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Authors: Elizabeth Gilzean

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BOOK: Yankee Surgeon
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“Sally, have a heart! Other surgeons wear eights, and anyway I never got to the theater yesterday. I was picking pieces of tarmac out of a motorcyclist who thought he could take corners at the normal speed limit.”

“All right, George, you

re forgiven this time. As a matter of interest,
what
have you been doing in Casualty instead of going to bed?”

He rubbed a hand across his eyes. “Yesterday must have been an extra depressing sort of day for several people, so they decided to end it all. One tried the oven, but didn

t put quite enough pennies in the gas meter. Another said she had taken poison, but I suspected she was merely trying to frighten her husband. Still, one
had
to be sure. And she had taken
some,
but she must have poured most of the bottle down the lavatory. And then there was a kiddie who had eaten some of his mother

s sleeping tablets. They looked like pink sweets to the poor little devil, and of course his parents didn

t discover it until they came to bed, and that wasn

t early, so yours truly didn

t get to his either. I suppose there must be something about the hours of darkness that does something to this type of person—the suicidal type, I mean—but they might think about some of the people they

re going to keep up. Tell me to shut up, Sally. I

m raving and I know it and I can

t help it.”

Sally put a firm hand across his mouth. “Be quiet, George. What will you have? Hot milk? Black coffee?”

He took her hand in his and then kissed each finger very gently. “That

s all I need, Sally, just loving kindness or something. I

m off to bed for all of an hour. Probably a mistake, but mine.”

Sally removed her hand, but without haste. “Did you come all this way for that?”

George shook his head. “This and something else. Can you tell me who my new junior is?”

Sally stared at him with suspicion. “Tell you? But of course you

ll know all the details yourself.
You
live in the residents

corridor.”

He held up a hand beseechingly. “Sally, let me get a word in edgewise. Have you forgotten already that I

ve been away on holiday and that it was all arranged when I wasn

t here and that I

ve been standing in for so many of the chaps since I got back that I haven

t had a chance to ask anyone? I know she

s a female, but that

s all. Cross my heart.”

Sally took pity on him. “Seeing as how we

re friends I

ll tell you this once. She

s called Claris Stornoway.” She stopped abruptly as she saw George

s face. It had been pale and weary before, but now it was a greenish-white, and it might be only her imagination but he appeared to sway on his feet.

He gripped her by the arm, unaware that his fingers were digging into her flesh. “Sally! You must be wrong. It
can

t
be Claris!”

She looked at him in alarm. “George, steady on! She

s only one woman after all, even if rumor has it that she

s a man-killer.”

George shook himself. “You never said a truer word if you but knew it! I told you that this was a depressing night. I think I

ll join the ranks of the suicides. It might be safer.”

“George! Stop raving like a lunatic! Why should Claris upset you? Do you know her, then?” Curiosity was mixed with her apprehension.

He rubbed a hand over his face as if to clear away the cobwebs. “Only second-hand knowledge. She drove my best friend to
suicide...”
He hesitated. “No, that isn

t quite fair. He did try, but they got to him in time, and it was a pity they did because now he

s in a mental hospital. Happy enough, I suppose, but what a waste of a brilliant brain ... what a waste!”

“Did she turn him down, then?” Sally felt she had to get to the bottom of this.

George groaned. “No, she didn

t. She had told him from the very first day that he didn

t have a hope in Hades, that she wasn

t interested in fifth-year medical students. She

s as sincere as they make them, if you can call ruthless honesty sincerity. But Roy simply wasn

t equipped to deal with someone like that. I suppose when the fairies hand out the gifts they don

t reckon on geniuses needing self-protection as well as brains.”

Sally could hear the growing rustle of the day nurses flowing through the corridor. “What is she like as a doctor, George?”

He straightened himself up preparatory to taking flight. “Oh, she

s first-rate—walked through all the exams without turning a
hair. But she hasn

t got—oh, what

s the word?—a vocation for it. She puts no heart or soul into it. Always right and always efficient, but no humanity behind it, no personal touch.” The murmur of feet was getting closer. “Sally, I must go. See you tonight some time.”

