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Miller H Caldwell

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· The Parrot's Tale

· Take The Lead

· Jim's Retiring Collection

· Lawrence the Lion seeks Work

· Chaz the Friendly Crocodile

· Miss Martha Douglas

· The Last Shepherd

· THE LAST SHEPHERD A Novella Chapter 1

· Betrayed in the Nith

· Help! They've Kidnapped Me! Lady Di


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· Take the Lead Chapter 3

· Take the Lead

· Take The Lead

· Palestine

· Chapter 3 The Parrot's Tale

· Chapter 8 The story Continues

· The Solo Oboe

· Chapter 6

· Chapter 5 The story continues


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· Halloween UK v USA

· Halloween UK v USA

· God will say when

· A Tragedy

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· The Wren's Birthday Greeting

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· New Year Resolution

· Petit Mal Seizure

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The Martha Douglas Story
by Miller H Caldwell   


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Books by Miller H Caldwell     View all 20
· Take The Lead
· The Parrot's Tale
· Lawrence the Lion seeks Work


Category: 

History



Chapter 1 of this fascinating illustrated novel followed by chapter 2.

                                 Chapter 1

 
    I slept and dreamed that Life was Beauty
    I woke and found that life was duty.
 
Life a Duty
    by Ellen Sturgis Hooper 1816-1841
 
 
Tat...Tat...Tat .. Tat......Tat..Tat..Tat...Tat.
‘Doesn’t that noise get on your nerves, Mother?’
‘Martha when I married your father I knew we’d be living above his shop. You know its his cabinet making that makes that noise.  So no matter how noisy, it softens the financial worries.’
Nora sat with bed sheets on her lap. She had a contract with the Southern General Hospital to mend sheets, curtains and at times nurses’ uniforms. Her daughter Martha was a young nurse at the Victoria hospital on the south side of Glasgow but had also become known for her keen eye with the needle.
‘You should enter your work at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery next month,’ said her mother.
‘My work?’ said Martha
‘Yes, you know your needle work like that Danish one, the ...er Hedebro Embroidery. Oh and take along some of your tapestries, they will go down well.’
‘But Mother, it’s my hobby not my work,’ protested Martha.
‘It’s good quality, you should enter, I tell you.’
‘I’ve got enough on my plate with that Matron at the Victoria Infirmary,’ Martha replied.
‘Matron McGregor? You seem to have got on her nerves.’
‘Yes, I don’t know why, perhaps she does not like me,’ said Martha retrospectively.
‘Come, come Martha. I am sure that’s not true.’
‘Mother, you don’t know Matron.’
 
William Douglas came upstairs at the end of his day’s work. An upholsterer and cabinet maker to trade, a splash of white paint was on his forearm.
‘There’s some turpentine in the kitchen. That should take it off,’ said Nora.
When William used paint it was white. After making the small sycamore box, he would plane it to smoothness and then coat it with white paint before adding brass handles. Young children’s coffins were often in demand. It created an even more sombre atmosphere after one of these had been made.
 Shawlands is a community in south side of Glasgow. Martha had been schooled at the primary school there until 1904 and the family often attended Shawlands’ Old Parish Church where Reverend Mr Houston preached. Children died from a number of illnesses and complaints and it was rare for the Douglases not to know who was in mourning.  But William Douglas also mourned the fact that after Nora gave birth to Martha by caesarean section in 1890, she was told not to have any more children, bucking the Victorian trend. This meant no son to take over the business and having no son was a stigma for William. Martha was aware of his feelings and wary of a temper which sometimes got hold of him.
 
