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THE LEGACY – Extra Prequel Material
Velje, Denmark, June 1874
“I know Jorn loves me. I can feel it each time he holds me close and kisses me.” Warmth spread through Anna Jorgesen. To divert her thoughts, she reached into her satchel for her comb then walked across her cousin’s huge guest room to the looking glass.
Dagmar, now married more than a year and heavy with child, sat on the bed, in a perfect spot for Anna to view her in the mirror. “Your father will never let you visit me again if he learns I have allowed you to spend time alone with Jorn Stryker unchaperoned.”
Anna drew her comb through a blond curl. “He will not find out.”
Dagmar ran her hand over the quilt Anna and her mother had stitched for Dagmar’s wedding gift. “I really should not–”
Anna turned to face her. “If you don’t, how will I ever get to see Jorn without my parents or the men he will take to America watching our every move, listening to our every word. You remember how it is to be in love and have no privacy.” She glanced at the clock on the marble mantel. “I must leave soon or I will be late to meet him.”
“Just be careful.” A stern note crept through Dagmar’s words. “If something bad happens, our whole family will ostracize me.”
“Nothing will happen,” Anna’s heartbeat quickened as she imagined Jorn’s arms around her waist, his lips firmly on hers. She smiled. “Except he might propose today.”
“What makes you think so?”
“The last three times I have seen him he has kissed me and called me his special girl.” Joy filled her chest. She was tempted to skip around the room, but that would make Dagmar question whether Anna was mature enough to be trusted alone with Jorn.
Her cousin frowned. “Even if he does ask you to marry him, your father will never approve. He considers Jorn beneath you.”
“Once we are engaged, Fader will change his mind.” Anna infused her words with more confidence than she felt. “He will be proud to have Jorn in the family.” A vision of herself in the gown of silk and lace Dagmar had worn when she married teased Anna’s mind. And the gauzy veil… “Fader is allowing Jorn to use our farm to collect the greenhorns who will cross to America with him, just as he did two years ago and the year before that. He considers Jorn a hero for helping Danes escape from the occupied areas of Jutland so they do not have to serve in the German army.”
“That will not matter.” Dagmar heaved herself to her feet and lumbereded to Anna’s side. “If you marry Jorn, he will take you to America. Are you sure you want to leave your family and your homeland behind? For him?”
“Yes.” Anna hugged her cousin briefly then faced the looking glass again. “Besides, I will be able to see all my friends and family nearly every summer when he and I return to Denmark. And between visits, I can write letters.”
“How can you be so certain about him after spending so little time with him this summer?”
“I just know. He makes my insides quiver and my knees turn to jelly.” Anna smoothed her sky blue dress with the white lace on the bodice, neckline and sleeves. Would Jorn think her pretty in this new frock?
“That is not reassuring. Men know how to take advantage of those feelings.” Dagmar’s brows knit together. “What if he seduces you before you’ve made your wedding vows?”
“As your husband did with you?” As soon as the words left her mouth, Anna regretted them. Her cousin had told her that information in strict confidence. They rarely spoke of it.
Blotchy red colored Dagmar’s pale cheeks. “We had been sweethearts from childhood, engaged to marry. And we were very careful.”
Tilting her head, Anna caught her cousin’s gaze in the mirror. “Careful, how?”
“We only–” Dagmar pursed her lips as if the words refused to cross them. “–had relations in the first fourteen days after my menstruation. We did not want to conceive a child before we were husband and wife.”
Mentally counting back to her last menses, Anna sighed. “It has been ten days for me. So if it happens today I should be safe.”
Dagmar’s blue eyes flashed. “You are not planning…”
“Of course not.” But Jorn might be, and Anna was not sure if she could refuse him.
The June sunshine dappled the small clearing in the woods behind Dagmar’s house. Nearby, the shallow brook rippled over its stone bottom. Birds twittered. A breeze whispered through the leaves above the picnic quilt Anna shared with Jorn. It was as if nature was celebrating her new love with an early summer symphony.
