F T Hemmingway
A family saga Volume One
The knowing, wise, old eyes of the school nurse regarded the lovely, auburn-tressed girl who sat across the desk from her. The complaint was a common one; the girl was suffering some faintness with her menstrual period. Ordinarily, Ernestine would have sent the afflicted girl home with instructions for bed rest for the remainder of the day, but she was stopped in mid-reach for the special form excuse she would have to fill out. The girl had just said that she didn't want to go home, asking instead, that she be allowed to stay in the Health Office until the close of school.
"Is there some special reason, Charity, something that would keep you from staying at home…?" the nurse asked.
Charity Scott glanced up into the kindly face, momentarily, then concentrated her gaze on the pen-holder on the desk as an attack of dizziness reminded her of her reason for this visit to the school's Health Office. She didn't know exactly how she should answer Mrs. Keaton's question. It was difficult to put into words; she just knew that it would be best if she did no? Go home. With an effort, she began, "M-My dad's at h-home… he's sick and stayed h-home from w-work… t-today…" she stumbled.
"Is he quite ill?" It was a leading question.
The girl was quiet for a moment, not answering. How should she answer? How can a young girl put it into words?
"Well…" Charity dropped her eyes to the floor, "h-he drinks… quite a lot… a-and…" She stopped then, not wanting to go on.
"… And, what… Charity…?" Ernestine's voice was kind, coaxing.
"I-I just d-don't want t-to go h-home… is all…!"
Ernestine Keaton, school nurse, knew the reason without asking. She had heard it all before, many times, from many girls. She flipped through the Emergency Card file to extract Charity Scott's card signed by both parents. She knew the answer to her question, but she asked, "Is Gabriel Scott your real father?"
Most of the time, Ernestine mused, it was stepfathers who molested the young girls, but she had known of many cases where the girl's real father had had sexual interests in their own, flesh-and-blood daughters. The unnatural, incestuous lust revulsed and disgusted the nurse, but there was little she could do about those situations, most of the time, it was too late. Dear God! Here's another lovely young girl, exposed to heaven only knows what…! A drunken, sex-maniac of a father, no doubt… peeping and pinching… waiting for his chance to… to debase her… ruin her! God! Why isn't there some way we can help… before it's too late? She had to know. She probed a little further.