Vengeance is Mine
by Martha Stevens-David
Part 3. The Child
The young Nun hurried as she carried the precious bundle down the dim corridor and up the long expanse of stairs that led to their living quarters. Her heart leapt into her throat when the baby gave a strong, loud cry. "Heaven certainly must have heard that!" the Nun thought to herself and she gathered the child more closely to her breast. She hurried across the landing on the second floor until she reached her bedroom then she pushed open the door and hurried inside. As soon as she reached the bed she laid the sheet-wrapped baby down and undid the sheet and the towel. Then she wiped the child gently with the worn cloth and proceeded to cut and tie off the umbilical cord. The baby whimpered slightly as the Nun wiped the umbilical cord stub on it's round belly with a cotton pad soaked in alcohol. The child curled her tiny fingers around the Nun's finger. "You're a fighter aren't you baby." The Nun said softly to her. "There, there," she crooned . "Nobody's going to hurt you now." At the sound of the soothing voice, the baby opened its eyes and looked intently at her as though it understood everything she'd just said.
Covering the baby again, the Nun hurried into the small bathroom and ran water into the sink. When it was full enough, she went and got the baby and carried it into the bathroom. Tenderly, she uncovered the child and slipped it into the warm water. The baby moved spastically a couple of times as the water washed over her then she lay back and closed her eyes. Sister Anne quickly washed the infant and then she lifted the clean baby out of the warm water and carried her back to the bed.
At the sound of her bedroom door opening Sister Anne turned and smiled as the Mother Superior came into the room. "Has tha bitch left us then?" she asked the old woman. The older woman walked slowly over to a small rocking chair that occupied one corner of the small room and slid down into it. "Not yet but she should be leaving soon." She replied. "And, it can't be soon enough for me!" the young Nun said. Turning back to the task at hand, she said. "Oh Mother! She's absolutely beautiful!" Hearing the excitement in her voice, the old Nun pulled herself up out of the rocker and came over to the bed. She looked down at the small baby and smiled. She was beautiful! She was God's special creation. She reached down and gently caressed the baby's cheek. "Oh, Mary, Mother of God, what are we going to do with her?" Hearing the sadness in her voice, the young Nun reached down and picked up the child. She turned and thrust the baby into the Mother Superior's arms. "I don't know about you but, God wants us to keep her or she wouldn't be here." she said. "And from what I heard, aren't you this child's aunt?"
Shocked back to reality by the truth in the words, the old Nun cuddled the tiny baby to her breast and she felt her heart soften as the baby instinctively nestled against her. "But, she's so little, what will we feed her?" Sister Anne slid a protective arm across the back of the Mother Superior and said, "Don't worry about a thing. I know just what to do. Back in Ireland, my sister had a preemie and I helped her take care of it. If you can take care of baby for a wee bit, I'll go into town and get the things we need. If its okay with you mother, I'll stop and ask Dr. Baker to come out and have a look at her." The older Nun turned and looked at the Sister Anne, "Do we dare to do that Sister?" Sister Anne nodded her head. "Dr. Baker knows how to keep his mouth shut and we'll only tell him what we want him to know."
Folks were shocked to see the old gray convent sedan speeding down the Main Street of Fort Kent at such a fast rate. Sister Anne screeched to a halt and ran into Morin's Drug Store where she quickly gathered up the items she needed for the premature baby. Hurrying back to the car, she dumped everything onto the seat and then she ran down the street to the doctor's office. She burst through the door and into Dr. Baker's waiting room. He glanced up and was surprised to see the young Nun standing near his desk. "Why, Sister Anne, slow down. Is there something wrong at the convent?" "Yes doctor." The Nun replied. "We've had a sort of miracle happen and we need your help. Could you come right away?" Not waiting to hear further, the doctor gathered his bag and followed the breathless Nun out the door.
Sister Anne waited until the doctor had backed his vehicle out of the driveway and then she turned her car around and drove back up the Main Street of Fort Kent. She kept glancing in the rear view mirror to make sure that the doctor was following. They pulled into the gravel covered drive and stopped at the front stairs.