Butterflies danced in Anna’s stomach as she gazed at Jorn. From the moment she had first seen him a few years back, she had thought him handsome, with his strong jaw, high cheekbones and sun-bronzed face. She could look at him forever, and would once he proposed to her.
He finished the last of the bread and cheese she had brought in the wicker basket then turned to her. “I wanted to court you when I was here two years ago, but I feared your father would think you too young.” A wry smile broke across his face. “I could not risk losing the use of his farm to gather the men for our trip to America.”
“And this year you can take the chance Fader might find out?” Anna shuddered at the thought of his wrath should he discover she had been alone with Jorn six times now.
“No.” He ran a hand through his light brown shoulder-length hair, “But you are now nearly eighteen, so I hope he will be more accepting if he finds we have been seeing each other.”
“He will not. We have met without a chaperone.” Anna worried her lower lip. “Hopefully he will not learn about us.” At least not before Jorn asked her to marry him. “Or about Dagmar’s part in our rendezvous.”
“It is good of your cousin to help us these past three weeks.” He held out his hand. “This trip to Denmark would have been far less pleasant if I had been unable to see so much of you.”
Anna scooted across the quilt to his side. “She is not just a relative, but a good friend.”
In the distance, a cow mooed.
Jorn traced his index finger along Anna’s jaw. “I dare say you are the most beautiful girl in Denmark.”
Her heart swelled and fluttered as if it had sprouted wings. “You flatter me.”
“It is true,” he protested. “Your eyes are the color of the sky.” He wrapped one of her curls around his finger. “Your hair is spun gold.” He kissed the lock then let it fall back into place. “And your face is like an angel’s.”
The warmth that had spread through her now collected in her belly. She raised her head and met his emerald gaze. “I wish you did not have to go back to America when the summer ends.”
“Me, too. And nearly half of the greenhorns have been collected already.” Jorn took her hand and lifted it to his lips. “If the rest arrive in the next few weeks, we’ll be leaving at the end of July.”
“Next month?” Alarm shot through her. He had not yet proposed to her. And there were so many things to do before their wedding, before she left with him. She had been planning on having him here at least through August as he was two years ago.
“That’s only if all goes well. Let’s not think of it today.” Jorn released her hand and eased her back until she was lying down. The earthy scent of soil and decaying forest debris engulfed her. He lay beside her and stroked her cheek, her neck, and along the exposed skin above the V-neckline of her dress.
“Oh, Jorn.” Her body throbbed with unfamiliar, but blissful, sensations. She meant to tell him she loved him, but she was too overcome to form the words.
“My dear Anna,” Jorn pulled her to him. “You are my very special girl.” Against her abdomen, she felt the evidence of his desire for her. He reached for the hem of her dress and drew it upward.
A heavenly ache surged between her legs as his fingertips skated up her stocking, beside her garter, over her thigh.
She had never been with a man before. Not like this…
It was wrong. So wrong. So very…
Copenhagen, Early October 1874
Anna waited for what seemed like hours in the main saloon, where her grandfather had told her to stay while he saw to it that her baggage was brought aboard. In the large room, all the tables, chairs and settees were filled with fellow passengers bidding farewell to those who would remain behind. She might enjoy spending time here during her voyage, but now she worried about Bedstefa. Where was he? What was taking him so long? She picked her way through the maze of humanity to the deck outside. The slightly fishy-smelling air mingled with body odor and wafts of animal musk from the horses pulling carts and carriages carrying people and their possessions on the pier below. She swallowed back the bile rising in her throat.
How shocked she had been when, after a few mornings of being nauseated, her mother suggested Anna might be with child. At first, she refused to believe it. After all, she had been careful about having relations with Jorn, just as Dagmar had advised. But when she missed a second menses, she could no longer deny that she had conceived.
