The Advent

The Advent by Deidre Dalton is Book #1 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


Forbidden love and dark secrets haunt two Irish families hacking out a new life in 19th-century America. When Molly Larkin's father discovers her affair with lighthouse keeper Colm Sullivan, his reaction pitches her into madness. Yet the legacy forges a bond of blood that will endure for generations...

From Chapter Three

June 1880

Larkin City, Maine   


    WHEN TWENTY-YEAR-OLD Colm Sullivan stepped off the boat from Ireland in June 1880, the sun glinted off his blond hair. Electric enthusiasm shown from his eyes, which were set in a strong, sun tanned face and white teeth behind full lips. All who saw him agreed that he was wonderful to behold. Tall at six-foot-four, he was blessed with such an abundance of physical beauty that when contemplated by himself or others, he became embarrassed. Men teased him by calling him "pretty boy" or the lad who was "easy on the eyes." His mellow temperament and integrity, supported by an innate and moderately educated intelligence, gave him a presence that others trusted instinctively. He was alone in the world and determined to make a life for himself in America, even if he had to begin with menial labor.


    Young as he was, his lower back ached from sitting in the flat bed of the carriage careening toward Larkin Village. Mr. Larkin, sitting up on the carriage's only seat with the driver, hired the four of them on the dock a few days ago in New York. Once on the road, Colm heard Mr. Larkin tell the carriage driver to go as fast as he could because he was eager to get home to his family. So the four of them were having their backsides pounded all across the terrains of New York, Massachusetts and now finally Maine. The closer they got to their destination, the more he looked forward to the relief of being on solid ground.


    The weather, sunny and warm with a salty breeze, was a blessing after being closeted in the ship's steerage from Ireland to New York. He turned to look at the passing scenery as they went deeper and deeper into the wilds of Eastern Maine. He suddenly wished they were still in Bangor where they stopped to rest and eat two days ago. Surely they were getting closer to their final destination now. How much farther could it be?


    "What are you thinking, pretty boy?" Seamus Flaherty asked, his head bobbing up and down from ruts in the road.


    He turned to look at the sturdy, red haired, freckled young man. Seamus was from Belfast, and hired by Mr. Larkin to be a grounds worker. "I'm thinking it's time we stopped. Me arse and back is killin' me."


    Seamus laughed. "Don't you know it. I don't think we have far to go, though."


    "How would you know?" demanded Barry O'Toole, an 18-year-old from Kerry.


    "Just a feeling. Mr. Larkin said it was two days or so from Bangor, and we've been riding for two days now."


    "I'm starved, and I need a good drink by God," said Patrick O'Connor, a tall, thin, Dublin native in his early twenties with russet hair and dark eyes.


    O'Toole nudged him. "Watch your blessed tongue. Larkin isn't deaf, man."


    O'Connor snorted. "If we can't hear ourselves over the din of the horses, how can he?"


    "How come Larkin chose you to work in his new lighthouse?" Flaherty asked Colm.


    Colm shrugged. "I worked in one in Malahide."


    "It'll be a good deal for you, I'm thinking," Flaherty nodded. "Larkin told me I'd be working on the estate grounds, as he calls them, but if I don't like it I can go into the village and get work at the forge. That's what I'm really good at, that's what I did in Belfast. Larkin said his father-in-law owns the forge in the village, but he's too old to run it now. I'll be seeing what happens, I guess."


    "I'm good with the land," O'Connor declared. "Me own Daddy had his farm outside Dublin, but he gave it to me older brother and I was sort of shoved out. I think we'll all do good in America."


    "Me, too," O'Toole agreed. "I'm good with livestock. My uncle has the biggest dairy farm in Kerry, but he had six sons and I was a bit in the way, I think. Besides, the Irish girls are all quiet-like and they don't give out. I'll bet the lasses in America give out, them being so liberated and all."


    "Don't count on dipping wick into a Yankee candlestick," O'Connor snickered. "I hear tell they're more snobbish than the limeys; that they put on airs here."


    "We'll see," O'Toole said. "I'd love to have an American wife someday."


    "I imagine we'll all marry Americans," Colm mused. "We're here now and we don't have much of a choice, unless we don't marry at all."


    Flaherty laughed. "You'll marry, pretty boy. Some lass will get a good look at you and go for your jugular. You'll have no problems with the ladies, I'm thinking."


    Colm flushed. "Can't help my looks, lads. I was born this way."


    They fell silent and gaped as the carriage approached the mansion. Mr. Larkin told them his house was big, but they were in no way prepared for the reality of it, not even in their wildest imaginations. The mansion was bigger than the Irish castles Colm had seen in his lifetime, even the ruined ones. The pines surrounding the house lent a dark, forbidding air to the estate as did the trailing ivy that snaked around the entire structure.


