- Part one
- "We have to do something, David,"
Deirdre Clement said to her husband as the door closed behind
her brother Rory. In the ten months since Rachel's death, Rory
had sunk farther and farther into a dark depression, his only
joy in life seeming to come from his son, Shane.
"What would you have us do, Deirdre?" David asked,
watching out the window as Rory Manion mounted his horse and
rode away. "We can't force him to do what he doesn't want
to do, my dear."
"He's not still- seeing Maureen O'Brien, is he?"
"I haven't considered it my business to inquire," David
said. "Deirdre, my love, Rory's a grown man. He can take
care of himself, you know."
"No. He's- different since Rachel's death. Distant, and
he so seldom smiles. It seems the only thing that gives him any
pleasure at all in life is his son."
David silently admitted that Rory did indeed love his son. There
could be no doubt of that fact. He had insisted that once they
were married, David bring Deirdre and Benjamin to live at Kent
House, where Deirdre could help take care of her nephew. Deirdre
had been entirely in favor of that, since it had prevented Maureen
from convincing Rory to let HER take care of Shane for him.
The door opened, and Benjamin entered the room.
"Patricia asked me to tell you that Shane is awake, Mother,"
"I'd best go him, then," Deirdre announced and left
As Benjamin turned to leave, David called out, "Benjamin,
wait." The boy stopped, and turned to look at him. "I
believe I promised to take you riding today, didn't I?"
David thought he saw a glimmer of surprise that he had remembered
that promise. "Yes, sir." The voice was cautious, uncertain.
To David, it was yet another indication of the lad's confusion,
of his distrust of this stranger who had seemingly usurped Caleb
Staunton's family. "Well, then, why don't we do that now?"
David suggested. "We might even stop by the mill. Would
you like that?"
"Good. Now why don't you go change into something suitable
for riding while I have some horses saddled for us?"
Rory Manion dismounted his horse, glancing once more at the note
in his hand. The glade was isolated, a fact for which he was
grateful. He had so far managed to avoid this encounter, making
sure he and Maureen were not alone at any time. Even though she
had left him various notes, and pleaded with her dark eyes, he
had resisted the temptation she offered.
What he had to do now was painful- it stirred memories best left
forgotten. But it had to be done. He turned toward the small
shack that lay to one side of the clearing and entered it, only
to find himself set upon by a small whirlwind of dark hair and
"I was afraid you wouldn't come," Maureen told him
once he pulled away.
"I shouldn't have. And you shouldn't be setting up meetings
like this. Your reputation-"
"My reputation is already in shreds, Rory Manion. It has
been ever since that night--"
"And I'll thank you not to mention that night, if you don't
mind." He stopped her from sliding her arms around his chest,
holding her wrists. "Maureen- I can't."
"Of course you can. You loved me. I know you did. Oh, Rory.
I know we can't be married immediately. You have to mourn for
Rory pinned the girl to the wall, his hands on her shoulders.
"I've given you no leave to call me by my given name. And
don't you ever mention my wife again."
"But- that night---"
"And there'll be no marriage between us."
"But I love you," Maureen insisted. "I want to
have your children, to-"
Rory turned away, his fist clenched. How could he have ever felt
himself attracted to such an insensitive child? "My children.
Dear God. Do you not understand, woman?" he asked, whirling
to look at her again. "Every time I look at you, I can't
help but remember what happened as a result of that night. I
almost killed another brother, and I destroyed any chance I had
for happiness with my wife. Because of the guilt I felt for what
we had done, I couldn't turn her away. Every time I look at you,
all I can see is Rachel, dead, our son at her side. That won't
Maureen had shrunk away from him as he had fired the words at
her like a volley of cannon shot. Now, her eyes darkened. "You
ruin my reputation, and now you won't make it right. Damn you,
Rory Manion! Damn you to hell!"
"Which is where I'll no doubt end up, lass," Rory admitted.
"For all of my sins, I deserve no less. But I'll not put
another woman through what I put Rachel through." He pulled
out some money and held it toward her. "There's enough here
for you to leave Philadelphia. Go somewhere else, start over
again. Find a nice young man who can give you the love you deserve."
Maureen tossed the money back into his face. "You think
you can buy me off? Like-like some---No. I won't leave. This
is my home. I don't need your money, Rory Manion."
"Then you'll be needing to find another place to work. There's
no job for you at the mill."
"I'll find a job. That is- if I can get a reference from
the great Rory Manion."
"Have them ask Mr. Clement for a reference, not me."
"You haven't heard the last of me, Rory," Maureen told
him. "God help me, I still love you. And nothing you say
or do is going to change that."
Rory heard the door close behind her and closed his eyes.
