Chapter Nineteen

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By the time Dorothy reached the bottom of the stairs, Mrs. Monroe was all but forgotten and Robbie's fate was reluctantly pushed into the background of her thoughts.

It became all about Charlie. After a day of him being such a hero in Mrs. Cormier's house, she had to take it all from him by telling him that he was likely an orphan.

Though he'd never said it out loud, she knew that Charlie had hoped there would come a day when everything worked out and they'd once more have something to do with Abel Gaston, even if it was only once in a while. She'd felt the same way at times. If only their father had said just once that he was sorry and meant it.

Maybe he would have if she had given him half a chance. She and Ian, both. Maybe that day he had come to ask about Ian, she could have kept her anger in check and he might have tried to make amends, had said he was sorry, and she would have accepted his apology.

But she didn't think so, she had to admit to herself.

"How long do you think it will take before Ian finds out what happened here?" was Charlie's greeting when she returned to the kitchen.

"Oh, I don't know. I expect it won't be long. Most of the men in his battalion are from Nova Scotia, so a message would probably make its way to them quickly."

"Or else they'll keep it quiet for a while," Helena offered as she hauled the bread out of the oven. "Otherwise, they'll have a whole mess of men worrying about whether their families are alive."

"I'll send him a telegram as soon as I can," Dorothy told Charlie, and she gave him a little poke. "Would you come on outside with me for a few minutes? Bring your tea with you."

He followed her onto the veranda and set his cup on the railing, then turned up his collar. Dorothy sat on the cold wooden step and gestured for him to join her.

"Do you know what happened to Rob and his brother?" he asked.

"Not yet." She thought about taking his hand, but she knew he would only pull it away. Instead, she pulled her knees close and hugged them. "Did you hear about the tents? The military put them up on the commons for people who have nowhere else to do. Imagine sleeping in a tent after all they've been through? We're lucky we've got somewhere to sleep tonight."

"Yeah, but for how long?" he asked.

"We'll worry about that later," she said, clinging to the hope that she would find her way to Port Williams with Robbie after all this.

"I won't have to go to school for a while," he said, then chuckled at her dirty look. "Come on, you expect me to be sorry?"

"Maybe you'll go to a different school. Maybe we'll live in a different town."

"Where?"

"You ever want to live in the country?"

He stared hard into his cup, then nodded. "I think that would be OK. I'd miss my friends ... if I have any friends left."

"John is still alive, though if he talks to you again is another matter. I think I scared him so badly he needed to change his drawers."

Charlie guffawed. "I wish I had been there to see that, the know-it-all."

He dragged the tea from the railing and slurped loudly, and Dorothy knew the time had come. If she didn't get it out now, she'd be in agony looking for the right moment again.

"Charlie, this morning before I found you, I went looking for Dad," she said quietly.

Her brother nodded as he looked into his cup. "I know what you're going to say. I saw the car works. I went looking for him on my way here so he could help me find you."

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