The Coddled Girl
Many a young person was able to find a trade to work in during these new, impressive times of growth for the city, the country, and industry as a whole. For some, it was a way to make sure that everyone in their household was fed and clothed, especially in big families where the lady of the house couldn’t help but stay home and tend to the youngest of the bunch. For others who had been born into the privileges of high society, such as the owners and managers of the big, fancy factories, it was a way to learn skills for the future.
While young William O’Malley found his skills and strengths utilized among the factory’s textile mills, hauling heavy necessities back and forth, the offices where the money was made and the bills were paid was making use of another workforce.
Jane Flint was the last of four children, the sole girl, of the factor’s owner, Gerald Flint. With her birth, her mother departed the Earth for heaven. As such, young Jane was coddled by her father most of her young life, with the man saying, ambiguously serious, that she would never be allowed to leave his side.
Jane was introduced at a young age to the enterprise of the factory, and despite common practice at the time, was taught reading, writing, and mathematics so that she was able to start taking part in certain aspects of the office. It wasn’t long before she was managing the money heading out at the end of every week to the workers, paying them for their efforts inside the factory. Through the pay window of the factory’s office is where she first laid eyes on the fine young man, about her age, and felt her heart flutter.
It was many months of glances, then small talk, to the maturing William O’Malley that a sort of relationship formed, at least the best one that could exist between two different sorts of people. When Jane’s brothers began to find their own brides, she sensed and hoped that her time would either come soon or that she would be passed over entirely and be left to the business and a future as an old maid. When asking her father, the topics of courtship and marriage were always unbreachable, and the talks always changed to the running of the business.
One week, among the coins used to pay the workers, Jane slipped a message to William, telling him of a place and time to meet her, outside, for the first time proper. They met up then, and many times after, in secret and began a courtship. When Jane was finally caught by a servant nosily instructed by her father, she came out with the truth.
“Father,” she said to him, wishing to explain her desires, “This man comes from the country, and his only means between himself and his elderly father is what we pay him. If we are to marry, he will not take me away from here as other men might. We may both continue to work as we have, without spreading gossip of our relationship, so that none shall be the wiser. I simply wish to be with him, to fulfill my desires as a woman, to be wed.”
With the words touching the owner’s heart, he allowed his daughter Jane, eighteen, and the working-class boy, seventeen, to marry. As promised, nothing changed as the married couple continued working their respective posts. William’s father, who had grown too frail to continue working on his own, drove the newly married couple to seek out new lodgings for the three of them. With help from Jane’s father, they managed to move into an apartment in the center of the city that was quite fine and spacious, but still humble nonetheless.
When Jane found herself with a child, she was finally allowed to depart from her job at the factory. William rose to the position of floor manager, gaining more responsibility and more pay in turn, the grace of his hard work and a slight bit of favor from Jane’s father. Their first child, James O’Malley was born that fall, a healthy and hearty baby just like his father. Able to continue on happily after seeing his first grandchild, Henry O’Malley passed peacefully.
As expected, Jane found herself with a second child not long after. Her pregnancy seemed inexplicably more difficult the second time, but after the many months of carrying the child, the O’Malleys gave birth to a seemingly healthy second child, a girl, earning the name Marie. As time passed, James grew up strong much like his father did, but for Marie, the babe found life more troublesome…