The First

On New Year’s Eve of 1891, the steamship Nevada slowly eased it’s way into New York Harbor as the last spindles of the setting winter sun broke across the faces of the people on it’s crowded decks. A swarm of tugs and barges buzzed around her hull, tossing lines and messages and packages back and forth like a queen bee being tended to by her drones.

“It looks closed,” Anthony said.

“Does that mean we have to go back to Cork?” asked his little brother Phillip, making a face as if about to cry.

“That’s right, pickaninny, we’re going to have to sell you to the dockrats in Queenstown just to survive. Sorry, but you’ll have to change your name to Oliver,” Anthony said to him with a scowl.

“Stop calling me that! And you’re a liar! Isn’t he Annie?”

Annie slapped Anthony on the back of his head, knocking his cap over the rail and into the water. “And you be nice to Phillip or I’ll tell them you have cholera or syphilis and they’ll never let you in.”

Anthony made a sour face at his sister and leaned over the rail to watch his cap float sternward in the grey foamy wake. He walked a few steps away following it.

“Does mummy know we’re here?” Phillip asked Annie.

“Of course, she does. And tomorrow morning she’ll be here with daddy to meet us. It’s the grand opening tomorrow.”

“It’s been a long time, Annie. What if they forgot us?” Phillip asked, beginning to work himself into tears again.

“We’ll be fine, love, we’ve made it this far, haven’t we?” Annie said, ruffling his dirty hair.

“Happy birthday,” Phillip said.

At 8 a.m. the next day, Annie Moore was the first in line at the newly opened Ellis Island.

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