Marcy knew this was the end of one thing and a start of something new. For the first time in what seemed like forever, they held each other, she and Ken, partly for warmth, mostly for companionship. She could see from the look on his face that he no longer had any doubts, and whatever doubts he might have once had were washed away in the spray of salt water from the bucking ferry.
"It's fate, Marcy." He said, cupping up her chin and kissing her on the lips. "There ain't nothing in this life that happens by chance."
All she could do was smile, and bite her tongue. Content, happy, safe and warm. In the distance, the towers of New York City loomed, promising them - all three of them - a better life.
Marcy had known something was wrong when she didn't get her periods. She had tried telling herself it was just be the stress of preparing for the emigration, but somehow she still knew. She touched her belly, still flat, and felt despair.
It was just luck she got her morning sickness when they were already on the steamship over the Atlantic. Ken was seasick too, as were most of the others. They were third class passengers, stowed into the bottom of the boat, tightly packed together. The stink was awful, but most of them were too sick to move. Children cried, old men coughed, and it was constantly dark and damp. It was no wonder Ken's chest was acting up, on top of it all.
Marcy felt she ought to tell him, but she didn't know how. They had discussed it: best not to have children until after he had found work. His cousin was supposed to have a soap-making business in one of the New York boroughs, and they had telegrammed several times about it. But Ken wasn't sure it was going to work out, and until it did...
The thing with Ken was that he believed everything in life was pre-ordained. Marcy kept her mouth shut about that. If everything was pre-ordained, she argued to herself, that meant Jesus delivering us from sin was impossible, since it was already decided whether or not you'd go to Heaven. But somehow Ken managed to make it work with his religion, and that's all that mattered. It didn't make him less of a good man, just a bit difficult from time to time.
If Marcy told him about the baby - she was sure it was a boy, just absolutely certain - then he might go into a terrible funk. That would probably make his chest condition even worse, and the trip was already taking its toll. For days she wrestled with the dilemma, but in the end she felt it was her duty to tell him.
He didn't react well.
"How could this happen?" He exploded. They were above deck, taking in the fresh air. It was crowded even there. In two days they'd arrive at Ellis Island. "Is this some kind of punishment? How did..."
"You had a part in this too, you know." Marcy said defensively, protecting her stomach. As if he might hit her, suddenly. She put a hand on his sleeve. "It'll be all right. I promise."
"You can't promise that." He pulled away. She could see from the pain in his face and the way he hunched over his chest was paining him, but he was too proud to complain.
By the time they arrived at their destination, they were still not reconciled. She had tried telling him it was God's will, and that she was not yet two months pregnant and would be no burden, and that cousin O'Malley had to take them in now that she was in a state, but Ken would have none of it. He just kept repeating to himself: "Why did this happen to me? Why, God?"
In New York, they were met with an unpleasant surprise. The steamboat itself docked at the East river pier, but after that the third-class passengers were bundled onto ferries and sent out to Ellis island, the passage cold and dreary. The whole time Marcy wanted nothing more than Ken to hold her close again, but he remained distant, holding his chest in silent pain.
On the island they were all led upstairs, where the immigration process began - starting with a health check. Marcy, who was the image of health, was looked over by one of the doctors and nodded through, but Ken was immediately held back. She watched with increasing horror as they prodded and poked at him, shaking their heads. She'd heard about this - about the Americans not letting in people they were afraid would be a 'burden' on the state.
"Stop! You can't!" She cried out, grabbing Ken's arm and pressing herself against him protectively. He was too surprised to protest. "I'm pregnant! I need him!"
The doctors gave her a stern talking-to - you were supposed to tell them about such things - and marked her coat with a stencilled "Pg". But they also relented.
"Make sure to give her all you got, friend." One of the physicians said as they were sent off. "She's carrying the future of America."
All through the Registry hall, the interview with the clerks, discussing their monetary worth (they had just about $25, sent to them by their cousin), Ken seemed to be in a state of awe. By the time they were outside again, heading towards the ferryboat that would take them to New York City, the transformation was complete.