    "Good...God...Almighty." O'Connor's eyes were wide. "I have never seen the like in all of my life. It has to be bigger than the shagging Pope's house, don't you think? Jaysus! Are we all going to stay in this fortress?"


    "We're servants, man," Flaherty said patiently. "Why would the good Mr. Larkin put us up in his own home? I'm thinking our lot will be in the stable. Mark my words."


    "Not Sullivan. The lighthouse has its own cottage. I heard Larkin say so."


    Flaherty looked at Colm. "Is that true, then?"


    "So Mr. Larkin told me. But it wasn't my doing, you know. I asked for no special place. Honest. Besides, how big can the cottage be? I'm a servant, like the rest of you."


    "Your looks will take you far, Sullivan," Flaherty predicted. "And you ain't just like the rest of us. You'll be somebody with that face, there's no mistaking it. You may just be off the boat, and you may be poor like the rest of us, but with looks like yours, it will take you places. I'm doubting any lass, whether she's a peasant or a lady, could ignore the likes of you."


    The carriage slowed as it came closer to the mansion, giving Colm some relief from Flaherty's talk. Colm spied a massive awning over what appeared to be the double entry doors, but the carriage did not stop there. It veered left and went around the back of the mansion. O'Toole laughed harshly. "That's typical. We're being taken to the tradesmen's entrance. Not good enough to trip through the front door."


    "Shut yer yap!" Flaherty snapped. "Larkin can hear us now for sure."


    They were quiet as the carriage stopped at the rear of the house. They watched Larkin jump out of the carriage before it stopped. He looked up at the house and turned to face them, happy to be home. They did not guess he was in his fifty-first year because he showed little sign of his age. He stood tall and erect, with a mere dusting of silver at his temples. He motioned them out of the carriage. After they gathered their meagre luggage, the driver moved the carriage off toward the stables.


    "This is my home," John stated flatly. "It is here you will live and work. Someday you may want to work in the village, but for now you will earn your wages on my estate. Except for Colm, all of you will be housed on the fourth floor of the house. You three will share a room, a very large room with a fireplace and a sitting room. Colm, as you all seem to know, will reside in the lighthouse keeper's cottage, as that will be in line with his job here."


    The men stood listening and watching him.


    "I'll give all of you a few days of rest. I'm sure you're all tired from your long journey and these days on the road. We're back in time so I can have tea with my family, whom you will meet shortly. Meanwhile, I'll leave you in the care of my cook in the kitchen, where he will give you tea and something to eat. After a short while, I'll return to collect you and introduce you to my family. It’s important that you know who they are, because when I'm not here, you will answer to my son Roderick. He's a fair-minded and patient lad, and not in the least bit abusive."


    John paused, looking at his new servants, checking his mental agenda of things he wanted to say to them. He pointed to Flaherty, O'Connor and O'Toole. "Please take baths. A supply of clean clothes will be provided for you while your own are washed."


    John looked at Colm. "I'll take you to the keeper's cottage after you meet my family. After you've been to the village, you can prepare your own meals at the cottage, if you so desire. If you can't cook, you are certainly welcome to eat all your meals here at the mansion with the other staff."


    Colm nodded slightly. "Thank you, sir. I can cook some. I'll be all right on my own, once I get some supplies."


    "As you wish." John swept his gaze over them again. With one hearty nod for emphasis, he rubbed his palms together. "Let's get out of the sun and into the kitchen. I'm sure you're as famished and thirsty as I am." The relief on their faces was so transparent that he laughed aloud, a happy sound that made the men smile. Patrick O'Connor, particularly, looked so pleased at the prospect of food and drink that John decided to add one more thing.


    "I don't mind if you take a drink. There's a pub in Larkin called the Amber Whale that you might come to frequent soon enough. But know this: I will not tolerate drunkenness on the job. I will simply not abide it. I don't subscribe to the quaint notion that all Irishmen are drunkards and good-for-nothings. I have proven otherwise. If you are discovered drinking while working for me, you will be dismissed at once, and you can find your own way off my estate. What you do on your time is your own business, as long as you break no laws, nor hurt anyone else in my employ or in the village. My wife, Mrs. Larkin, is particularly moral and will not have...shall I say indecent frolicking with any of the maids. Do I make myself clear?"


    John looked at each man individually until he received their nods of compliance, then he smiled. "Good, good! Now let's go inside and relax. You've earned a good rest."


    They followed him inside, with Colm Sullivan taking the lead.



THE ADVENT ©2011-16 Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

"The Advent" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "The Advent" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Note: "The Advent" was previously published as "Passion Forsaken" by Club Lighthouse and Tyborne Hill.