Coffin Ship to America, Part 1

Coffin Ship to America, Part 1
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.36

     challenging words:    bodhran, fitzpatrick, Morran, quay, engulf, bunks, despair, hustle, racked, cargo, cramped, keening, likelihood, uttered, celebration, refused
     content words:    Uncle Rory

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Coffin Ship to America, Part 1
By Mary Lynn Bushong

1     Brigit hugged herself. The despair that surrounded her family at the start of the voyage threatened to engulf her.
2     She wanted to keen the passing of her mother but would not. Brigit sat on the side of her mother's bunk. She rested her hand on her mother's cooling one and refused to allow any sounds of grief from her mouth. It was not so hard now because of all the practice.
3     The journey had begun three months before. It had taken nearly three weeks of walking to reach the port. Then they had to wait a week for a ship. The green glorious hills of Ireland were remembered like shining jewels in her mind. It had been exciting to reach the quay with boats ready to take on passengers. The hustle and bustle, the sounds, sights, and smells were thrilling.
4     Da had gone to America three years before. When they had lost their cottage, they had been fortunate. Uncle Rory had room for them to stay until Da could send passage money to America.
5     Uncle Rory's cottage had been cramped, and they had all helped work the farm to pay the rent for it. There were just a few letters from Da, but they were savored and reread over and over.
6     When word came that they were to join him, it was a cause for celebration. The people of their village joined together to produce a meager feast. The music and dancing more than made up for that.
7     Brigit sighed. That had been such a wonderful day. She could see it all in her mind's eye. The swirling skirts, feet stamping to the music of fiddle and bodhran, the smiles and laughter. There had also been a shadow of sadness. Everyone knew there was every likelihood they would never see the family again.
8     The Morrans had been given bunks in the hold of the ship. People were crammed in like wheat in a bag. There was barely room to turn around in the hold with no fresh air, and they were not allowed up on deck. It would have eased the crowding, but the captain said they would interfere with his crew.

Paragraphs 9 to 16:
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