He couldn't stay in Philadelphia. Leaving would be
difficult, nearly as difficult as leaving Ireland had been both
times. But now, as then, he had no choice if he wanted to survive.
And survive he must, for the sake of his and Rachel's
There were, of course, times when he thought that Shane would
be better off with Deirdre and David, to not have to ever know
that his father was in any way responsible for his mother's death.
But when he held his son, he saw Rachel's eyes again, and knew
that he could never leave the lad behind.
They would leave Philadelphia and make a new life as father
At the mill, David stood at the window of the office, watching
as Benjamin waited outside, taking in the sights and sounds of
the powder mill. "You haven't seen Rory this morning?"
he asked Jim O'Brien yet again.
"No, sir. I said I hadn't. Probably went for a ride. He's
been doing a lot of that since- since Rachel's death."
"Yes. He has." Benjamin moved a bit closer to the drying
sheds, but he was still out of danger. "How is Maureen these
days? She never seems to be here when I'm here."
O'Brien frowned at the mention of his daughter. While he had
managed to attain an uneasy truce with his old friend Rory, O'Brien
had yet to forgive Maureen for throwing herself at a married
man like a common whore. "I don't have a daughter anymore."
"She's still living in your house, still working here- occasionally,
"I have a tenant who pays me rent for room and board."
"I see." David frowned.
Benjamin wasn't where he had been moments ago. "Excuse me,"
David said to O'Brien, then left the office in search of his
stepson. "Benjamin!" he called, limping toward a group
of men. "Benjamin!" he called again, then saw the boy
near a stack of powder barrels that were sitting along the wood
Before he could move another step, the barrels began to fall,
hurling toward Benjamin. "Good Lord!" David cried out,
leaping toward the child, knowing that he couldn't possibly get
there in time. "Benjamin!"
Rory, still astride his horse, saw the scene at the same moment
David saw it, and kicked the animal in the flanks, passing David,
and reaching down, he grasped the terrified Benjamin seconds
before the barrels would have knocked him down. Turning the horse
back toward the office, he handed Benjamin down to David.
"What was he doing over there?" Rory wanted to know
as he dismounted.
"I was in the office with O'Brien," David answered,
then looked at Benjamin. "Are you all right?"
"I think so." He looked up at Rory. "Thank you,
David saw the gleam of hero worship in the boy's eyes when he
looked at his uncle. "Yes," David agreed belatedly.
"Thank you. I'd better get him back to his mother. Let's
Rory tied his horse and went to supervise the recovery of the
barrels, insuring that this time they wouldn't dislodge.
Jim O'Brien was waiting for him in the office doorway. "The
lad's okay?" he asked.
"Just a bit scared, I think. Might do him some good, though.
Teach him not to go wandering about a powder mill on his own."
"Mr. Clement was here looking for you," Jim said, lighting
his pipe and looking at Rory through the blue smoke. "Said
you'd left the house just before he and the boy did."
"I had a stop to make," Rory explained. "Anything
going on that you can't handle, Jim?"
"Not really." He frowned when Rory's hand found the
doorknob again. "You're going out again?"
Rory paused. "I'm leaving Philadelphia, Jim. There are too
many memories here. This entire place is connected to Rachel.
Everywhere I look, I see her. I need to start over somewhere.
Someplace new, fresh."
"We take our memories with us, Rory," Jim said into
the smoke from his pipe. "They're part of us."
"But I can't live here and have them constantly being tossed
back into my face!" Rory declared.
"Where will go you?"
"I don't know." He eyes held a far off look. "I
never thought I'd have to start all over again. Thought I'd spend
the rest of my life here, with Rachel and our son. I don't know."
Rory opened the door and went through it, leaving Jim to rise
and walk to the window, where he watched his old friend mount
his house and ride away.
Almost a year, Rory thought as he stood beside the grave. It
had been almost a year since his return from Ireland- since he
had lost Rachel. Sinking to his knees, Rory bowed his head, saying
a silent prayer. At last he reached out a hand to the headstone,
tracing the words inscribed there. "Rachel Clement Manion.
"Oh, Rachel," Rory sighed. "How I miss you. Not
a day goes by that I don't think of you." He drew a shuddering
breath before continuing. "But I've come to say goodbye.
Shane and I have to start over again. Build a new life. You'll
always be with me. Always and ever. I'm sorry, Rachel. I'm sorry."
"Rory, come away," a soft voice said, and he didn't
need to look around to recognize Eamon Fleming's voice. "You're
not doing yourself any good like this," the doctor admonished.
"Coming here every day for the last year, crying over her
grave, isn't going to bring her back, old friend."
Rory nodded, rising with reluctance. "I know that, Eamon.
What are you doing here?"
"I was coming back from seeing Mrs. Garrity when I happened
to see you in here." He watched as Rory's blue eyes scanned
the row of Manion graves.
