She picked up the dishes and put them into a wash basin to be taken outside later for washing and came back to stand before me.
Mr. Houser touched me from behind and indicating that I was to follow Mrs. Windsor upstairs.
I glanced back at him feeling that he was my only contact with home and that I did not know Mrs. Windsor. He gave me a reassuring glance and I hesitated and then slowly began to follow Mrs. Windsor as she moved toward the staircase which led up to the rooms above.
Her rear-end was large and I couldn’t see much around her until I got to the top of the staircase where I could the see rooms along a corridor, rooms, some of which, had their doors slightly ajar.
As we passed by I could see glimpses of men, some sleeping, one praying, one writing but mostly the rooms were empty. I saw into only five of the twelve rooms I passed. I was shocked at how unkempt the men looked and each room had a smell which I later learned was methane gas because these men were miners, come to work the mines nearby. They were away from home many of them, with no family nearby so they stayed with Mrs. Windsor.
We arrived at a last room and Mrs. Windsor stood by the door motioning for me to enter the room.
I stood in the door and peered in. It was a spare room with absolutely nothing in it but a bed and a wash basin. Stark, very stark.
Mrs. Windsor entered the room after me and stood by the bed looking at me, finally saying:
"Now don’t you have no fear girl this wouldn’t take but a minute. I just have to sure 'bout your state. That Rector has sent me girls before that were not more in the motherly way than I am.
Now you take your clothes off except for your tunic and get under the sheets and I will come back and we will have a look.”
With that she turned and moved toward the door, opened, it looked back at me and slowly closed it.
I took my coat off, my blouse, finally getting under the sheets in my tunic, head turned sideways looking out the small window at the red and blue stars in the nightime sky.
The room was cold and I started to shiver.
Outside Mrs. Windsor was whispering to Mr. Houser “I tell you that that Rector fool has lost his mind. She don’t look pregnant to me and if she is it is weeks, no more that two or three fort nights worth.”
“Well, Mr. Houser said, I only know what I been told.”
Suddenly the door opened and Mrs. Windsor entered a towel across her arm and closed the door behind her.
She stared at me and suddenly said: “Sometimes girl there are things that happen to us in life that is not fair. You know what I mean?”
I nodded slowly.
“So you have to take the good and the bad in life, you know what I mean?"
“Now let’s have a look at you” she said lifting the sheets and slowly raised my tunic looking intently. After a time she glanced up at me clucking and clicking her teeth in disgust; finally saying.
“Now put on some warm clothes. It will get chill in here later.”
With that she left.
But outside I could hear her and Mr. Houser talking in whispered tones.
Mr. Houser was saying:
“I only know what I was told and I am gonna do what I have been paid to do.”
“Heathens” Mrs. Windsor was saying, “masquerading as churchmen. Shameful.”
Inside I had my head turned looking out that small window to the stars, my legs clasped together tightly.