The young Nun gathered up her packages and was halfway up the stairs by the time Dr. Baker had stepped out of his car. He laughed as he saw her open the door and slip inside. "It really must be quite a miracle for her to act that way." He thought to himself and he hurried up the stairs after the Nun. When he stepped into the dim hall, he saw that she was already halfway up the stairs to the second floor. She turned on the steps and motioned for him to follow her. He was surprised because on any previous trips to the convent, he had always been asked to wait in the small room down the hall that they used as a hospital room or in Mother Superior's office.
He hurried up the stairs to the second floor landing and he followed the Nun into a small room and then he saw what all the excitement was about. Mother Superior was sitting in an old chair by the bed and she was holding a small bundle close to her chest. The bundle moved and he heard a small mewing sound. "Ladies," He said as he looked at both of them. "I don't know much about taking care of kittens." The old Nun looked up at him in surprise. "Doctor, I may be old but I still know the difference between a kitten and a baby!" The doctor stared in amazement as the Mother Superior opened the towel so that he could see the child. He dropped his bag on the bed and stepped closer to have a better look at the baby. It was obvious that the child had just been born and that it was a little premature. He took the small bundle from her and laid it on the bed. Then he opened the towel so that he could examine the baby more fully. The child wailed as it felt the cool air upon its body. The doctor quickly checked her heart and lungs and then he smiled and looked at the two women. "There doesn't seem to be too much wrong with this little tyke." He announced. "If you don't mind my asking, how did she come to be here?"
The two Nuns looked at each other and then the younger Nun looked coyly at the doctor and said in a lovely Irish lilt, "Why doctor, I heard a sound coming from the front door this morning and when we opened the door, there was this little angel! Someone thought she'd be better off with us!" The Mother Superior flinched at this bold-faced lie but the doctor didn't seem to notice. He'd already turned back to the baby and was examining her again. Satisfied, he straightened up and looked at the two women. "She seems to be in good condition but I need to take her down to the hospital where we can keep a close eye on her. I'd guess that she is about a month premature and you never know with preemies, they can turn on you awful quick."
Hearing this, the Mother Superior stepped into action. "Oh Doctor Baker, we don't need you to do that. We want to take care of her right here." "And what are you going to do with a newborn child, especially in a place like this?" he asked. Taking umbrage at the doctor's tone, Sister Anne said, "I'll have you know that preemies were my specialty when I took my nurse's training in Ireland. I know exactly what to do." Suddenly, the tiny baby began to cry and the young Nun rushed forward. She pushed the doctor aside and gathered up the baby. Clutching the bundle to her breast, she turned around and said. "I've already been to the drugstore and bought all the things that I thought she might need. Mother, could you please go down and get them for me. Our little angel is hungry!" The Mother Superior hurried out the door and down the stairs. Doctor Baker was surprised that she could still move so fast at her age.
From the distance below, he heard the front door open and close behind her and it wasn't too long before the Mother Superior again burst through the bedroom door. She was short of breath and her arms were filled with all sorts of packages. She hurried over to the bed and dumped everything on it. Sister Anne walked over to her and handed her the baby. "If you'll hold the wee one for a few minutes Mother, I'll go and get everything ready." She gathered up what she needed and swept out the door and down the stairs.
The doctor looked at the Mother Superior and tried to talk to her again. "Mother, with all due respect, you most certainly know that I am bound by law to report any situation like this." "Like what?" challenged the Mother Superior. "We have a baby that God meant for us to have or she wouldn't have been left here." "But, Mother, you can't just keep her." "Who says I can't?" The old woman answered angrily. She leveled her blue eyes on Doctor Baker and he saw that further argument was going to be useless. "Okay, okay. I can see that you are determined to keep her. Now, let me tell you what I want you to do." He said. Relieved that he was going to give up the fight, Mother Superior smiled sweetly at him. "We'll do everything you say doctor." "I want you to promise me that you'll let me know if you run into anything you can't handle." The doctor told her. Then he looked at her over his glasses and said, "I guess you know that you're going to have your hands full from now on." "God doesn't give us more than we can handle doctor." The Mother Superior tartly replied.
