. He came to Europe during the Great War and befriended the white people from England and France more than the people from his own country. The officers gave him more responsibilities and opportunities. After the war was over, he stayed in England and was able to save enough to bring his wife and children over. He didn't know Konstantin was a Count, he let Mr. Thomas think of him as an unusually well educated surf.
"I think I found a place," Mr. Thomas explained. "A place called Castletown, it's a village in the Isle of Portland that is looking for dockworkers. Do you have any ship experiences?"
My uncle owned a yacht, and I was invited to parties on the yacht of the Tsars family, Konstantin thought. He then thought of a reasonable excuse, "At the school I went to, I took classes on ship designing and how to command war fleets. I was also popular among the ship worker unions."
"Good," Mr. Thomas said, unsure. "I will give you a recommendation. You will like this place; it has lots of fresh air and space."
"Thank you," Konstantin said gratefully.
Konstantin came home that night in a much better mood. He had hope in him this time. However, there were things about Margaritka he didn't know that he needed in order to provide a comfortable living environment for his child.
"Do you know how to read?" Konstantin just blurted after dinner that evening. It was something he had somewhat wondered, it felt awkward because he never brought something as personal as the past with her because he still, to some degree, thought of her as a servant. He was taught not to engage in conversations about that sort of thing.
"What language?" Margaritka asked, surprised. He had never asked a question about her wellbeing, except when she was carrying his child. She knew he didn't think she was smart, she had learned that at their wedding night.
"Russian, of course," Konstantin answered.
"That is all I know, I can write too," she responded. "But no reading and writing beyond that. Just enough to get by and to write the list the head chief gave me for the market."
"Oh," He responded with other questions in his mind. "How did you learn?" Konstantin didn't know much about managing a household, after all that was what any good noble women lived for. He knew out of good charity, his mother like most rich ladies bought children off the street and let them work off their debt in their household and gain marketable skills. He also knew from once looking at his mother's books out of idle curiosity that any money his family would have spent on Margaritka such as food, clothes, medicine, and if she broken anything would be held in dept.
"Your mother assigned me to work in the house to her old governess, remember?"
"Yes," Konstantin remembered, "Ayna, was her name."
"In the winter and summer when the family left to attended business in St. Petersburg and sometimes travel abroad," Margaritka continued cautiously. "Us lower staff were ordered to keep the mansion in your parents' abstinence.".
"You did?" Konstantin was never aware of this information. He always hired another set of maids to keep his mistress satisfied. He would take her to his manor home, he wondered for a moment if Margaritka waited on them during his stay
"Yes," Margaritka explained, "I did many jobs for them."
"Name some?" Konstantin said, curious. "How did that lead to your schooling?"
"In the winter of 1911, I was the maid to the lady maid. She became housekeeper and replaced me with her niece. I was sent to be the governess maid until a place was open in the palace. She taught me how to read and write during my time there. I was a bit confused at first, I never thought I would have a need to read and write. I was then called to be the drawing room maid. I stole books and practiced," Margaritka said fearfully. "One of your mistresses caught me once, a ballerina I don't remember her name. I feared she was going to turn me in, but she didn't. I don't think it would have mattered; your mother wasn't too fond of her. Why do you wish to know?"
"I am going away, to the isle of Portland," Konstantin finally said, this was strange. He was actually having a conversation with his wife. "They are looking for ships builders."
"Where is that exactly?" Margaritka asked as Konstantin unfolded a map. Iris tried crawling on it until Margaritka pulled her away. The baby was still amused by the sound of moving paper.
Margaritka was never keen on geography, she knew where Russia, or the Solvate Union now, was on a world map, and could take a guess as to England's location. She knew that to get to England they had to pass through Finland, Sweden to a boat in Norway. A map could never portray the long and enduring journey of carrying the jewels in her corset while Konstantin pulled her arm, and making demands from her.
Margaritka had heard of other countries when she was a polar maid at thirteen. She served Count Ivan and his friends in the cigar room. She would light the cigars of the foreigners from various places of the world, and a baron from a place called Japan; strangest man she had ever waited on. The Countess had her wait on Konstantin's mistresses, one being from a place called Argentina, another strange girl, and another from Turkey.
