Minor Corruption
in attendance. Miller Whittle
had given his hands the day off and they too were out in force to
support and give what comfort they could to the grief-stricken
parents. The absence of Betsy’s brother and sister was noted but
not much remarked upon as they were assumed to have left not only
their home but the city itself. That Seamus Baldwin was not
present, however, did occasion a number of whispered remarks, not
all of them kind. His fondness for young servants and children had
already become the source of some speculation within the better
class of citizen, and his apparently overweening grief wondered
at.
    Dora Cobb, sitting discreetly behind the pews
of the mourners, was wondering at the restraint shown by Burton
Thurgood in light of the wild charges he had laid at the Baldwins’
doorstep immediately following Betsy’s death. Robert and his father
sat not twenty feet from the Thurgoods, but neither husband nor
wife signalled the least animosity towards them, in word or
gesture. The ceremony was sad and solemn and tearful, and otherwise
wholly ordinary. Dora was beginning now to be certain that she had
made the right decision in telling no-one, not even Cobb, of
Thurgood’s accusation against Uncle Seamus. The claim had been the
product of extreme shock and grief, nothing more.
    Next morning the inquest was held in one of
the meeting rooms of the American Hotel. Only three witnesses were
called: Thomas Thurgood, Auleen Thurgood and Dora Cobb.
    Auleen was first, and despite several pauses
in which she fought for control, she told her story in a
straightforward manner. Early on Friday evening last, Betsy – home
for a short stay to nurse her ailing mother – had complained of
abdominal cramps. On close questioning by her father, the girl
admitted that she may have become pregnant. Auleen said that she
soon realized that the girl was still ignorant of the ways of men
with women. Her father, looking as stern as she had ever seen him,
demanded to know if any man had “interfered” with her, which had
caused his daughter merely to weep and grow silent. It was Auleen
who suggested that they fetch the midwife to speak with her,
examine her, and try to determine just what had actually happened
to her. The midwife in their area was Mrs. Elsie Trigger. Mr.
Thurgood objected to her on the grounds that she had a growing
reputation for drunkenness and incompetence. Tearfully but bravely,
Auleen admitted she had prevailed, insisting that it was only to be
an examination, not a full-scale childbirth. A neighbour lad was
sent to bring Mrs. Trigger to them. An hour later, with Betsy
feeling nauseous but no worse, the woman arrived, in the early
stages of inebriation. She took Betsy into her bedroom and ordered
the parents to stay out. Auleen could hear a prolonged conversation
between Elsie and her daughter, but could make out none of the
words. After fifteen minutes the conversation stopped. Mr. Thurgood
had just returned from a brisk walk, to calm his nerves, when Mrs.
Trigger emerged with a triumphant smile on her face.
    “What, if anything, did she say to you?” the
coroner asked.
    Auleen gave out a brief sob, then looked up
slowly. “She said, ‘Yer girl had a bun in the oven, but everythin’s
okay now.’ She had a bloody knittin’ needle in one hand and a
five-pound note in the other. We was stunned. And she was out the
door off into the dark before we could blink.”
    Their concern was Betsy, however, not the
drunken midwife. They rushed in to find her bleeding and in serious
pain. Auleen wanted to send for Dr. Smollett, but her husband
refused. They compromised by sending another neighbourhood lad for
Dora Cobb.
    Burton Thurgood corroborated his wife’s
account in every important aspect, though he was more forthright in
his opinion of Mrs. Trigger and what she had done to his daughter.
Several times he was made speechless by anger and grief. He
described Mrs. Cobb’s arrival and, in general, her valiant attempt
to

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