The Barkley Library

Anna's First Adventure
Part 2

By Madge

Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Big Valley" are the creations of Four Star/Republic Pictures and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

A continuation of "The Profit and Lost," after Heath goes to meet Vern Hickson. Part 2: The new doctor arrives.

Jarrod picked up the carpetbag; Anna wouldn't surrender the satchel. On the ride she asked a few questions. Jarrod answered as best he could.

Despite the circumstances, he was intrigued. "Your accent–I can't place it."

"No wonder. I'm from Maryland, but I attended school in New England for many years. More recently I've been in Paris and London."

"For pleasure?"

"For study."

"I daresay you get some odd looks."

"I daresay yours was one of many. And please excuse my snappish remark. I'm sure this is a difficult time for you. And I should be used to it. But one gets tired of seeing the same response over and over."

"I know a woman here in California has been admitted to the bar, to practice law. I've not heard of a woman doctor, though."

"I'm not sure if I'm the first in California or not. I do know this is one of the few states I can practice in. That's why I'm here."

"Yet you were allowed to attend medical school in the East."

"At Harvard, as a special student. My father was a Harvard grad. Yes, in Boston a woman has a very small chance of being admitted to school. But no

chance of practicing. I've no idea why."

Jarrod raised an eyebrow. "It's a rather rough trade for a woman."

She raised one in return. "And me a poor maiden lady to boot. But women have always been nurses. Look at the fine contributions of Miss Barton and Miss Nightingale. No one thinks nursing is a gentle trade–yet women are allowed."

"Touché, Dr. Carroll." It sounded strange. "If you're as good a doctor as you are a lawyer, you must be fine indeed."

To his surprise she laughed. "And I haven't yet begun to argue! You'll forgive my pugnaciousness, Mr. Barkley. I have to defend my choice of a profession quite often. I have a good many arguments."

"I'd like to here them all."

"Give me enough time and you will. I notice the other side only ever has one."

"But you'll agree that women are weaker than men."

"I believe you are an attorney, Mr. Barkley."

"I am."

"I won't argue the question of physical strength, I concede it. But being a doctor rarely requires brute strength."

"But the ugliness..."

"The world is an ugly place, Mr. Barkley, and a sickroom hardly the worst of it."

There was a sadness to her words. He wondered what strange events had brought her to this place. "Your arguments are persuasive, madame sawbones. Here we are."

Victoria had heard the carriage; she was already at the front door. If she was shocked to see a woman, she hid it well. "Dr. Carroll? Dr. Scanlon is still here. Come this way. Or perhaps you'd like some coffee first?"

"Consult first, coffee after." She unpinned the plain hat. "Bring the carpet bag, please, Mr. Barkley. I may need it."

Scanlon did not hide his surprise as well as Victoria; nor did Audra or Nick. "My God," Scanlon sputtered. "I hadn't heard–"

"About my wooden leg? A rumor, I'm afraid," Anna said dryly. "Quite a crowd we have here. Dr. Scanlon, I'll want your assistance, and perhaps yours, Mrs. Barkley. But if the rest of you could step outside?"

Nick, especially, went with bad grace. Anna Carroll opened her satchel and pulled out a man's gold watch and a bundle of black tubing. She timed Heath's pulse, felt his forehead for fever. She looked carefully into his eyes. "How long has he been unresponsive?"

"Last evening," Victoria said. "Before he had been hardly awake, either. He was confused."

"Any drugs?"

"We tried to give him laudanum. He couldn't keep it down."

"Has he kept anything down? Water, broth?"


"No head injury?"

"No." Why, Victoria wondered, was she wasting so much time? It was painfully obvious what was wrong.

Anna listened to Heath's heart, then lungs; his breathing was shallow and ragged. To Victoria's amazement Anna also listened to his stomach. At last she unwound Scanlon's bandaging. She probed the wound with a narrow silver too; she even smelled it.

Oh dear, Victoria thought. This woman–a doctor? A loon, more likely.

At last Anna seemed satisfied. "Please, invite your family back in. Simpler to say it just once." When they were all in, Anna said, "I'm sure Dr. Scanlon has already told you the situation is quite serious. Almost certainly mortal."

That got their attention. "There is tissue which is necrotized–"

"Nec–what?" Nick asked.

"Dead, to be blunt. It is the presence of this necrotic material which is causing the fever and the infection. Unchecked, these cases are almost invariably fatal."