Moder had delayed telling Fader for as long as she felt she could. Both she and Anna feared his fury, but neither had imagined that he would disown Anna and send her out of Denmark. The more her mother pleaded for him to change his mind, the more steadfast he became. The most Moder could secure for Anna was time to make arrangements to stay with her maternal grandfather and to transport her and her belongings to his house in Copenhagen. Although Fader agreed to this plan, in the days she remained at home he treated Anna as if she were invisible. And in return for his concession, he had demanded that Moder sever all contact with Anna once she left. He had yelled and sworn at Moder, and as usual, she had acquiesced for fear he would send Anna away before preparations were complete. Anna’s heart broke at the thought of never having contact with her mother again although she did not care if she ever reconciled with her father. Hopefully, over time, Moder would be able to soften his heart enough to allow her to write to Anna in America.
Tears threatened as Bedstefa approached through the crowd. With his strong, lean frame, still straight and tall despite his age, it was easy to track his progress. He had been so kind to her in the three weeks since she had been banished from her father’s house. Bedstefa had lodged her in her mother’s old room, had the cook prepare whatever foods she requested, and amused her with stories and games which helped to keep her mind off her impending voyage.
Though Fader had sent her to Copenhagen with only enough funds to purchase a steerage ticket, Bedstefa had secured a first class cabin for her on this British ocean liner. He refused to send her on a German ship as long as South Jutland was still occupied. He had made two large trunks to carry her things and given her a generous amount of spending money. Despite her disgrace, he had told her everything would work out fine in the end. Without him, she would not have made it through the past month. Reminding herself that she would see him in a year or two when she returned with Jorn, she swallowed her tears and struggled to greet her grandfather with a smile.
“I have seen to it that your trunks have been taken to your cabin,” he said when he reached her. His salt-and-pepper hair, now more salt than pepper, lifted and fell in the sea breeze. “As far as I could learn, there is only one Danish couple in first class. They are newly married. A few Swedes and Norwegians boarded here as well. The vast majority of Danes are traveling steerage.”
“I am sorry for them.” Anna sighed. “And, if not for you, I would be with them.”
“At least they will be cooler this time of year than if they had traveled in summer.”
Anna dabbed her face with her handkerchief. “Thankfully for me, too.”
“Most of the staff on board speak English. I have arranged for you to be attended by a French maid.” He pulled his watch from his pocket, glanced at it, then slipped it back in place. “I will see you to your stateroom now.”
He took her arm and silently steered her through the throng until they reached a fine mahogany door with the number twelve painted on a small porcelain plaque. Approaching from the opposite direction, a maid carried a pitcher of water inside. Anna and her grandfather followed her into the paneled chamber with a bed built into one end of the room, bedecked with creamy linens and pillows.
“It is lovely.” Anna sighed. “Thank you for making these arrangements.”
“I want you to have a pleasant crossing.” He turned to the maid. “Collette, please take good care of Miss Jorgesen.”
The girl bowed her head slightly and gave a small curtsy. “Yes, sir.”
When the maid left, he continued, “You have everything you need in your satchel, right?”
Far from it. So many of her possessions and much of her wardrobe had been left behind at Bedstefa’s house since he thought two trunks and a satchel were enough for her to manage alone. He had promised to keep her things until she came back or sent for them. But her belongings were not what he meant. She swept her gaze around the room until she located the bag then forced a weak smile. “Yes. I have my travel documents and the money for my train ticket to Cedar Falls and other expenses, and the food you insisted the cook send with me.”
“And you have the address of Lars Jensen at the Danish Aid Society. He served as my first mate for many years.” Bedstefa pulled her into a bear hug. “He will take good care of you.”
“I understand.” Anna clutched her grandfather tightly. She truly was leaving. Until today, it had not seemed real.
“And the letter Mrs. Stransen wrote for you in English?” His deep voice resonated in her ear.
“Yes.” Sadness flooded her. A tear slipped down her cheek. “You have done so much for me.”
He cleared his throat. “I have enjoyed having you; a youthful life in the house again. I wish you would stay and let me take care of you.”
His offer tempted her for a few moments. It would be so much easier to remain with him. To stay in Denmark, where everything was familiar. But she could not. She must be brave enough to do the right thing for the child she carried.
“Oh, Bedstefa. I shall miss you terribly.” With her voice on the verge of cracking, she hurried on. “But I must go to Jorn so we can marry and raise our family. He loves me. And I want us to be just like you and Bestemor.”