She had only seen a globe a hand full of times in her life, and then it was to clean, not use. She wasn't educated, that was something Margaritka admitted to herself.
"It's right here," Konstantin pointed to a map as Margaritka stared at it. "If I don't get the job, I will come back and keep looking," Konstantin explained as they sat on their bed with Iris trying to get to the map. "If I do, I am going to save for a house and send for you. I want you to send back word about our daughter, and address both your needs."
They stared at each other for a minute, Konstantin could smell Margaritka's hard skin, and a glow was in her smooth red hair and blue eyes. Margaritka could smell his musk skin and was drawn to his beard. They both wondered if there was more of a connection then this soft living, beautiful soul between them, one they had created.
The trance was interrupted when Iris ripped the map and laughed as her drool dropped on the pieces along with her wet pacifier. Margaritka put a cloth over her shoulder and placed Iris on against it and left to put her to bed.
"I left you money, if Iris needs anything. I have a list of numbers and names next to them," Konstantin explained the next morning as Margaritka came in with a suit and tie. "I will send word when it's time. I took the liberty of packing the valuables we have and be sure to take all we need. I will send money for food and clothes. Send word of Iris."
"Send word," Margaritka repeated as she finished packing for Konstantin. She made breakfast for him and fed the baby. They went to the deck together; Konstantin kissed his daughter and his wife before going to the ship. He watched them as he pulled away feeling this emptiness.
Margaritka went to the library to find out more of this Castle Town. One librarian took her while the other watched over Iris and read to her. The librarian was very confused with her as there were three in England, one in the Isle of Man, seven in Ireland, one in Scotland. She then got a letter a week later from Konstantin.
"A place called Dorset."
"Dorset," the librarian said as she flipped through the atlas while the other librarian watched over Iris.
The librarian took out a map, "It's right here, in Southwest England, along the English channel." She flipped the atlas to get a closer look at Dorset.
"He got a job at a village called Castle Town, tiny island in the English channel. He found a house in a place called Chriswell. It has three bedrooms. He is saving enough for a down payment." Margaritka returned a couple months letter as she done faithfully with every letter, it was a course for them. Every week Konstantin sent an update along with money. Margaritka read to Iris and the next day she used the money for groceries and occasionally new clothes. The baby had grown so fast. She took the letter to the library asking about the area he had looked at for a house, and while the librarian read the letter, she would write back to Konstantin using their ink, and let them mail it for her since she didn't know how to address an envelope.
Konstantin achieved much in his few short months in Castle Town, he was able to get a job, and became well acquainted with his boss. The last thing he wanted was to shove Iris and her mother in a tiny room again, so he sent Margaritka the money she needed to get by and saved up to open a bank account. He was able to form a relationship of trust with the banker. He got a loan and found a house in Chriswell, a small community, and there was a school in walking distance and very little traffic. The house had a broken down fence which he learned how to repair easily enough. He needed his wife to do most of the work; but didn't want Iris playing in a damaged yard. He fixed the windows and the door and finally sent for his family. It was still unfurnished, but he didn't care, he wanted his daughter. The house had a roomy kitchen with a window to look out to the yard which was attached to a dining room, a polar, and three bedrooms upstairs. He got a bed for Iris and one for him and his wife as well.
"Chriswell is close by," The librarian explained, returning to the maps. "Looks like you and Iris will be near the ocean."'
"Thank you very much," Margaritka responded, taking the letter. She smiled, being the last time to visit these women.
Konstantin sent the two tickets to Margaritka with a very detailed letter about the time the ship is leaving and where she is to meet him. First, she packed for Iris, her clothes, blankets and toys in one carpet suitcase. The only thing she left out was the doll Margaritka had sewn for Iris, the one her daughter never slept without. She packed another bag containing dippers and powder. She bathed Iris and planned to pack her bedding in the morning. She went back and made sure the treasures of the Egg, the ring, and the locket were wrapped in extra clothes knowing, the value is held for the Osspov family. She then packed her sewing needles, threads and yarn with her clothes. She placed Iris's toys, and cradle in a box to mail to Konstantin along with his clothes like he had requested. She wasn't surprise to see Konstantin waiting for her and Iris when they came to shore, this was a much different voyage, more hopeful.
