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Endeavour’s Fall #33: The Laundry

Jul 30, 2017





Law II:  The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impress’d; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impress’d.

 -Lord Isaac Newton, PBUH


Sam and Emma walked into Switch before dark. Sam was tired, but he couldn’t wait to see his family. He ran through the muddy streets to a large wooden structure with steam pouring out of it. He’d never been in the laundry before, but it was as he imagined: rows of large steamers were churned by automated arms on pistons. Rows of hot presses clamped down on still-wet miner’s coveralls.

“Ma!” Sam shouted. The laundry was loud and crowded and no one even looked up. Sam walked up and down the rows of steamers to find her.

Ma had the back taken off one of the steam presses.  She had what looked like half of its insides piled up next to her. Her hair was damp from the steam, and sweat dripped down her forehead.  Her hands and overalls were covered with grease.


When she saw her son, Ma jumped up and knocked over her carefully stacked parts.

“My baby, my baby!” She held him tight. Ma nearly collapsed before she let him go.

“Did Pa find you? Where is he?” Ma asked.

Emma had just caught up to Sam. “I found him, Mother Mack.”

Ma grabbed Emma in a big hug as well. “That’s a couple of miracles you have been a part of, dear. I’m starting to think you’re watching out just for me.”

Emma smiled shyly.

“Miracles? What do you mean?” asked Sam.

“Ah, she’s too modest to say, but I think young Emma here is the reason why we finally found some work here in town,” said Ma.

“The Deacon just wanted to help,” insisted Emma.

“I’ve known the Deacon for a long time now,” said Ma. “I’m sure you had something to do with his change of heart.”

“The Deacon says we all need to pull together now,” said Emma. “He’s worried about the Redcoats.”

“Well, he certainly has no love for them,” said Ma. “That is for sure.”

She squeezed Sam close. “Let’s get you home, Son.”

“So, where is Pa?” asked Sam.

“That’s right,” said Ma. “He always works so late anyway. He’s not in the mine today. He went down to Albany to look for you.”

“For me?” asked Sam.

“Of course,” said Ma. “Yesterday I ran into a couple of tramps behind the laundry. We started talking, and they said they’d seen a boy with one leg down in Albany. In the Rifts.” She shuddered. “I’m glad it wasn’t you. That’s a horrible place.”

“I went there once,” said Sam, “before the Navy got me.”

“The Navy?” asked Ma.

Emma put a soft hand on Sam’s shoulder. “You have a lot to talk about with your mother,” she said. “I’m going to go tell the Deacon the news.”

Emma ran off.

Ma and Sam left the laundry.  Ma pulled a large key out of her skirts and opened a rusty lock on a door that swung out into the alley.  It opened into a small shack that had been thrown up against the laundry.

“Look at you!” Ma said.  She grabbed both of the boy’s hands. For a moment she said nothing, and Sam realized she was praying under her breath. Sam closed his eyes as well.

“It is so good to see you, son.”

Sam told Ma his story, from when he’d left to get help for Pa that night. He told her about Albany, and the Endeavour and how he had joined the Royal Airship Navy.  Then Sam told her about the rebels. He told her about Jack.

Ma asked Sam a lot of questions as he told his story.   When Sam started to talk about the College where Jack had run off, he noticed that Ma fell quiet.

“That reminds me, Ma, I met an old professor at the College. Professor Beecher.  He was very helpful,” said Sam. “But I didn’t trust him.”

“Professor Beecher…” said Ma, with a far away look in her eyes.  “I would venture to guess that he can still be trusted.”

“You know him?” said Sam.

“You could say that,” said Ma.  “I worked at the College once.  So did your father.  The Deacon was a student there, too.”

Ma looked at the dark window shade. “I wonder where your Pa is now.”

“Did you meet Pa in Boston?” asked Sam.

“Yes, a long time ago,” said Ma. “We’ll talk about it when Pa gets home. I think we’ve waited long enough to discuss this as a family.”

Just then, Tom and Al burst in the door.

“Sam!” The small room was not big enough for the three Mack boys’ boisterous reunion.

“Alright, settle down, boys,” said Ma. “If your shift is done, the evening express from Albany ought to be here any minute. Let’s go meet Pa at the station.”

The boys and Ma hurried to the nearby platform. Ma was right, the train rolled in just minutes later. The family watched the cars unload.

After a few minutes, it was clear that Pa was not aboard.

“I’m sure he’s fine, Ma,” said Tom.

“He said he’d be back on this train or send word,” said Ma. “It isn’t like your father to miss a train.”

“Should we go look for him?” asked Al.

“There isn’t a train until morning,” said Tom.

“I will have to go into the laundry early tomorrow, and see if I can keep this job. You boys had best go down to Albany to see where your Pa ended up last night,” said Ma.

“I can go get him Ma, if all of you have to work in the morning,” said Sam.

“I’m not letting you leave alone again, Sam,” Tom said quietly. He exchanged a look with Al. “We’ll all go.”

“That settles it then.” Ma pushed herself back from the table. “Let’s get you somewhere to sleep, Sam.” She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “I can’t say how glad I am to have you home safe and sound.”

© J. O. Evans 2017. All Rights Reserved.