"Almost?" Victoria asked. "Why are some not fatal?"

"Some people just have very strong constitutions. In some cases, surgery to remove the material."

"Could you do that kind of surgery?"

"I could. But you must understand. These are bad conditions. Your son has already been much weakened. Surgery is always dangerous, even if the surgeon is good"

"So you're saying he has only a slight chance if you operate."

"Slight, yes."

"And none if you don't."

"That is my assessment."

"Do you agree?" Victoria turned to Scanlon.

"It's been my opinion from the beginning," Matt said.

"So what shall we do?" Victoria asked Anna.

"It's not my choice, ma'am," Anna said. "This man can't tell us himself what he'd prefer. So you, as his family, must decide."

Jarrod asked, "If he were your brother, what would you do?"

She shrugged. "I'd probably try the surgery. But that's just because I prefer action to inaction."

"Do it," Victoria said suddenly. "I think that's what he'd what. What do you need?"

"Build up that fire. Keep hot water on at all times. Three large bowls. And some towels. Dr. Scanlon, you'll assist?"

Scanlon demurred. "It's been years since I've done this sort of surgery."

"I'll just need you to hand me instruments. Mrs. Barkley. Do you have any carbolic soap?"

Victoria and Audra scurried to gather the requested items. Nick worked on the fire. "Mr. Barkley," Anna said to Jarrod. "If you could open a window. It's very close in here."

"I must protest," Scanlon said. "Air can be most unhealthy–"

"But it must be breathed. Were it cold, Doctor, I might agree with you. But a little warm air never killed anyone."

"You have seen meat go bad, I'm sure," Scanlon huffed.

"But we are not meat. And air is not what causes spoilage. Mr. Barkley, my carpetbag?"

Jarrod pointed to a corner. To the amazement of the others Anna began unbuttoning her long duster. Underneath she wore a man's clean workshirt and denim work pants. Out of the carpetbag she took out a long white apron with sleeves, which she put on. She tied a snowy white bandana firmly low on her forehead, covering all her hair.

"Ah, good, the carbolic," Anna murmured. She plunged both her hands and a clutch of silver instruments into a steaming bowl. She rinsed in a second.

"Dr. Scanlon?" She offered him the soap.

"My hands are quite clean."

"I assure you they are not. Please wash, or leave the room."

"Carbolic! Young lady, I have never–"

"And you patients have suffered for it. Very well, Doctor, we'll manage without you.

As I said, please leave the room. I don't need you underfoot. If one of you gentleman would wash your hands."

"I'll do it," Jarrod said quickly. "Nick never gets quite clean."

"Up to the elbow, please." She spread out her instruments on another white cloth, including a large spool of coarse black threat and some large needles.

"You're going to sew?" Nick asked.

"I'm fond of embroidery. Mr. Barkley, I've no task for you. If you wouldn't mind stepping out. Thank you. Mrs. Barkley, if you'll see to the water. Well, let's have at it."

After the slowness and thoroughness of her examination, her speed was amazing. Jarrod, standing beside her and occasionally handing her an instrument, could barely follow the rapid movements of her hands. In no time she had extracted some lumps of dark, discolored tissue and, after probing and trimming, reached for a bottle of clear fluid. "Wood alcohol," she said. "The germ's worst enemy." After liberally bathing the wound, she began to sew up the wound she'd actually enlarged. The sewing took longer than the surgery itself; she would male one stitch, tie it off, and start another.

Then she slapped Heath once, twice. It didn't waken him, but he stirred and coughed. "Well," she said. "At least the anesthesia didn't kill him."

"You didn't say the anesthesia was dangerous," Victoria said.

"With so many other things wrong it hardly seemed worth mentioning. Two fresh bowls, Mrs. Barkley. And where's that soap?"

She cleaned her dirty instruments with the same thoroughness she'd used when they looked clean. At last, she removed the bandana and the apron, now splattered with blood. "If you'll be so good as to see that these get washed? And don't go easy on the bleach."

"You do like things white," Jarrod smiled.

"Not white, clean. And, Mrs. Barkley, I'll trouble you for that coffee now. Breakfast, too, if it's not too much trouble.

To top

"You can eat after that?" Jarrod asked admiringly as they went into the dining room.

"After a while, of course. You get used to it. And I've seen worse."

Though it was now nearly lunchtime, Silas was already laying out a plate of steaming eggs. "You know, Silas, I'll have some breakfast, too, I believe," Jarrod said.