Margaritka came to love her life in England. It was much more prosperous then it ever would have been in Imperial Russia, or the Solvent Union for that matter. She didn't have to spend hours in the dark waiting on people who treated her like scum. She was free to be a devoted wife and mother. There was always enough food on the table, a warm bed to sleep and sense of hope for her daughter. She knew Iris had more opportunities then she would have had otherwise.
When Iris was two and a half, her parents became citizens of Great Britain. She was held by her father as they took the oath, Margaritka's was too round to hold Iris while standing. Two months later, that April, Margaritka gave birth to another baby girl; Konstantin named her Tulip Katarina Ossipov. 'Tulip' because of the bouquet Iris had picked out for her mother while she was in labor with the new addition. Katrina because of the mousey brown hair, and round face, it reminded Konstantin of his mother, with the exception of Margaritka's blue eyes. The family was very complete and Margaritka was happier than she ever thought she would be.
August 31st, 1931
"What was the first day of school like for you Mummy?" Iris asked as her mother braided her red hair while the girl sat in her newly ironed dressed. Iris knew this day would come. Now that it was here, she didn't know if should laugh or cry.
"Very different," Margaritka responded, unsure if she answer that question. That seemed to be the response for everything to Iris and Tulip when they asked about their mother's childhood. Neither of them ever figured out the whole truth but, they did well at putting pieces together. The sisters later explained to their children about their mother was being hardened by forced labor at a young age, she never really had a childhood.
"I want to go," Tulip, who was four, demanded, watching her older sister get ready for school. Margaritka found herself grateful for that little tantrum even those she never encourage that behavior, it was a distraction.
"No, no, you're too young." Iris explained to her sister.
"But I want to learn too," Tulip cried as Margaritka finished.
"You will go when you are older; right now we must walk your sister." Margaritka explained.
"Daddy!" Tulip cried as Konstantin came out ready for work.
"You and Mummy can go to the library on your way home, and get a book for me to read," Konstantin suggested as he came out dressed in a suit and tie. "Right now, you are too little."
Pouting, Tulip stood there as Margaritka packed her daughter cabbage pie and kevi, and packed Konstantin the same thing only in bigger portion. Margaritka was nervous, she had never gone to school herself, and wondered if Iris would blend in with her peers. Konstantin read to the girls in English, but it was a Russian speaking household. She also took the girls to story time, when they asked, Margaritka just said Konstantin could read better or she would make up something with the pictures. She still couldn't read English, and didn't have time to learn anyway.
"Iris, what do you say to the teacher?" Konstantin asked.
"Good morning miss, it is a pleasure to meet you," Iris recited.
"Good girl," He kissed her on the cheek and left for work. Margaritka then made her daughters breakfast and cleaned up the kitchen. Soon Iris got her new bag, and new pencil. They left for school.
Iris paused for a minute, listening to the children play with one another. She paused for a brief minute, as a cloud of fear came over her. "Iris, it's time to go." Margaritka urged her daughter.
"I won't understand what they say," Iris said scared. "No one will understand me."
"A body can talk," Her assured her. "Eyes speak many words, and a smile is a smile in any language. You will go, you will look, listen and learn."
They approached the children playing, Iris felt hot and frozen at the same time, she was afraid but not enough to cry. She turned to hug her mother, kiss her sister then quickly disappeared. Tulip attempted to go with her older sister, but Margaritka held her hand tight, letting Iris enter the world blocked to her mother. Margaritka stood nervously letting her daughter go and join the other children. She had to let go.
"Hello, my name is Iris, I'm very happy to meet you," Iris recited when she bumped into the first girl her age and size with the exception of dark, black hair.
"Imsindee," the girl shook her hand. Imsindee led her to a group of other girls who were in the school yard playing jump rope. She saw two other girls saying a erythematic English as she approached them when a whistle blew causing the other children to form a line. Iris figured if that's what the others were doing, that's what she should be doing too.