“My sweet Anna. I wish you all the joy and happiness I had with your grandmother, may God rest her soul.” He stepped back and grasped her shoulders in his hands. “But should things not work out for you, you must use the legacy I am sending with you to return to me.”
His frown conveyed his doubt far more than his words. Anna did not want to even consider the possibility that her reunion with Jorn would not go as she planned, but her grandfather must be reassured. “I will.”
“Swear that you will tell no one of that legacy.” His blue gaze fixed on her, demanding her compliance. “Not even Jorn. Not even if you marry.”
If? Why did Bedstefa make their marriage sound so uncertain? He believed in Jorn’s work and had allowed the greenhorns to stay at his compound while they waited to meet their ship. How could Bedstefa doubt that Jorn would do right by her? “I promise.” She lifted her chin. “And Jorn and I will wed. I know it. He calls me his ‘very special girl.’”
Bedstefa released her and gave her arm a pat. “I hope you are right. I would feel more confident about it if you had received a response to your letter telling him you are with child.”
Anna would have, too. “The answer will probably come after I am gone from here. With the harvest, I’m sure he has had little time to write.”
“I know he was eager to get his group of greenhorns out of Denmark quickly so he would not incur unnecessary expense in feeding them and so they could assist in reaping his crops. But it is a pity he did not stay longer in Denmark this summer.” Bedstefa frowned. “Then he could have married you here and taken you back to America with him. You would not have had to make this trip alone.”
With all her heart, Anna wished that had been the case. “I would have liked that.”
A great bell clanged. Outside her door, a steward called, “All ashore.”
Anna slipped her hand into her grandfather’s. She wished he did not have to leave her but he had important business matters to attend to. He could not be away for the weeks that he would need to cross to New York with her then immediately turn around and sail home.
“You know from your brother’s letters that America is very different from Denmark and you will need to adapt to new ways,” Bedstefa cautioned. “In all the ports I sailed to when I was still at sea, there were always new and interesting things to learn. Different is not a bad thing.”
“I know, but Peder writes that there are many Danes in the Cedar Falls area. And Jorn says his farm is not far from town so I expect to visit Peder often.” After five years apart, Anna was eager to see her favorite brother again. “He has promised to meet my train.” Outside her window, the crowd had thinned considerably.
Bedstefa cleared his throat. “I had better go.”
“Thank you for all your kindnesses to me.” Anna released his hand then rose on her tiptoes and gave him a peck on the cheek. “I love you.”
“And I love you.” He kissed the top of her head. “Have a safe trip, my sweet Anna. Farewell.” He reached for the door knob.
“Good-bye.” Anna turned away quickly before her grandfather could see the tears streaming down her face. When he left, she curled up on the bed and succumbed to the sobs that overtook her. She could not go to the rail to watch as she left Bedstefa, Denmark and all that she had known and loved behind.
The engine roared to life and Anna sensed motion as the ship slowly eased away from the pier. The sharp crack of the parting gun being fired startled her from her self-pity. Now that she was moving toward her new life, she should focus on the future. While she could not anticipate all that lay ahead for her, she knew much of what the trip’s finale would be. She tried to concentrate her thoughts on her arrival in Cedar Falls.
She would be reunited with Peder, whom she had not seen since she was thirteen. How would he look? Had he changed much since he left home? His letters indicated growing success with his brewery. She tried to imagine what his pub would look like.
Would Jorn come with Peder to meet her train? Anna could not think of Jorn without memories of his kisses, his tender words, his gentle ways, flooding her mind. He called her his “special girl.” All this was evidence of his love despite his failure to use the word. She patted her belly. How happy he would be when they were together again.
The ship’s glide accelerated slowly, but steadily. Although she remained flat on her bed, her stomach fluttered. Bedstefa had warned her that she might want to remain horizontal for much of the voyage as the best way for a novice traveler to contend with the rolling of the sea, especially given her delicate condition.
Anna closed her eyes and conjured the mental picture of Jorn she carried with her as a constant companion, his flashing emerald eyes, his light brown hair with its tendency to curl at the ends, his strong jaw. So handsome…
A knock at her door roused her. From the fuzziness of her mind, she surmised she had fallen asleep. For how long?