She smiled at him. “

Fraid you

ve missed that hour in bed.” She watched him slip away down the fire stairs and went into the theater as the first flick of a white apron came around the corner. She was making a final round of the sterilizers when the senior day staff nurse came in.

“The theater super wants a word with you, Conway.”

Sally glanced quickly at the other girl

s face. “Have I left something undone, then? I could have sworn I was all right this time.”

“Relax, girl, it isn

t that. It

s too early in the morning. She wants to see you before she goes to breakfast, that

s all.”

“No clue as to why?” Sally wasn

t afraid of the theater super, but she did like things to be just so.

She pulled down her sleeves and collected her cuffs from the nurses

room before knocking on the door marked
Theater Superintendent.

“Come in. Oh, it

s you, Staff Nurse. Take a seat while I check through this. Only the one case?”

Sally sat down on the very edge of the chair and watched her senior make an entry in the operation book. It couldn

t be a scolding or she would have been left standing.

The older woman closed the book decisively. “You

re due off nights in a week, aren

t you?”

Sally wondered at the statement of the obvious. “Yes, Sister.”

“Had you made any special plans?”

Sally had a feeling that she knew what was coming. “No, Sister.”

The theater superintendent was absently tapping the desk with her pen. “Good. I

ll tell Matron that.” She hesitated and looked at Sally

s waiting face. “That

s all for now, Staff Nurse, although I may say there are changes coming, and I

m not as sure as the higher-ups that they are for the better. Curious how those in authority are always so sure that they know the answers better than the departments they instruct.”

Sally had a feeling that no real answer was expected. “Yes, Sister,” in a polite little murmur seemed sufficient.

“Off you go, then. I

ll let you know if and when I have more details myself. Of course we

re always the last to
be consulted...”

Sally made her escape gratefully. She had heard enough at supper to guess at the cause of Sister

s scarcely suppressed anger. It was a bleak morning and she was thankful that she was on her way to bed. She took the shortest route to the nurses

home—around by Casualty and across the court that fronted the residents

wing. She noticed idly that a taxi had drawn up by the corner and
a
small impatient figure was standing by a growing pile of cases. She was close enough to hear the high, clear voice.

“If you

re not prepared to carry them in for me, perhaps you could be good enough to ask the porter at the lodge to get someone. Tell him Dr. Stornoway has arrived.”

Sally lingered deliberately and found herself facing a very chilly stare from a pair of greeny-hazel eyes that surveyed her up and down and dismissed her with a casualness that brought color to Sally

s cheeks and belated speed to her weary feet. She hurried away toward the covered passage that led to the nurses

home. So that was Claris Stornoway—and heaven help St. Bride

s! Brian Johnston couldn

t come back too soon.

Sally shivered as the wind whisked her cape off her shoulders. She had a nasty feeling that they were in for
trouble ...
big trouble. It would have been quite enough dealing with their new American surgeon without having Claris Stornoway dished up on the same platter. For a moment she wondered if Claris might be a suitable solution for the problem of eliminating John B. Tremayne. Then she recalled that absurd feeling of wanting to run her hand over his fair hair. No, she couldn

t wish him that. She might dislike him, but she didn

t hate
him ...
as yet.

Her room was warm and cozy. Some kind soul had switched on her electric heater. Sally got undressed slowly and filled her hot water bottle. She sat down by the heater and started reading her letters while her bed warmed up. One envelope with an American stamp caught her eye and she dropped the rest of the pile in her haste to open it. Was it the one she was waiting for? Her eyes scanned the page rapidly.

“...
and the applicant may choose two out of the four services offered: Medical, Surgical, Pediatrics, Operating Rooms. A monthly salary is offered and full maintenance provided. A certificate is granted at the end of one year and a refund of travel expenses to the amount of $800 is offered upon the successful completion of the
course...”

