One of the things that happens in A Time to Heal is Patrick receives a wound in battle. The circumstances are a bit amusing, though. He is shot by a Union soldier who is so young and inexperienced that he just fires the second Patrick steps out of the brush.
Fortunately, the wound is not debilitating, but does take Patrick out of the action for about three weeks and he is sent to Mower General Hospital in Philadelphia to recover. When Frankie finds out, she impulsively takes the train to the city, hoping to bring him back to Gettysburg.
Patrick is released, and the couple start their journey home. However, they have a night’s layover in York and Frankie wants to make Patrick as comfortable as possible. Spending the night at the depot just won’t cut it. Fortunately, the station’s telegrapher tells them that his mother runs a guest house.
Before they know it, a man named Joe is trundling them into town in his wagon, and soon they stop in front of the guest house, and this is where the fun begins.
Once Patrick was situated on the front seat and Frankie was perched on the bed of the wagon, Joe drove them down one street, then another and finally stopped in front of a small two-story building. He helped both of them out and knocked on the door.
A window on the top floor flew open. “Who is it?” a woman called.
“Joe! Got some night boarders for you.”
“I’ll be right down.”
In a few moments, the door opened, and Frankie saw a plump, older lady wearing a dressing gown over her nightclothes. Her braided gray hair hung down her back. The woman held up a lamp to see her visitors. She smiled broadly. “Oh! Do come in. Please!”
“See you about seven o’clock,” Joe said, as he got back into his wagon, and left.
Frankie took a breath as she let Patrick go in before her. She followed him and shut the door.
“I’m Mrs. Goff,” the woman was saying. “Welcome to my guest house. I take it you came in on the late train?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Patrick said.
“I have a lovely room all ready for just such an occasion. And you are Mr. and Mrs. –” She paused inquiringly.
Patrick and Frankie exchanged quick glances. “McCoy,” Frankie said. “Patrick and Frances McCoy.” It sounded strange to her ears. She was now seriously worried. What had she done? But she couldn’t let Pat sleep in that train station. It just wasn’t right.
Mrs. Goff opened a door to the left, so they could view a small chamber with a bed, bureau, and wash basin. “You should be comfortable in here.”
Patrick maneuvered himself in on his crutches. Frankie turned to the landlady. “Your son Randolph said that you provided rooms at a cheaper price than a hotel.”
“Oh, my, yes.”
“He said to give you this.” She handed the woman Randolph’s note.
Mrs. Goff read it.
Frankie opened her purse. “How much would it be?”
The woman’s smiling gray eyes looked her guest over. “A dollar.”
Frankie exhaled in relief.
Mrs. Goff’s smile became maternal. “You know since you are so young, and your husband has obviously been wounded, why don’t we make it fifty cents? That includes breakfast.”
“Thank you!” Frankie dug into the purse and paid up. She had seventy-five cents left. If she gave Joe another ten cents in the morning for the ride to the station, then she would come home with sixty-five cents. All she would have to do would be figure out how to pay the rest back.
Mrs. Goff lit a lamp sitting on the table in the little hallway. “Here you go. Why don’t you take this?”
Frankie did so. “Thank you.”
“Sleep well, my dears. I shall have breakfast ready at six o’clock.” With that, she was gone.
Frankie took a deep breath, walked into the room, and shut the door behind her. Patrick was already sitting on the bed. He looked up at her in amusement. “I’m pretty sure you didn’t expect to have this happen, did you?”
She shook her head.
Frankie looked around the small room. “Perhaps I could sleep in the chair.” A rocking chair with an embroidered cushioned seat sat in the corner of the room. It had been hidden by the open door when they were in the hallway.
“So I get the bed, huh?”
“Hardly seems fair.”
“Pat, we can’t sleep in the same bed.”
He propped his crutches up against the wall beside the bed and, swinging his legs up, lay back on the pillow. “Do what you think is right. But just so you know, honey, I won’t touch you, although I want to.” He patted his injured leg. “This is going to keep me from doing anything.”
I love Patrick and Frankie’s innocence, especially Frankie’s. I love that Patrick assures her that she is “safe” with him.
You may ask, “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is simple: birth control. There was none. Whatever was available was so ineffective or unattainable that the only way for a woman to make sure she did not get pregnant was not to have sex.
Plus, Eli is overprotective about his stepdaughter and Patrick does not want to risk the other man’s wrath. The two young people want to get married but are not ready to make the leap quite yet.
The real trouble, however, is not what they will do, but what will happen next, because Eli has found out that Frankie has gone off on her own – another no-no for a young lady was to be unchaperoned – and the ca-ca might hit the fan when she returns with Patrick.
Tomorrow: a scene I love from Seeing the Elephant.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder