Porcelain (Part 31)

“Come on Claudia, let’s take a walk.”  As he spoke, he shook her gently from her sleep.  “It’s about time we checked this place out.”

As they stepped out of the cabin, she looked up at him and spoke.

“Go to see Isaac?”

“No dear, we are just going to take a walk.  I will go see him myself later.”  He dreaded the thought of that meeting, as he had realized during the course of the previous three days that he had been most completely in the wrong and was going to need to apologize to his son.  Not only because it was the right thing to do, but also because he knew that he needed Isaac’s cooperation to care for Claudia.  He may be able to get them their own compartment on a ship, or take care of a few small necessities for the girl, but securing a place to stay, and maintaining it, was likely going to be out of reach financially for him in Europe.  Making the peace with his son was the only real option he had.

They walked for over an hour before heading to the dining area for breakfast.  There were a few passengers who seemed to recognize Wyatt from the boarding incident, small banter and pointing fingers following them as they made their way to sit down at a table.  Glancing backward, he offered a small salute to those people, an action which promptly made them return their attention to their plates.  Afterward, they headed back onto the deck and spent the next few hours leaning on the rail, Claudia staring at the ocean as Wyatt told her more gold-mining tales.

That day and the next passed in similar fashion, with the two of them spending most of their time out of the cabin, exploring the ship or watching the water.  Wyatt even managed to get Claudia to take part in some of the games arranged by the crew for the children onboard and she seemed to enjoy both the playing and the interactions.  The other youngsters seemed to take her missing arm as a matter of little concern, adapting themselves to whatever she was able to do rather than making her feel out of place.  They did not see Isaac or any member of his family, even at meals when most of the second-class passengers were in the dining area.  That suited Wyatt, although he knew that eventually he was going to have to brace himself and go talk to his son.  He procrastinated as long as possible, but in the mid-morning of the sixth day at sea, with their docking in Liverpool just five hours away, he asked a steward for his son’s cabin number.  After a short walk over, he took a deep breath and  knocked.  When Isaac answered the door, he stood there with his hand still on the knob, barring entry and looking coldly at his father.  Wyatt returned the look, trying to soften the anger that was boiling up inside as he was kept waiting.  Finally, Lydia, out of sight behind the door, spoke.

“Let him in Isaac.  It’s your father, I presume.”

With a final cold look the arm dropped, allowing Wyatt to step into the room.

“Right on time then, father.”

“Hmmm, what’s that?”

“Right on time, I said.  I figured that your stubborn pride was going to keep you away until you absolutely had to come over here and beg for my forgiveness.  And here we are, about to dock and have you and that wretched girl spilled out into Liverpool.  I’m sure you’ve realized that you have little choice but to get back into my good graces.”

Sitting in a chair, knitting by the light of a small lamp, Lydia smirked slightly before turning her head away from Wyatt’s view.  Taking a breath, deeper than the one he had braced himself with before knocking, Wyatt replied.

“Yes, well, here I am indeed.  I hope that you understand that my actions the other day, my words toward your wife and you, were delivered out of frustration, and not intended to insult either of you.  I hope that you will accept this as my apology to you both.”

Silence between them followed, the gentle clicking of Lydia’s knitting needles sounding out of time with the ticking of the wall clock.  She continued to look at the floor, a small, sarcastic smile on her face, while Isaac slowly sat down on a stool.  Keeping his back straight and head turned up slightly, pompous and resentful, he seemed content to let the uncomfortable tension linger in the air.  Wyatt realized that this was just as difficult as he had expected it to be.  Finally, with a sarcastic smile of his own, Isaac spoke.

“And the boy?”

“Ambrose?  What of him?”

“His apology.  You must apologize to him also, he was there when you degraded our family so hatefully.  You surely owe him also.”

Now Lydia could hardly contain herself, a triumphant grin on her face, although she did mange to avoid making eye contact with Wyatt, who looked at her with a certainty that this last stipulation was her idea.  Turning his head toward the bed, he saw the pale-skinned boy sitting in the corner, wrapped up in a blanket, beady eyes peering over the top.

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am father.  You owe us all an apology and so far you have only offered it to me and my wife.  Do you not think that my son was just as humiliated as we were?”

“I hardly,” but Wyatt caught himself before finishing with his own assessment of the boy’s ability to comprehend much of anything.  Turning his bottom lip inward, he bit down hard, a small amount of blood trickling into his mouth.  He had, however, managed to suppress his anger.  After several more moments of composing himself he turned toward Ambrose.

“I do apologize to you also boy, and hope you will accept it.”

With that, he turned and left the room, slamming his hand into a bulkhead several steps after exiting the cabin.  He had done it for Claudia, and that was enough to satisfy him.

…to be continued

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