The headmaster came out and did his inspection. Iris was worried she was doing something wrong when her pink lips puckered as her cheeks became rosy as the large man checked the older girls skirts, and made sure each child had stockings up to their knees. Each saying 'here' as here as a name was spoken. Finally he said 'Iris Ossipov' Iris raised her hand, assuming that was she was supposed to do. They then started getting into straight lines, boys and girls lining up with certain teachers. Imasidnee pulled Iris's arm to the line with the youngest girls.
The teacher led them into a room with other children a couple years older than her, putting Iris up front. The man then started explaining the rules, she listened, she knew these words but didn't know what they meant. They were just sounds to her. The woman explained she was to be called Maz-tanar, then on the board there where strange objects on the board that looked like sticks, humps, and moons. Maz-tanar then went to the older group of students and gave them their lessons. She went to their group and said something that caused all the children to open their blank paper books. Iris went to Imasidnee and noticed she was coping the strange shapes above the black board. Iris started to copy.
Miss Tanner went through and wrote down the names of each child on their book for them to copy. She first came across two girls in the third row, one with black hair and rosy white cheeks. "What is your name?"
"Cindy Richards," The girl answered, Miss Tanner wrote it down. She then went to the red head girl and said, "What is your name?" the girl ignored her and continued writing. "Excuse me girl, do you mind giving me your name?" Cindy tapped on the red head's shoulder, forcing her to look up. Miss Tanner was unaware that the girl didn't know she was speaking to her. "Tell me your name miss, so I can write it down for you to copy."
The girl's dark brown eyes and pale face were blank. She just stared.
Miss Tanner then appeared her work and saw these god-awful shapes; they could not possibly be representing the letters. Miss Tanner snatched the paper and crinkled it, it was clear she wasn't even trying.
In an instant Iris looked up, unaware of the teacher's presence, she started speaking in Russian, asking Miss Tanner what she had done wrong. Miss Tanner, not knowing the strange language, figured she was the child with the unordinary last name. She wrote Iris, and continued through the class, noticing the red-head girl staring at her confused.
When recess came, Iris just followed Sidney, meeting other girls named Megan, Tilly and Suzhan. She stuck close to them but that didn't stop the Kimber siblings from seeing her.
The Kimbers where a family that have been living in Dorset for centuries, and had been building ships for the town for the last four generations. They were angry that Iris's father had been promoted over their father. They didn't bother her that day, but they ended up being a terror to Iris and her siblings during their following school years. They would rip her dress, mock the foods she brought, one time the oldest threw her in the ocean and told her to swim back to Stalin.
Miss. Tanner went to the head master to get Iris removed from her class. There was no way she could teach her. An older teacher, Mrs. Hatcher suggested after school lessons, she was a widow to a military officer and taught children all over the British Empire how to speak, read, and write English and picked up on their languages as well. Surely, this Russian speaking girl would be no problem. Miss Tanner reminded Mrs. Hatcher that Iris will be her problem in two years. Mr. Ellsworth suggested speaking with the mother when she came to pick her up about Mrs. Hatcher's suggestion.
When Margaritka came with Tulip, Iris was in tears from the stress of the day. Mr. Ellsworth planned to speak with her, but Miss Tanner approached first, ready to explain the importance of speaking to Iris in English at home. Margaritka knew what the teacher was talking about, but she didn't like it. Her daughter was upset and all this teacher could talk about was they were speaking to her wrong. The superiority with which Miss Tanner approached her, made Margaritka was enough, but the red marks on her daughter's hands from Miss Tanner's ruler just made her angrier and her daughter upset that a boy called her a 'dummy' even those she didn't know what it meant. By the time Mr. Ellsworth came into the situation, Margaritka was already too angry and just took Iris home.
"What right does she have telling us how to speak to our children?" Konstantin said enraged by what Margaritka reported as he read Mr. Ellsworth's note. Margaritka served him hot schi and beef with sauerkraut. Margaritka nodded agreeing, that twenty-something woman may be educated, but she knew her daughter.
"We both are Russian, we speak Russian." She said, agreeing with her husband.