“Would you like me to help you dress for dinner?” a female voice called in French.
“Oui.” Amazed that she had slept for so long, Anna rose slowly. Bedstefa had told her that it might take awhile for her to develop sea legs. She eased herself across the room and admitted the maid. Although several inches taller, the dark-haired woman appeared no older than herself.
Quickly, but carefully, Collette ironed the blue silk dress that Bedstefa had purchased for the voyage. Anna donned the garment and arranged her curls with a set of jeweled combs.
When she was ready, the maid directed Anna to the dining room and asked if she would like assistance before tomorrow’s breakfast.
“No, thank you.” Mornings were not Anna’s friend and she did not want to think of associating with strangers if she felt nauseous, as she often did these days. “Please just bring me some tea and toast.”
“Bien sur.” Collette cast her doe-like eyes downward. “I shall stop by at nine o’clock to see if you are ready.”
With the plans made, Anna ventured out of the cabin. Holding the rail to steady herself, she walked to the dining saloon. By the time she reached her destination, her stomach felt as if it was rolling like the waves. Uncertain if she could tolerate a meal, she tried to communicate her distress to the maitre de hotel. She tried first Danish, then French, then Latin–to no avail. He spoke some Romance language, as she could occasionally catch a word, but true communication was out of the question.
Instead, he checked her dinner card and escorted her to a table where two women and a man sat. After she was seated, four empty chairs remained. She soon discovered that the younger female was French and a conversation regarding their homelands and their reasons for making the crossing ensued. Unfortunately, their companions had no common tongue.
Anna finished the soup course, but the sight of beef only exacerbated her queasiness. Not wanting to embarrass herself, she made her apologies and returned to her stateroom. The maid had turned down her bed and Anna collapsed into it. Light-headedness nearly overcame her, and she closed her eyes. Sometime later, Collette finally returned to help her out of her dress and corset so she could change into her night clothes.
As Anna prepared for bed, she nibbled on the small end piece she broke off from the crusty bread that Bedstefa’s cook had sent along. The maid left. Anna crawled between the sheets and settled as best she could, placing her hands on her belly. “Well, baby, we shall see your father soon.”
For several hours, she occupied her mind by visualizing the dress she would wear for her wedding. It would be as beautiful as Dagmar’s, but with a fuller skirt to hide Anna’s growing belly. She had prayed she would not have to implicate her cousin in her trysts with Jorn. Those prayers had been answered when Fader directed his fury at Anna and Jorn. Anna believed her father suspected his niece’s involvement but didn’t push the issue in order to maintain a relationship with his brother.
Dagmar had given Anna a gold cross to wear at her wedding. Oh, the wedding. There would be so much to do. What would the church look like? Would the minister speak Danish? How many friends of Jorn and Peder would they invite?
Finally, Anna drifted into fitful sleep.
The next morning, nausea overcame her and she barely had time to remove the pitcher from the bowl before she lost the contents of her stomach. Her head ached. The maid appeared with tea and toast, and despite her urgings to partake, all Anna wanted was to lie back down with a damp cloth on her face.
“We are encountering a storm,” Collette announced. “You might want to plan on staying inside, either here or in the ladies’ cabin.” Her gaze fixed on the contents of the wash bowl. Hopefully, she would assume it was just a common response to the ship’s motion. Anna would be mortified if she guessed that Anna was with child.
Feeling unsteady, she seated herself in the armchair near the table with the breakfast tray. “I will stay here.”
“Would you like me to help you dress now?”
Anna shuddered at the thought of donning close fitting garments. “No. I do not plan to leave my stateroom today.”
The ship lurched, and then rocked side to side, launching her into another fit of retching and gagging. What if the wind and waves capsized the vessel? Would she have the strength to stagger to a lifeboat? She tamped down the fear threatening to engulf her.
The maid disappeared then reappeared carrying two clean, empty buckets. She helped Anna return to bed, placed one of the pails beside her and dampened a linen napkin in the pitcher of wash water and placed it on her forehead.
