No Cure For Boredom
When Kit returned to the cottage she found seven men needing medical attention, four sittiing at one end of the cottage, and three at the opposite end. One of the labourers, a short older man
with thick legs and arms, stood between them holding a spill plane in one hand and tapping the end of it into the palm of the other.
Tom stood in front of one of the seated men. He rested one hand on his shoulder and the other pulled suddenly at his arm.
The man screamed out in pain.
Tom fitted him with a sling before sending him on his way.
“Kit, I’m glad to see you. We could certainly do with your help,” Tom said.
“There’s been a spat over one of the women." He pointed at the first group of men. "The four men over there said they’d formed a line outside of one of the sailor’s tents. The other
three tried to push in to obtain the woman’s, ah… services, shall we say, before the others.”
“I see. Which one of them would you like me to attend to first?”
“The fella on the end.” He pointed to a man who was as long and almost as broad as the dining table. “He doesn’t have a mark on his face, but his knuckles are split down to the bone. Clean up
the wounds and I’ll be there directly to suture them.”
Kit approached the man and placed a basin and cloths on the table next to his chair.
“Hold out your hand for me would you?”
“Of course, Missus,” he replied. “I’d let you hold my hand any day.” He laughed and gently elbowed the young man sitting next to him before extending his hand.
She rested the man’s wide hand across her own and dabbed at his wounds with the cloth.
“If I’d known there were fine looking women like you in this place, I’d never even have bothered with that red-headed whore.”
“You’ll hold your tongue in my presence, sir, or you’ll need the surgeon to reattach it after I’ve finished with you.”
The man laughed in unison with his companion while Kit applied pressure to his wounds.
“Hey, go easy there, Missus. I need these hands to do me work, and for pleasing the ladies.”
She ignored the laughter and remarks and continued to mop the blood from the lacerations. When she’d finished, she stood silently and waited for the man to lower his clean hand and present the
other. He did so without remark and she finished her work just as Tom approached.
“That’s a thorough job, Kit. I told you, you’re a natural.”
She watched as he began suturing the wounds.
“Look carefully how far I’m penetrating the needle into the skin.” He pulled the thread to close the wound. “When making the knots, make them all on one side.” He stood aside before he made the
“Now, you try.”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t. I’m not trained to do this.”
“Yes, you are; I just trained you.”
“No, Tom, I couldn’t.”
The sailor snapped. “Would you just get on with it. I’ve got work to do."
Kit glared at the man and took the suture needle and thread from Tom.
“So, I penetrate just so far." She watched the man grimace before pushing the needle into his torn flesh. “Then, I pull slowly, so as not to tug at the wound.”
“No, don’t tug at the wound." The man turned his head sideways. “Take it slowly.”
“Now, I make the knot at the same side of the others and it’s all done.” She stepped back for Tom to examine.
“You did a great job Kit. I can barely tell your suture from mine. You’re going to make a cracking nurse.”
The man opened one eye first, then the other.
“Not too bad,” he said.
“Next time you should learn to hold your temper and stay away from Ginny,” Kit said.
“Who is Ginny?” he asked.
Kit scowled at him before walking outside and throwing the water from the basin behind the back of the cottage. She returned and cleaned the lacerations on the face of another of the
The brawling of the sailors ended with the departure of the Ticonderoga a week later, but all trouble did not leave with them. The boredom, the heat and the closeness of the living
quarters all contributed to making the precinct of the Quarantine Station the perfect tempest.
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