Martha reported for duty at the Victoria Infirmary the following morning. She arrived at two minutes after 7am.
‘What sort of time is this Miss Douglas?’ asked Matron McGregor.
Martha looked at her watch.
‘Sorry I am just a minute late,’ she apologised.
‘Oh no, not a minute late. Two minutes late. How can I relieve overnight staff if you can’t arrive on time?’
‘I am sorry Matron.’
‘Well it will be noted. Report to me in three minutes in my office.’
‘Yes Matron.’
Martha could not understand why the lecture was continuing. It was hardly a gross mistake. She made sure she was outside her office two minutes later. She knocked on her door thirty seconds later.
‘Come in!’ she heard.
Martha approached Mrs McDonald seated behind her oval table with her back to the window.
‘I wish you to see a Mr Raymond Grant, ward six, third bed on the left. Find out who his next of kin are. I warn you, you will find him a difficult and rude patient. Report back to me when you have done this. That’s all.’
Martha turned and left Matron’s room. If Matron found him difficult, then it sounded as if this was not going to be an easy interview. She entered ward six and on the left in the third bed down was Mr Grant reading a newspaper.
‘Good morning Mr. Grant. Are you comfortable?’ Martha asked.
The man put his paper down and looked at the nurse.
‘What’s your name nurse?’
‘Nurse Douglas, sir,’ she said hesitatingly. 
‘Well let me congratulate you on your bedside manner. They don’t all have that,’ said Mr Grant.
‘Well I hope we can get along,’ she said.
‘I can’t see why we can’t,’ he said.
‘Then can you help me? We need a note of everyone’s next of kin. You see it’s a formality.’
‘You mean who to inform, if I don’t get out of here?’
‘A little bit stark I would say. I really mean it’s only a formality. We don’t normally contact them.’
‘Next o’ kin. That’s a funny term. What you really mean is who’s your best friend who should know about it if things go wrong.’
‘Exactly!’ said a relieved Martha.
‘Here give me some paper and pencil. I’ll write a list down.’
True to his word, the patient began to write. Martha waited until he had completed his list. She had not seen what he was writing but it looked promising. He held his list out to Martha. She took it.
‘Excellent Mr Grant. A list of four people no less. My, you are popular. Well done.’
‘Aye, but not relatives.’
‘No? Then who are they?
‘Listen Nurse. They are friends. Friends are friends but relatives are just buggers. Mark my words,’ said Mr. Grant.’
‘That will do very nicely, thank you.’
‘Pity they nurses are not all like you.’
‘Oh I think we are, very much of a sameness,’ said Martha.
‘Oh no that’s not true. It was some battleaxe of a Matron that asked the same questions yesterday but I was not going to answer to her. She barged in like a steam train out of control. I recognise her type. A bulldozing trouble maker if you asked me. Then again I suppose you did not ask me. At least I’ve got that outburst off my chest,’ he said. 
Martha straightened Mr Grant’s sheets. She smiled at him as she did so. He had no idea what ammunition he had just given her.
Martha returned to Matron’s room and entered. She handed over the list.
‘The next of kin list, from Mr. Gray, Matron.’
Matron looked at the list. ‘They are not all relatives are they? They seem to be near neighbours.’
‘It was all he was prepared to give me, Matron. Apparently another nurse had been to get the information yesterday but he wouldn’t give it to her.’
‘Really, another nurse? Did he say who?’
Martha hesitated. ‘No, but he found her very rude apparently.’
‘That will be all, Nurse Douglas,’ said Matron.
Martha left with a warm satisfaction. She hid her smile until she had left the room. 
 
That night she told this story to her parents. They enjoyed the Matron’s comeuppance. As the spirits were light Nora then informed Martha of her day.
‘On my way back from the Southern General I called into the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.’
‘Oh, what did you see,’ asked Martha.
‘I did not go to see anything in particular. I went to see an organiser.’
‘What about Mother?’ asked Martha.
‘Well I could not see you have time to do it but I took along all your best work. Your Richlieu tapestries, collages, crochet work. They were delighted to see them all’
‘You didn’t put them on display did you?’ asked Martha.
‘Well I really left the staff to do that. They will be placing all your work together for the public to view, in the main hall. We should go and view the exhibits at the weekend.’
‘I’ll be working all weekend. Just as well. Mother, I’ve never had my work displayed like this. There are professional seamstresses and needle workers who do this all the time. Goodness knows what they will think of my work.’
‘Your work is exceptionally good Martha. I would not have taken it along if that was not so.’
 
