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Nonnatus House may not have much money, but that doesn’t mean its midwives can’t occasionally appreciate the finer things. When Trixie’s wedding invitations arrive, everyone gushes over the quality of the paper and embossing, and enthuses over getting to attend a “society” wedding.
But the budget at Nonnatus is tight, so the midwives are always looking for a little extra support. Sister Veronica has arranged to have photographs taken for a national competition for an ad campaign sponsored by a dairy, in exchange for donated cans of evaporated milk to be distributed to the mothers of Poplar. But the photographer’s car breaks down, so Nurse Crane has to step in with her own camera to take portraits of half of Poplar in their Sunday best.
Crane is surprised that Nancy did not come for a photo with Colette, but Nancy explains that she didn’t feel she and her daughter could enter the competition with a family portrait, because they’re not a family; they don’t live together. Crane dismisses such talk, and uses the last of her film to photograph them.
Nancy has been thinking about foster families like the one with which Colette lives because of the O’Connors, fellow Irish immigrants. Maurice is a construction worker, and he and his wife Imelda and their young son have been living in a mobile home on a construction site until subsidized housing is secured for them via the local government. Imelda is due to give birth to another baby any day, but she doesn’t want to have it in the hospital like she did her son, despite the mobile home lacking resources for a birth—it doesn’t have running water.
When Nancy goes to check on Imelda, she finds the mobile home gone. Matthew learns through his business connections that it moved to the next construction site, probably without the O’Connors.
The family ended up in a boarded-up building due for demolition for the night, after waiting hours in a line for housing before being turned away because the office could only process so many applications at once. As Maurice prepares to return to the housing office the following morning, a policeman searches the abandoned property. He finally goes away without finding the O’Connors, while Imelda stifles a groan of pain. She’s in labor.
She refuses to go anywhere to give birth, however, fearing that her son and her newborn will be taken away when any medical professional learns that the family is homeless. She somehow delivers the baby on her own, with Maurice’s help, drawing on her memory of the previous birth.
But she’s still bleeding and cold the next day, and the baby won’t feed, so Maurice goes to Nonnatus for help. Nancy goes to Imelda and gets Maurice to call an ambulance to bring her to the clinic.
Imelda and her baby improve quickly there, but her son cannot stay there so he must live with a foster family for a few days, while Maurice stays at a men’s hostel. A place to stay for Imelda and her children is eventually found, while Maurice will stay at a construction site across town, saving up money to find them their own home.
Nancy and Trixie are infuriated by the inability to provide the whole O’Connor family a home together. Trixie talks about the housing shortage with Matthew, and he lists the bureaucratic and construction hurdles contributing to it but sees her point.
Trixie and Matthew attend a meeting of the housing committee of the local council together, and Matthew interrupts the interminable agenda to ask for concrete solutions. Violet bristles at his complaints, especially since his family owns many properties in Poplar—but he counters that he wouldn’t tear buildings down for new ones if he had known how slow and drawn-out the housing process was. He wants to discuss real solutions, and help however he can.
After the meeting, he tells Trixie that he is going to make changes in the family business now that his father is gone. He also apologizes to Violet, who tells him that he is not wrong in his complaints. She suggests that he run for council to bring some new ideas and fresh blood.
Cyril is looking for new ways to help his neighbors, in order to stay busy. He has returned to London from visiting Lucille in Jamaica, but she has remained there—being with her family is helping her depression. Cyril is sad and lonely, however, so he volunteers at a men’s hostel like the one that housed Maurice O’Connor. Cyril has to turn away a young man in a bad state because there are no more beds. He gives the man money for a meal, but according to another worker at the hostel, he won’t use it for food.
Another day, Cyril finds the young man, whose name is Leon, coughing and tripping along the street, and insists on bringing him to Dr. Turner. Leon has hepatitis—and shoots drugs, but refuses to even listen to Dr. Turner when he brings up addiction treatment centers.
Cyril follows Leon, needing to understand why he won’t accept help. Leon explains that nothing ever works out for him: he was given up as a baby, worked through the foster system and homes, and when he found his mother again, she had a new family and he didn’t want to wreck it.
That mother is Rosemary Mason, who has just had another child, later in her life. She already has several grown children and a husband who runs a used goods store and a guest house out of their home.
Rosemary feels ill after giving birth, and Dr. Turner diagnoses hepatitis. The Mason household must take great precautions so that no one else is infected. Rosemary recovers quickly, but she bristles when Shelagh tries to figure out where Rosemary might have picked up the infection.
But Shelagh sees Rosemary in the street outside her home, talking to Leon. Rosemary explains the situation: Leon found her recently—that’s how she must have gotten the hepatitis—and she wanted to tell her husband about him, but she was pregnant and then she got sick. She was unmarried and young when she had Leon, and couldn’t keep him. But now she’s ready to bring him into her family—and so is her husband, once she tells him.
When Rosemary was at the clinic for a check-up before giving birth, Sister Monica Joan recognized and recalled delivering her first child, a boy—Leon. Rosemary tried to pretend Monica Joan was misremembering, since her first child with her husband was a girl.
Now Monica Joan is suffering from the same illness as Rosemary and Leon: she has hepatitis. At her age, it’s not clear that she can beat the infection. Nurse Crane and Sister Julienne fear the worst. They constantly tend to the aged sister, but she is upset and confused and feels like she is being held captive. Only Cyril’s presence soothes her—and sitting with her perhaps does Cyril some good, too.