Anna closed her eyes and tried to empty her head of thoughts. Thinking, even of pleasant ideas like Jorn and her wedding, made the pain in her temples nearly unbearable.
Over the next days, Anna lost track of time. Her insides hurt from all the vomiting. A sour odor permeated the stateroom. She could not eat, took only small sips of tea and water. Waking and sleeping merged, making it hard to distinguish one from the other, rational thought from dreams. One notion wove a constant thread through both. Would she and the child she carried survive the voyage?
New York, Mid-October 1874
Anna stood on the narrow deck outside her stateroom and gazed at the cultivated lands on the shore. They reminded her of fields in Denmark. Or maybe they were islands. From this vantage point, she could not tell, but solid ground was still a welcome sight. She had survived the horrendous voyage, and the movement she felt in her belly reassured her that her baby was still alive as well. An hour earlier, Anna had taken tea and a slice of bread. So far she had kept them down. Her heart lightened.
The ship had slowed then anchored in mid-morning, though the idling engines still hummed. Her legs quivered and she grasped the railing for support. Bedstefa had explained that she would be processed as an immigrant since she planned to stay in America and that the procedures could take most of the day. She did not care how long it took as long as she could leave the swaying motion of the ship far behind. When she finished, hopefully she would be able to have a bath and rest.
“The steward from below said that we are in quarantine, and that little towboat carries a doctor from the port and an official who will decide if we will be cleared to advance to the immigration station,” Collette said, approaching from the direction of the stairway. “If he finds no infectious diseases on board, the ship will be allowed to proceed to the city.”
Anna lost her breath. They could not have come all the way across the ocean just to be turned away. “Is there any sickness on board that will prevent us from landing?”
The maid’s brows knitted. “Not that I know of. But perhaps you should come inside and sit down, as his inspection will take awhile.” She took Anna’s arm and supported her until she was safely seated in her armchair. “Would you like more tea and bread?”
To Anna’s surprise, she was hungry and readily agreed to the suggestion. When she had finished eating, she lay on the bed and closed her eyes. The next thing she knew, the engines began chugging and the ship glided forward very slowly. Her eyes flew open. Were they returning to Europe? They couldn’t be. Easing herself off the bed, she headed for the door. She opened it and poked her head outside. Off in the distance, buildings stood close together. High roofs, spires, and towers. A city. A weight lifted off her chest. They were steaming toward New York.
Soon the movement stopped and the ever-present drone of engines suddenly ceased. Again, Anna stepped to the rail. On shore, at the water’s edge stood a curious-looking building in the form of a rotunda surrounded by trees and scrubby lawns.
Tugboats towed two large barges alongside the ship. A porter and a man in uniform approached with a trundle cart. They knocked at her door. She turned and walked toward her stateroom.
“What is happening?” she asked in Danish. And where was her maid? She had secured a position with the steamship lines for the return trip to Europe. Had she already left to start her new duties? If so, she had not bothered to let Anna know.
The man in uniform looked at a paper in his hand and then at her. “Anna Jorgesen?”
She nodded. “I am.”
The official furrowed his brow and said something in a language she did not understand except for a few familiar words. Swedish? Norwegian? She believed the gist of what he said was that he wanted to come inside. Now she was confused, but he looked important so she opened the door and gestured for him to enter.
He headed straight for her trunks, opened them and went through her belongings.
“What are you doing?” she cried. Would he find the hidden compartment Bedstefa had built into the bottom and discover her secret? Steal her legacy? She repeated the question in French.
He closed the lid and nodded to the porter who, with great difficulty, lifted the first trunk onto his trolley. The inspector repeated the process with her other trunk and loaded it, too, on the cart. When he opened her satchel, Anna worried that he might steal the money she had there. He pulled out the pouch and looked inside. Her throat tightened. What would she do without funds in this new land? Collette was not here. If these men stole her things there would be no other witness. Who would believe Anna against the word of an American official?
But the man closed the pouch again, smiled at her and said something that sounded like this was good. Then he returned it to her satchel and hoisted it on top of the trunks. The porter started pulling the cart out of the room.
