Chapter Eighteen

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She suspected that fifteen-year-old Stevie, who had volunteered to drive Robbie's car back to the Cormier residence, had lied about his ability to do so. He raced like a demon with the car screeching as he changed gears. Once he pulled up in front of the Cormier House with a jerk, Dorothy grasped his wrist and told him if he drove like that when there were children in the car, she'd take his head off.

Though, she supposed that his driving kept from having the vehicle taken by the military. The soldiers couldn't take the car if they couldn't catch it.

Throughout the day he came and went, taking one load after another to the Monroe house, until Dorothy bolted out to the car and asked him if he had checked with Mrs. Monroe about the number of people he was bringing to her house. As it turned out, Mrs. Monroe had convinced her friends to open their doors as well, and Stevie also made trips to the hospital and shelters where folks hoped to find their loved ones.

With Charlie at her side, Dorothy worked where needed. She spent most of her time picking glass out of skin with a pair of tweezers, but she couldn't bear to stitch any wounds. She tried once and had gotten faint.

Some with more severe injuries had to be sent to the crowded hospitals. Mrs. Cormier wasn't seen all day. When her children began to worry, both Julia and Dorothy assured them that their mother would probably be days at the hospital and she was safe where she was.

A picture formed of what had happened. The consensus from those who had been watching the commotion in the harbour was that a ship leaving Bedford Basin had rammed into one entering it, and one of them had exploded.

People still fought about whether it had been as simple as two ships colliding in the harbour, or if they were all sitting ducks until the next part of the invasion happened. Some insisted they had seen a zeppelin over the harbour and wouldn't be convinced when they were told it had been the same cloud of smoke Dorothy had seen after the blast.

There had also been a great wave caused by the explosion that reached up onto land and pulled everything in its path in, and ships in the harbour had touched bottom. The debris Dorothy had seen on the water wasn't just flotsam, but also bodies floating on the oily surface.

Trains left for Truro and Kentville, both to the north, where the displaced could find shelter or medical help. It was said that doctors and nurses would be taking the passengers' places on the return trip.

When Dorothy had a moment to think -- and there were few of those -- she thought of Robbie.

Countless ways he could have died surged up at her. His corpse floating near a broken pier or tossed so far it might never be found. She didn't think her imagination could conjure worse than that, but it did. Perhaps he was trapped somewhere and still alive, his body shattered and his eyes blown out, muttering "help me" over and over again as he waited for rescue or death.

By ten o'clock at night she could take no more, and neither could Stevie, who confessed that he was too exhausted to see straight. She collected Charlie and promised Julia Cormier that she would come back to help the next day if she was needed.

"You need sleep and you need to get off that leg," Julia told her as she wiped her hands clean. Like Dorothy's, they seemed permanently stained black and red with dark sludge beneath the fingernails. "I can manage on my own tomorrow, and more help is coming. Polly sent word to let me know that rooms should be prepared for the doctors and nurses who are already on the trains."

"Come on, Dorothy, I'm run right off my feet," Charlie moaned from behind.

Julia's edict was met with some relief. Dorothy wasn't sure she could spend a day at rest in the middle of all this, and she was desperate to be at the Monroe house as much as she could.

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