"You're a fine assistant," Anna said as they say down. "Unlike that fool Scanlon." She shook her head. "Refusing to wash. My God, I didn't believe the practice could be so backward. But I'm sure he's not the only one."

"I must admit I've never seen a doctor so addicted to carbolic and hot water."

"Then you've not seen good ones. Dr. Lister, in London, demonstrated the value of carbolic soap as an antiseptic nearly ten years ago. The mortality rates on the maternity ward dropped seventy percent after his antiseptic procedures were adopted. But, of course, even in London many have rejected his work."

"You know him?"

"Yes, I practiced surgery under his tutelage. A very great man."

"And Paris. I believe you mentioned Paris?"

"I spent a year at the Sorbonne with Dr. Pasteur."

"I think I've heard the name."

"Perhaps. M. Pasteur has discovered that heating milk greatly lengthens the time before it spoils. He is working on a rabies cure–but it is a very difficult disease."

"Yes, we have a case here from time to time."

Victoria came into the dining room, frowning. "His fever still seems very high."

"I expect it will take between 12 and 24 hours for the symptoms to abate. The cause of infection has been removed, but the infection itself must still be conquered." Anna drained her coffee. "Mrs. Barkley, I hope I'm not being too rude in hoping you'll put me up for a few days. I don't want to leave until the outcome is more certain, and town seems a little too far away."

"Of course. Silas!" When Silas appeared, Victoria said, "Please show Dr. Carroll to the guest room. Please stay as long as you feel necessary. Is there anything else you can do for Heath?"

Anna shrugged. "My bag of tricks isn't quite empty yet. I could use a nap, though. But don't hesitate to wake me if there's any change."

"What should we do?"

"Nothing, for now. No water or broth yet. A little ice if you have any."

"What about a transfusion?" Jarrod asked.

Anna shook her head. "Not yet. I've seen transfusions fail more often than they succeed. There seems to be some quality in the blood...No, I'm not ready to try that." She frowned. "Is Dr. Scanlon still here?"

"No, he's left."

"Oh, dear," Anna sighed. "I suppose I'll have to make amends somehow. I'm sorry to have offended him. I hope it doesn't cause you any trouble."

"Matt's a little old. And a little tired, I'm afraid."

"I sometimes lack patience, I know. Especially when I'm sure I'm right." She smiled. "Nothing so like God in heaven as a surgeon in the theater. If you'll excuse me."

Jarrod watched her go appreciatively. "She's something unusual."

"Unusual, yes. I just hope her confidence in herself is justified."

To top

Once the door of the guest room closed behind her, Anna was swept by a curious mixture of exhaustion, panic, and exultation.

The exhaustion was simple enough. She had been on her feet for nearly 24 hours when the telegram had reached her. The shock–and yes, be truthful, the excitement–had reenergized her, as had a nap on the train. But now weariness overwhelmed her.

Panic? Easy to understand. Had she not been more exhausted she would have been more terrified. Her first consultation! And to such an important family. Yet she had been rude and brusque to poor Scanlon. He would certainly do her no favors.

And what if she'd done wrong? The situation seemed clear enough, and desperate enough, for her to act. But if she were wrong–if he died–she would be blamed, certainly. Even now she could hear Scanlon gossiping: "He was on the mend–completely incompetent–her fault–grossest malpractice–woman doctor, indeed!"

Yes, that would be the end of her brief career in California. Perhaps the end of her career as a doctor, period. She cheered herself with the idea that she could return to Paris, to work at the Sorbonne. Pasteur would take her back; she was an excellent researcher.

But she did not wish to go back. The exultation–yes, that was the other feeling. This was what she wanted to do. She had gone to medical school believing she would spend her life in research, not practice. But she had loved the real practice of medicine; she had been thrilled by the new techniques she had learned in London, buoyed by the realization that the day was dawning when doctors might actually cure more than they killed. A cold clear part of her mind–the part that wielded scalpel and needle so certainly–reviewed the day's work and knew it to be good. Lister himself could have done no better.

And yet–isn't this just what Lister had warned her against? The practice of medicine, the practice of surgery; it is not about a doctor's skill but about saving a patient. You must not be dazzled by your own sense of power.

