With no one in quarantine, Clara was able to resume her schooling by attending the local school. Her protests at not being able to spend the day with Finley at the station were tamed when
he volunteered to walk her to school each morning.
Kit began her work at the hospital, but with only Lizzy to attend to, much of her time was spent rearranging the medical supplies the way she wanted them and keeping the hospital clean.
Kit found Laura to be a diligent and hard worker. She was eager to learn all Kit was willing to show her and some of their time was spent together with Kit as the teacher and Laura the
“Now, what is this called?” Kit held up a black-handled instrument from the collection laid out before her.
“That’s easy,” Laura said. “It’s a duck bill speculum.”
“Good. What about this one?” Kit showed her a long thin tool with two spikes on the end.
“That’s a cyst remover. I hope I never have to use that.”
Kit placed the tool back on the bench. “Nursing is often an unpleasant business. You see people at their worst. The pleasure comes with easing their discomfort and, God willing, seeing them walk
away as they were before. Now, last of all, what's this?” The instrument looked like a person’s finger.
Laura blushed and averted her eyes.
“Laura? Do you know what this is?”
“It’s a vaginal speculum, Miss Kit.”
“Very good. Now you will be better able to fetch the instruments Tom needs without him having to give you a detailed description of each.”
“I dare say I won’t be working here for long after we’re married.”
Kit stopped placing the instruments back in their kits and looked at Laura. “Why's that?”
“Well, he’s eager to have a baby. As soon as I’m pregnant, I am to stop working forever.”
Kit placed a hand on her hip. “Is that what you want? To have a baby straight away?"
Laura twirled a displaced dark curl around her middle finger as she thought. “I guess so. I’ve never really given it much thought. I know I want a baby one day.”
Kit fixed her eyes on Laura's. “You don’t have to get married or have a baby until you are ready, and once you do have a baby, you can return to work if you wish.”
“Return to work!” Laura dismissed the thought with her hand. “Who would look after our child?”
“You could hire a governess.”
“What is a governess?”
“Never mind. It’s time I got back to my child. She'll soon be ready to be collected from school..”
Kit returned to the cottage to fetch her hat before departing for the school, but Clara was already home, sitting on the front steps in the sun with Finley.
Clara looked crossly at Finley. “Finley brought me home early from school but he won’t tell me why.”
Finley rose and removed his hat. “Kit, you had better come inside.”
Kit froze. “What is it, Finley. Tell me now.”
He gave a small head shake. “No, not here. Come inside.” He urged her towards the door with his hat in his outstretched hand.
Kit moved unhurriedly up the front steps and paused at the door.
Finley turned to Clara. “You stay here, Clara.”
She screwed up her face. “But, Finley--”
“Don’t argue, child. Stay here.”
Kit nodded to her and she gruffly sat down on the steps.
Inside the cottage Kit sat in her rocking chair near the fireplace.
Finley placed his hat on a side table and sat in an opposite chair. He was about to speak, but Kit spoke first.
“It’s Jimmy, isn’t it?”
Finley nodded. “He didn’t make it up north like he’d planned.”
Kit gasped. “He's dead?"
Finley nodded again.
"But how can that be? He told me had months left, maybe even a year. Are you sure, Finley?”
He rose from his chair, kneeled on the floor at her feet and grasped her hands in his. “A man called Blinker called on him and found him, but it was too late. It wasn’t the consumption that got
him. He hung himself.”
Kit’s hand went to her mouth. “No. He was sick. He was going to die anyway. Why would he do that?”
“The wire from the telegraph said there was a note. He requested to be buried next to Robert. Blinker is bringing his body here the day after tomorrow. Perhaps he’ll have an answer for you.”
“I knew I should have stayed with him. I --” The words didn’t follow and she cried onto Finley’s shoulder.
He held her, stroking her hair. “I’m here for you and Clara. I’ll always be here for you.”
When Clara was asked inside and told the news she sat cross-legged in front of the fireplace and stared at the dying coals from the morning’s fire. “I knew he was going to die. I’ve already said
goodbye to him.”
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