As Dr. Baker wrote out the instructions for the baby's care, Mother Superior sat back in the chair and wondered at this unexpected turn of events. "Perhaps God had given me the chance to redeem myself for the other times." She thought to herself. Wanting to believe this only strengthened her resolve. She wasn't going to let anything happen to this little girl! She was going to do everything in her power to see that she had a fighting chance. She looked over at Dr. Baker and said, "Oh, by the way doctor, I hope you understand that this is to be kept in the strictest confidence." Somewhat insulted, Dr. Baker looked over the top of his glasses at the old woman. "Mother, I'm breaking the law by not notifying them about this child, I can assure you that this will be kept in the strictest confidence even though it goes against my better judgment. But, I suppose that she will be better off here with you and the other Nuns than in an orphanage." He handed her the long detailed list of instructions and turned to go. "Call me if you need me, I'll be back first thing in the morning to have a look at her. Oh, if anyone asks, I'll simply say that one of the Nuns isn't feeling well and I have to check on her." Hearing that, Mother Superior bowed her head graciously and smiled at the doctor. "Thank you Dr. Barker. We'll see you tomorrow and God Bless you."
As the doctor made his way down the long flight of stairs, he met the younger Nun coming up. Her arms were full of clothes and she carried a baby's bottle full of formula. "I know you know what you're doing but, if things become more than you can handle, please be sure to give me a call." Sister Anne paused briefly and smiled at the doctor. "And you can be sure that we will doctor." With that, she stepped past him and hurried on up the stairs. "Will wonders never cease?" the doctor thought to himself as he made his way to his car. "An old ramshackle convent full of women and a baby to boot!" He chuckled to himself as he thought what some of the more righteous town's people would think about that.
True to his word, Dr. Baker dropped by the convent on a daily basis even if he wasn't summoned. He marveled at the changes in the tiny creature as well as the changes in the Nuns. The Nuns gathered up their courage and asked Dr. Baker to be the child's Godfather and he felt very proud to have been asked.
The child, christened Mary Elizabeth, just might be called a miracle after all simply by the changes her presence had wrought. The Nuns flew about their duties with a new ferocity. They scoured and cleaned the old mansion until it shone and then every opportunity was taken to do something for the child. Mary seemed protected by the angles because as she grew, she never seemed to have any of the normal childhood diseases that all the other kids got. As the months passed, Dr. Baker became resigned to the fact that perhaps this had been the best thing not only for the child but for the aging Nuns as well.
Soon a year had passed and Mary was walking and beginning to talk. She was a charming little girl with large blue eyes with a fringe of dark lashes and her hair flew about her head like a golden halo. Her skin was like peaches in sunshine and she always seemed to be laughing. Dr. Baker found that after a visit to the convent, Mary's laughter would follow him around in his head all day long. He would often find himself smiling to himself when he stopped to think about her.
The years flew by and soon it was time for Mary to attend school. Then one day, Mother Superior called Dr. Baker and asked him to come and see her because she had something important to discuss with him. Fearing that the child was ill, Dr. Baker canceled his last office patient for the day and hurried over to the convent.
