Greetings Dear Reader.
This bit of hearsay comes by way of a letter sent me by my cousin across the pond in America. As you may already know, that country of upstarts is once
again engaged in a war, not with Britain thankfully, but now amongst themselves.
They are apparently divided over an issue Parliament abolished here nearly thirty years ago. However you do not come to this column for news of politics and world concerns, but rather for news of a more personal nature.
This propensity for squabbling has evidently filtered down even to the men and women on the same side of this rebellion and involves two people working in hospital who should be united, fighting together to save the lives of those soldiers wounded on the battlefields.
My cousin, recovering from illness at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C., witnessed first-hand the impropriety of one nurse Gracie McBride, behavior from whom one might expect of the Irish, and who on one occasion tackled an orderly to the floor and literally sat upon the man while she ripped the very shirt off his back. She even had the audacity to sneak into the kitchen and steal food, an act which brought her serious reprimand from the hospital chief surgeon.
Undaunted, she continued her unlady-like behaviors, standing toe-to-toe with and arguing with the ward surgeon, Doctor Charles Ellard. Apparently the two mix like oil and vinegar, acting out their rows in the middle of the ward for all to witness, as if they were players upon the stage.
Although, as my cousin reports, many patients find such indecorous conduct to be entertaining, causing much laughter, hence breaking the clouds of depression and sadness which normally hang over the ward.
On one occasion, a rumor circulated that the good Doctor Ellard, after ignoring the advice of a more experienced physician, performed an operation not only incorrectly, but while drunk. Shortly thereafter Doctor Ellard was sent back to the fighting. Since the patient would have died if not for the skill of Doctor Ellard, my cousin and others have speculated if the accusations against him, might not have been made by this other physician out of jealousy and spite.
Though nurse McBride remained as cheerful and industrious as before, the atmosphere in the ward has returned to its previous quiet gloom.
Now nurse McBride has also left the hospital. Rumor supposes her departure occurred upon receipt of a mysterious package, although she has purportedly gone to deliver supplies to the battlefield with the Sanitary Commission. Many wonder, which is it?
The ward is once again rife with speculation. Will Gracie McBride and Charles Ellard meet on the battlefield? Was it hate or love which caused the friction between them? Will my dear cousin and his fellow soldiers see them again in order to learn what happened? Let us hope that somehow love will prevail and Gracie McBride and Doctor Ellard will live happily for ever after.
Dear readers, I hope to hear soon from my cousin, for the only way to satisfy my own curiosity will be through further reading of their tale.
I wish you well.
Gracie McBride isn’t looking for love; she’s looking for respect. But in this man’s world of Civil War medicine, Gracie is expected to maintain her place changing beds and writing letters. Her biggest nemesis is the ward surgeon, Doctor Charles Ellard, who seems determined to woo her with arrogant kisses and terrible jokes.
Charles is an excellent surgeon. He assumed he would be well received by an army at war. He was not. Friendless and alone, he struggles to hide the panic attacks that plague him while the only person who understands him is a feisty Irish nurse clearly resolved to keep him at a distance.
But Charles is sent to the battlefield, and Gracie is left with a wounded soldier, a box of toys, and a mystery which can only be solved by the one man she wishes could love her, both as a woman and a nurse.
“Would ye have me go home to shop for bonnets and gossip with me morning guests, ignorin’ that ten-year-old boys are being shot on battlefields? Do ye want me to stay unchanged, so that when I go home I can pretend none o’ this ever happened?”
“No. I want you to go home before the death of that ten-year-old boy becomes so ordinary, that one day you wake up and realize your womanly softness has grown so hard you no longer have the ability to feel.”
She squared her shoulders and stepped toward him. “Me own husband was a doctor, sir. I’ve birthed babies and stitched wounds. I stood by William’s side during surgeries and passed him instruments. I helped him clean the intestines of a man gored by a bull, before putting it all back inside that man’s belly. Me delicate sensibilities did not send me into a swoon then nor will they here. I thank ye for yer concern, Doctor Ellard, but ‘tis who I am. And by the saints, as long as I have breath in me body, I will feel, and I will care.”
Their gazes locked in that moment, and something flickered in his icy depths, overshadowing his usual cynicism with what she suspected might be admiration. The harsh lines of his face softened.
“Saint Jude must indeed be watching over you, Mrs. McBride.”
“That he is, Doctor Ellard, that he is.”
He gave her a brisk nod and opened the door. “You’re not going home then, are you?”
She turned. “Ye know us Irish, Doctor Ellard, we don’t know what we want, but we’ll fight to the death to get it.”
Bio of Author, Kathy Otten
Kathy is the published author of multiple historical romance novels and short stories. Her Civil War romance novel A Place in Your Heart was a 2016 RWA Northwest Houston Chapter, Lone Star Winner and her western novel Lost Hearts, was a 2008 Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist.
Kathy has been writing and making up stories as long as she can remember. Her first short story, Redemption of a Cavalier was published in 2006 and she has moving forward ever since.
Her young adult novel, The Solace of Denim is scheduled for release this summer.
Recently Kathy became a certified book coach and now helps clients bring their writing vision to life.
She also teaches classes on writing craft both on-line and in person at workshops and conferences.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys walking her German shepherd through the woods and fields near her home or curling up with a good book and her cat.
Web Site: www.kathyotten.com
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