Ytte nodded. The panic retreated.
Finny thought she should add to the conversation. After all, she was the leader.
"Nurse Maisie said we should go exploring. Then we heard singing coming from a room, so we came to look. That's when we got caught by the copper."
Now Ytte smiled again
"Ah, yes. Meike encourages the younger children to sing. She would be your teacher if you were pupils here." She stood up and opened her office door.
"As it is, you will only be here for a short time, yes?"
The kids took the hint and trooped out past the young headteacher. Ytte followed them to the main door.
"It has been a pleasure meeting you, children." She opened the door. "Tell me, which school do you attend in New Flagstaff?"
Finny led her troops out into the sunshine.
"We don't go to school. We work inna factory. We make bullets for Joe Spivey."
Images of child workers from her own time flashed through Ytte's mind. She had hoped things had changed, apparently not.
"Do not your parents object to this?"
By now they were halfway down the path to the gate.
"Oh, we ain't got no parents. We live at the orphanage an' we mostly all work for Joe."
Ytte swallowed, this was even worse.
"Well, I hope he pays you well." She called.
At the gate, Finny turned around.
"Nah, we don't get paid." Finny waved, the others joining in, then they all turned on their heels and ran off, chasing each other all the way back to the town hall."
Behind them, still in the doorway to her school, Ytte Skovlund watched them disappear into the distance before realising that her mouth hung open.
When she closed it, her lips formed a thin, tight line.
While Finny and co were trying to push each other off the Town Hall balustrade, none of them noticed the NFPD car quietly turn up the little cul-de-sac towards the quarantine house.
Summoned away from the clinic by her head nurse, Doctor Troy arrived to see Maisie, at one end of the kitchen table,
sitting between Dr Ducas from the Union Medical Committee on one side and Officer Kopkage from the NFPD on the other.
Nurse Maisie looked unhappy. Not unhappy in the 'oh I'm sad' kind of way, more unhappy in the 'I'm only not throwing them out because I might lose my job' kind of way.
The two men stood as doctor Troy entered the room, and Tukiko greeted her Union colleague with professional courtesy.
"Doctor Ducas." She said, shaking his hand. She turned to the policeman and ignored his proffered hand, instead choosing to simply nod an acknowledgement. "Officer."
Tukiko took the empty seat opposite her head nurse. "Please sit gentlemen." When the two men had sat down, she looked at the doctor expectantly.
Ducas and Kopkage exchanged a glance, and the doctor shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"Doctor Troy," he began. "The good news is that all the inmates and staff..." He paused, ...and mister Spivey and his friend, have proven clear of the bacteria.
Assuming this continues to be the case tomorrow morning then the quarantine will be lifted."
Tukiko smiled. That was good news, so far as it went.
"And the two proven cases you have had?"
"Good news there, too, I am happy to say. They both have responded very well to treatment, and we caught the infection before it had a chance to establish.
Neither child developed the associated fever which, as I'm sure you know, would have led to second stage complications.
We expect to release them both back to the care of the orphanage staff by the end of the week."
Tuki was relieved to hear that. Typhoid, if not treated early, quickly becomes life-threatening with good chances of debilitating recurrences in later life.
All that aside, Tuki knew that officer Kopkage wasn't here just for the ride.
"And the bad news, Doctor?"
Ducas opened his mouth to speak, but then his eyes caught those of the policeman sitting opposite. He closed his mouth and deferred in the officer's direction.
Tukiko turned to look at Kopkage but said nothing.
Kopkage sat back in his chair. He glanced at the closed door, behind which the nurse had told them that Oliver Rundle was currently sleeping.
Screw it, what did he care if the little shit has his ear to the door?
"Although our investigations have concluded that no murder was committed, they did show that the," he fought hard to remain professional.
" 'Suspect' definitely did mutilate the body in some perverted game of 'doctors'... or whatever the hell was going through his mind while he carved that little girl up."
Nurse Maisie clenched her fists on the tabletop and it was probably only the warning look from her boss that stopped her throttling the New Flagstaff policeman where he sat.
Kopkage, aware of the nurse's reaction, continued anyway.
"Unfortunately. And wrongly, in my opinion..."
He was interrupted by Doctor Ducas, a member of the Union Central Council, clearing his throat. Kopkage bit off the rest of what he was going to say.
"Unfortunately," he began again, the city leaders have decided that no charges are to be brought against the suspect due to his age and other considerations."
Tuki could guess that these 'other consideration' had a strong political taste to them. It must be really sticking in that policeman's craw, she thought.
But then she saw the policeman's face relax and a small smile twitched at the corner of his mouth.
"However. The city leaders also think it would be best if little Oliver didn't return to the orphanage." The look of surprise on Doctor Troy's face was all that he hoped it would be.
"They think that having someone with his 'proclivities' mixing with other children under their care would not be understood if it were to become public knowledge."
"That's ridiculous..." Doctor Troy began.
Dr Ducas spoke in a quiet voice.
"As I am also sure you are aware, doctor Troy.
Once Typhoid has reached the fever stage, even if the patient survives and his system is clear of the bacteria, there is a twenty percent chance of recurrence within the first two years.
Even for this reason alone, it would be unwise to have Oliver Rundle mixing in the close confines of the orphanage with other children."
Tukiko didn't say anything. It was true. Typhoid, even if all the tests show negative, can hide within the glands and remain dormant.
Only after two years, if there has been no recurrence of the disease, can a patient as far advanced with the infection as Worms was, be declared truly free of it.
Opposite her, Maisie looked concerned. What they were saying was that Worms would be put out on the street.
She looked at the doc, hoping for her to dispute what the Union man was saying, but she saw in doctor Troy's face that wasn't going to happen. It must be true then.
She thought about the little boy asleep in the next room, what was going to happen to him? There was no social care in Flagg, he'd be an outcast. He'd be back on the streets.
Kopkage suddenly leaned forward across the table towards Tukiko.
Maisie was dragged from her sombre thoughts by the man's sudden movement and was instantly ready to do something unpleasant should the NFPD asshole even look like he was going to lay a finger
on her little boss.
Fortunately, he didn't. Holding the Hope Springs doctor's eyes with his own, the muscles in Kopkage's face twitched as he took a second to get his feelings under control.
"Something I am certain of, Doctor Troy, is this. One day, the sick little fucker behind that door isn't going to wait for his next new toy to die before he gets to play with it."
Tukiko went white, and just for a tiny fraction of a second, officer Kopkage saw something in the clone's weird grey eyes.
Kopkage opened his mouth to say something but Ducas was already standing up.
"That will do, officer Kopkage!"
Kopkage reluctantly sat back into his seat, but never took his eyes off doctor Troy's face.
Maisie looked from one to the other, wondering what was happening.
Ducas spoke into the sudden silence.
"Yes. Well, we've said what we came to say. Time for us to go, I think." He waited for the policeman to get up. "Kopkage?"
Kopkage pushed his chair back and strode quickly out into the afternoon sun.
Ducas, embarrassed by the other man's anger, nodded once and followed him, leaving Tuki and Maisie staring at each other across the kitchen table.
"What did he mean? That dick of a policeman." Maisie asked.
Tuki avoided her nurse's confused face.
"Nothing Maise. He's just pissed that he didn't get to arrest anyone." She lifted her head and forced a smile for Maisie's benefit. "Typical copper, eh?"