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In A Time to Heal, Frankie is now 17 years old and the family is still in Pennsylvania. However, her mother and stepfather, with Nate and Emily Johnson, move north to Middletown (now known as Biglerville) and into Hollingsworth House. Maggie and Emily both have suffered trauma stemming from the Gettysburg battle, and their husbands want to get them away so they can heal.
Frankie and Lydia stay behind in Gettysburg and continue to tending to the wounded soldiers in the old Smith house. But even though Frankie treats the USA and CSA soldiers equally, she takes no guff from them. Case in point is an encounter between Frankie and CSA soldier, Major Shay, who had owned enslaved people and who has insulted young Chloe Strong. (Chloe and her mother Matilda are freedom seekers who have escaped to the North.)
“Now you listen to me,” [Frankie] said, voice level but full of anger. “I don’t care how many slaves you owned back wherever you came from. Everyone is free here, especially in this house. That means under this roof everyone is to be treated with respect and dignity. Oh, I shall treat you kindly even though I find your way of life and your views nauseatingly loathsome. And, since you are our guest until your wounds heal, I suggest that you keep your wretched opinions to yourself.” She straightened her lithe frame and folded her arms across her chest. “Have I made myself clear?”
One Frankie’s storylines in A Time to Heal revolves around Patrick receiving a leg wound from a nervous Union private who mistakes him for a Confederate soldier (“You dad-blamed nincompoop, you shot me! What the hell were you doing? Can’t you see I’m Union?”). Although Patrick winds up in a field hospital near Beaver Creek, Maryland, he soon is sent to Mower General Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
What follows is pure Frankie. When a telegram arrives at the old Smith house, Maggie’s second daughter fears that Patrick has been killed. Thankfully, the telegram reads as follows:
Shot in leg by idiot picket guard. Wound not very serious. Do not worry. Am now at Mower U.S. Army General Hospital, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Love, Patrick.
So, Frankie wires him back, saying that if he can get a furlough, she will meet him at Mower and escort him home.
Long story short, she runs off again, this time to be with her beau and bring him back to Gettysburg. She also leaves a note for Lydia. Of course, the news nearly throws Lydia into a panic. “What shall we do?” she asks Matilda and Chloe Strong. “Papa is coming today. He won’t be happy when he learns about this.”
Lydia is right. Eli’s response to the news is predictable: “What?? Philadelphia?? Damn! Damn! Damn!”
When Lydia further tells him that Frankie and Patrick may not be back for a few days, he breaks into “a paroxysm of profanity.” Chester Carson, Eli's friend and co-worker, manages to calm him down so he won’t do anything he'll regret later.
Patrick and Frankie, meanwhile, catch a train for home and it stops in York, Pennsylvania for the night. When Frankie sees how uncomfortable Patrick is sitting on a wooden bench in the lobby, she asks the night telegrapher if he knows of any guest houses. They are taken to a place run by the telegrapher’s mother, who mistakes them for a married couple and gives them a room with only one bed.
I could have gone two ways with the situation, but I know my characters. Patrick is an honorable young man and Frankie has absorbed her mother’s values. So, they spend the night full clothed and lying side by side in the bed.
However, none of that stops Eli from fearing the worst. Carson fortunately talks him down. This time.
However, Frankie is headstrong, impulsive, and naïve, which gets her into situations that look far from innocent. Example: falling asleep in the barn on the hay with Patrick, and being discovered the next morning by Eli. No wonder Maggie begs her daughter to “…learn to think before you act.”
Although Frankie does learn from her experiences, she remains spunky, compassionate, and a bit impulsive. In Seeing the Elephant, for instance, she takes a job at the new Western New Jersey Hospital for the Insane and, in the process of protecting the inmates in her charge from rioters, ends up getting held hostage.
In A Good Community, she is much the same – compassionate, concerned with justice and mercy, and spunky. My favorite moment with her occurs when a group of men threaten Greybeal House, where the family now lives. The men are preparing for a fight, while the women decide to take the children and hide in the woods behind the house. Well… not all the women. Determined to do otherwise, Lydia, Frankie, and Rosa (from “The Enlistment” and has joined the family after her brother’s death) suddenly appear and start to push past Maggie. When Maggie – always the mother – demands to know where they think they’re going, they give her their answers. Frankie’s is my favorite one.
Maggie stopped Frankie next. Before she could ask the question, her daughter simply showed her the enormous frying pan she was gripping in one hand.
“And just what do you intend to do with that?”
“Hurt someone,” the petite redhead replied. Dodging her mother’s attempts to block her, Frankie trotted across the hall and down the stairs.
As for my work-in-progress, Frankie (now 18 years old) and Patrick finally get married and prepare to go off on a new adventure. Yes. I’m spinning Frankie off, much to the delight of some Frankie fans. More on that later.
Thanks for your patience while I got this blog written and posted!
Stay well. Be kind. Love one another.
Janet R. Stafford
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder