Chapter Sixteen

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Doctor Ealing pressed his fingers lightly around thecut on my forehead, poking it slightly as though he expected something to happen. It didn't. After a few seconds of absent mindlessly poking at my head, he took a step back and produced a wad of cotton from his medical bag. He took out a small glass vial and pressed the cotton wall to the open end to allow the liquid to soak the cotton completely. I watched as he squeezed the leftover liquid into a metal bowl before gently wiping the cotton over the cut on my head. It stung a little, but I just stared at the wall until he dropped the cotton into the bowl.

"You'll need to clean it regularly to prevent infection and as much as you hate following my instructions Rosie, I don't want you moving from this bed for three days at least." Doctor Ealing gave me a pointed look which I returned. "Don't give me that look, you stopped using the cane without talking to me about it first."

"Talking to you wouldn't have done anything, neither did the cane," I said.

"We'll keep an eye on her, I'm not letting this one out of my sight," James said, he glared at me across the room and I knew that he was going to keep to his word.

"You're already far behind on your work, James. You can't keep pushing things back or you'll be working Christmas day and beyond. Mrs Baker will be here to keep an eye on her and I'm certain Rosie will do as she's told," Kitty added.

"Rosie isn't known for doing what she's told."

"I'm right here."

"I know."

"Perhaps there is a way around this," Doctor Ealing said. He snapped his medical bag closed and turned to face us. "Robert and I were talking earlier and we both agreed that it may be better for him to remain during the day so there is someone who understands head injuries around just in case. Of course, this decision is entirely yours to make and I understand your reservations if you decided against it."

James and Christopher glanced at each other as though having a conversation with their eyes about whether they should take him up on the offer. The two of them stared intently at one another and I wished one of them would speak to put an end to the silence that was starting to make me remarkably uncomfortable. I knew both James and Matthew struggled to maintain composure around the Ealing's since they both blamed the family for what Matilda did, but they were both very busy.

I dropped my hands to my lap and knotted my fingers together in front of me. The burn on my left hand stood out against the pale white colour of the rest of my arm, the still healing pink skin seeming foreign to the rest of my arm. I couldn't help but wonder whether Mathias ended up with the better injury out of the two of us. He barely seemed to acknowledge his missing hand whereas I couldn't stop looking at the mark permanently embedded into my skin. It was the only physical connection to the factory that I saw on a regular basis.

Beside me, Robert squirmed in the chair under the weight of the awkwardness and tension that filled the room. Despite my brother's being so accepting of him staying before, I doubted they were keen on the idea this time since we would actually have to have a conversation. We hadn't spoken properly since the explosion at the match factory and deep down I didn't think that really counted. He had spoken whilst I had been unconscious and I heard every word of it, but I didn't want to discuss it with him just yet.

Across the room, James cleared his throat and for the first time in about two minutes looked away from Christopher and folded his arms over his chest. A flash of uncertainty and curiosity crossed his face before he quickly rearranged it back to his usual stoic look. He had always been good at keeping his face straight, so no one knew just what he was thinking. More often than not I wished I could see what went on inside his head. This was one of those moments.

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