Luck Takes Many Forms
Mabel Merriweather grew up knowing she was lucky.
“Luck of the O’Gormans,” said Ma, drawing a line on Mabel’s palm with a finger. “See that mark there?”
“It’s a freckle.”
“Maybe, maybe. But that freckle is the shape of a heart, see? That’s the sign of the Luck. We’re lucky, you and I. Aunt had it, and me Grandma too. And her ma a’fore that, and back before that.”
Mabel, aged seven-and-three-quarters, was naturally cynical. She was aware that adults can be tricky beasts, prone to teasing the innocent – but also, being a child, she was naturally curious.
“Me and mine,” said Ma, folding Mabel’s small hand into a fist, “who bear that mark are naturally lucky. ‘Tis a fact.”
Mabel thought they didn’t seem that lucky, being as Da had just died, run over by a runaway horse in the middle of the street. “But –” she began.
Ma shook her head vigorously. “But me no buts, girl. Accept it, and do right, that’s what my Ma always said, aye, and her Ma too, and that’s what you should do as well.”
Later that day, dressed all in black, the widow Merriweather and her daughter visited the lawyer. Mabel felt overwhelmed by the richness of the office: shiny leather, polished wooden chairs and stained glass windows, just like those in church. She sat on the edge of the chair nervously swinging her feet and held her laced-edged handkerchief to her face, as Ma had instructed.
The lawyer-man, a be-whiskered gentleman by name of Master Smitherson said many things to Ma in long words that Mabel did not understand. But she did as Ma bade her and spoke when spoken to and said please and thank you and ask they left Mister Smitherson pressed a bright shilling into her hand and patted her on the head.
“You’re a good girl, Mabel,” he said, “A very good girl. And I’m sorry about your Da, but at lease he had the forethought to provide for you. Most fortunate that.”
Mabel nodded, but she missed Da. He wasn’t ever coming back again. Her lip trembled.
Then Ma curtsied and the lawyer bowed and there they were, out on the street.
“Well!” said Ma. “Well!” Her face was flushed. “What did I say about luck? Who’d have thought poor Charlie would have thought of life insurance? But there you go, that was Charlie. Bless him, bless his kind soul.”
Ma seemed suddenly affectionate to Da, which seemed strange after all the shouting and name-calling and bottles being thrown. Still, it was a relief to see her smiling.
“And the first thing we’ll do,” Ma decided, “is to get you into a really good school, Mabel.”
Abruptly, Mabel’s spirits sunk. “Ma –”
But her mother wasn’t listening. “Yes my dear, you should always be grateful for your luck. Always.”
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