"But we aren't Russian," Iris said. "We are British."
"Russian blood, British citizenry, you have two empires, you stand out already," Konstantin reminded Iris. Mr. Ellsworth had suggested after school tutoring but Konstantin wanted to meet with the tutor first, he knew who to reach out too. Konstantin was also lost in dealing with this situation; he was privately tutored in five languages, knew each classic by line, and could figure out any math problem. He would be unable to provide the same education for his children. His training with the Page Crops helped him in gaining the promotion in town and he hoped to have a son to lead towards a military career, he was a smart child. His daughters' futures however, would be that of an everyday English wife and mother.
The next day, Margaritka forced Iris to go to school, she only agreed because Konstantin said he would pick her up. He had a few words for Miss Tanner. Konstantin was going to make sure the school knew their family wasn't of peasantry.
Mr. Ellsworth and Mrs. Hatcher took that chance to speak with Mrs. Ossipov. Mr. Ellsworth pulled her into Miss Tanner's classroom and was oblivious to Margaritka's eyes wondering around the room. This was the first time she ever been inside a school.
Mr. Ellsworth explained that they were a very accepting school and wanted Iris to succeed. He gave her books to help her learn English and suggesting she read them to her. That was when Mrs. Hatcher offered to come to the house and give Iris extra tutoring on Saturdays. Margaritka first comprehended what they were saying and tried to translate her thoughts and concerns as Tulip started flipping through the pictures. Mrs. Hatcher couldn't help but notice the woman take them from her younger daughter, stare at the titles and put them back. She also made no reference to the note Mrs. Tanner sent home, except saying it angered her husband.
"Are you willing to do this?" Mr. Ellsworth asked.
"I will help my daughter," Margaritka nodded. "And help this one learn before come to school."
"That would be much appreciated," Mr. Ellsworth said as she nodded, not knowing the meaning of the word 'appreciated.' After, he suggested that she get a library card so the younger daughter would have the advantage when she started school and Iris would have access to books on holidays.
Mrs. Hatcher interrupted and casually asked, "Mrs. Ossipov, I am not so proficient with names, out of curiosity, does Ossipov have two g's or one?" Margaritka thought of it for awhile, not knowing what a 'g' looked like or meant. She had seen the name Ossipov written in the Latin alphabet before but couldn't name the letters that formed the name.
"Two" Margaritka answered. It was better to have too much then not enough.
"Thank you for answering my question," Mrs. Hatcher nodded and led Mrs. Ossipov outside.
"You're bloody brilliant," Mr. Ellsworth had to say to the teacher.
"Mrs. Tanner may have more on her plate with this girl then we thought," Mrs. Hatcher commented. They were both unprepared for the father.
"Who are you and what right do you have to tell us how to speak to our daughter?" Konstantin attacked after Miss. Tanner started to speak to him in the same intellectually superior way that made her dominate the conversation with the Margaritka.
"I can't teach her the English language, and teach all the other students at the same time." Miss Tanner explained.
"Iris isn't all the other students, she's our daughter," Konstantin remained. "And I expect you to teach her along with the others."
"Iris isn't all the other students, she's our daughter," Konstantin remained. "And I expect you to teach her along with the others."
"How am I to teach her anything when she doesn't understand a word coming out of my mouth?" Miss Tanner asked.
"That's your job to educate our daughter," Konstantin said firmly as Margaritka remained behind him not staying a word.
Miss Tanner murmured nervously, "How about you teach her English at home?"
"Are you comfortable with speaking to her in English?" Konstantin asked Margaritka in Russian. Margaritka shook her head, no, she wanted to have an in-depth relationship with her daughter, and they couldn't do that when they didn't speak the same language. She was not comfortable explaining things to her children in English.
"Listen lady, I work at the ship docks to supervise the ships that bring good money into this town and pay the taxes," Konstantin said harshly. "As a result I expect you to provide her with a good education. I also speak for my household and that will be in the language that I chose." Konstantin did plan to ask his daughters to recite to him in English, but he wasn't going to let this dimwitted teacher know that.
