Chapter Eight

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Mrs Ealing's sentence turned into a small shriek as I exchanged glances to James and Christopher. James dropped his stack of papers onto the floor and walked to the door, pushing it open and disappearing into the cloud of the smoke that crowded the street outside. Screams broke through the smoke that started to travel into the room through the open door, but outside it had started clearing.

James returned a few minutes later covered in ash and helping a woman with a large cut down her cheek and a slight limp. He helped her over to one of the singular chairs by the window and turned to face us.

"There's been an explosion, at the match factory. Some chemicals spilt and a spark from the machine set it off. There are a lot of injuries and a lot of damage."

"My office is too far away and too small to deal with mass casualties," Doctor Ealing said. He moved across the room to the woman and handed her a cloth her kept in his pocket to press against the cut on her forehead.

"Use the shop. It's bigger, closer and we have a whole bolt of cotton you can use if you need it," I suggested.

"Is that all right?"

"Fine. I'll get the sand buckets and direct any injuries over here, it's chaos out there. Christopher, can you help here?"

"Of course. If you four want to go to my office until this over, it's just a short walk away." From his pocket, Christopher pulled out his keys and motioned to Mrs Ealing, Matilda, Kitty and me.

"I'm staying here," I said.

"Rosie."

"No. I'm of more use to Doctor Ealing then you are and after seven years in the factory, you learn a thing or two about dealing with a crisis."

"Alright, fine."

He handed over the keys to Mrs Ealing who grabbed Matilda's arm tightly and dragged her through the open door, into the smoke and up the street. Kitty followed behind. James crossed from the woman to the side room and disappeared into the alleyway out the back. He returned a few seconds later with the two red buckets full of sand that we kept as a precaution. We never expected a fire in the shop, but anything was possible as far as James was concerned.

"I need to go to my office, we'll need a suture kit, scissors and anything else that might be of help. Robert, you stay here and help in any way you can until I come back."

"Very well."

Robert glanced towards me as Doctor Ealing disappeared into the smoke, leaving the three of us alone with no idea how to handle the situation or the injuries that we were about to face. I grabbed the stack of papers from the floor and dumped them in James' office before starting to push or move as much of the furniture out of the way as I possibly could. Christopher and Robert moved the sofa back together and left it against the far wall, so it was out of the way.

As injured people started to stream in through the open door, thanks to James, I crossed the room to one of the shelves and grabbed the bolt of cotton. I rested it against the floor and tore off a long strip that could be torn into smaller ones for bandages. Doctor Ealing usually used scissors to make sure they were of a decent length, but we didn't have time for that. The makeshift bandages were used faster than I could tear them off the bolt and a lot of people who came through the door were classed as walking wounded. So far, we hadn't seen too many major injuries.

James returned every few minutes with the buckets and he would fill them up at the pump out in the alleyway to help fight the fire that covered most of the street outside in smoke and ash. I emptied out a bowl from the kitchen and filled it up with water, so we had something to clean the wounds of those who came into the shop. We had more people coming into the shop then we had space to deal with it all and Doctor Ealing was taking his time in returning from his office.

The Apprentice Girl // Book 3 in the Rosie Grey seriesWhere stories live. Discover now