The Scholar (Emerson Pass Historicals 3) - Page 52

She smiled, this time in a way that reached her eyes. “Isak’s building a cottage. He said he’d like some company. My company.”

“I see.” I smiled back at her, pleased for my friends. “I’ll talk to Papa and see what we can come up with.”

“What about my mother?” Nora asked. “She’ll not want to leave the home she built with my dad.”

“We need to get her well first. After that, we’ll figure out where she’d live.”

“What’s going on with you and Louisa?”

“Ah, well, I’m still trying to win her heart.”

“How could she not fall in love with you?”

Nora asked.

“People are complex. She’s been through a lot.”

“If anyone can break through to her, it’s you.”

“I appreciate your vote of confidence. I’m headed in now to see your mother. Do you want to come with me?”

“I should. I’ll see if I can get her to eat a little something after you take a look at her.”

We walked in silence across the yard and into the house. I couldn’t help but feel sorry to see the Cassidys’ dream dying right in front of me. Mr. Cassidy had worked himself to death out here, quite literally. I didn’t want the same fate for Nora. Especially not if my best friend wanted her for his bride. They deserved to be happy. Isak had managed to escape from his father’s desire to follow his path and become a tailor. Could we do the same for Nora?

Mrs. Cassidy was in her bed. The letters were spread out over the patchwork quilt. She opened her eyes when we came into the bedroom. “Hello, Theo. What are you doing here? Nora, you didn’t call him?”

“No, Dr. Neal asked me to come,” I said. “He wanted me to check on you.”

“I’m sorry to be such a bother,” Mrs. Cassidy said.

She looked worse to me than she had the other day. When I felt her forehead, her skin was clammy to the touch. The pallor of her complexion frightened me, as did the labored sound of her breathing. I placed my stethoscope on her back and listened. Liquid in her lungs. Pneumonia.

I gave her some more of the syrup from my bag and told her to continue to drink as much water as she could. “Maybe try a little broth today?” I asked.

“I’ll try.” Mrs. Cassidy glanced over at Nora. “Honey, would you leave me with Dr. Barnes for a moment?”

“Yes, I’ll go scramble up some eggs,” Nora said.

After she left, Mrs. Cassidy reached out to me, placing tepid fingers on my hand for a second. “Theo, I know I’m dying. Promise me you’ll help Nora sell this farm so she can be free.”

I blinked in surprise. Had she known her daughter’s thoughts and feelings without Nora having to express them? Knowing my own mother’s abilities in this way, it shouldn’t have surprised me. “I’ll do whatever I can. But you’re not dying. I’m going to figure out what’s wrong.”

“Even if you could, there’s no treatment once lungs are filled with fluid. I know that from having animals.” She fell back onto the pillows as she gestured toward the letters scattered around her. “This is all that’s left at the end. Letters from better times. A time when we lived on hope. Now everything’s lost.”

“Get some rest,” I said. “I’ll be back later.”

She nodded and closed her eyes.

I said a silent prayer as I walked back to the kitchen. Lord, heal her, because I can’t.


It was at the T in the road that it came to me. Mold. Mold could make a person sick. Nora had said the letters had been partially ruined by a flood in their basement. They would have collected mold, perhaps the kind that made a person sick. Especially a woman who was weakened already.

I turned the car around and drove like a man possessed back to the farmhouse. Nora came rushing across the field at the sight of my car.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, breathless.

Tags: Tess Thompson Emerson Pass Historicals Historical
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