Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Belated Valentine


Fredrick George Evans entered the world just after midnight and narrowly missed being a valentine baby. Little Freddie was named after his two grandfathers. Ted was in awe of this tiny little creature Grace held in her arms. He wondered why he put off getting married for so many years. He had never been happier than he was at this moment.
Caroline Bentley was proud of her daughter. She handled delivery very well. Caroline hadn't given birth to a baby since the day Grace was born. She was now a grandmother and would be a new mother herself in just a few short months.
Jamison brought their children, Kenny and Becky into the room. Kenny was glad there was another boy in the family but wondered how long it would be before he was big enough to toss a baseball. Becky was fascinated with her little nephew. He was so small, almost as small as her favorite doll, Bess. Jamison and Caroline adopted Kenny and Becky shortly after their arrival in Camden Corners. Caroline found it hard to believe that less than one year ago she had been living alone in her big house and now it was filled with her new husband, Jamison and their two children. Jamison's sons visited often along with Grace and Ted and now little Freddie was a part of the growing family.
Jamison was relieved the new hospital was scheduled to open before Caroline was due to deliver their baby. Caroline wasn't as young as most of the new mothers in Camden Corners. Without her knowing, he had spoken with Doc about the danger involved. Doc reassured him that Caroline was healthy and there wasn't any reason to fear for her safety. Doc didn't tell him Caroline had already been in to see him for the same reason.
Reggie Blackburn was touring each and every floor of the hospital. The finishing touches were being completed. Equipment and supplies were being delivered daily now. There wasn't a train that rolled in that didn't have a box or package for the hospital. The doctors were meeting that very afternoon to supervise the placement of beds in the rooms. There were two large wards and several small rooms on each floor. Different areas of the hospital were assigned for different tasks. Anyone with a broken bone or sprain would be directed to that section. Someone coming in with stomach cramps would be sent to another section. Reggie felt confident the doctors would be pleased with the results since they had all participated in one way or another with the design. All except Dr. Springer, but he seemed like a reasonable man.
Reggie took a special interest in the nursery and delivery rooms. Josie hadn't decided whether she would be giving birth at home or in the hospital. He suspected that she would opt to be in their bed when their child was born. Most women seemed to prefer to stay home but there hadn't been an option before. At least the rooms were available if they were needed. Everything about the hospital had been well thought out. Jamison was the best architect he had ever worked with. He seemed to read people's minds and came up with exactly what they had envisioned. Reggie's last stop was the chapel. He often visited this quiet room to gather his thoughts after a hard day. It was such a beautiful room. Lucinda, with the help of Jack Mackenzie, was able to have a stained glass window commissioned. The sun reflected on it near the end of the day and the colors seemed to flicker on the ceiling. This room was nearly complete which was a good thing because in just three days Grady Murphy and Elizabeth Lawrence were going to be married here.
Caroline stayed with her daughter and made a light supper for the new parents to enjoy with their baby. Jamison headed over to the hospital after making sure the children were safe at home with the housekeeper who loved having them underfoot. Jamison was pleased with the way everything looked. Lucinda was very clear in what she wanted in the building and she never hesitated to ask for input from the doctors and folks from other hospitals around the state. Lucinda arrived at the same time Jamison did and they toured the facility together.
Dr. Springer was the first to arrive. The men shook hands and Clay gave Lucinda a hug. Julie and Tom arrived with Doc. The doctors were very pleased with the facility. They all agreed where everything should be placed and the crew started filling the rooms.
Lucinda told Julie as much as she would like to have her baby at home she thought it would be a vote of confidence to give birth in the new hospital. Julie agreed she would be doing the same when her baby was due. “Maybe we will start a trend.”
While her soon to be husband joined the group at the hospital, Elizabeth Lawrence and her good friend Audrey Lynch were busy stitching the last row of pearls on their dresses for Elizabeth and Grady Murphy's wedding.
Father and Janice will be arriving in the morning from Pittsburgh for the wedding” said Elizabeth “I'm so happy Father will be here to give me away. Janice is bringing along the veil she wore when she and Father were married. Oh Audrey, I can't believe I will be Mrs. Grady Murphy in just a few days.”
I'm happy you will have your family here to help you celebrate. Did Grady hear from his father?” Audrey asked.
He didn't expect to. Grady says the famous Dr. Ellington Murphy is much to busy taking care of his wealthy patients to attend something so mundane as his only son's wedding.” answered Elizabeth.
It is sad to see a father and son who are so entirely different. Grady chose to be a doctor to help people and his father seems to have decided on his profession to help himself to people's money.”
Grady told me his father says rich folks are just as easy to treat as poor ones and the rewards are greater at the end of the day. I'm sure he would have preferred Grady married one of his high society patients rather than a lowly nurse from Buffalo. To be honest, Audrey, I'm relieved Dr. Murphy won't be at the wedding.”
Three days later, holding her proud father's arm, Elizabeth Lawrence walked down the aisle of the hospital chapel and became Mrs. Grady Murphy. She hadn't noticed the older gentleman looking at her from the corner of the room. She'll do, he thought to himself. I'd prefer Grady hadn't married beneath his station, but I do believe I will be able to mold her quite easily. I've got to get my boy out of this provincial town before he becomes too attached to it. Little did Dr. Ellington Murphy know his son had already become attached to Camden Corners and wasn't about to go anywhere.