"It's going to be hard for her to learn a new language on top of learning with the rest of the students, she will be behind."
"Impossible," Konstantin barked. "When I was her age, my tutor taught me three languages on top of teaching me how to read, and write. Along with advance math and learning some business." It was at that point Mr. Ellsworth walked in.
"Hello, I am the head master, and I am willing to listen to your concerns," The man started.
"Why don't you hire more qualified teachers?" Konstantin asked right in front of Miss Tanner.
"Mrs. Hatcher!" Mr. Ellsworth called as the woman came in.
"Mrs. Hatcher," Mrs. Ossipov recognized her.
"This is Mr. Ossipov, Iris's father," Mr. Ellsworth spoke.
"This is the teacher I told you about," Margaritka said in Russian.
"The one who tried to put gs in the grand family name of Osspuvo?" Konstantin asked critically. "She has most likely never even heard of Chekov."
"The one who wants to teach Iris," Margaritka explained shyly.
"Did you ask her credentials? Has she taught children English before?" Konstantin quizzed his wife, as she went silent, she hadn't thought to ask that question. She didn't even know what credentials meant.
"I have taught children English in India, China, Egypt, Burma, South Africa, Turkey and Congo, I think that's enough in terms of credentials," Mrs. Hatcher said as the couple gazed at her, shocked.
"Enough said," Konstantin nodded; the woman now had his trust. "What can you do to tutor Iris?"
That Saturday, Mrs. Hatcher met with Iris at a library with Miss Allen. She set up a secret agenda for teaching her mother as well. She respected the fact that Margaritka knew more of Iris than she did. The first thing Iris found was a picture book on flowers. The librarian was able to pull up more, including some gardening picture books for her mother to learn how to read. It was then that Margaritka figured out her English name, Daisy. Mrs. Hatcher took the pictures and would say them to Iris in English along with the written English words.
It was through gardening that Iris was able to grow in English. Miss Tanner's solution to solving Iris's language problem was banning Iris from speaking Russian. Anytime Miss Tanner heard Iris mumbling to herself in that nonsense, she got in trouble for bad-mouthing her. The only thing she did was set up a predictable routine which Iris caught onto. Iris then would go and play with the other children, and pick up on their chatter and them saying words that were linked to the objects they had. She was able to understand the classroom items, the food and clothing the same way. She put the pictures on a word wall which Iris recited each day.
Cindy, and Megan would play with her, they took her out to pick wild flowers. Iris had learned the names from her friends and became curious about the different types. Being around the girls was how she picked up on the colors and the syntax of the English language. She clicked with Mrs. Hatcher's reciting, not only knowing English vocabulary but the order to say them.
Only one girl, Rachel Kimbers, would get upset when Iris repeated after her and often said the wrong thing when asking a question, "You're that stupid, you can't think of anything on your own?" she would say. "You've got to repeat after us because you can't speak," she would then push Iris down, and laugh at her. Iris tried to fight back, but couldn't find the words to do so. "Don't speak to me like that, at least my parents are true Brits," Rachel would sneer.
"So am I," Iris would murmur, Rachel would just laugh. Miss. Tanner would not even turn her head, even the time Rachel's brothers ripped her skirt. Cindy and Megan had helped Iris to avoid them; she learned to have a conversion in English but still couldn't understand what Mrs. Tanner was saying to her. Sometimes she picked up on the routine, she would notice the phases and actions, other times she would learn through picking up on to certain objects that would pointed to during lessons.
It was through Mrs. Hatcher and gardening that she learned many outdoors words such as: soil, seed, dig, water, sun, roots, plant and blossoms. Mrs. Hatcher would make Iris follow along as she read articles on Iris's obsession of gardening. Mrs. Hatcher would ask her questions in English, allowing Iris to respond. She would also bring games with her and her sister to identify English words. She would also teach Iris how to sort words using English adjectives. There were even days she let Iris teach her.
Slowly, like departing clouds things became more clearer for Iris. The sticks and circles became letters, the sputters and coughs became words. Miz-tahnar became Miss Tanner, Mystar Lalswolf became Mr. Ellsworth. Mehan became Megan, imseendy became Cindy, Suzhan became Suzan, Waisha became Rachel, Kista became Kristan, Ahbe became Albert, Patick became Patrick. .