Had she been dazzled? Had she been to arrogant, too eager? All of her frustration since coming to California had boiled over this morning. In a blind need to act, to prove herself. She had come West with the hope that the severe shortage of doctors would allow her to build a practice. The charity hospital had left her in; they were desperate. But her friend Nat had tried to introduce her, help her get started; his attempts had been fruitless. If she had done right today, it might mean the end of her frustration and the beginning of her real career.

It's not all vanity, she told herself. And it wasn't. She had inherited from her father the hunger to help, to heal, to be of use. If she was excited by the rush and importance of surgery, she was just as moved by the desire to mend. That man–his grieving family. She had wanted to put it all right for them.

If only—

She slept.

To top

When Anna woke the soft, slanting light told her it was very late in the day. She fumbled for her pocket watch; it was nearly seven. My God, how unprofessional! On the other hand, no one had come for her. She decided that was a good sign. She tried to replat her hair, neaten up. Nothing like sleeping in your clothes to freshen a lady's appearance. She wondered what her mother would have thought of her daughter's most unladylike appearance and almost laughed.

After a wrong turn she found her way into a familiar part of the hallway and, taking a deep breath, opened the door to the sickroom. To her vast relief her patient was still there and still alive, although, she admitted, he didn't look too pert. Briskly she nodded at Victoria and strode over to her patient.

He was still feverish. But it seemed to her that his pulse was a bit stronger, his breathing a little less labored. The lingering effects of the anesthesia?

She checked the bandages' the putrid smell of this morning was definitely lessened. She felt the first stirring of hope, but she kept her tone carefully

neutral. "Any change? Has he wakened?"

"No, not at all," Victoria said. "How is he doing?"

Anna shrugged. "As well as can be expected, I think."

Victoria looked doubtful. "You sounded more certain earlier."

"Of bad things it's much easier to be certain. Mrs. Barkley, you look very tired. I'll take the watch tonight."

"But what if–"

"Be assured I'm the first to call for help if it's needed. If you could tell me where my bag has gotten to–there it is. Mrs. Barkley, would you be so good as to send up some coffee–and two cups. And plenty of sugar. Or honey will do."

"May I offer you something stronger?" Perhaps she drank like a man, too.

"Not on duty, but thank you."

Victoria smiled grimly. "In any case, I believe you carry your own spirits."

Anna laughed. "Truly medicinal, I insist. Drinking some of my alcohol would blind you. And I mean literally and permanently." Take that, Anna thought mutinously. Do I look like a toper? Soon thereafter Silas appeared with a tin of coffee, two cups, a pound of sugar and a large tub of honey. "You sure must like your coffee mighty sweet," Silas said.

"Black as night, hot as hell, sweet as love–or so the French say," she said to herself. "Thank you, Silas." She took out an English medical journal as

Silas began to shut the windows. "Leave them open, please."

"But the night air–"

"Never hurt anyone. Besides, I need to keep the fire up and it's a warm night. With the windows closed it'll get terribly stuffy."

Silas left, muttering under his breath.

Shortly thereafter, each of the siblings dropped in. Audra was very sweet and wanted to stay; but Anna was too nervous to like the idea of trying to make small talk and tried to be gracious in her refusal. Nick looked at her with all the trust and confidence he'd show a rattlesnake. Her refusal of his assistance was more curt and insistent.

With Jarrod, though, she felt more comfortable. To his question, she responded honestly. "Better than I expected. That he's made it this far is a good sign. But I don't want to give you false hope. It's still early days."

"But you're not so pessimistic as you were earlier."

"Not so much. But mine is a pessimistic business, I fear."

"What are you reading?"

"It's an English journal for doctors. Mostly case studies: what treatments were tried, what worked, what didn't. It's an immensely useful journal, especially when one is cut off from the main hub of innovation."

"Do you feel cut off from the main hub?"

"Not with my journal at hand. But it's too soon to be sure, I think. I came here because I wanted to practice. I don't know yet if I'll miss the hub."

"We're not totally devoid of resources here. And San Francisco is an easy train ride away." His voice trailed off, as if he were thinking out loud.

She wasn't sure what he meant, but she smiled. "You must have been educated back East, too. Don't you miss the hub?"

He shrugged. "This is my home," he said simply. "Whatever it has or doesn't have, I can't imagine being away from it for very long."

"Yes..." She was overcome by a wave of homesickness, remembering the summer home on the bay, the boating parties, the long soft summer evenings.