On Sunday evening Matron left the hospital. She left a note of matters to attend to on the nurses’ notice board and a reminder that the morning round of the medical examination would attend to anything developing in the night. Nurses were not to engage in heroics before the doctors took control the following day. As Martha went round the wards all seemed well. In the women’s ward a lady raised her arm for attention. She looked very pale.
‘Can I get you some fresh water?’ Martha asked.
‘No, I need something for the pain.’
‘Where is the pain?’
The woman was soothing her abdomen. Martha looked at the board at the foot of the bed. It recorded a threatening appendicitis. She soothed the women’s forehead and took her temperature. It was 105 degrees. The patient looked at Martha’s eyes. ‘Sorry but I need a pain killer. The pain is dreadful.’
Martha placed her hand on the woman’s abdomen. The appendicitis was more than grumbling. This woman was seriously ill. She shot up in pain as her hand pressed on her skin.
‘I’ll fetch a doctor. Don’t worry I’ll be back soon.’
Martha left the ward. She knew the woman was in need of an operation as soon as possible and that meant organising a theatre team. But first she required a medical confirmation. She climbed the stairs to the sanctuary of the medical restroom and library. She knocked on the door. There was no reply. She knew nurses were strictly forbidden to enter. But she had to do something for the woman. She knocked again, a little louder. When no one opened the door she placed her hand on the brass handle and turned. As the door opened she noticed a surgeon asleep by the fire. She approached him.
‘Excuse me Mr. Derham...excuse me....’
‘Er ...er  what, what?’
‘I am very sorry to disturb you but....
‘Oh a nurse. You should be wakening old men like me!’
‘Forgive me sir but I am every worried about a patent. She is in great pain.’
‘Who are we talking about?’
‘A lady with a suspected appendicitis.’
‘Hmmm, yes, I remember. So you think it’s developing?’
‘She has a temperature of 105 degrees, is perspiring and in great pain,’ said Martha.
‘Then my dear, I think we must get a team to the operating theatre right away.’
On hearing Mr. Derham’s decision Martha relaxed a little. She had been able to convey her diagnosis to the surgeon and the matter was now out of her hands. She returned to the lady’s bedside.
‘A medical team is preparing to operate very soon,’ she told her.
Sweat poured off the woman’s face. Martha noted her name above her bed.
‘Mrs. Owen, do your family know you are in hospital?
‘Yes, but my husband is looking after out two children?
‘What have you got?’
‘A girl aged two and a boy aged four,’ she replied.
‘Well the sooner they operate the better. We are not sure why we all have an appendix but as soon as it is infected, it must be removed. You’ll be as bright as a button in a couple of days’ time.’
‘How long is the operation, nurse?’
‘Not long. It’s a small cut to remove the offending appendix and then they sew you up; just a few stitches. You’ll be back in your bed in half an hour but so sedated you will be fast asleep.’
Mrs. Owen lifted her arm out of her bed and held Martha’s arm.
‘Thank you nurse,’ the patient said. 
Martha looked up to see the surgeon in his operating overalls together with the anaesthetist were approaching.
Four hours later in the early hours of the following day Martha had stopped for a cup of tea in the nurses’ station.
Mr. Derham approached slowly.
‘Nurse you did well in prompting me to operate.’
‘Thank you. Is Mrs. Owen well?’
‘Her condition had deteriorated. Her appendix had ruptured and all the debris had seeped into the abdominal cavity. It was of course a long operation. It was essential to remove all the debris. She put up a good fight but the peritonitis defeated her. She died on the operating bed before we were able to patch her up. I am sorry. But Nurse you did all you could have done.’
‘I shall break the sad news to her husband at dawn,’ said Martha.
Mr. Derham looked out the window. A dawn chorus began to sing.
‘I’d leave it an hour, Nurse,’ he said. ‘I think I’ll head for home now.’
Martha had never known an hour go by so quickly. She telephoned Mr. Own and told him the sad news. She told him that she had sat up with his wife  up until she was taken into the operating theatre. He seemed to wish to know all the details and Martha provided as much as she could, knowing the thoughts in his bereavement of  becoming a lone parent to such young children. 
Martha returned to Mrs. Owen’s empty bed and remade the bed for the next patient. At eight o’clock Matron returned to duty. It did not take her long to see the empty bed.
‘Nurse Douglas, what happened here? Did the patient die overnight?
‘Yes, Mrs. Owens died of peritonitis.’
‘And what makes you think peritonitis was the diagnosis?’ she asked.
‘Because Mr. Derham operated and he informed me that was the cause of her death.’
‘You mean there was an operation in the middle of the night? How did that come about?’
‘I reported Mrs. Owen’s deteriorating condition.......
‘Mrs Owens had a grumbling appendix. She was to be reassessed this morning. Who did you report this to?’
‘To Mr. Derham.’
‘And how did you find Mr. Derham?’ Matron demanded.
‘I found him willing and able to form an operation theatre team,’ Martha said deliberately avoiding the answer Matron was looking for.
‘Less of your insolence Nurse Douglas, I asked how did you find Mr. Derham?’
‘Initially asleep in his chair.’
‘Asleep in his chair where Miss Douglas and I warn you my patience is being tried?’
‘In the medical library and rest room.’
‘And did you read my instructions which I left on the notice board before I left last night?’
‘I did,’ admitted Martha.
‘And did I not say clearly that nurses were not to be heroic and take on more than their responsibilities allowed?’
‘Yes matron,’ said Martha.
‘So you knew what you were doing! You were disobeying my instructions. Weren’t you?’ growled Matron.
‘Mr. Derham told me I acted correctly,’ said Martha.
‘So you take orders from a surgeon and not the Matron these days? So you have re-written the Nurses manual have you?’
‘No Ma’am.’
‘I despair. I despair of you Nurse Douglas. Get out of my sight,’ Matron barked.
 