Iris had to endure Miss. Tanner's class for two years. She then had Mrs. Hatcher, who took the time to make sure Iris understood. She would let the students preview Iris's work and give Iris a chance to read and make sure she asked her peers questions related to the reading in simpler forms of English. She would also have partner work activities to make sure Iris was with her friends. Mrs. Hatcher was able to help Iris become proficient in English, and learn the Academic form of English through her regular classroom lessons.
Margaritka picked up on reading quickly, Konstantin labeled things in English throughout the house and Margaritka kept the labels in place while Iris was at school and sometimes borrowed her daughter's books when she went to a friend's house or was sleeping. Slowly, she became able to connect words, she secretly told the librarian, Miss. Allen, that she couldn't read. Miss Allen began giving her lessons twice a week, one dedicated to reading the other for writing. Miss Allen was even able to order bilingual books in Russian.
Miss Allen sat in the back, far from any adult's eyes, and opened a children's book with Margaritka. For two years Margaritka learned slowly. The friendship she formed with Miss Allen lasted until Miss Allen's death; she was the one who gave Margaritka the gift of a diary the woman ended up writing for her granddaughter.
The same year that Iris started Miss Hatcher's class, and Tulip's last year being at home every day, another surprise which was the end of Margaritka's English lessons with Iris. She had another child, this time a boy, who Konstantin named after his father, Count Ivan Oppusvo of Konstroma. He named him Ivan Konstantinov Ossipov. Even those he adored his two daughters, he was very proud to finally have a son and made extensive plans for him.
The girls thought he was a cute boy and adored him. He was a fussy baby, refusing to sleep, and taking forever to nurse. Margaritka was glad to have given Konstantin a son to pass on his name. With her husband's permission, she went back on birth control. Three children were more than enough for her to handle. She was happy with all that she had gained in England, she never thought she would be so lucky. She was glad her three unique children had a warm bed to sleep every night and played more than they had chores to do. She claimed herself English, for it was in this land that she had found such blessings. Her life was more complete then she would have ever thought it could be.
Iris was officially bilingual at Ivan's first birthday; she could speak, understand, read and write in both Russian and English. Iris no longer needed tutoring and she passed Mrs. Hatcher's class. Mrs. Hatcher moved onto Tulip, who was fluent through her sister but not bilingual.
That summer, Cindy, Iris's only friend, moved away. She had always considered her Megan's friend, but she hadn't been invited her to a birthday party. Megan said it was because the Kimmer girls were going to be there but Iris didn't buy it or forgive her. She had a hard time making friends, the difficulty she had while learning English made her an outcast.
1934 was a hard year for Iris. She wasn't the prettiest girl; she had thick auburn hair, and bushy eyebrows with a round face and thick glasses. To make matters worse, Iris's teeth grew in crooked and she needed braces which was a helmet wired to her mouth. She was always made fun of for everything. The pretty girls would sit off to the side eating their sandwiches while Iris had lunches such as pickled cabbage and beet stew. The girls were all excited about celebrating Christmas on the twenty-fifth of December. Her father made them wait until January sixth.
Miss Cole was now her teacher. She didn't think Iris had yet adapted to the English language, she had problems with the social aspect of the language as well as expressing herself. Miss Cole focused mainly on writing with all of her students, she tried to build vocabulary through holding dramatizations in class, but it never worked too well, for Iris was much too shy. Iris was willing to write the scripts but others acted out the stories, she still read out loud but no more than that.
Miss Cole held writing workshops which was the only time Miss Cole could see Iris's progress. On the first day of school she explained that she had planned to teach the students a proper way to write a letter. She had no problem writing in a group setting and responding to the guided readings. Miss Cole though, was lost in how to build oral communication skills or improve her listening skills for Iris.
"We are going to start working on writing letters," Miss Cole started one day. "You will be paired with a pen pal at an orphanage in London, it is run by my mother," Miss Cole explained as Iris beamed. She would be writing to a girl, who knew nothing about her. This would be a chance to make a friend. "Now, I expect you to be respectful, these children don't have any parents, or much of anything for that matter. Ask questions, but not about how they became orphans. From what mother tells me, they look forward to receiving word from you."