She shook off the feeling. There was no home for her there, now, just some furniture in storage. She had not seen the bay in over ten years, since she'd gone north to go to boarding school. "You're very lucky," she said quietly. "Your family seems very close." She forced a smile. "Nick, especially, seems pretty fierce."

"Believe me, his bark is worse than his bite."

"I still have no desire to feel the bite."

Jarrod was thoughtful. "You're right–we are lucky. Luckier than you know." He was on the verge of explaining to Anna about Heath's situation, but decided against it. "You sound envious. Is your family not close?"

"Not this side of the grave, unfortunately. My mother died when I was young–just before the war. My brother died in the war. And my father." She paused, swallowed hard. "Not in the war, but of the war, I think. It broke his heart."

"It broke a lot of hearts. You said you were from Maryland. What side?"

"Does it matter?" she sighed. "We split. My brother went South. My father stayed loyal. It cost him a great deal."

She had said more than she had meant to. Jarrod sensed her withdrawal and decided not to push. "Well, I know I'm leaving Heath in good hands. I trust morning will bring good news. Nick's brother enough for anyone–but, still, I'd hate to lose this one."

She was still grave. "I hope you don't have to. God night, Jarrod."

"Good night, Anna. And in any case–thank you." He closed the door behind him carefully. He felt low–but couldn't help noticing how lovely those gray eyes were, at once fearless and sincere. He went to bed with mixed feelings.

To top

Anna finished her Lancet and wrote up her notes on this case. If he lived, perhaps she would write up the case–oh, stop it, she told herself. If he lived.

Perhaps it was the conversation with Jarrod; but she would not get her mind off Charles. This man before her was nothing like her brother, not in looks or in coloring or in anything. If she had done right–if this young man lived–would it make anything better, easier for her? Her father and Charles would still be dead–and Charles lost somewhere in a mass grave near Spotsylvania...

Her father had been with the Army of the Potomac in Virginia. She had been at school in Massachusetts; she had been sent away when the war started.

Her mother, thankfully, had not lived to see the terrible war or her family's sundering. My dear Anna, her father had written. We have seen terrible fighting, I believe the worst of the war. There was a truce yesterday, for burial parties. I went out, hoping to find some still in need of a surgeon rather than a priest. As always, the Rebel soldiers met us without rancor. I asked about your brother and was told he fell, mortal wounded, only a few days ago. The Rebel seemed quite certain, as he was attached to Powell's division, as I believe Charles was. But there must be a great many Carrolls in that army–think of all your cousins. In any case, the news is not certain. I pray you, do not think of abandoning your studies or coming here. You can be of no assistance at this time. Dear girl, be of good cheer. My heart is heavy enough for us both.

She'd stayed. No more news had come until after the war ended. They'd received official word then. By then it was too late to find him–he had been tossed into one of those long ugly mass graves.

She had not seen those long gashes in the red ground. She'd stayed safely at school and had let her father face that alone. Nor had she come home to see the stone her father had finally put in the family plot, though Charles did not lie under it. Her father could not bear that his only son pass away without any mark of his existence. There were more than a few such stones in that Maryland graveyard, boys who had died on the wrong side of the Potomac and never made it home.

Would it make things better for her? Yes, she thought fiercely, one less senseless death, one less grieving family, one less hole in the ground. It would help. Suddenly she was glad she'd come, glad she'd acted so decisively.

She made herself a fresh cup of black coffee and fished a volume of Ivanhoe from her bag. Nothing like Sir Walter Scott for a long night.

To top

He was being carried rapidly on high running water. He'd nearly drowned once, caught in a rain-swollen creak. This was nothing like that; the water did not close over his head, but bore him swiftly downwards, cold and clear and twisting. He bobbed long on the surface, insubstantial as a leaf.

And just as suddenly he stopped. The water spread out, smooth and gentle. He floated. And then, as if he'd struck a sandbar, he jerked awake.

He was not on the water, but in a bed. The room was dim, only one lamp smoking beside the bed. He felt a moment's panic: the room was strange, unfamiliar. Turning his head a little he caught sight of a woman. In the poor light he saw only a profile, a braid of dark hair over one shoulder. Relief surged over him. Mama. He was just a boy, sick with measles, and here she was. In a moment she would look up and smile at him.

But no. Tired and befuddled as he was, he remembered now. The cold memory washed down over him: Mama was dead. If she were here...

"Am I dead?" he croaked. Not his voice at all. His throat was so dry, drier even than when they'd been stranded on the way to Salt Flats.