She reached toward her satchel. “Where are you taking my things?”
The officer said something in a soothing voice, but Anna’s panic would not be calmed. He spoke again and gestured toward her cloak and reticule lying on the bed. She picked them up and dashed after her baggage. Whatever was happening, she refused to let them out of her sight.
If Jorn were here, he would know what to do. He could speak English and translate the answers to her questions. If only he had taken her with him to America this summer.
The procession advanced slowly along the narrow deck. From behind, the clatter of running footsteps drawing near caught Anna’s attention.
“Mademoiselle!” Collette called.
Anna whirled around, stopping abruptly. The inspector who had been trailing behind now jostled her in his attempt to avoid a total collision.
“Where have you been?” she demanded, ignoring the lanky, red-haired man in the steward’s uniform who stood beside Collette. Once the words had left Anna’s mouth she realized her maid spoke only French and could not help communicate with the official or the porter.
“This is John.” She straightened to her full height and gestured to the young man. “He speaks English and French.”
Anna turned to him. “Please ask them where they are going with my things”
“They are taking you and your baggage to the tenders that will transport you to the Castle Garden pier,” he replied in French. “Since you are in first class, you will board the barge in the initial group and when the barge docks, you will be among the earliest to disembark.”
Anna sighed, thankful to have some idea of that was happening. “Merci.”
He and Collette accompanied Anna and the porter to the barge. The official left to inspect the other first-class immigrants’ luggage. While the porter unloaded her trunks and satchel, she turned to her maid. “I am sorry I snapped at you earlier.” She slipped a gold coin into Collette’s hand. “Thank you for taking care of me during the voyage.”
The girl smiled. “You are welcome.”
“Have a safe return trip.”
The porter returned for Anna and escorted her to a chair beside her baggage. Other first- then second-class passengers and their belongings took up only a bit more than half of the barge space. The remainder soon filled with barrels, old chests and great bundles of clothes and bedding, accompanied by women without bonnets or shawls, men carrying fiddles and crank-organs. How strange that such a motley group should arrive at the immigration station together.
She clasped her hands on her belly. Her baby would be born in America. He or she would automatically be a citizen of this new land. Anna’s inability to communicate even the simplest thoughts with the official this morning overwhelmed her. She worried her lower lip. What kind of mother would she make if she could not even speak English? Tears threatened. She would have to start learning the language of America.
As the steward had said, Anna left the barge in the first group. She picked up her satchel to keep it close. A uniformed official handed her two brass tokens, engraved with A12 and A13, and fastened a duplicate to each of her trunks. Her stomach knotted as he rolled her cases away.
Next, she was led into a small room to be examined by a physician. He said something she didn’t understand. She shook her head and looked to the female attendant standing near the wall who remained silent. He tried again in a different language.
“Danske.” Anna sighed and pulled the letter Mrs. Stransen had written in English from her satchel. “I am Danish.”
Taking the paper, he smiled benevolently and glanced at the words. Then he looked her straight in the eye.
“You speak Latin?” he asked. His pronunciation differed slightly from her tutor’s but she recognized the words.
“A little,” she replied.
“You are very pale and your cheeks are hollow. Have you been ill?”
“Just seasickness.” Was that the right word? He could deny her admission to the United States if he thought she had a disease.
“No other conditions?” He looked her over carefully, seeming to focus on her belly. Anna had worn this dark green dress with its full skirt to hide the swell of the growing baby. As a doctor who saw so many women, well and ill, he would have a practiced eye. She could not allow him to think she had a stomach ailment, or parasites or a dietary deficiency.
There was no choice but to admit her secret. She inhaled a deep breath. Casting her gaze downward, she said, “I am with child and have come to this country to marry his father.”
He cleared his throat and continued his examination. Finally, he scribbled something on a paper and handed it to her. “You may proceed to the rotunda. Welcome to America.”
She had passed the first obstacle. Her heart lightened. “Thank you.”
The rotunda consisted of a circular space divided into separate compartments for immigrants of different nationalities or native languages. Anna could not tell which. The dome which she guessed to be at least seventy feet high admitted ventilation and light. On each of his trips, Jorn must lead his greenhorns through this confusing immigration process. She wished he was here to help her now.
