Thunder in The Wind
Book Two of the Sievers
The only way to survive the harsh and dangerous country is to stick together. The Sievers family had staked their claims on both sides of Black Creek just north of Blackman Falls in Upper Canada. Grant Sievers is considered the head of the family, retired from the 12th Militia with the rank of Major. He is recommissioned into the militia as Lieutenant Colonel Grant Sievers when the war of 1812 breaks out. His job is to guard the mouth of Kettle Creek from the invading Americans. A favourite spot they used for smuggling guns.
1810. Grant Sievers pulled the matching black horses to a stop then glanced over at his wife. She was looking at the grey, limestone building to their right. It was a three-story block with wings that jutted out at each side. It gave Grant the shivers. All the windows had bars on them. The grounds were kept neat with tall trees shading the walkway. A huge granite fountain stood in the middle of a garden, birds drinking from it. A black iron fence surrounded the property with sharp finials pointing to the sky. It looked like a prison, and in a way, it was. “You can still change your mind, Carrie,” he said softly. She shook her head. “I need to do this today.” She turned back to face him; determination written on her face. “It's the last time I'll get to see her, if she's still...”
He patted her arm. “I know.” They lived too far away for regular visits. Grant and Carrie had only been here once before; on their honeymoon. Carrie had been depressed for weeks afterward.
He watched her crumple the letter in her left hand. It came from this place a month ago, stating that her mother was dying. Grant hoped that Mary was still alive, that Carrie would have a chance to say goodbye to her. A tear trickled down her cheek; he tenderly wiped it away. She didn't respond to his touch; he didn't expect her to. He drew back his hand and sighed inwardly. Then he reached for the door handle.
Grant got out of the carriage, walked around and opened the door for Carrie. She took his offered hand and stepped down. Together they faced the imposing structure before them. “You want me to come in with you?”
She placed a hand on his arm. “Please.” She smiled uncertainly then headed toward the gate. Grant rushed forward to open it for her. As he reached for the latch, he read the sign on the pillar beside him. Kingston Insane Asylum. He gave Carrie's arm a quick squeeze as she passed through the gate. He stayed beside her as she walked down the sidewalk with purposeful strides, her head held high. She had been timid when he married her and never would have done this. He’d been cautious when touching her, always gently as he held any impatience in check. It had taken him seven years to get this far with her. Still, he knew that Carrie's ordeal before he came along had a lifelong impression on her...for the bad, not the good.
He shook his head and concentrated at the task at hand.
Grant opened the heavy cedar door and followed Carrie inside. They were in a long, dark hallway with several closed doors on each side. Lit lanterns hung between each door, giving little light and leaving dark shadows between them. The only door that was open was on their left. Grant stepped into that room. It was an office, he presumed, where guests checked in. He was reading the sign on the wall that read, All creatures belong to God, when a tall nun hurried in. As he shook her hand, he wondered what role God was playing in a place like this. He smelled the mustiness of the old building and a dank order that could have been urine.
The nun eyed Carrie then introduced herself as Sister Beatrice. “How may I help you?” the nun asked as she sat behind a small desk.
Grant glanced at his wife then said, “We came to visit Mary Tanner.”
Carrie gave the nun her letter. Sister Beatrice straightened it out then read it. She opened a black book to the right page, then shook her head as she read it. “I’m sorry,” she told Carrie. “Your mother passed away a week ago.”
Carrie swayed. Grant grabbed her by the arm and led her to a chair. “I’m sorry,” he said as he knelt beside her. “I know you were hoping to see her.”
As Carrie cried, Grant thought about the first time they’d been there. A different nun had led them down the hallway. She unlocked a door then turned left into the women’s ward. The screams and curses were ear-splitting. Carrie held her scented handkerchief to her nose. Grant wished he had a scented handkerchief for himself. All he could do was keep swallowing and think of pleasant things.
A dark-haired woman sat against the wall, pointing a finger at him, calling him the devil’s spawn. Down further, two orderlies were slapping another woman as she tried to scratch one of their eyes out.
Another woman sidled up to Grant and tried to place his hand on her breast, smiling seductively at him. The nun pushed her out of the way without saying a word.
“In here,” the nun said as she opened a door with number 13 on it.
Grant had stayed by the door as Carrie went up to her mother. Mary had been dressed in a white gown, sitting by the barred window. Her hair had turned white, her face gaunt and jaundiced. She’d shrunk from her former self and her hands looked like claws with long talons. She was facing out toward the front of the building, but Grant didn’t think she was seeing the gardens or the fountain outside. By the blank look in her eyes, her mind was elsewhere.
Carrie pulled up a wooden chair and sat down beside her mother. As she talked to her, Grant glanced around the room. It had been painted white a long time ago. Mold and dark stains crept up the walls. A pail sat near the unmade bed, with excrement in it that made the room stink. There were no sharp objects, no cords or anything Mary could hurt herself with. There was only a small table with a tattered Bible on it beside a single bed.
A nurse shuffled in and took Mary’s pulse. Then she gave her a spoonful of medicine. After she left, Mary spit it out.
Carrie gasped. Grant held in a chuckle. Mary didn’t even look at Carrie, who gave up trying to reach her mother after a half an hour.
They’d stopped a doctor as he was rushing to another patient and introduced themselves. Carrie asked him, “Will my mother get any better than what she’s like right now?”
The doctor gave her a sympathetic look. “I’m afraid not, Mrs. Sievers. She prefers her own safe world. She doesn’t even know where she is.”