Loyalty’s Haven – Excerpt
Book 3 of the Victoria Chronicles © 2006 J. Robert Whittle
During the summer and early autumn of 1917, reports began reaching the Pacific Northwest of an illness called Spanish Influenza that was ravaging the war-torn cities of Europe. In the following months, local newspapers carried reports of British hospitals full to overflowing and, with no sign of a cure, the number of deaths reported was terribly alarming, even from so far away.
“Do you think it will reach Victoria?” Nancy asked Dr. Arthur Price, the city’s health officer, when he called for a meal at the Wounded Soldier Restaurant in early March of 1918.
“Oh I’m sure it will,” he gruffly assured her, “there seems to be no stopping the epidemic.”
“But by then you’ll know how to treat it, won’t you, doctor?”
“We’re working on it, girl,” Dr. Price replied sharply, “but cases have already been reported in Quebec, Boston, and Philadelphia.”
“How is it spreading so fast?” she asked, a look of great concern wrinkling her brow.
“Soldiers are bringing it home with them,” Dr. Price replied shaking his head sadly. He paid his bill and, offering no further comment, left the restaurant.
Nancy watched through the window as the bowed figure slowly crossed the streetcar tracks and disappeared inside the hospital across the street. He’s more tired than usual, she thought.
“What are you looking at?” Kate asked, coming up behind her with a cloth to wash the table. “What did Dr. Price have to say? Nothing good, by the look on your face.”
“He said the flu has arrived in Quebec and the United States already.”
“We live in troubled times, Nan. The war is not over yet and now this terrible influenza thing is killing thousands of people. At least we have the happy preparations of your wedding to keep us from going crazy with worry. I’m so glad you decided to have it in May rather than last September.”
“It certainly has given us more time to organize everything; I never imagined there would be so much to do!” Nancy exclaimed.
“Oh, we have lots of time now, we only have the influenza to worry about, it seems!”
“Don’t even think of it, Kate, I’ve waited long enough to be Mrs. Dan Brown!” Nan retorted. “I’m not going to let a health emergency get in my way!”
©2006 J. Robert Whittle
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