He was ushered into the Mother Superior's office with out delay and the old Nun was waiting there for him. He could see that the effects of age were beginning to show on the old Nun. Concerned, he asked, "Are you ill Mother?" She smiled and shook her head. "Is there anything wrong with Mary?" He asked her. "Good heavens no!" She told him with a smile on her face. "I just wanted to discuss with you how we are going to handle a certain problem concerning Mary." "I wasn't aware that there was a problem with Mary." The doctor replied. "Well, there is. It's in regard to her going to school in the fall." the old Nun said. "Oh, I see. What is it exactly that you're concerned about?" Dr. Baker asked her. "Well, you know that all children need to have a birth certificate before they can attend school. Mary doesn't have one. How are we going to get one for her?" The old Nun looked directly at him and she didn't shift her eyes from his. Dr. Baker had never been presented with this type of problem before. He knew what the term illegitimate meant but usually the child was raised by the mother's family and given the family's name. He looked back at the Mother Superior and thought for a long moment. "Do you know who her parents are?" He asked her. The Mother Superior looked at him silently and then she dropped her gaze. "I know who her mother is but not her father." She replied. "Well, I guess that we can make up a certificate and list only the mother and list the father as "unknown." Mother Superior reeled back in her chair as though she had been struck in the face. "Surely, you can't be serious doctor." She gasped. "How can you condemn such a sweet innocent child to a life of illegitimacy?" The doctor lifted his hands helplessly, "Do you have a better suggestion? He asked her. "Yes, I do!" She reached into her desk and withdrew a small buff colored envelope. She reached inside and handed the doctor a document. He adjusted his glasses and began to read.
It was a certificate of birth. He skimmed down through the legal document and stopped when he read the lines that named the parents. On the document were two names that anyone would have recognized. They were the names of a United States senator and his wife. He felt a shock go through his body as his mind comprehended what he had just read. He looked up and his gaze met the searching eyes of the Nun. "Surely you can't be serious." He finally said. Mother Superior nodded her head. "Yes, I am and it's all true." "Do you mean to tell me that the child that was abandoned here is really the child of this powerful couple?" "Doctor, how she came to be here is between me and God. I can tell you that I know that this is her mother and because her mother was married to the senator at the time of her birth, then legally he is her father. Do I make myself clear?" Again, the doctor was shocked. "Then, you really don't know who her father is?" He asked her. "It really doesn't matter does it?" The Nun replied. "This birth certificate will be accepted in a court of law, especially if it has your signature on it. Will you please sign it Doctor Baker? Please sign it for Mary Elizabeth." Hearing that added plea, Dr. Baker knew that it was useless to argue with her. He extracted his pen from his pocket and quickly signed his name on the line below hers. He looked at the document for a few minutes and then he handed it back to her. "Do you realize Mother Superior, that it's the second time that I have broken the law for you?" The old Nun pushed back her faded leather chair and stood up. She held out her hand and the doctor took it in his. "Just remember." She told him. "God forgives all things that are done out of kindness and love." "I certainly hope you're right Mother because I don't want to spend eternity in a place that is hotter than your office!" With that, Dr. Baker handed the document back to the Mother Superior and waved goodbye as he left.
Mary Elizabeth went off to first grade and the years flew by. She was a well-adjusted child and got along well with all the other children. Having always been in the presence of adults, she too, seemed older than her years. Every now and then, someone would ask the question about how she came to be living in a convent and being raised by Nuns. However, quick thinking by Dr. Baker and the Mother Superior quickly put these questions to rest. It was discreetly told around town that Mary was the child of a couple who had been killed in a car accident and her mother was a distant relative of the Mother Superior. It was only a half-truth and even Dr. Baker didn't know the real truth about how she'd actually came to be left at the convent in the first place. Even after all these years, Mother Superior certainly wasn't going to tell him the whole truth either. Not for the time being anyway.
By the spring of nineteen fifty-seven, Mary Elizabeth was nearly eighteen years old. She was a senior at Fort Kent High School and a member of the honor society and the debating club. She'd grown into a beautiful young woman and once again the Mother Superior had summoned Dr. Baker to a meeting in her office. He'd arrived exactly on time and wondered what Mother had in mind for him today. He knocked firmly on her office door and waited for her to tell him to enter. He waited and then knocked again. Finally, not hearing a reply, he quietly opened the door. He walked slowly into the room and saw that the old Nun was sitting in her usual place at her desk. It suddenly struck Dr. Baker that she had grown old and feeble over night and he was shocked by it.