The blur of activity and the din of so many people speaking different languages set her head to pounding. She wandered through the open area until she found a bench. After placing her satchel on the floor, she sat down to rest. People moved back and forth among the various sections. A man dressed in a worn wool coat and corduroy trousers conversed with an official in the area directly across from her. Behind him, a line started to form. Two women wearing brightly colored scarves, embroidered jackets and billowing black skirts tried to keep four small children together.
A man with a jaunty plaid cap on his hairless head and a clay pipe in his mouth was purchasing a bowl of coffee and a sausage. Anna’s stomach growled. The vendor would require American money. She needed to get up and work her way through whatever processes awaited her. Then she would find her way to the Danish Aid Society.
Several men dressed in tanned-leather breeches and waistcoats crossed in front of her to a compartment that had several paper flags, including Denmark’s, pasted on an upright. She would start there. Pushing herself to her feet, she picked up her satchel and took her place in the line. When her turn came, she was delighted to find the official spoke Danish. He registered her name, nationality, former place of residence–for which she gave Bedstefa’s address– her intended destination, and other particulars.
“You can change your money to American coins and currency over there,” he pointed to another part of the room. “Here at Castle Garden you are assured of a fair exchange rate. Our brokers will not try to take advantage of you like some in the city.” He sounded almost as protective as Bedstefa.
She wondered whether that was true but nodded her understanding. If she did change at least some of her money, she could buy herself a bowl of tea and a loaf of bread, maybe two.
“And over there,” He gestured to the opposite side of the room, “are the agents of the railroad companies. You can procure tickets to all parts of the United States and Canada.” He looked down at the form he had just completed for her. “Including Cedar Falls. Here you will not have to risk fraud or extortion, which you may encounter outside of our Depot.” Again his caring tone reminded her of her grandfather. She missed him very much. “In the meanwhile, your luggage is stored in the baggage room. Do not lose your tokens.”
“They are secure in my reticule.” Bedstefa had said that Lars Jensen from the Danish Aid Society would help her make arrangements. “I may rest a day or two here in New York.”
“You can have your luggage delivered anywhere in the city or leave it for a few days or even weeks. But there is no place here to sleep except the floor.” He smiled. “You look as if you can afford nice accommodations. You can make arrangements with the keepers of lodging houses if you need a place to stay, and a labor exchange should you need more money.”
How much American money would she have? Enough for a few days stay in New York and her ticket to Cedar Falls? Maybe she should just buy her train ticket and leave right away.
“Miss Jorgesen.” The man broke through her musings. “We are done here. I suggest you start with the Currency Exchange.”
Maybe. Yes, she would. There was no reason to distrust this American official who had helped her understand the immigration process. She picked up her satchel and walked to the shortest line waiting for the exchange brokers.
“Anna Jorgesen?” A voice called. Who here would be looking for her? Had Jorn come to meet her ship? Eagerly, she turned in the direction of the caller.
“Anna Jorgesen?” This time the male voice shouted louder. It did not sound like Jorn’s and she did not see him anywhere. Her spirits fell.
“I am Anna Jorgesen.” She waved her hand to signal where she was.
A uniformed man wove his way toward her and handed her a note. “When you are finished with your immigration process, I will take you to him.”
Jorn. He had come to help her complete the final leg of her journey. She grinned. “Thank you.”
She opened the note with trembling fingers. The handwriting was not Jorn’s. Disappointment clogged her throat.
Your grandfather contacted me about your crossing and asked me to help you. Change your money and purchase your train ticket, but do not worry about lodging. I have secured a nice establishment for you where the boarding-house keeper speaks Danish. When you are finished in the rotunda, they will bring you to me and I will see you to your accommodations and help you with any other arrangements you need to make.
At your service,
Danish Aid Society
Anna’s spirits lifted. Bedstefa’s friend had come to rescue her. He would help her until she boarded the train for Cedar Falls. Jorn might not be here, but with some luck and Mr. Jensen’s help, she would see him soon.