Martha walked home wondering how much she could tolerate Matron. She wondered if others received her vile attacks. She wondered if she could secretly plan to overthrow her. Her steps home that day concentrated on her downfall.
On her return home the following weekend a letter was awaiting her arrival.
‘It looks very interesting Martha,’ said her mother presenting it to her. 
‘In what way?,’ asked Martha.
‘It’s certainly a lady’s handwriting on some rather well perfumed writing paper’, said her mother.
                            Chapter 2
             
        Nunc aut nunquam
        Now or never.                        
Martha was as happily confused as her parents over the contents of the letter. Martha had been invited to morning coffee at the Grand Central Hotel by the rail station in the centre of the city at 11am the following Saturday by none other than Lady Emilia Crawford. The family had no knowledge of this noblewoman but the headed paper came from Buckingham palace and that caused a stir. But Lady Crawford also made it clear that she would be pleased to have her parents accompany her. They vowed to keep their engagement secret and not share it in the community or at their respective work environments but Matron was quick to notice Martha’s contentment with life.
 
‘So what makes you so pleased with life this morning, Nurse Douglas?’ asked Mrs McGregor.
‘Matron, a happy disposition aids recovery in my opinion.’ 
‘Really? I am not aware that is being taught these days,’ replied Matron.
‘Nurture or nature, I am not really sure but it comes naturally to some,’ Martha teased.
‘Enough of this nonsense. Get on with your work.’
‘Certainly Matron,’ replied a confident Martha.
 