Iris saw this as her chance, a lonely girl, like her, wanting a friend. Iris would gladly be a friend, even it was through letters, at least it was someone her age to befriend. She went home that night, wondering about what to write to the girl at orphanage, she even started on a letter that night, telling this mystery girl who she didn't even know yet about her family, her overbearing father, protective mother, and annoying younger siblings. She went in detail about gardening, discussing some of her favorite flowers, and even hid a petunia seed in the backpack to her in case she was lonely. She thought of questions to ask, like her favorite hobbies and her favorite colors.
"Be respectful, don't ask about parents," Margaritka said, as her daughter talked about some orphan girl that Iris knew nothing about. She had sheltered her daughter. She knew nothing about this child Miss Cole is going to have her write her too. Whether his or her parents had died, or had abandoned her, she would never know what it means to be on her own when she's too young to take care of herself. Margaritka kept the promise she made at Iris's birth, there was never a time in her life she was on her own. She always had the comfort of her parents, husband, and children.
When Margaritka was Iris's age, she had already been on her own for two years. She knew how to complete a day of chores without getting beaten. She understood the meaning of hunger, and how it could be used as a punishment. A wooden cane being slashed against her back wasn't unfamiliar to her.
Margaritka was glad her children grew up having more play then chores, swallowed more coca-cola then hopelessness. They will never know the meaning of oppression and desperation. They had their choices before them and would never be anyone's shadow.
"Don't worry, Ma, I won't," Iris said as she finished her porridge and went to clean up. "Come on Tulip, time to go to school."
"But Ma hasn't put in my bow." Tulip said.
"I'll give you a head start," Iris said as she grabbed her bag.
"Iris, wait for your sister," Margaritka scolded as she went to do fix Tulip's bow. "And Ivan, eat your food, don't play with it."
"I don't like it," The boy whined.
"You are not moving until that bowl is empty," Margaritka informed. Ivan then took the bowl and emptied it on the floor.
"Oh, good lord help me," Margaritka declared in Russian. "You two help me clean up."
"But, Ma, we're going to be late." Iris said.
"What do you need to be there so early for?" Margaritka asked.
"Today, Miss Cole is going to let us pick orphans to write to," Iris answered.
"Chto budet budet…What will be, will be," Margaritka reminded as she handed her two daughters rags and they helped clean up Ivan's mess. "The world will never run out of orphans who need company."
"Don't forget your lunches," Margaritka said as she started cleaning the mess off her son, causing Iris to come back in and grab her small snack along with Tulip following her. Half way to school, Tulip tripped over a rock and got her dress dirty. Iris helped her up and tried to get rid of the sand stain.
"We have to go back," Tulip said.
"You'll be fine."
"No, it's ruined, we have to go back." Tulip whined.
"You'll be fine," Iris pulled her sister to the school and dropped her off in Mrs. Hacher's care then rushed to Miss Cole's room.
Iris was the last of Miss Cole's pupils who made it to class. She came running in as everyone was in the middle of their letters, "Iris, you're late," Miss Cole commented.
"I know I'm sorry but my sister."
"There is no excuse for tardiness
"Show her the switch" Rachel yelled as Megan and Tilly laughed.
"That's enough," Miss Cole calmed the class. "Everyone else picked a name out of the bowl, and there is one left. He's a boy around your age." Miss Cole explained.
"Can I have a girl, I really wanted a-"
"Boy orphans are just as lonely as girl orphans," Miss Cole scolded. Iris didn't mention her letter was already written to a girl that she imagined as her best friend for life.
"Sorry, Miss Cole," Iris recited.
"Very good," Miss Cole said. "Now, the orphan you will be writing to," Miss Cole handed the last slip of paper. Iris went to her seat, she was hoping to have someone she could share her secrets with and would be her friend for life. Now, she wasn't sure if a boy would understand.
She sat down and unfolded the paper, reading the name. "Harry Evans."