"I'm leaving Philadelphia, Eamon."
"Rory, you can't leave this way," Deirdre insisted.
"Not with Shane. He's still an infant."
- "He's almost a year old,"
Rory pointed out, fastening one of the cases he'd been filling.
- He's too small for you to care for
him on your own." She watched as her brother finished packing
a case. "David, talk some sense into him, please! Make him
David stood nearby, his face a thoughtful mask. "He's right,
Rory and Deirdre both turned to look at him.
"David!" Deirdre said in disbelief.
"And not only that, I think the three of us should go with
"Leave Philadelphia?" Deirdre asked. "Are you
mad? And go where?"
"Colorado. I still my cattle ranch there," he reminded
her. "I've been attending to it via telegrams, but I need
to make sure my orders are being carried out. We could all go."
"West?" Rory questioned.
"And where were you going?" David wanted to know. "Not
back to Ireland. Not with that price on your head and a son to
take care of. Think about it, Rory. A chance to start fresh in
a new place. That's what you're wanting, isn't it? The West is
still wide open, just waiting for people like you to go out there
and make something of it. And Deirdre, it would mean that you'd
be able to continue taking care of Shane. Not to mention that
Benjamin will be much happier out of the city in the open air.
It's a beautiful country out there."
"What about the mill?" Rory asked.
"O'Brien can handle it. He did it while you were gone during
"What if Sean comes back?" Deirdre wanted to know.
"He won't know where to find us."
"O'Brien can tell him where we are," David answered.
"Well? We can take the morning train for St. Louis if you
"Just like that?" Deirdre asked. "Just pack up
"Indeed," Rory agreed, smiling for the first time in
what seemed ages. "Why not? We leave on the train tomorrow
"Tomorrow morning?" Deirdre objected. "Have you
gone completely daft, Rory Manion? How can I possibly get everything
ready in such a short time? There are servants to see to, and
cases to be packed, and the mill-"
David took his wife's hands in his. "You let Rory and me
worry about the mill, my love. Pack what you and the children
will need for the trip, Deirdre. We can get whatever else we
need when we get there," he assured her.
Faced with both Rory and David's questioning gazes, Deirdre sighed.
"Very well. Tomorrow morning it is."
The Next Morning
Maureen came downstairs quietly, going to the kettle to prepare
a cup of morning tea. She had spent most of the previous afternoon
and evening looking for work. But finding a job hadn't been as
easy as she had told Rory it would be, and she wasn't looking
forward to continuing her search today. The door opened and her
father entered, stamping the soot from his shoes before coming
"You've been out early," she commented.
"I had to say my goodbyes to Rory and Mr. Clement, now,
"Goodbyes?" Maureen's fingers felt numb. She couldn't
feel the warmth of the up through them.
O'Brien gave her a sharp glance as he sat down heavily. "You
haven't heard, then. The lot of `em are leaving this morning
for Mr. Clement's ranch in Colorado."
"No," Maureen cried softly. "No."
"What are you going on about, girl? He's left you. Face
it. There's nothing you can do about it."
She dropped the cup and ran from the house.
Rory shook Eamon Fleming's hand as they stood beside the waiting
train. "Good luck to you, Rory," Eamon said. "May
God be with you."
"You'll have to come and visit, Eamon," Deirdre said,
embracing the doctor.
"The West is crying out for doctors, Eamon," David
reminded him. "If you ever decide you've had enough of city
life, you'll be more than welcome."
The conductor's words sent the Clement-Manion party scurrying
for the train. Rory handed Deirdre and Shane up to David, then
Benjamin. As he started to follow, he heard a voice, crying out
He turned, searching the crowd through the steam and smoke until
he saw Maureen running toward him. "Dear God," he sighed.
"Go home, Maureen!" he called to her.
Eamon saw her as well and tried to stop her, but she pushed him
off and continued to where Rory was standing. She reached him,
grabbing his lapels, sobbing. "Take me with you, Rory, please!
Don't leave me!"
He pried her fingers loose and stepped up onto the rail car.
"I'm not the man for you!" he told her.
Eamon grabbed Maureen, pulling her back, but she flailed, stretching
"But I love you! I'll always love you!"
The train started to move and she pulled free of Eamon's hold,
running, trying to keep up. "Rory! Please!"
"Good bye, Maureen!" Rory called back. He had the feeling
that he wasn't saying goodbye to just this girl, but Ireland
herself, at long last.
Maureen collapsed into Eamon's arms, sobbing. Rory turned his
back on the young woman and entered the car, closing the door
on that part of his life forever. A new life awaited him- and
his son. He would focus on that. After all, he'd started with
far less in Philadelphia. And he was a Manion, after all.
To Be Continued---
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© Nancy Eddy, 2001