On Saturday morning after breakfast, William Douglas shaved and donned his Sunday suit. Nora Douglas wore a hollow knob stitch cape over her braided bolero and Martha wore her nurse’s uniform because by 1pm she had to be back at the wards of the Victoria Infirmary. They walked down Mannering road to Shawlands’ Railway Station to await the 10:25am Cathcart circle train to Glasgow Central.
‘Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Douglas and Good day to you, Martha’ said nosey neighbour Mr Collins.
‘Good day to you too,’ said William.
‘I’m just nipping down to Maxwell Park to the nursery. I hope to pick up a few bedding plants. And you?’ Mr Collins asked.
‘Good to make a good start with the flower display. That reminds me I should be doing the same,’ said William.
‘Yes. So up to town for some shopping?’ he further enquired.
‘Yes, some shopping perhaps after meeting an old friend for coffee,’ replied William.
‘And I’ll have to make my shopping quick. I’m on duty this afternoon,’ said Martha.
‘Is it a friend of yours too then Martha?’ asked Mr. Collins.
Martha walked towards Mr Collins and whispered in his ear. He uttered a brief gasp then retreated.
‘I see. Well, have a good day,’ he said.
William looked at Martha. Nora looked at her too. Martha walked towards the line.
‘The train is coming, I can see it,’ she said.
 