Sally

s face fell as she took in the amount. How long would it take her to save that much, even if it were returned at the end? She would have gray hair by that time! She thought of her parents. They could help to some extent, but not willingly. They wouldn

t want their daughter to be so far away, for one thing, and then there was Aunt Agnes, her mother

s older
sister ...
Sally sighed. Why did family feuds about silly old things that had happened long before she was born have to come between her and her ambition to go to America? She wasn

t even sure whether it was because Aunt Agnes had married an American or merely the wrong kind of man. She tried asking questions, but her mother always took on that obstinate look that she was forced to respect. Aunt Agnes had written—that much she did know, because she had walked in on the angry discussion that followed and had overheard enough to know that the letter had something to do with an invitation for her. But nothing had been said to her, so she had been forced to assume that the quarrel was still in operation between the two families.

With a sigh she began to reread the letter and pick out the details. Recent photograph ... was the American hospital interested in glamor girls only? That would leave her out. She crossed to the mirror and stared at her reflection ... black hair shaped into a smooth, shining cap close to her head ... dark blue eyes with dark smudges of fatigue making them look even bluer and her lashes blacker ... a pale face, but that was night duty, and weariness had blotted out her usual vivacity and made her look older than her twenty-six years. Names of two responsible people normally resident in the United States who would be prepared to
sponsor her ...
Oh dear, she couldn

t very well give the names of Aunt Agnes and her supposedly unspeakable husband, and she didn

t know anyone else. Fleetingly she thought of the tall American who had walked so abruptly into the operating theater last
night ...
but automatically she crossed him off her list. Even if they did get on friendly terms—which was most unlikely—it was most improbable that he or his parents would sponsor an English nurse.

She sighed again and put the letter back in its envelope and into her special box where all those other letters with American stamps lay so hopefully, awaiting the day when their contents might be of use in translating dream into reality. Time to go to bed. It might be a busy night.

Sally climbed the last step and turned the final corner. Ahead of her were the double swinging doors that lead into the theater suite. Her ears automatically listened for sounds that would tell her what was happening. A trolley of drums by the elevator doors indicated that the day staff had had time to check at least some of the laundry and pack some of the drums. But there was an ominous silence with an undertone of activity that warned her something was up even before Theater Super came out of her office and beckoned.

“Good evening, Staff Nurse. I trust you had a good sleep?” There was angry tension behind the quietness of her manner.

“Yes, thank you, Sister.” Sally waited for what was coming.

“You

ll need it,” the other said grimly. “Dr. Tremayne will be doing a list starting in one hour precisely, at nine p.m. The first case is a spinal fusion and that will be followed by an open reduction of hip plus the usual small stuff. I may say that I

m very glad I

m not Night Sister.
When
she will get
her
rounds done is something I wouldn

t like to predict. I sent two of the nurses off for an extra two hours this afternoon and they will be on at half-past eight. Let them go at eleven if you possibly can. I

m told that if the hospital is quiet you will have a junior from Mary to help with the clearing up. There

s a new house surgeon who will do the assisting for part of the list, although the R.S.O. did say he would try to send Dr. Brown for the two big cases. And if you have a few moments during the night, which I doubt, could you pack some drums for tomorrow

s lists?”

The theater super was pulling down her sleeves with an energy that suggested she was trying to find some escape for the indignation that was seething within her. She glanced at Sally as if waiting for her to add her protests, but her staff nurse was almost beyond speech.

At last Sally found a voice. “Is he going to do this very often? Dr. Tremayne, I mean. It

s going to mean an awful lot of extra work. Is Matron—”

The older woman snatched the words from her. “—Giving me more staff? She is not, or rather can

t at the moment, but she will try. Meanwhile, we must do our best to manage to provide an adequate service for Dr. Tremayne

s lists. I
wish...

The double doors swung open with a push that punctuated Theater Super

s sentence.

“Good evening, Super. Everything prepared for me?” The American voice with its slight twang bit into the little silence that followed his entry.

The theater superintendent put her cuffs on with a decisive gesture. “Staff Nurse will have everything ready for you at nine o

clock, Dr. Tremayne.”

Sally was very conscious of being eyed with a curiosity that was almost insulting in its intensity.

“Staff Nurse? I thought a major list rated a sister at least.”

Sally swallowed a gasp of horror and waited for the explosion.

BOOK: Yankee Surgeon
11.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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