I smiled, remembering all the times Mrs. Elliot and I played this little game. I would indicate that I needed to leave, and she wouldn't let me, insisting that I stay for the night.
"Do you ever sleep? You look exhausted, and I am sure you are hungry. Come, come. I insist," she urged.
What could I say when she put it like that? I sighed dramatically as if accepting her usual offer was the hardest thing in the world for me to do. It wasn't by any means, but the final draft of our script had been laid out long ago in advance.
I nodded, laughing a little. "If it doesn't put you out, I gladly accept." I took a step back, bowing slightly.
Mrs. Elliot grabbed the kitchen towel that had been draped over her shoulder and whacked me in the arm. I made a theatrical face to say it hurt. It didn't that much, though it did sting a little.
The next morning Katrina came into the kitchen while I was busy writing a letter to my sister. I didn't want to get her involved in this whole mess, but I knew that I would need more than just a few brave women. I needed to call in all the women I knew, and they probably needed to bring in all of the ones they knew.
Katrina greeted me, offering me a cup of tea. As she was getting it ready, I sat there in silence, wondeirng about the weird situation I had been thrown into. Then, I thought of Ed. I wished there was something I could do for him.
After Katrina sat down, I asked about Ed. The news was the same; his fever was still high. Everything about the happy Katrina I had grown to love was absent. I still loved the girl in front of me, but there was so much sadness in her life right then. I didn't know what I could do for her. I seemed to be having that thought a lot.
"I have been thinking ... about your idea to spy," she whispered.
My response was slow and thoughtful. "Yes?"
"I will join you ... when my brother is ... when he is buried." Her words were broken, her voice hoarse.
I reached across the table, putting my hand over hers. Our eyes met in a silence that was so loud, tears forming in all four eyes involved. I didn't want to see Ed buried any more than she did.
Our little moment was interupted by Mrs. Elliot who came strolling into the kitchen. I jerked my hand back. I didn't want to presume anything of Mrs. Elliot. I thought she understood how I felt about her daughter, but then was not the time or place to confront that monster.
After the usual morning banter, there was a knock on the door. We thought it would be Nellie who was suppose to arrive soon. Instead, it was a girl claiming to be Ed's fiancee, a fiancee no one knew about. She was soon shown into Ed's room.
I took that moment to take my leave. I bid farewell to the Elliots. I walked toward the stables, determined more than ever to help the family I had come to love so much. Could I find someone to help Ed? I doubted it because Katrina had been right. The best doctors were in the army. But, there was always hope. I rode away, clinging to that hope.