Moments later the steamy train applying its brakes screeched to a halt. William spotted an empty carriage and ushered his family into it making sure Mr Collins went to another coach. They entered the carriage. Martha sat opposite her parents.
‘Well Martha. What did you say to Mr Collins?’
Martha blushed and looked at her mother. Martha smiled.
‘ I told him I was going for .....my first fitting to a corsetière!’
They all laughed loudly. Martha smirked some embarrassment but the moment was enjoyed by all as they knew the prying Mr. Collins was a busy-body who liked such gossip. This time he had been denied information and what Martha told him would be too embarrassing to find appreciative ears.
 As the train left Maxwell Park station, Mr Douglas looked out of the window at Mr. Collins walking along the platform and gave him a wave. Mr. Collins waved back. Martha then gave him a wave and a smile. He turned his face into his collar. He did not wish to show his embarrassment.
‘You are naughty Martha,’ laughed Nora.
‘Got you out of a sticky mess though, didn’t I?’
‘You have certainly made your mark on your special day darling,’ said William. 
Martha was pleased to hear her father talk that way. Melancholy would have been his usual response. She smiled her thanks to him.
‘Well, this is still a very mysterious meeting for me,’ said William. ‘Perhaps it’s all a mistake. Perhaps she got the wrong address or the wrong recipients. Perhaps she is not really expecting us!’ he said.
‘Father I’ve read the letter over and over. It’s most certainly an invitation for the Douglas family for whatever reason, so be on your very best behaviour and enjoy the occasion.’
‘You have certainly grown up wee Martha,’ he said.
The train pulled slowly into Central Station. The steam came bludgeoning out from the hot engine as they alighted and handed their tickets to the ticket collector at the barrier. Before them lay the Grand Central Hotel.   The venue for the morning coffee engagement. They approached the revolving door and entered. Martha went straight to the reception desk.
‘Good morning. Miss Douglas and my parents to meet with Lady Crawford here this morning,’ she said.
‘Certainly, please follow me,’ said the porter.
Martha turned to her parents and then took the lead behind the porter.
‘We are going up to the second floor where Lady Crawford will be expecting you.’
‘Are many attending?’ asked Martha.
‘Many? Oh no, I am told it was just the Douglas family. A party of three.’
‘Oh.’, she replied.
‘Where you expecting more to arrive?’
‘I don’t really know actually,’ said Martha.
The porter knocked on a wooden panelled door.
A voice from within called out, ‘Enter’.
The porter stood aside and ushered the family in.
Lady Crawford was a lady of seven decades. Her grey hair had a tinge of light brown streaks but it was her charming smile which captivated the family.
‘Martha and Mr. and Mrs. Douglas, do come in and take a seat.’
They did so arcing around a healthy log fire in the private reception suite. 
‘Now first things first. Is it tea or coffee you would prefer?’
‘I think coffee is the order of the morning’ said William.
‘I’d prefer tea if that is possible,’ said Martha.
‘Of course it is my dear. So now, that’s three coffees and one tea.’
Lady Crawford went to a voice pipe and took off its cover. She leaned over to address it.
‘Three coffees and one tea, please.’
The message was faintly repeated in confirmation from the floor below. Lady Crawford joined them by the fire side.
‘I am delighted to see you are a nurse Miss Douglas.’
‘Yes, I am a nurse at the Victoria Infirmary.’
‘I know, my dear,’ said Lady Crawford.
‘And you Mr. Douglas, have a well established cabinet making enterprise.’
‘You are well acquainted  with our family Lady Crawford,’ said William feeling a little uncomfortable.  
‘Yes, I made my enquiries before I wrote to you. I thought that might be in order.’
The porter returned with a tray. He placed the teapot and coffee jug by the fireside and brought forward on a trolley, a three layered cake stand. Sandwich triangles were on the first plate. Above the sandwiches was a selection of biscuits with Tunnoch’s teacakes prominent in their red and silver wrapping paper. On the top plate were slices of cream cake. William’s eyes were enlarged. This was going to be a very enjoyable meeting he felt. The porter poured the coffee cups and then Martha’s tea. Then he left.
‘Now do help yourself to as much as you wish,’ said Lady Crawford.
‘This is most kind of you,’ said Nora.
‘Well I thought it only right to invite your family. Perhaps I can explain a little more. Do you take sugar Mr. Douglas?
‘Er...yes one spoonful please.’
‘Sugar tongs. So that will be about two cubes, just as I take too,’ she said.
‘Now where do I begin?’
The family drank from their cups listening intently.
‘Lady Rothesmere, a lady-in-waiting at the palace, was asked to attend the Kelvingrove Art exhibition last week. She spent some considerable time looking at all the exhibits but was struck by the delicacy of the needle and stitch of Martha’s work.’
Nora beamed her approval at the news.
‘Mrs Douglas, that intricate embroidery on your cape, did Martha make it?
‘She did indeed,’  said Nora proudly. 
‘Yes, I thought so. You see Lady Rothemere was taken aback with the quality of Martha’s exhibits. She is a lady who knows her needlework. Tell me Martha was that your complete collection on show?’’
‘I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I could not find time to visit the museum’, she replied.
‘Perhaps I can explain. Martha was somewhat reluctant to enter the exhibition. I tried to persuade her but she lacked a certain enthusiasm, shall I say. She felt professional needle workers would be entering. Perhaps women who spent each day producing their craft, while Martha was busy and tiring herself out on the wards as a nurse. Anyway, I was passing by the Museum and so entered some of her work. It’s only a sample that I brought. There were Russian cross stitch sideboard cloths, D’oilies, Irish Crochet, Rice braid, crochet-trimmed blouses and embroidered canvass trimmings. And much more besides I left back home. Martha is always given repair jobs too in our house. She has such a delicate touch to her work,’ said Nora.
‘Just what I thought or indeed suspected. Martha you are clearly  gifted with a needle in your hands.
‘Thank you, it is kind of you to say so.’
‘Do eat up now,’ said Lady Crawford.
‘I certainly will,’ said Martha stretching for a Tunnock’s tea cake. 
‘I live at Buckingham Palace and have many household duties to attend to. One of them is securing competent staff from around the country. King Edward is keen to have the land well represented whether it is in the stables, the kitchens or in the household services. We would be privileged if Martha was to accept the offer of being a member of the household division at the Palace.’
William choked on his cream cake. ‘You mean ...you are asking Martha to go to London....... and live in the Palace?’
‘Yes, that is what I am proposing,’ said Lady Crawford.
‘But I am a nurse,’ added Martha.
‘Indeed you are. And a nurse you will always be as you have trained for that. If you do not like working in the palace or wish to move away, of course you will still have your nursing career to take up again.’
‘I’ll have to think about this’, said Martha.
‘Yes, we’ll all have to think about this,’ said William.
‘Let me place some flesh on the bones,’ smiled Lady Crawford. ‘A nurse will be earning around £129 per annum I believe?
‘’Yes about that,’ said Martha.
‘Well we will provide free accommodation and meals....’
‘She already has that living at home with us,’ said William. 
‘Free accommodation and meals as I said and two travel passes each year to visit home. One in Summer and one over Christmas.’
‘That’s not like living with her family,’ said William.
‘Martha would be well recompensed. Her salary in her first year would be £200 per annum.’
Umm quite an increase in salary, getting away from Matron, striking out on my own, thought Martha.  She noticed her mother warm to the idea while her father was quietly simmering. That sum of money smelt like bribery to him. The meeting was not what he had hoped to hear. 
‘Well I shall give you a week to consider Martha. Here’s a self addressed envelope for you to have. Let me know whether you will accept the offer. I can assure you of a warm welcome at the Palace.’
There was a strain in the atmosphere. William was anxious to conclude the meeting. Nora detected her husband’s reticence while Martha dusted the crumbs from her lap and finished drinking her tea.
‘Well then you have given us much to consider and we are grateful for the hospitality you have shown us this morning. However it is time for us to leave,’ said William.
Lady Crawford stood up.
‘This is an offer of considerable generosity and I would wish that you  consider most carefully what I am proposing. Martha has a unique gift and the Palace would be honoured to have her in its employment. Very few young ladies are given this opportunity, Mr Douglas. You should be proud of your daughter.’
Martha curtsied as did her mother, William turned towards the door and ushered his family out of the room. 
 
