Chapter Seven – Reunited
“Twins! Oh, my God, Margaret, that is disastrous! You could die! Oh, heavens!”
Edith stood beside the couch upon which they had laid Margaret after she collapsed a few minutes earlier. She had thought it advisable to tell her aunt and cousin about what Dr Chelmsford told her. Edith was wringing her hands in despair and Aunt Shaw, sitting on a nearby chair, was silently weeping, as if Margaret were already dead.
Suddenly Mrs Shaw jumped up and decreed in a determined voice. “You must stay here for the remainder of your pregnancy. With Dr Chelmsford, as your physician, of course. His knowledge and the fact that he lives nearby are now of vital importance for your health, Margaret. I shall instruct the butler to send a telegram to your husband.”
Margaret sat upright and spoke vehemently. “I must go back to Milton! I feel … no, I know something is not right! With John … something has happened to John!”
Edith and Mrs Shaw stared at her as if she had suddenly grown two heads.
“I cannot explain, auntie,” Margaret said softly, tears blurring her vision, “I just know it. John is in danger, I have to go to him.”
At one point on the train ride back to Milton, Margaret stopped listening to Dixon’s endless complaints about their returning home so soon. It was keeping her mind off John and she did not want that. Something had transpired in Milton and it had affected her husband. Of that she was absolutely sure. She needed to be with John, as soon as possible.
Although they had taken seats in the first class carriage of the train, upholstered with soft, red plush seat cushions, Margaret was not comfortable at all. Her back ached and her head swam. She could not help thinking of her unborn babies and what would become of them when the birthing took place. She now realised that the reason for her being so heavy was the fact that she was bearing two children instead of one. How was she to give birth to them? Would they survive? Would she survive herself? However, all that was not the worst of it. No, it was John and what it was that had befallen him, for she was convinced it would be something dreadful! God! Could this confounded train go any slower than this?
In Dr Donaldson’s small surgery John was laid upon an examination table. Mary hurried in after the doctor and between the two of them they proceeded in establishing the damage. After a while, Dr Donaldson breathed a sigh of relief.
“It is not as bad as it looks like, Mary. He’s got a dislocated shoulder. We must set it instantly otherwise, his muscles will cramp up too much. Help me undress him, I want to examine his rib cage.”
In her quiet, discreet way, Mary did as she was asked. With careful movements, she eased John out of his coat and shirt, as gently as she could. It did not keep him from uttering a groan of pain but he did not wake up. Dr Donaldson’s hands started probing John’s torso which was already beginning to show ugly bruises all over the broad chest and back.
“No broken ribs, thank God. Now, Mary, I’m going to turn him on his side, but just a tad, mind you. Very well, so far so good. Keep him in that position and steady his head. Gently, please?”
With caution the doctor’s fingers examined the back of John’s head and the base of his neck.
“No, there is no fracture, as far as I can feel.”
A loud groan from the patient startled them both.
“Hell, Donaldson! I’m dying here! What did you do to me, you old scoundrel?”
“Mr Thornton, you’re awake? Steady, Mary, ease him onto his back again.”
By the time they had arrived at Outward Milton Station, Margaret was in a fine state of panic. The ride had taken much longer, due to a delay somewhere on the line, where she had been pacing up and down the platform, fretting about John, until finally, the station master had given the signal for departure. It was already dark and a fine fog was curling over the platform as Dixon and her mistress alighted from the train. They hurried into a hansom cab and Dixon ordered the driver to Marlborough Mills. Then she turned to her mistress.
“Miss Margaret, how are you feeling? I hope …”
“I am fine enough, Dixon, do not fuss.”
Margaret lay her hand on Dixon’s. “Dixon, dear Dixon, I am going to have a great need of you, the days to came. I cannot say why, I just know it.”
“I will always be at your service, Miss, you know that, I hope?”
“Yes, Dixon, I do.”
At Marlborough Mills a surprise awaited Margaret. Jenny, the maid that had replaced Jane, told her that the master had been taken to Dr Donaldson’s surgery.
“So, all that’s wrong with me, is a dislocated shoulder? Damnation, Donaldson, how can this hurt so much? It’s like a hot poker is being plunged into it!”
“I really must set it now, Mr Thornton. It is already far too long since they brought you here and your muscles are cramping up.”
“Well, what are you waiting for? Get on with it!”
John’s heart leapt at hearing the beloved voice of his Margaret. He pushed Donaldson aside and there she was!
“Darling!” he exclaimed, “What the devil are you doing here?”
He had meant it as a joke but when he saw Margaret’s ashen face, he sobered quite quickly.
Margaret rushed to him, then checked herself. “Doctor, what is wrong with him?”
“Not much, Mrs Thornton. A dislocated shoulder and a concussion. Now, if you will forgive me, Ma’am, I must set the shoulder.”
“Donaldson, surely, if I’m to be subjected to torture, I’m entitled to kiss my wife first. Come here, you adorable darling of mine.”
Not caring of Donaldson’s and Mary’s seeing it, John drew Margaret close with his good arm and kissed her soundly and squarely on her lovely mouth.