My dear Majesty, I send my best wishes and hope all is well with you and the Royal Family. You have always been a good friend to my dear Mother and Father, who are your loyal subjects. This friendship between you and my family is something that I cherish and have pride in. I will assure you, that no matter where I am, I will remain a loyal subject and eternal friend.
When my dear mother told you of my plans to travel to the new world, she told me that you responded with a kind letter with the wish that I would write to you on the experiences I had with my time in this strange world. It is my privilege and honor to do so.
As you already know. My father is a landlord in Ireland and owns a substantial estate. Up to now, my childhood has been in Ireland. I admit that I lived a privileged life. I had all that I could ever want. Unlike the majority of people in the country, I never went hungry and I had the prettiest dresses. I was not a spoiled child. My parents knew that I needed an education in social things as well as books. So I had a governess that taught me things such as music and dance as well as etiquette. I also learned about writing, literature, poetry, geography and math and science. I can assure you, I loved learning and was praised for my intelligence and enthusiasm. The only thing I was not praised for was math and history. In my defense, I could not be good at everything!
As you know, I do not have any brothers or sisters. On top of this, I did not socialize with any children on the estate. Dad thought they were not in our social class and would not have a good influence on me. I was never lonely. I had my dolls and cats. My dear Mother told me that you and I are alike. Your majesty loved dolls and had a huge collection when you were a child. I have a nice collection. My favorite one is a porcelain doll that has curly hair. I always hold her and she is like a friend I can tell my secrets and feelings to,
I also love cats! They are God’s best creation, besides humans. My cats are there when I need them and they listen to everything I say. I could spend the whole day kneeling beside them and petting their soft fur and listening to them purring. I know your majesty likes dogs. I think you would agree, that cats saved me from a life of routine and boredom.
As I said, and you of course know, My father was a landlord. He had many Irish tenants that lived in toil and poverty. My father tried to be fair and even paid for a priest and a teacher for them. I am proud that my father was fair and acted in a Christian way towards the Irish natives. I will go as far as to say that he lost a lot of money during the famine years by reducing rents and even opening soup kitchens.
I soon realized the problems my father had. The Irish peasants did not consider themselves British and wanted to run their own country. My father thought this was a foolish idea as if they could not run the small plot of land they had, so how could they run a country?
The situation became serious one night when a rebel threw a torch in the window and our dining room was in flames. I was terrified and never have been so afraid of my life. While my parents and servants fought the fire, I sat in a corner protecting the cats. The fire was put out and there was not so much material damage. The important thing was that no one was hurt. After the ordeal, we all knelt and prayed to thank God that we were safe.
The incident was the one time when I saw father worried. The Fenian Brotherhood was becoming stronger and stronger and their terror was becoming more common. My father knew that we were targets, not only because he was a landlord, but also because we were friends with the crown. My father was most afraid of my welfare.
So one day he called me in his office and informed me that I would be living abroad until the rebels came to their senses. My heart lept as I thought he meant going to London. This was not his plane. He told me that I would be traveling to the United States, and visiting my aunt that lives in the wold west.
This news was a shock and I needed time to let it sink in. I would be living in a land that rebelled against the United Kingdom no more than 80 years ago. This country had no loyalty to your crown and I wonder if they were even civilized. I pleaded to my father to find some family in London or even France, but his mind was made up.
The day came when I had to travel. It was so hard saying goodbye to my cats and my doll collection. I had a few dolls with me. I tried to be brave when I said goodbye to my parents. But even this could not stop the tears from flowing. I remember my mother’s final words. I was to make them proud and remember they were always in my heart.
The trip over was exciting. I marveled at the way our Lord created this world. The ocean had a life of its own. I felt sorry for the poor people that were confined under the deck. I could smell them every time I went bu an entrance that went down there. It was a foul scent and one that made me go pale. I wondered how they could be down there all the time.
However, I was lucky as I could get fresh air. I even saw dolphins and whales. This was such a splendid sight and one that I will never forget.
New York was not like London or Dublin. There were a lot of buildings going up and the people seemed to walk endlessly. There was a special buzz in the town with people busy in their lives. I met a friend of Dad that showed me around the town. She lived in a fine house in a wealthy part of New York. The house had electricity. This was news for me, as we did not have electricity in Ireland.
She showed me the shops in New York. These shops were exciting. You could get things from London, Paris and even place s on the other side of the world. I always loved shopping, and at the end of a day shopping with this lady, my feet would be so swollen,
She did tell me that New York was like London and any other city. It had a good part and a bad part. I promised never to go to the bad part, that was inhabited by poor people, that had no wish or plans to better themselves. Deep down I doubted this, as who chooses to live in slums?
One day as we were walking around the city, I noticed posters everywhere with a girl my age. It was a strange poster. She did not have a fine ponytail like me, but her head was full of curls. She was not very pretty. In fact, her face was very boyish. I asked the lady who she was. She explained that the girl’s name was Shirley, and she was a huge star in the USA. Everyone in the big cities knew her. They called her curly top because of her curls. I looked at these posters and had to feel sorry for her. The girl was forced to be in a theater and be the center of attention for millions of people. What a life could that be? Waking up and learning lines and performing. Besides that, everyone knew who she was so I bet she had no privacy or had time to be with cats or dolls.
The lady said we should go to one of Shirley’s shows, even though the tickets were extremely expensive. I agreed to the outing, thinking the theater shows I experienced in Dublin and London was so exciting.
The evening arrived where we went to the theater. It was a posh theater and there were so many people. That girl’s face was everywhere. You could even buy a tea mug and plate with her face. I must admit that my expectations were very high. This was also because I could see how excited the people were. Some were saying that they finally could see her and others saying she was the national treasure
The play started. Shirley played the role of an orphan. It was an experience watching the audience. When she cried, they all cried and when she sang or dance, they all stood up shouting bravo. It was clear that Shirley had many fans and was very popular.
To be honest, I do not know why she was so famous. When she came out, she was just a child and a stubby one at that. It was obvious that she liked eating cakes. Her face did not have the eloquence and beauty of a girl. As I said, she looked like a boy with a wig on! She danced well, but when she sang, she sounded like the banshee. Maybe I am exaggerating here, but I am positive I could sing just as well as her. Her dress was also very short for a girl. I do not think that people wanted to see her legs!
Needless to say, when I left the show, I was disappointed. I could hear the others tell each other how this was an experience of a lifetime, and how angelic Shirley was. I wondered why I was the only one that did not clap!
It was time to leave New York. I was a bit anxious as I would be traveling alone. I was also surprised that I was not traveling by train. I would be taking a stagecoach across this vast country! I was polite enough not to shame my parents by protesting that this coach looked very primitive.
We traveled all day while we stopped once in a while to change horses. After hours in a coach that was bumpy and uncomfortable, this was a welcome time to get out and spread our legs. I did admire the countryside that ranged in everything from lush green fields like we would see in Ireland, to prairies and deserts. Once in a while, we would see Indians in the distance and I must admit that this did scare me. I felt like we were trespassing on their land.
I slept over a saloon. I did not sleep at all. The Saloon below was noisy with men that were drinking non-stop. The piano sounded like it was tin cans being banged against each other. It was a horrible night. I could not get any sleep and it did not help that the person sleeping in the next room was hammering all night. What a time to be hanging pictures! I bet that the Curly Top child star was sleeping in a canopy bed with satin sheets!
We were on the stagecoach the next day. I hoped to get some sleep on it, but the trip was so bumpy that it was like I was being thrown about in the coach. The trip was also quite boring as I was the only one in the coach
The coach stopped in the middle of nowhere and the driver told me he could see an abandoned stagecoach. We walked over to the abandoned coach, I was told by the driver that I should not come as it was dangerous. I figured that I was safer beside a man with a gun than being alone. We could see arrows everywhere and three people laying on the ground. I was told that the coach was attacked by Indians. I did not know these people, but I lowered my head and prayed for their souls.
The driver said that he would bury them. He told me we would be late, but as good Christians, we had to bury them. I understood this and at the same time, I was afraid of where the Indians could be.
I did not have time to think as I heard some sobbing. I walked around and found a girl behind a bush. I could not believe my eyes. It was that famous child actress. It was Curly top. Shirley! She was sitting with her arms around her knees rocking back and forth. I shouted that there was a survivor. The driver told me to sit next to her.
Shirley just rocked back and forth and didn’t even notice that I was there. She was mumbling something. I put my hand around her and she did not even notice that. I tried speaking with her, but there was no response. The driver was finished burying the adults and came over to us. His first reaction was to ask if his eyes were deceiving him or was she Curly Top? I nodded and he just lifted the girl to the coach.
The driver told me that she was most likely in shock. What she needed now was hugs and some time. So for the rest of the day, I sat next to Shirley and tried speaking with her. She just has this blank look in her eyes and said nothing. I even tried to talk about other things like asking if her curls were real. There was no response what so ever from her.
That night, we were camped in the open air. We would be at our destination the next day. This was quite exciting, as I never did sleep in the open air before. The driver played some music on his harmonica and within no time I fell asleep.
I was awoken in the middle of the night with Shirley screaming. I never heard a girl scream so loud. I sat down next to her and hugged her tight and then whispered that she was safe. The only word she said was “Indians”. Then she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
I tried going back to sleep, but it was hard. All I could think about was this poor girl that survived an Indian attack. She must have been so scared and no one should experience the slaughter of others. I slowly fell asleep thinking I needed rest for the bumpy road the next day. I must have got an hour’s sleep when Shirley again started screaming and saying she was all alone. Once again I calmed her down and she finally went to sleep.
The next day. We were once again in the coach. A coach that I was very tired of. Shirley was still in a blank daze and just sat next to me.
After an hour she spoke in a monotone voice, “I... I... I am all alone. We should have stayed in the East. Everyone loved me there and no one wanted to hurt me.”
“ What happened?” I asked
“ My agent told me that not many knew about me in the West. So we decided to do a tour un the west, especially the big towns. It would last for 6 months. So momma, papa and my agent started on the coach trip. Everything went fine until the Indians... the Indians... arrows...”
I told her there was no need to continue as I understood. Shirley sobbed for some time and then went quiet. I just sat beside her and put my arm around her. During lunchtime, the driver told me I was so lucky, that I could sit next to the most famous child he knew. I smiled at him. To me, she was not a celebrity or someone important. I did not even think she was talented and I still think she looked like a boy! This was just a girl that was now an orphan.
We were getting close to Tombsville, and I was looking forward to seeing my aunt Emily. I fixed my ponytail and thanked God I did not have curls.
When we got off the stage, I could not see Aunt Emily. I asked a stranger did she know where she lived. She had a small house and farm outside the town. So I picked up my luggage bag and started walking through the town.
I looked back and seen Shirley stand there. She was shouting, “What do I do now?”art writing here…