Jimmy tried to keep his promise not to visit the opium den, but managed to keep away for only two weeks. While he was able to show them money, they allowed him back in. Blinker became Jimmy’s
watcher, often dragging him home from the den or from illegal gambling meetings. Jimmy’s moods became unpredictable and the settee his only bed since his dark dreams disturbed and distressed Kit
and the girls. Towards the end of Kit’s training, she was offered a position at the hospital.
“I’m not having you supporting this family!” Jimmy shouted.
“Lower you voice,” Kit said.
“I know, or the girls will hear. That’s all you care about now – the girls and your training.”
Kit pulled out a chair from the tiny kitchen table and sat.
“Our money is almost gone, Jimmy. You’ve either drunk it away, smoked it away or lost it on the cards.”
“Not that again! What am I supposed to do with my time?” He turned his back and stared at the floor. “You’ve always been the strong one; the one who could see us through the hard times; the one who
kept this family together.” He swung around to look at her. “I’m going back to the diggings.”
“We’ve been over this.” Kit rose and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I can support this family until you are well again.”
He clasped his hands to his ears. “There you go again, telling me I’m not well. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m the same man I’ve always been.”
Kit pressed a cheek to his back and wrapped her arms around his waist. “You know that’s not true.”
“I just need time to adjust to this place, that’s all.”
“Then take the time and let me worry about everything else.”
He broke from her arms and took her hand, “Come with me.” He led her into the parlour and urged her sit next to him on the settee. “I’ve thought long and hard about this, so don’t interrupt me
until I’m finished.”
“I want you to take the girls and return to the quarantine station. You could continue your nursing. You’d have money and security, and you know people there.”
“But why would I do that? I want to be with you.”
“Despite what I just said, we both know I’m not the same.”
Kit clasped his hands and lifted them onto her lap. “You’ll get better. It’s like you said – you just need some time.”
He closed his eyes and turned his head. “This is no place for you to raise the girls.”
“You’ve never been to the station. Let me decide where’s the best place for them.”
“I can join you in a year or so, when I’ve got myself back on track.”
Kit smiled. “I can’t live without you that long.”
He reached out and hooked a loose hair behind her ear. “It won’t be forever, and you’ll be working, the time will pass quickly enough.”
“I won’t go, Jimmy.”
He rose and paced across to the other side of the room in three strides. He turned back to Kit.
“Why can’t you ever do as you’re told?”
“My place is by your side. You’re my husband.”
“I’ll be with you as soon as I feel the time is right.”
“No, Jimmy. I-”
“For heaven’s sake. Go back to Tom!”
Kit felt her next breath catch heavily in her lungs like sand. She coughed as she expelled the air.
“How did you find out?”
“Clara told me. She didn’t mean to. She just blurted out his name one day. She was obviously very fond of him, and of Finely.”
“How long have you known?”
“Just a few weeks.”
“I didn’t tell you because I wanted to keep it a secret, I-“
“It’s all right. You thought I was gone.” He sat beside her. “A doctor could give you and the girls a good life. You said yourself that’s what you want.”
“Clara needs her father, and Lizzy needs the presence of a good man in her life. She’s only known men who want to take from her.”
“Tom could be that man.”
“Why are you pushing me away?”
A look came over his face that Kit couldn’t quite read.
“I’m not. I just want you to have choices in your life.”
“I have. And I choose you.”
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