Fergus panicked and clung to Claire when the first car came round a bend in the road and he remained effectively glued to her side for the next two days. The driver had room in the back for the pair of them and kept looking at Claire in the rearview mirror as she kept an arm wrapped around Fergus’ shoulders, calming him and explaining the situation as best she could in French. His youth proved an asset as far as his ability to believe about the stones somehow being a pathway through time and he began questioning her about the intervening two hundred years he had missed. Luckily, their good Samaritan driver had no French.
By the time they reached the hospital, Fergus had exhausted himself and passed out in the back seat with his head resting in Claire’s lap, leaving her to deal with the doctors and authorities. She refused to let them examine Fergus until the boy woke and demanded they let her be present in the room to keep him calm and explain what was happening.
“He’s never had this kind of physical exam before. He’ll need vaccinations and inoculations as well,” she tried to inform the doctors and nurses as they pushed to let them examine her.
“Are ye the boy’s mother?” one doctor eyed her judgmentally.
“Adoptive mother of sorts, yes,” she told them. “He’s been in my care for about a year.”
“Is he an orphan from the war? Do ye have the papers for his transfer from France to Britain?” the doctor asked while a nurse looked through the pile of clothes containing Claire’s bodice, stays, and over skirts. The nurse examined each article delicately, rolling her eyes at the doctor’s absurd question—the fact that there was something odd about the woman and the boy was obvious simply from their clothing.
“There is no paperwork, no. He has learned a bit of English but hasn’t had any formal schooling.”
“You must let us examine you first then, Mrs. Randall—”
“Please,” she interrupted abruptly, bristling at the name before stopping herself, taking a deep breath, and continuing in a gentler tone, “Claire. Please… call me Claire.” She had given the doctors her name and requested that someone contact Mrs. Graham or the Reverend Wakefield. She knew someone would end up calling Frank but couldn’t bear to think about him right now; she could hardly bear to think of Jamie either, so instead she kept her attention and thoughts entirely on Fergus.
“Claire then,” the doctor conceded. “And the boy?”