I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride” Vicar Will Duesenberry proclaimed with a smile. This was one of the happiest parts of his job and he had become an expert at it since there always seemed to be a wedding to look forward to in Camden Corners.
Grady followed orders and happily kissed his bride. He and Elizabeth turned to face their admiring friends and neighbors and that was when Grady spotted his father staring at him from the back of the chapel. His heart sank. He hadn't heard from this overbearing man in months and now, on the happiest day of Grady's life, he chose to make an appearance.
Grady nodded in the man's direction but there was no sign of affection in his face. He would have to deal with Dr. Murphy eventually but for the present moment he was happy to accept all the handshakes and hugs he was receiving as he and his new bride walked arm in arm out of the hospital chapel.
Elizabeth could feel the sudden tension in Grady as they turned from Vicar Will. She caught the sign of recognition in Grady's face when he glanced at the gentleman at the rear of the chapel.
Grady hadn't said much about his family. Only that his mother died when he was still a toddler. He didn't have any other living relatives with the exception of his father. She knew the relationship had never been close.
Grady was hoping his father wouldn't show up at the reception which was being held in the winery ballroom. However, he knew where champagne was flowing his father wouldn't be far behind.
Grady introduced Elizabeth to his father. He smiled at his new daughter-in-law but seemed much more interested in the two ladies entering the room at that moment.
I'll tell you right now young lady, I'm not going to rest until Grady comes back to his home in New York and practices his profession where he belongs, in the office next to mine.”
I will travel wherever my husband desires Dr. Murphy, but I do believe Grady is very happy here in Camden Corners.” replied Elizabeth. She was having a difficult time believing this cold, detached man could have raised a wonderful and caring person like Grady.
We will talk about the move later. Now go dance or cut the cake or something, don't worry about me, I'll just mingle with your guests.”
Grady knew they had been dismissed. He almost felt sorry for the man. His father made an embarrassing amount of money catering to the rich ladies but never found time to enjoy his wealth. He was always on the look out for a needy rich woman to fawn over. It seemed he had found one even here in Camden Corners.
Millicent Merryweather Stout entered the room with her visiting cousin Maybeth Merryweather DuBois. Millicent lived comfortably in Camden Corners but she wasn't what one would consider a wealthy woman. Maybeth on the other hand had inherited her father's fortune the year she turned 25. She married Francois DuBois just before her 30th birthday. He died a year later leaving her his fortune also.
Ellingsworth Murphy recognized wealth when he saw it and introduced himself to the cousins.
Millicent had met Grady Murphy several times since he moved to Camden Corners. She found him to be a very unpretentious young man. That was more than she could say for his father. Maybeth, however, was completely mesmerized by Dr. Ellingsworth Murphy.
Dripping with charm, the doctor asked “May I get you ladies a glass of champagne?”
Millicent would gladly have taken a glass but her cousin was president of her hometown branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and abhorred alcohol in any form. The only way Millicent could get her cousin to attend the wedding reception at a winery today was to tell her the wine was not produced yet and when it was it would only be used for holy communion.
Maybeth clutched her chest and was about to tell the doctor he could sit elsewhere if he was planning to imbibe in the devil's brew.
Ellingsworth could see he was losing the battle and corrected himself immediately. “I'm so sorry ladies, that was a slip of the tongue. Of course I meant to say fruit punch. I myself never indulge in anything with alcohol in it.”
Millicent wasn't fooled for a second but Maybeth seemed to be clinging to every word that flowed out of the doctor's mouth. Millicent marveled at the way he seemed to know exactly what to say to her vulnerable cousin. She knew Maybeth was lonely and thought a little harmless flirtation would be good for her. Maybeth seemed content to sit with Doctor Murphy but Millicent had had enough and excused herself to join the others.
Maybeth couldn't believe her good fortune. Dr. Murphy came along just at the right time. She was having such trouble with her lumbago. Dr. Murphy reached in his bag and brought out a vial of medicine. He told her it would help her ills and he was right. Within a short time Maybeth was twirling on the dance floor with the doctor.
Millicent couldn't believe her eyes. She hadn't seen her cousin ever act in this way. She pulled Doc McMillan aside and said she was worried about Maybeth's heart condition. Doc was wondering what got into Maybeth or more specifically what Dr. Murphy may have laced her punch with. Doc had heard tales of Dr. Ellingsworth Murphy's unusual treatment of elderly rich women. He had a reputation of being reckless with his care. The ladies were always more than willing to pay him generously for his services.
Maybeth could feel her heart racing but she couldn't seem to slow down her dancing. She felt the room spinning and then nothing as she collapsed on the floor. Doctor Grady Murphy rushed to her side. His father watched helplessly as Grady hovered over Maybeth willing her to breath. She finally came to and was very lucky to be alive. With the assistance of some of the men at the party, Millicent took her cousin home but not without a stern message to Dr. Ellingsworth Murphy not to ever come near her cousin again.

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