A Special Night at Character Café

Featuring Emiliana Kowalski from A Dark Lustre

Welcome to Character Café!  Have a seat right over there.  Oh my goodness, you are soaked! I will go get you a towel.

Thank you very much.  And thank you for letting me come into the café. I know I probably don’t smell like flowers or spices.  With the constant rain, and the leaks in our company home, we aren’t able to handle laundry in an efficient way. 

No worries at all.  My goodness, it is not just you!  I mean, it is the Victorian Age, after all.  Toilet water can only go so far.  Tell me a little about your life before I take your order.

Well, I am Polish, as perhaps you can tell from my accent and my blue babushka.  I stayed with my grandmother in Poland for five long years.  I loved my babcia very much, but I also missed my parents and sisters terribly.  Losing my grandmother was hard, but I was able to finally make the voyage to America to join my family. 

And how do you like it here in Smithborough? 

Actually, my family and I live in Davieston.

Oh.  I am sorry to hear that.  I have heard it isn’t easy living in the company town.

No.  It is not.  When I finally found my family again, I was shocked at how thin and haggard my parents have become.  And my poor sister Elzbieta. She had a very high fever when my family first came to Pennsylvania.  She cannot seem to learn English like the other children do, and she gets punished almost every day by the schoolteacher that the coal company hired.

I am so sorry.  I wish I could do something to help you out.  But at least I can give you a nice hot drink and a treat on the house.  I am glad you were able to get away from Davieston for the day.  Here’s the menu.  Oh my goodness, what happened to your hands?

I am afraid to tell you. 

Whatever secrets you have are safe with me (and the readers of this blog). 

[speaks in a whisper]  My father was injured in the mine.  We had no male in our household to take over his spot.  The Davieston Mining Company policy is to evict families within three days of a family member no longer working in the mines.  So, I had to disguise myself as a boy to enter the mines.  It is just until my father is well enough to return.  Just to keep my family from being homeless. 

So all those scars and black lines are from mining?  How in the world are you going to keep it a secret?  What will you do when your father goes back?  I am sure people will recognize you eventually.

I am afraid I am going to have to leave my family for good.  Every day I live in fear that someone will catch on.  I regret not trusting God and looking for another way out – instead of being deceitful like this.  But now it is too late.  [draws back her babushka to show her shorn hair]

I know you are right – that maybe there would have been another way.  But at the same time, I think you are incredibly strong and courageous.  To sacrifice so much for your family.  Now what can I get you?

This is so hard!  Three of these teas remind me of Miss Clara and her orchard.  The Davidson’s Tea Spiced Pear, TAZO Organic Baked Cinnamon Apple, and The Republic of Tea Cinnamon Plum.

I know Miss Clara!  She is famous here in Smithborough.  I tell you what!  I will give you a sampling of all three!

Thank you.  And as for a sweet.  Anything plum reminds me of my babcia.  I will have to try the New York Times Plum Torte.  I have heard of this recipe before.  It’s famous.

Because it is so good!  It has been nice meeting you, Emiliana!  Enjoy your teas and torte! 

Thank you so much.   If anyone would like to learn more about my story, it is on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Lustre-Thanksgiving-Blessings-Collection-ebook/dp/B0B6JP4LYZ/

Eager to join her family in America, Emiliana crosses the Atlantic with hope for a bright future. During the voyage, Austin, the Viscount of Marshallford, gains her admiration when he befriends the parents of her four young charges. Determined to save his family estate, he journeys to marry an American heiress, never expecting to fall in love with a penniless Polish nanny. Once in Pennsylvania, both find that tragic circumstances call for desperate measures. If they ever meet again, how could Emiliana trust a man seeking an alliance with those oppressing her family?

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10 responses to “A Special Night at Character Café”

  1. This is great!

    1. Thanks for joining us at Character Café!

  2. Emiliana’s situation breaks my heart, but I also admire her courage.

    1. It is heartbreaking — what men and women had to do to keep their family sheltered and fed during the Victorian Age and earlier. I expect I would have rather worked in the mines than some of the other ways women were forced to make money. But what a terrible quality of life.

  3. I just enjoyed blackberry spice tea today and it was delicious

    1. I am sure I would love it!

    1. You are welcome! Thank you for coming to the café!

  4. Loved it. My great grandparents came from Poland. They never spoke English. My grandmother used to make a thin pancake with eggs and baking powder and put maple syrup on them. Never could find the recipe. I am looking forward to reading your book.

    1. Weird that you remember her putting the baking powder in them. I would think it would make them fluffier? I was thinking it could be crepes? My husband’s great-aunt always made them using a Polish recipe. They are much more eggy than regular pancakes. See if is something like this: https://www.thespruceeats.com/polish-thin-crepes-recipe-1137096 Did she also make the potato pancakes with them? Because many Polish recipes require baking powder with the potato pancakes — which I didn’t expect. https://thedeliciousspoon.com/polish-potato-pancakes/

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