The woman turned and smiled, as he'd known she would. "No," she said gently. "You're very much alive, my friend."

The voice was low, like Mama's, but different. She had the coolest hands, though, as she touched his forehead, his wrist. Her touch was as good as cold water on a hot day. He wanted to feel that touch again.

"How do you feel?"


She smiled again. "Well, that's about right." She disappeared from his vision, then reappeared with a cup. "Drink this. Slowly, slowly."

She seemed to understand how heavy his head was. But it didn't seem heavy to her; one cool hand held him up while the other held a cup. At the thought of water he was greedy and grateful, but he turned away at the first sickeningly sweet taste.

"Drink it," she said firmly. "I know it tastes bad but I'm going to make you drink worse in a minute." He did as she said, though the sweetness made him gag.

She disappeared and returned again with the cup. This time the water was hot and there was a bitter smell to it. "Willowbark," she said. "It has wonderful painkilling properties–and much safer than opiates. In Germany, a doctor is trying to–well, you're not interested in that right now, are you? Told you it would waste worse. But you'll thank me later. All of it. There you go."

She set the cup back. "Who would guess I'd be such a sickroom chatterbox? It's a new role for me, I must admit. I'm used to doing the dirty work and moving on to the next case. But I guess I'll need a bedside manner now."

"Stay," he said simply. He didn't know who she was; he did not care. She was solid, she was real, and her voice was as soothing as her touch. He had the sense he had been alone for a very long time and he was glad for another human presence. When she rearranged the covers he grabbed at her clumsily and caught one hand. "Talk. Please."

She was on unfamiliar ground. But isn't this what you wanted? she asked herself. Yes. "Hmm. Let's see. Well, when I left London, the Prince of Wales had taken up with a new mistress–a Mrs. Langtry, I believe. Most scandalous. Bertie–I don't know him, of course, but everyone calls him Bertie, just as if they did–has apparently abandoned Mrs. Castle. This new lady is quite lovely, but she advertises for soap, I believe..."

When she paused for breath, she could see he was sleeping. And sleep it was, not delirium. His hand, though, did not loosen. With her one free hand she retrieved Ivanhoe. If he woke again she'd have to read to him; she'd just exhausted her small store of London gossip.

To top

Victoria woke at seven, surprised she'd slept so long and so soundly. Surely someone would have woken her–She dressed hurriedly and went down to Heath's room.

She found them just as they'd been much of the night, with Anna trying to read with one hand. Anna pointed with the book. "Would you mind bringing me a little coffee, Mrs. Barkley? I'm rather pinned down at the moment. Your son has quite a grip."

Relief made Victoria's knees weak, but she managed the coffee. "Then he's going to be all right?"

"I wouldn't put it in the death and taxes category of certainty just yet. But I think he's turned the corner. His fever is down and I see no further signs of infection. It will be touch and go for a bit, and he'll be a long time recovering. But I think the worst has passed."

Victoria paused over the coffee cup. "How much sugar?"

"None, thank you. I prefer it black."

"But the sugar."

"Was not for me. Sugar water can sometimes be kept down when all else fails. And of course it gives a little strength. Only a little, but we must go slowly." She sensed some slackening of the pressure of his hand and carefully eased her hand out, flexing her fingers gingerly.

"I'll bring you up some breakfast."

"That would be most thoughtful of you. But, please, bring your own as well, or eat first. I'm perfectly willing to surrender the day shift, but only if you're properly fit yourself." Anna smiled to take any sting out of her words. "I'm a full-family doctor, you see. Please excuse my bossiness, Mrs. Barkley."

"I've been called bossy myself a few times." Victoria felt a stirring of kinship as well as gratitude. "Please call me Victoria," she added impulsively.

Anna sensed this was no small favor. "And I would like you–all of me–to call me Anna."

Victoria returned with a heavily laden tray. Anna was suddenly ravenous, realizing she'd had nothing but coffee since yesterday afternoon. After she finished, she said, "I'll now indoctrinate you into Dr. Anna's post-surgical routine. Water if he wakes. Two or three cups if you can get him to drink it. Heavily laced with sugar–enough to stand up the spoon. For pain, tea made from this infusion of Willowbark. A teaspoon in one cup should be enough. Let it steep for a few minutes."

"No laudanum?"

"If possible, no. It tends to stupefy. And I've seen some unpleasant addictions. I prefer to use drugs as sparingly as possible. Let us see first if the Willowbark is sufficient. You smile. Don't you believe in my home remedies?"

