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Authors: Marjorie Moore

Honorary Surgeon

BOOK: Honorary Surgeon
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Marjorie Moore


The Honorary Surgeon was nice, Mary Grant had to admit, but she simply would not join the throng of admiring nurses making fools of themselves over him. But when her change of heart came, Mary Grant

s world turned upside down!



Early summer s
streamed through the
windows of the nurses

sitting-room, making dancing
polished floor, and splashing the distempered
with streaks of light. Two of the deep-seated armchairs were occupied by nurses. The sameness or their uniforms—winged caps, and starched aprons covering print frocks—gave, at first sight, the impression that each was the replica of the other. That impression was quickly dispelled. Mary Grant, almost frail in her fairness, her oval face with its finely chiselled features, proved a striking contrast to her friend, Joan Howe, dark, with the creamy transparency of


s the time, Joan?

Mary Grant, questioned her friend.


m due in the ward at four.

I thought you were off tonight.

Joan glanced at her watch.

Anyway, it

s quite early yet.


Mary Grant relaxed once more against the back of the cushioned chair.

I am free tonight, but I

ve got to go on duty again until six.

Phew, isn

t it hot?

Joan pressed out the end of the cigarette she had been smoking.

Almost too hot to enjoy a smoke. Thank goodness, we missed Dickie

s operation this afternoon; the atmosphere of the theatre must be completely unbearable.

Mary nodded in silent agreement. Usually it pleased her to watch Sir Richard Alymer

s swiftly moving fingers, to hear his clear, low voice in explanation to the listening students; in short, to be part of the intriguing drama of the operating-theatre. Today she felt too exhausted to be interested; her head a
ed, and she blessed the lucky chance which had enabled her to miss theatre duty.

Strange, getting a heat wave so early in the year!

Joan Howe remarked.

I hope it breaks soon; it

s no fun trying to work and keep reasonably cool in these wretched clothes.

She ran her fingers round her collar.

This thing feels as though it will choke me any minute.


s choking?

a merry voice called from the doorway as three more nurses entered the room.


s only Howe; she

s complaining of the heat, and incidentally of her collar.

Mary laughed.

I think we are all full of grouses today.

The three new arrivals drew up chairs and seated themselves near the other girls.

I certainly know someone who is!

retorted a small, red-haired nurse somewhat older than her two companions.

And Vickers will back me up,

she added, addressing a tall, slim girl reclining in a chair slightly apart from the others.


t Sister Tudor awful? I thought she

d never stop nagging!

It doesn

t need any excuse to make that woman nag,

Nurse Vickers replied.

I suppose the Tudor wrench managed to curb her irritability before her beloved Dickie?

Joan Howe questioned.

Sweet as honey the moment he appeared in the theatre.

Nurse Vickers smiled.

Funny, even Sister can

t resist him. He

s such a pet

Oh, what nonse

Mary could not resist breaking in. Sweet-tempered as she was, Mary could never overcome a feeling of anger when he heard the surgeon discussed in that way.

Sir Richard may be very nice; so are many of the honoraries; I can

t see why you all make such fools of yourselves over the man. He

s insufferably conceited already, and, frankly, I can

t see anything particularly attractive about him.

So dear Grant still remains gloriously immune to Dickie

s charms!

Nurse Vickers taunted, and there was an unpleasant quality in her voice as she spoke.

Mary Grant took the laughter evoked by Nurse Vickers

remark with good-humour.

I hope I

m not above falling in love ... but hero-worship
well, I left that behind in my schooldays.

Joan, always ready to come to her friend

s rescue, took up her defence.


s probably right; it

s crazy to go nuts over a man who is sublimely unaware of your existence.

She curled her legs up under her with a lazy, cat-like motion.

Anyway, there

s too much competition. What chance have any of us, with Sister in the running?

she demanded rhetorically.

That old hag!

the red-haired nurse broke in venomously.

I bet he laughs at her up his sleeve; her arch looks are enough to make anyone sick.

You don

t realize it yourselves, but you all cast lovesick looks in his direction.

Mary turned to her friend.

Joan dear, got a cigarette?

Here you are.

Joan Howe paused while her friend helped herself to a cigarette.


re quite right; most of us do; but he is rather attractive, you know.

She gave a low, musical laugh.

You should consider yourself lucky that
you are spared the pain of unrequited love.

