When we last saw Sessel (now Cecil), she had moved to Minnesota, changed her name, found a job, and met a new friend. I tried to write more of her story, especially about the young man she was trying so hard to ignore. But, her future father in law kept barging in. So, here's some of his story.
Stavanger Norway, February 1884
Elias Swenson was excited and afraid at the same time. He was 16 and his father had finally consented to allow Elias to join his crew as a cabin boy. They were sailing for New York at first light, a voyage that would take them a month or more depending on weather and the winds.
An hour after they set sail on that clear February morning, Elias took a few minutes to hang over the rail on deck and look around. He saw whales blowing, a sure sign of schools of herring below. His stomach rumbled at the thought of herring for dinner. Then he realized that he might have to help cook. His enthusiasm waned. He thought cooking was women’s work. Beneath him.
After a month at sea and bone grindingly hard work, Elias’ hands were calloused and his skin tanned. He was also sick and tired of ships and the sea. His father put down his brass and wooden spyglass and smiled widely. He offered the spyglass to Elias. “Look son, there’s New York. We’ll dock at the outer harbor quarantine station first, then go through Ellis Island. Elias smiled as well, but his smile was wily and sly. He planned to jump ship in New York. He had no plans to go back to Norway.
Stumbling through back alleys near the docks in New York, Elias ducked into a doorway and hid. He was shivering and his stomach growling, but he didn’t mind the discomfort. It wouldn’t last. He planned to make his fortune here. Waiting until he was sure his father’s ship had sailed, he stood up, groaning, and left his hiding place in search of food and passage to Chicago. He had heard there were jobs for young men in Chicago.