Temporary care


Sydney Walk
February 24th 1853

We have him! Little Bradstone is in the next room as I write, snoring and snuffling as if he’d lived here all his life! I am so excited I can hardly believe it.

I arrived in the carriage at Boo’s and ran up her steps with no thought of what I was about to say. When her girl opened the door I went straight in and made to go up to see Boo. I was a little overwrought, I must confess, and began calling for Boo the moment I set foot on her staircase. An enormous woman in a nurse’s uniform came sweeping onto the landing to shush me, but I was absolutely set on my plan.

“I am here to collect Little Bradstone and take care of him until his mother is well enough to resume her position,” I said, “And I will not hear of any other course of action!”

The nurse stopped at the top of the stairs and looked down at me. She was clearly doing her best to make a speedy assessment of my mental state and my maternal capabilities. Perhaps she was as concerned as I about Boo’s mother-in-law’s influence on the boy.

“I fear poor Mrs Pitt will be confined to her bed for some months to come. Pray tell me who you are and what exactly your intentions may be. She is not to be disturbed on any account but if I find that you may be able to help her by setting her mind to rest about the child, I shall go to speak with her. Well?”

I stood at the stairfoot and pronounced myself to be the best friend Boo had in the world. I said I was wealthy and loving enough to look after Boo’s son as if he were my own and that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to help Boo in her hour of need. I said I could not rest knowing that there was a little boy in want of a mother’s arms. I told her I had rooms until the Spring and a country house capable of housing forty such children, if they needed it.

“Stop!” she whispered, holding her large hand up to cover my face from her view. “What is your name, good lady?”

And that was all, in truth. She spent a moment or two in Boo’s room and then instructed the girl to go directly and bring LB back from his Grandmother’s house. I waited in Boo’s hallway, seeing no purpose in accompanying the girl. And we were snug here at Sydney Walk within the hour!

Josiah stayed out of sight when I brought LB in. Villiers gave a little scream, which I took to be one of welcome, and then he took the boy from me and carried him upstairs to my bedchamber, where I had instructed him to place a small bed next to ours. LB was laid into it and, after a brief bout of whimpering, which we dealt with by the application of warm milk, he fell soundly to sleep. I felt great pride in us all that we could do such a kindness for our friends.

I was so happy that I ignored the letter from meddling Mrs Cornbench. Silly, interfering old witch.

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