He hurried over to where she was sitting and took her old knarled hand in his. "Are you ill Mother?" He asked. She opened her tired eyes and Dr. Baker saw the answer in her eyes. "I'll be fine doctor. Right now, you and I have other more serious matters to discuss. You know, of course, that Mary Elizabeth has been voted Valedictorian of her class and that she will graduate on June twelfth?" "Yes, I do." Dr. Baker responded. "Is there a problem?" And he waited for her to continue. "I would like your opinion about what you think Mary Elizabeth should do for her future." Dr. Baker looked at the old woman for a long moment. "I thought that that had all been taken care of. I thought she was going to attend Deaconess Hospital in Boston in the pre-med program. Doesn't she want to become a nurse?" Dr. Baker asked. "Yes, she has been accepted and she does want to be a nurse but I need to know that she will be taken care of in the event that I am no longer able to do so." "What is it that you want from me mother?" The doctor quietly asked her.
With great difficulty, the old woman pulled herself upright in her chair and looked at him. "There are only three of us left here at the convent. Sister Margaret will be leaving in the fall to return to Ireland and then only Sister Anne and I will be left to take care of this old building. What I need from you, my friend, is a guarantee that you will continue to be Mary Elizabeth's benefactor until she has the means to do so for herself." "Why, Mother, I assumed that responsibility when I agreed to help you all those many years ago, remember?" He smiled softly at her. "You have my solemn vow that I will help Mary Elizabeth in any way I can, at any time." Hearing this, the old woman sat back in her chair and gave a sigh of relief. "Doctor, I knew that I really didn't have to ask you but, I just wanted to hear you say it for yourself."
"Now that we've got all that taken care of, Mother. Let me just have a quick listen to your heart." Doctor Backer reached into his bag and withdrew his stethoscope. He quickly placed the instrument against her chest and listened carefully. "Her congestive heart failure has greatly increased," he thought to himself. "She'll be lucky if she's still around to see Mary Elizabeth's graduation."
Withdrawing the stethoscope from around his neck, he dropped it into his bag and looked at the old Nun. "I can hear the signs of your heart beginning to fail," he told her. "Well, what do you expect Doctor, I'm nearly ninety-five years old," the Nun tartly replied. "Well," Doctor Baker said. "There have been a lot of improvements in heart medicine since I last examined you. I'm going to write you a prescription for Digitalis and let's hope that that gives you a little relief."
Just as he was about to reach into his pocket for his prescription pad, the old Nun reached out and grasped his hand in hers. "I don't need your medicine and you know that I won't take it anyway. Let's call a spade a spade, doctor. We both know that I don't have too much longer in this world and that's all right with me. I can go to my grave happy if I know that Mary Elizabeth is going to be okay." The doctor looked at her and tried to smile at his old friend. "Like I told you before, Mother, I will do everything in my power to make sure that nothing happens to Mary Elizabeth."
The old woman leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes for a moment and Doctor Baker could see the veins in her neck jump with every feeble beat of her tired heart. "That's not what I'm worried about really." She sat up in her chair and looked the doctor straight in the eye. "It's life that I'm worried about. Sometimes, when you least expect it, life just rears itself up and bites you. And you know in what part of the anatomy I'm talking about, don't you." She said with a twinkle in her eye. The Doctor just nodded his head; he understood perfectly what she was talking about. Life was certainly unpredictable at best.
As he turned to go, the old woman sat forward in her chair and said, "Now that you and I understand each other, I think it's my duty to tell you the whole story to how Mary Elizabeth came to be." "Mother," the doctor began and she raised her blue-veined hand and stopped him in mid sentence. "Doctor, it wouldn't be right for me to leave this place without telling someone whom I trust, her story. And if you'll stay with me a little while longer, I'll tell you everything." The doctor sat down in the chair across from her desk and waited for her to continue.
The old woman closed her eyes for a long moment and the doctor thought she had gone to sleep and then he noticed that she was praying. Finally, she crossed herself, picked up the cross that was hanging across her breast and kissed it and began.