"I'm just surprised. You seem so modern. But you make tea from tree bark?"

"It works. I have no prejudice against old remedies if they're successful. I'd use leeches if I thought they'd help. You'll see I carry quite a few old-fashioned herbs with me. I'm an empiricist."

"Jarrod would know what that means."

"I'm sure the lawyer does. It means I am guided not by theory but by observation. I believe the evidence of my own eyes."

"In other words, common sense."

"Well, yes. But doesn't empiricist sound much more impressive?"

Yesterday Victoria had found the woman's brusque self-command annoying. Today the young woman was different, less curt and more disarming.

Victoria found herself warming. "You were a good deal more domineering yesterday."

"I was a lot more nervous yesterday."

"I wouldn't have guessed it was nerves."

"All the better. Would you have consented if I seemed less sure?"

"Probably not."

"You see. Our patients complain about our–bossiness? But they would miss it if it were gone."

"Do you like what you do, Anna?"

"Very much. Especially when it turns out well." She stood and stretched. "I'm stiff as a board. Mrs. Barkley–Victoria. Do you have a horse I might borrow? I think a little jaunt in the fresh air would do me good."

"Of course. Go down to the corral and ask Diego to saddle Lucky for you. He's older and quite gentle. Do you ride much?"

"As a girl I was mad for it. But I've hardly ridden at all these last ten years. Old and gentle is probably just right. I'll try not to get lost."

To top

Anna didn't have to worry about getting lost; she acquired a guide. She met Jarrod at the foot of the stairs and he offered to accompany her.

"No pressing legal matters, counselor?"

"Not today. How's Heath?"

"Better, I think. ‘Guarded optimism' is the official term."

They ambled off. Though still fairly early in the day, the heat was already on. They stuck to the shade. Jarrod said, "Your name is very familiar. Were you in Washington during the war?"

"No, most of the time I was in school in Boston. Perhaps you know my cousin. She's also Anna Carroll, though in the family she's always been called Ella."

"Perhaps that's it. A friend of Mr. Lincoln's, I believe."

"And supposedly she made recommendations about strategy to him. Not very good ones, I think, considering how long the war dragged on."

"I do recall hearing something like that. But it's not true?"

"Oh, I don't know for sure. But you see the bluestocking strain runs deep in the family. I'm not the first Carroll to be doing a man's job."

Jarrod said, "We have an alma mater in common. You're a Harvard grad, I believe."

Anna looked at him speculatively. "Have you been checking up on me, Mr. Barkley? I don't recall mentioning Harvard."

"You did mention Boston."

"Harvard is not the only school in Boston."

Jarrod smiled wryly. "Guilty as charged. I was curious."

"I'd think your curiosity would have been more appropriate before you let me operate on your brother."

"Oh, I never doubted your credentials."

"Pray tell me what else you've learned, counselor."

He didn't need to consult the telegrams; he knew them by heart. "That you would have been at the top of your class–if you'd been a man. That both Dr. Lister and Dr. Pasteur vouch, personally, for your abilities. That your father was also a distinguished physician. That's all."

"That's about everything. For a decade I've done little but study–first as an undergraduate, then in medicine."

Jarrod took a light tone. "Are you telling me, madam, that you haven't sampled the joys of Parisian nightlife?"

"Very little. I saw a few operas."

"And London?"

"I rode in Hyde Park a few times. I saw a few plays. Somehow I didn't get taken up by the Prince of Wales's set."

"Is it any easier, being a woman doctor in Europe?"

"No. People may not stare so much. But they're just as disconcerted as anyone in America."

"Yet you practiced there."

"Not in a conventional sense. In Paris I just did research. In London I did a great deal of surgery–but I don't know how many of my patients knew I was actually doing the cutting."

"Do you plan to go back?"

"No...not really. To be honest, I haven't got any real plans. I'm at St. Mark's. But I find it a little hectic. I'd like to settle down into a general practice, at least for a while. I think it will be harder than I expected." She smiled and changed the subject. "It is a rather warm day. I think I'm ready to head back."

"Oh–my apologies. I'd forgotten you were up all night."

"The hours I'm used to. The heat–well, it's been a long time. But thank you for the company. And I assume, having been vetted, I've passed muster, counselor?"

"With flying colors." An idea was already taking shape in his mind.


The End of Part 2

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