Patrick Quinn, a thin, handsome, dark haired boy of fourteen, squared his shoulders as he looked over the soggy field. He was dressed in a tattered shirt and soiled trousers; his well-worn shoes wouldn't last much longer, but he didn't worry about himself. His family depended on him. His nostrils, filled with the nauseating stench of rotting potatoes, made his stomach lurch. This year he'd hoped for a crop. Anything to sustain them. Now it was gone. He felt the weight of the world come crashing down on him.
He stooped down, surveying the field, and then picked up a rotted potato. He studied it carefully for a few seconds, and then stood and holding it tightly in his hand, thrust his arm toward the sky.
"Why!" he cried as he dropped to his knees in the putrid field. Tears streamed down his cheeks.
A cottage with a thatched roof and walls made of stones sat almost obscured by the brown countryside, seeming to blend into the landscape. Once it had been a beautiful cottage with lush green grass surrounding it, but now it had fallen into disarray. Still, it was home to the proud Quinn family.
Catherine Quinn, the matriarch of the family, lay in her bed, gravely ill. She was a frail woman in her late forties, who looked much older. She'd been a beauty in her day, but now her once dark silky hair had turned gray. The past few years had taken a heavy toll on her, and now she was succumbing to the fever that had claimed so many of her loved ones. Her feeble hands clutched at her threadbare nightdress. She struggled to speak. Her once bright eyes were now dull and almost lifeless as she tried to focus.
The inside of the cottage was sparsely furnished, with many of its possessions sold long ago. The main room contained Catherine's large bed, which had been brought out of the room she'd once shared with her husband and placed in the main room to provide more warmth for her. The other two rooms belonged to her children. Next to the bed where Catherine laid, the family Bible and a bowl of water sat on a little table. The opposite end of the room contained a small wooden table with four chairs. On one wall was a long shelf where food and dishes were stored. All of the furniture was crudely made. A large window stood at the front of the room, and a smaller one at the opposite end. The walls were bare except for some religious pictures. The floor had no covering, and many of the boards were rotting. A large fireplace took up almost one entire side of the room, and was used for cooking as well as heat. The home used to be filled with fine furniture and two couches and comfortable chairs. They were gone now, having been sold to purchase food for the family and pay the ever increasing taxes. But it was never enough, and money was as scarce as food.
Catherine shifted in the bed. She opened her mouth and again struggled to speak. Her words were faint and garbled.
Maggie Quinn, a beauty at the age of twenty-two with flowing dark auburn hair, looked up from where she sat at the table quietly mending her brother Patrick's shirt. Around the village, Maggie Quinn was known for her determination and strong willed feisty character. It took a lot to break her spirit. Not even this desolation could break her pride in her beloved Ireland. The land would come back, she was sure of it, and voiced it to whoever would listen. Soon the fields would be prosperous, and there would be enough money to purchase proper food and clothing once again, she would say. But friends were long gone, and the family rarely had a visitor…not even Maggie's fiancé Ian O'Malley. But she knew that he had his own family and crops to deal with. His family hadn't fared any better than hers. The lazy days of strolling through the meadows were gone, but she prayed every day that they would soon return. When they did, though, she knew nothing would be the same. Those taken due to the fever would never return. A pang pierced her heart.
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- I'm Susan K. Droney and I write in several genres: children's books, mainstream fiction, thrillers, mysteries, and sensual/erotic romances. I am published by Torrid Books, World Castle Publishing, and Devine Destinies. Please click on the book covers or visit my website at: http://susandroney.com to read reviews, excerpts or to order my books.