~Part Five~

[He falls silent.]

The Eddy story draws a common response, "Can you imagine? After all he had been through?"

Not too many people who have heard this story have said the same of Eddy's wife, who made it as far as Truckee and as long as February only to die underneath the snow. However, in the ensuing years, I have had much occasion to reflect on the trials of Eleanor Eddy.

In Yuma, Charlotte grew terribly ill. It took a while for us to realize she was sick, since she was pregnant with our seventh child and pregnancy was always rotten on her. Yet, a cough had developed and by the time she was showing, we knew it was consumption.

[He starts crying, almost silently.]

I hoped against hope for the only thing I could hope for: that Charlotte would give birth to a girl—another with a full head of strawberry blonde curls like hers and like Isobel's. Indeed, Charlotte did on August 11, 1861. I insisted on naming her Charlotte if only because I could not imagine going through life again with no one to call that name. I had grown so attached to everything about Charlotte...I grew so attached that I dragged it all to the desert with me to die—just as I had to so much else, to so many others!

That scrape...scrape...scrape—what others call a rattle, but when you have lived with it as I, you will know it as a scrape, scrape, scrape that grows ever nearer. Charlotte nursed our newest baby girl and did all she could to suppress her coughing, until one day, when little Charlotte was perhaps nine months old, I came home to find my wife in a fit of coughing so terrible I had heard it from the street.

I trudged up the pathway unsure whether my speed or my slowness would better aid the situation. Some of the children were playing while Isobel minded the kitchen and William was out working for a neighbor of ours. Charlotte coughed and coughed and I entered just as the fit finally subsided to catch her looking at herself in the mirror by our front door. She had her back to me but we locked eyes in the reflection—hers were wilder than I had ever seen them, gruesomely alert both to my presence and to her lower lip, red as it had ever been as after when she bit it in deep thought, only now it was completely covered in blood.

Without so much as a word to me, she wiped her mouth with a handkerchief and continued on her way.

She was gone a few months later.