A Secret Visitor

October 20, 1896
Margaret Spooner

Mr. Carrington took me into Providence. I have not gone often and it still feels foreign to me even after more than two years at Primrose College. I looked out the carriage’s window as traveled toward Dr. Adams’ clinic. The city showed obvious signs of the recent riots, from broken windows to still smoldering ashes of fires. I find it difficult to understand how the people could ever have thought wrecking destruction on their own city would gain them sympathy or anything at all.

“Matters have quieted down now. You will be safe as long as you do not wander off.” Mr. Carrington said.

The carriage was slowing to a stop, indicating we were arriving.

“I know.” I said.

The driver opened the door for me and Mr. Carrington pointed toward a door just a few paces in front of me.

“Dr. Adams will be in there. I will be back in one hour. Stay inside with the Doc until then.” He instructed.

I nodded and turned my back on Mr. Carrington and the carriage. Inside the clinic, there was no sign of the destruction in the streets outside. It was as if the clinic was some kind of sanctuary. I immediately felt safe and feeling safe made me worried that I was not safe, but Dr. Adams put my irrational fears to bed.

“Miss Spooner, I presume?” He said.


“Welcome. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

“Thank you, Doctor Adams.”

I felt awkward standing before him and was not sure what I should say or do. I think my face must have said it all clearer than I could ever have said.

“Relax Miss Spooner you are among friends. I understand you have aspirations of joining the medical profession.”

His tone did not carry the usual condescension I hear when my aspirations are discussed. I smiled at the thought there might be at least one person in the world who did not consider me craze and moreover that the one person was himself a doctor.

“I cannot think of anything I would do with my life.” I said.

“Peter, the boy you helped, owes you his life. I have to admit I was astounded to learn a woman had treated his injuries but you did everything right.”

I blushed despite myself at the backhanded praise.

“He is recovering well then?” I asked.

“As well as can be expected. The arm looks to be healing as it should but I remain concerned about the leg. His fever has cooled but it remains and unless it subsides entirely I will have to keep a careful watch.”

I nodded.

“Have you set broken bones before?”

“No, it was my first time. I have read about it.”

“You did excellent and the immobilization points you chose were perfect. If you ever want to apprentice I would be pleased to have you in my clinic.”

I blushed again.

“Thank you, Doctor.”

He smiled and there was such warmth in his smile that I felt completely at ease. It was like I was home only without the stress of my mother.

“I’m sure Peter would like to see you. He is through there, I will join you in a few minutes?” He said.

I nodded and headed through the doorway Dr. Adams had indicated.

The boy, Paul, was asleep. He looked pale but his face was no longer contorted with pain and anger. Peaceful was the word. I brushed the hair back on his forehead and then took the hand from his uninjured arm in my own.

“Remarkable, is it not?” A crackling woman’s voice said from behind me.

I dropped Peter’s hand and nearly jumped out of my skin. I had not realized anyone else was in the clinic besides the Doctor.

“I am sorry. I did not mean to startle you.” She said.

I turned to face her.

“Quite all right. I did not realize anyone else was here.” I said.

She did not look like a nurse, she was dressed conservatively in a brown dress with white lace. Her hair was covered by a red scarf. She seemed to old to be Peter’s mother but perhaps she was his grandmother.

“You saved his life.” She said, nodding at the sleeping boy.

“Your grandson?” I asked.

She smiled.

“No. I do not know him at all.”

“Oh.” I said surprised.

“I came to see you Margaret.”

“Have we met? Do you know my mother?”

“The last time we met, you were very small and yes, your mother and I were friends a long time ago.”

“I’m sorry I seem to have forgotten your name?” I said.

“I can see your mother’s feistiness in you but it is tempered by your father’s reserve. You will do doubt make an excellent doctor someday.”

She handed me a folded piece of paper. I began to unfold it.

“Leave it for now. Keep it hidden until you are alone.” She said.

“What is it?” I asked, stuffing it inside a pocket.

“An opportunity.” She said.

Peter groaned and I turned my attention to him for a moment.

“Was he awake?” Dr. Adams asked.

I looked back at the doorway to see him standing in it alone. The old woman was gone. I must have looked confused.

“I thought I heard you talking.” He said.

“Oh, I was talking with the older woman.” I said.

He looked confused.

“What older woman?” He asked.

“I did not get her name but she was just here. Surely you saw her?”

He shook his head. I reached into my pocket and my fingers confirmed the paper she had given me was still there. I almost pulled it out to show to him but then remembered she had said to keep it hidden.

Dr. Adams quickly checked through the clinic looking for the woman but she was not to be found. I think he believes I made her up although he did not say so directly. In any regard, he barely took his eyes off of me during the rest of my visit and when Mr. Carrington arrived the two men chatted in hushed whispers and gave sporadic looks in my direction.

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