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In the Upper Ward


.                                                           In the Upper Ward

“They’ve been cured?” Father Ora  Moonwall sounded incredulous as he repeated the nurse’s words. He reached a finger up under the ever-present, shaded goggles, worn to stave off the migraines to which he was prone, and scratched away an itch. “Juris, how is this possible?”

 Brother Pizarro held a small mirror angled to catch the morning sun and redirect it into the eyes of the young scribe, Tobias, who sat patiently on the edge of his bed. “It appears Joseph has not been idle since we left the children here on Saturday.”

 “How do you feel?” Pizarro asked the boy.

 “I feel well, Brother,” Tobias replied. “Dr. Foehammer was with us most of the night. He gave us medicine and eased our minds, telling us we would be okay.”

 “Medicine,” Pizarro’s eyes narrowed. He reached out and used his thumb to lower Tobias’s eyelid so that he might check the colour. “What medicine? How was it administered?”

 “I don’t know what medicine, but he used syringes,” replied Tobias. “We were each given two doses; the first was Saturday night, at least I think it was Saturday, and the second last night.”

“Where is Foehammer?” Moonwall called out. Though none of the three nurses scurrying about would make eye-contact with him, Father Moonwall remained undeterred. “And why is Brother Kadmus not with the children?”

“I ain’t seen Dr. Foehammer since last night,” replied  Rosamond Perkins the most senior of the nurses. “Nor Brother Kadmus neither. Cook says she set out breakfast for the brother this morning but he never et it. Missus Foehammer neither for that matter.”

“Missus Foehammer’s been away all night,” said Audrey Nickerson, one of the nurses hired to help with the influx of patients as a result of the fire. “Sally’s been looking after her baby, Cecil I believe his name is. It’s right odd she would leave her baby like that.”

“I think they’re all up to something in that laboratory in the cellar,” said the third nurse, Harriet Vorpal. “That good-looking boy the militia left to guard poor Gracie Chandler’s son is down there onna counta that’s where Thomas is being kept.

“Same as with that crazy girl,” said Audrey.

“What a sin about that there business with young Thomas, eh?” Rosamond paused in the midst of tucking a sheet so that she could better lament the sorry state of injustice in the world. “I been worried sick about dear Grace. Ain’t no one seen her since the fire.”

“I know,” Harriet spoke in hushed excitement. “My cousin Doris is friends with her sister, Maude, and she says all Gracie’s kin is worried sick.”

“No doubt,” Rosamond nodded. “And they hafta be troubled over all that nonsense the boy has got himself into.”

Nurse Harriet dropped her voice even more.  “Apparently Grace helped the boy escape the authorities.”

“Even so,” said Rosamond, “Grace would never run-off and leave her boy, with him still in a bind and all. She ain’t that sort. The Chandlers are good people. It just don’t feel right to me— this situation and all—do you know what I mean?”

“Ladies,” Father Moonwall cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Might I return our focus to an issue of substance,” the cleric glared at the three nurses through his goggles. “One of you go find Foehammer. I want to see him right now.”



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