She told the story of the first two abortions without a flicker of emotion crossing her face and it was only when she got to the story about Mary Elizabeth that she began to cry. Dr. Baker pulled his chair closer to where she was sitting and took her withered hand in his.
Finally, the telling was over and the old woman wiped the tears away and lay back in her chair. She sighed deeply a couple of times as she regained her composure and waited for the doctor to speak.
Dr. Baker rubbed a hand across his face and looked at the Mother Superior. "My God!" You've been living in hell all these years, haven't you," the doctor said. "How have you managed to live with these terrible secrets all these years?" The old woman looked at him and said, "I've helped commit two terrible crimes because I didn't know what else to do. If I had told my sister no, she would have found someone else to do her abortions and she might have died. It is I who will have to pay for what I've done and God willing, she will someday get her just rewards too. As for me, the only hope I have in redeeming myself is that I gave Mary Elizabeth the chance to live. I hope God will forgive me of my other sins."
"Is there anything else you need to tell me Mother?" She turned her bright blue eyes on him and then she said, "Yes, there is. I want you to promise me that you will tell Mary Elizabeth everything when you feel that she is mature enough to deal with it. I want you to tell her only about her birth because she really needs to know. As for the other two abortions, I don't think it necessary to tell her that."
"If those are your wishes Mother, I will do that but only if and when I deem it necessary." "Doctor Baker," the old Nun said. "If I hadn't trusted you all those years ago, where would I be now? This information should be made available to Mary Elizabeth on a need to know basis only. Is that understood?" "Perfectly," the doctor answered.
Now that she had confessed to Doctor Baker, the old Nun began a rapid decline and Doctor Baker was not at all surprised when he received a call from the Nunnery three months later that the Mother Superior had passed in her sleep.
Mary Elizabeth and the two remaining Nuns quickly arranged for the simple funeral and the old woman was laid to rest on the Nunnery grounds. Doctor Baker waited for Mary Elizabeth to say her private goodbye and then he drove her to his home where she would stay until she returned to school.
That evening after the funeral, they sat and discussed the life of her benefactor and all the kindnesses shown to her by the Nuns since the day she was born. Doctor Baker kept thinking that he needed to tell the rest of the story but as the evening wore on; he decided to wait until as the old Nun had said, "the need to know" presented itself. "Tonight is not the right time," he thought to himself. "She'll let me know when the time is right."
Mary Elizabeth returned to school and the doctor resumed his busy country practice and life went on as before in the small northern Maine farming community. June came with warm days and cool nights amidst the frenzy of potato farmers trying to get their crops established in the forever cold climes of a Canadian border town. Mary Elizabeth graduated number one in her class and the short summer slid away and before he knew it, she had gone off to Boston to study nursing.
The days slid away and then came the news of the Nunnery's having been sold and of its imminent demise. Doctor Baker slipped out of his office and hurried down Main Street to where a throng of excited citizens were watching the demolition. And this was where he was standing when word filtered out that two baby's bodies had been found in the ruins. "Ah, so now the stories and speculation will run rife throughout the Catholic community as to who, why and how this happened," He thought to himself as he turned to go. As he grew older and his practice grew, nothing about humanity surprised him. And now he knew what had happened to the bodies of the other two babies that the Mother Superior had told him about.
Since there was no way of knowing, other than an educated guess, where or when the babies had been buried in the walls of the old Nunnery, the matter, with the blessings of the Catholic Church, was soon put to rest and the tiny bodies were quietly interred in the cemetery behind the new Catholic Church and life went on pretty much as usual in the little border town.
One year turned into another and before he knew it, Dr. Baker received an invitation to Mary Elizabeth's nursing school graduation. "Where have the years gone?" He asked himself as he read again the beautifully printed invitation. It seemed that one day she was a newborn, abandoned child and now here she was graduating from nursing school. He slid his calendar forward on his desk and made a mental note to cancel all appointments for May 26th. This was one appointment he really didn't want to miss.
