Chapter Twenty-One

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Shortly before noon, Helena looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. "I'd best go up to see if Lillian is out of bed yet. She was having a little cry into her pillow after spending the morning at Camp Hill."

"I'll go," Dorothy offered.

Still chilled from the walk in the snow, she finished off her tea and went upstairs. She knocked gently on Daniel's door and was admitted with a hoarse reply.

Mrs. Monroe had dressed in the same clothes as the day before. Her eyes were red and puffy, but it seemed as though she was done with her crying.

According to Helena, Mrs. Monroe had only made it through one hospital before she had a "spell" and was brought home. Even though the people who had been in the house last night were in a bad way, Dorothy imagined that nothing had prepared Mrs. Monroe for the sort of suffering she had seen in the hospital.

Dorothy crossed the room and pulled the bedding from the mattress. "Helena was worried about you."

"You don't have to do that. You don't work for me any longer."

"I can't stand an unmade bed. Charlie gets so mad at me when I get him up in the morning. As soon as he's out of his bed, I'm making it up."

"Is it still snowing?"

"Yes, it is."

Mrs. Monroe shook her head. "All those poor people out there. Did you know that some slept in the prison? In cells?"

"And in the barracks, and shop fronts — anywhere they could find shelter." Dorothy moved to the other side of the bed she jumped when Mrs. Monroe reached out for her.

The older woman grasped one shoulder, and Dorothy was horrified to think that she was about to get a hug, but Mrs. Monroe touched Dorothy's cheek.

"Have you looked in the mirror?"

Dorothy shook her head, and let Mrs. Monroe lead her to the dresser.

"Good Lord," she murmured at the sight of herself.

True enough, she hadn't looked in the mirror at all since the explosion happened, not even when washing her face or brushing her hair. How she looked was the least of her troubles.

Now that she faced herself, it was a wonder she hadn't frightened the children when she went into the kitchen. She was scratched up, like someone had taken a sharp rock and rubbed it all over her face, and she had two black eyes.

"It's worse than it was yesterday. If you want a change of clothes, I may have something to fit you."

"These are fine," she said, referring to the clothes Julia had given her. "I suppose I'm lucky to have them. I could still be in my nightgown. Charlie and I will go to the depots tomorrow."

"There's no need for that when I have something you can wear." Mrs. Monroe followed her into the hall. "I was hoping you could do something for me. I need to start visiting the other hospitals today to find my boys, and I don't want to take Helena away. I could cover more ground with another person looking for them. Would you come with me?"

Dorothy hesitated. It wasn't the looking that bothered her. She'd rather look for Robbie in the hospital than the morgue, but the idea of spending her afternoon with Mrs. Monroe didn't appeal to her one bit.

"I suppose I could," she said reluctantly. "I don't know if I will be able to keep up with you ..."

"Ah, your leg. I forgot. Perhaps, you shouldn't."

"No, you need someone who can pick them both out," Dorothy conceded. Mrs. Monroe was right. Surely if they both went, visiting every hospital and looking at every face, they'd find them.

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