Under The Streets Of London – Episode 55

“Eliza, what’s wrong?” Niall asked.

“It’s Brigid. She’s not well.”

Brigid, hearing her, flapped her hand.

“I’m well enough,” she assured her as the others, too, swirled to a halt and stared. “It’s just that you lot are having so much fun I think the little one here fancies coming out to join you.”

Seamus visibly paled.

“The little one?” he stuttered. “You mean . . .?”

“I mean, husband, that you could be about to become a father again.” Brigid doubled over, panting madly for some time, whilst the rest of them stared. “And soon, by the feel of it. Ciara didn’t take long to come into the world and this one feels as if it’s even keener. Impatient bairns you have, Seamus.”

Eliza admired Brigid’s courage but she could see that she was struggling. Sophie took charge and Eliza remembered with relief that she was a nurse.

“Get her into the bedroom,” she instructed. “We’ll need hot water and towels and clean sheets if you have them.”

“Right,” Niall agreed, looking wildly around as if these things might just materialise.

“I’ll get the water,” Eliza suggested, “and you find towels, Niall. You’ve done this before, Sophie?” she added as the young nurse helped Brigid towards the bedroom.

“Of course,” Sophie said. “Nothing to worry about at all. Most natural thing in the world.”

But as Brigid went through the door ahead of her Sophie turned back and shook her head.

“I’m an emergency nurse,” she hissed, “not a midwife! We need to find one.”

“I’ll do that,” Henry offered, darting for the door.

“Be quick,” Sophie urged, but at that point Violet stepped forward.

“I’ve done it before,” she said. Everyone stared at her. “My father had no end of sisters and they’re always popping babies out. I’ve been with them a couple of times.”

“Wonderful.” Sophie grabbed her arm and yanked her into the bedroom. “You’re with me, then. Let’s go.”

Eliza watched them disappear and turned for the kitchen, fumbling to fill the kettle and light the rickety stove whilst Niall found what clean linen he could and Seamus fussed around nervously.

“You get Ciara,” Eliza suggested kindly. “It’s probably best if she sleeps in the living-room, don’t you think?”

Seamus looked confused, then nodded, grateful for something to focus on. He darted off to fetch his daughter from what had suddenly become a birthing room.

Eliza turned back to the task of hot water, hardly able to believe how quickly the dancing had turned into this urgent sense of action. She heard Henry return and darted into the living-room, praying he’d have the local midwife in tow.

He did not.

“Is she coming?” she demanded.

“She wasn’t at home but her son’s gone to find her. Said he’d send her straight along. It’s strange out there, though, very busy. There are navvies all over the place.”

“Just come out of the pub?” Niall suggested, heading for the bedroom with a motley pile of linen.

But Henry shook his head.

“They don’t look like they’ve been drinking. They’re at work, I think.”

“It’ll be the night shift,” Niall said.

“Maybe, but why aren’t they in the trench?”

Niall frowned but at that moment a sharp cry from the bedroom drew their attention away from whatever was going on outside and they all jumped.

Niall knocked shyly for Violet or Sophie to take the linen and Eliza scuttled back to the kitchen.

It did sound noisy outside, now that Henry had mentioned it, but it was Friday night and the navvies would have been paid. Maybe someone was celebrating.

She applied herself to her job, praying that all would be well and the night would see more joy yet as, together, they somehow brought a new baby into this happy if chaotic little house.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.