During the train journey home William said nothing. Martha returned to the Victoria Infirmary with muddled thoughts in her head. An opportunity to leave the dreaded Matron; an increase in salary; living in London far from home with no immediate friends and away from Shawlands for good; away from family. Matron detected a distracted look in her face.
 
‘Looking lost again?’ 
‘No Matron, just a few thoughts in my mind,’ Martha replied.
‘No doubt thoughts not worthy for a nurse on duty.’
‘On the contrary Matron, deciding which chore to do first. Empty bed pans or gather soiled sheets. I do so love working here.’
‘Sarcasm, Nurse Douglas, suits you well,’ said Matron. Martha chose not to reply.
 
When she got home that night, her father was standing in front of the dying fire with his hands behind his back.
‘Just what was that woman, that Lady Crawford, up to this morning?’
‘Giving me an opportunity to work in London, father,’ said Martha taking off her overcoat.
‘She had no right interfering in our lives,’ said William.
‘On the contrary, I thought it was very kind of her.’
‘You are still a young lass. You wouldn’t survive in London, a city of vice and danger,’
‘Surely no more than Glasgow on a Friday night and anyway father I’d be staying in a palace. Just imagine that!’
‘Don’t let your head run away with you. Remember your parents aren’t getting any younger.’
‘We are all getting older for that matter and maybe it is time for me to seize the opportunity thrown my way.’
‘And who will look after your mother and me when we can’t manage on our own? Yes you have not thought about that have you?’
‘I could always come back from London if I was needed but I don’t see why I can’t make my way in life.’
‘Because I am your father and you will respect me and your mother.’
‘I not only respect you but love you both but you can not hold me back if I wish to go.’
‘If you go to London my lass, it would be without my approval,’ said William raising his voice.
Martha stormed out of the room and went to her bedroom. She opened the lid of the cherry and sycamore desk which her father had made for her twelfth birthday and took out her diary. She wrote only one sentence. “I have never been so elated then depressed in the course of a day.” She closed the diary and placed it back in its place. She got ready for bed and entered her place of repose with a tear in her eye and a sob in her voice.
 





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