She cast a mischievous glance in Nurse Vickers


Have pity on Vickers


Mary joined
in the laughter at her friend

s sally. It was certainly true; although she so despised the adoring attitude of her fellow-nurses, she was probably lucky to be able to remain so gloriously aloof. Of course, Sir Richard was attractive, she admitted a trifle grudgingly; at that moment she could readily picture his features: his keen blue eyes crinkled at the corners in that manner with which she was so familiar, and his mouth, curiously sensitive, set in hard lines, characteristic of concentration. She could easily understand the admiration his surgical skill evoked, having been present at many of his operations during her training. Even with her slight knowledge, she was obliged to admit Sir Richard

s superiority when with his skill and personality he dominated the small group of people in the operating-theatre, in the same way as an actor skilled in his art will hold his audience. At such times Mary could almost forgive the hero-worship this man received. That a man
hould be popular among a community of women was perhaps only natural, but the manner in which her fellow
nurses so freely admitted their admiration, and, worse, than that, the shameless way in which
they showed this man their feelings was, to Mary, ridiculous. Unconsciously Mary clenched her hands. The nurses might be to blame; their foolish worship infuriated her; but Sir Richard
it was mostly his fault. His easy charm, that manner of talking to the nurses as if every word mattered; that, in her opinion, almost patronizing amiability; it was amazing to her that they couldn

t see through it as all part of this man

s make-up, a means of holding the position which no doubt he
ecretly loved—the adored surgeon, almost a demi-god.

Why so deep in thought, Grant?

Nurse Vickers

question broke in on Mary

s reverie.

Are you wondering whether you can work up any feeling of pity for me, as Howe suggests?

She eyed the younger girl from beneath half-closed eyes.


t bother; I don

t need any sympathy; you

ve no idea what a kick I get out of being in love with Dickie, even if I am one of many, and even if I don

t stand a chance. You don

t know what you miss by being so chastely superior.


s not


as you call it,

Joan Howe protested.

I admire Grant for being different and having the courage to say so. Dickie

s very nice, but, you know, you do behave like a lunatic about him.

Of course you

d stick up for Grant,

the third nurse of the group, who had so far remained silent, broke in.

You used to be just as keen as us about him until Grant came along, with her stuck-up airs; then you thought you

d become a bit superior yourself!

What bunk!

Joan retorted, entirely unabashed by the accusation.

It was nothing to do with Grant, I came to my senses without anyone

s help.


s far too hot to bicker.

Nurse Vickers stretched out her hand for Joan

s cigarette-case where it lay on the table.

Mind if I have one?

Without awaiting a reply, she took one, and continued speaking.


re due on at four, aren

t you, Grant?

Yes, for a couple of hours. I expect I

ll have to give a hand with clearing the theatre.

Mary sighed.

I don

t feel a bit like going on again. I think resting has made me feel lazier than ever.

Joan jumped to her feet.

Heavens! It

s four now! Come on, Mary, you

d better hurry. I

m finished for today, but I

ll come as far as the ward with you. I want to collect some books I left there.

Slipping her arm through Mary

s, the two friends made their way from the room.

Outside the ward doors Mary parted from Joan, a
went to seek Sister Tudor to report her return to duty. The gaunt figure was nowhere to be seen in the long ward, so Mary returned through the corridor to the theatre. How late they were finishing! Mary mused, as she caught sight of Sister just emerging through the swing doors.

So there you are!

Sister Tudor

s voice was querulous.

Very late. Surely you were due back at four?

I went to the ward. I thought you

d be there,

Mary murmured in explanation.


t bother to make excuses. I want you to prepare tea for Sir Richard in my room. And please be quick about it. I don

t suppose he has any time to waste.

What about clearing up here?

Mary enquired quietly.

There is no hurry for that; the others can get on for a while without you.

Sister Tudor

s lips pursed disap
rovingly. She was not blind to the latent antagonism in the younger girl; not that she was ever actually rude
just an indefinable hostility. Sister Tudor sensed, not without resentment, the innate breeding in this young nurse. It was a well-founded rumour in the hospital that Mary Grant came of a wealthy family who had lost their money in some financial crisis, and that, after an early life of luxury and idleness, she had been compelled to earn her own living. Evelyn Tudor frowned. Rich young women, even if they had fallen on hard times, were, in her opinion, quite the wrong type to take up nursing. She turned again to the slim young figure standing before her. Why didn

t the girl move to obey? Her tone was peremptory.

Nurse, why are you standing there doing nothing? Didn

t you hear my orders?


m sorry. I

ll get tea at once.

There was an angry glint in Sister

s eyes as she watched Mary disappear, but it quickly faded, and a mask of serenity concealed her anger as Sir Richard came through the door from the theatre and advanced towards her.

you ready, sir? I

ve ordered tea for you at once.

She stepped back for him to precede her along the corridor to her small private sitting-room.

Sir Richard would have been surprised had he known how the majority of nurses at St. Jude

s regarded him. Years of work in the hospital, from student days to his present position, had endowed Sir Richard with that happy knack of doing his work with an uncanny disregard of those around him. Certainly it would have astonished Mary had she known how this
an remained, although so constantly receiving adulation, almost completely unaware of it. St. Jude

s and the nursing staff were, to him but a necessary background without which his work could no
be achieved. He was faintly conscious of a distinct flutter among the nurses as he approached, an unwonted eagerness to do his bidding, but, even aware of it, he didn

t attribute it to any personal attraction, but merely to the efficiency one might expect from a well
trained nursing staff.

BOOK: Honorary Surgeon
8.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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