He made the long drive from Fort Kent down thru the whole state of Maine to Boston in record time and after checking into his hotel, he glanced at his watch, the commencement was scheduled for four thirty and he just had time to shower and change before he would have to leave.
As he slid into his seat in the nearly full nursing school auditorium, he glanced around at all the other happy and anxious families who had gathered for this momentous occasion, the graduation of their child from this prestigious medical school and he thought with pride about the lovely young lady who had invited him here. He'd received little notes of progress from her over the years and she'd visited whenever she found herself in his neck of the woods but he really had to face it, Mary Elizabeth was all grown up now. He said a quick "Hail Mary" for his old friend the Mother Superior and before he knew it, the commencement was over.
He made his way to the side of the room where all the graduates were standing and upon seeing his God-child standing amidst the other smiling students; he walked over to her and extended his hand in congratulations. She pushed his hand aside and threw her arms around his neck and hugged him close and said, "Thank you God-father. If it wasn't for you and Mother Superior, I could never have achieved this on my own. May God bless you always and forever!" And she kissed him on the cheek.
He held her at arm's length and replied, "No, you are wrong my dear child, it is you that I have to thank. You have given back everything I might have given you just by allowing me to be in your life and seeing you grow into the beautiful, successful young lady you are today." And she hugged him again. Then she took his hand in hers and pulled him along behind her, introducing him as her Godfather to all of her classmates.
As the celebrations of the evening wound down, Dr. Baker glanced at his watch and made his move to leave. Mary Elizabeth, seeing that her guest was growing tired, hurried over to where he sat and took his arm. "Are you leaving very early tomorrow morning Godfather?" He saw that there was a look in her eyes that hadn't been there earlier in the evening. "As a matter of fact, I am. Is there something you wanted to discuss with me?" He asked. "Oh Godfather, you do know me well. Yes, there is something that I wanted to ask you about. Would you mind if I come to your hotel around eight tomorrow morning? Would that be too early?" " No, Mary Elizabeth, that would be just fine. I don't have to check out until eleven. Let's meet for breakfast."
Though he was extremely tired, Dr. Baker didn't sleep at all well that night because deep in the reaches of his mind, he knew what the all important question was going to be. "Just who are or were my real parents and what can you tell me about them?" How was she going to take it when he finally told her the truth? Only God knew.
Dr. Baker slid out of bed long before his wakeup call and was showered and ready in record time. He sat quietly in the coffee shop sipping on a cup of scalding coffee, going over again and again in his mind all the facts as he knew them until the clock's hands slid onto eight and then he stood and went into the breakfast room to wait for Mary Elizabeth's arrival.
It was only five minutes after eight when he saw her come through the door and he stepped forward to greet her. He saw that she too, had had very little sleep and he knew that her sleeplessness was due to being up all night partying with the other graduates and not due to worrying about what he might tell her.
"Well, Miss Registered Nurse, are you ready for breakfast? I know I am. My stomach's been rumbling for the past hour and a half. This is much later than I usually sit down to eat!" He took her by the arm and guided her into a seat and sat down across from her. Handing her a menu, he covertly watched her as she perused the items, knowing that in a very short time, she was going to ask the burning question, "Who are or were my parents?" But the question never came, much to the old doctor's relief. Then, lowering the menu a little, Dr. Baker heard her announce that she had taken a job at a nursing home in Washington, D.C. and would be leaving Boston as soon as she'd found a place to stay. He congratulated her and told her that he was very proud of her and that she was always welcome in his home anytime she felt the need. With tear-filled eyes, she thanked him and told him that she appreciated all that he had done for her. And then their talk moved on to other things.
Nearly six months passed before Dr. Baker heard from Mary Elizabeth again and when her note arrived, he was surprised to see that it came from a very prestigious hospital just outside the capitol. As he scanned through the short message, he learned that she had accepted a position as a charge nurse in a hospital that catered to the very wealthy and retired government workers. As he read this, he felt a slight niggle of apprehension but he really didn't know quite why he had this feeling.
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