Saturday, April 14, 2012
Julie McMillan had been a source of pride and exasperation to her father, Doctor Benjamin McMillan. Julie was the youngest of Mary and Doc McMillan's two daughters. Josephine was a quiet, well behaved young lady even at an early age. Julie was born during the worst thunderstorm that anyone in Camden Corners could remember. With claps of thunder nearly breaking the sound barrier, the neighbors could still hear Julie's cries the moment she was born. She was a rough and tumble tomboy all through her childhood. Even the older boys in town didn't mess with Julie and if they did they had the bruises to show for it. Tommy Campbell was the only boy who wasn't afraid of Julie. He always treated her like a girl and Julie didn't like that one bit.
As the years went on, she noticed her heart beat a little faster when Tommy was close. It made Julie so mad she would punch him just because he was near her. Tommy just smiled at her and went about his business.
Tommy had known from a very young age that he wanted to be a doctor. When he was nearly 7 years old, his Momma had become very ill with a high fever that strained her heart. Doc McMillan had been by her bedside day after day until she showed signs of improvement. All of the neighbors that stopped by to see her left in tears. Although they didn't say anything to Tommy, he knew they all thought his precious Momma was going to die. Doc told him that he would not give up on her until she was well again and he was as good as his word. Doc believed in miracles as well as medicine and after his mother fully recovered, so did Tommy. From that point on, Tommy followed Doc around whenever he could. Eventually he applied to medical school and off he went with Doc's blessing.
Julie missed Tommy when he left town although she wouldn't admit that even to herself. Julie didn't know when her interest in medicine had begun. Maybe it was because she was following around after Tommy as he was following around after Doc. She announced one evening that she had decided to go to medical school herself and become a doctor.
Doc thought it was a noble profession, but not for a female. It was difficult enough for a man, but women had it so much harder. Julie, always up for a challenge, was not to be dissuaded. Mary told Ben he'd better just give in because Julie would do what she wanted anyway. Doc, Mary and Josephine saw Julie off at the train station. Mary knew Julie wouldn't appreciate tears from any of her family so they all remained stoic until the train left the station. If medical school had been difficult for Julie, she never let on. Dr. Julie McMillan graduated with honors and was ready to practice medicine alongside her father and Tom who had joined her Dad the previous year.
Doc McMillan was happy to have the extra help with his patients. He had been the only doctor in Camden Corners for many years. Mary began helping Doc with his office work when he started his practice on the first floor of the old McMillan family home. Together they decided it was high time they took a vacation and planned a trip to St. Louis to attend the World's Fair and maybe see some of the sights along the way.
Martha Wharton's niece, Louisa was coming to Camden Corners to stay with her aunt for an extended period of time. Martha suggested that Louisa would be available to help out with the office work while Mary was away. Louisa had worked for doctors before so Mary would be happy to have her fill in while she was gone. When Louisa arrived at the McMillan house, Mary invited her into the reception area. Since all the doctors were with patients, she began to show her the files and went over the routine of the office. Doc and Julie both finished with their patients and Mary introduced them to Louisa.
Before long Tom came out of the examining room after stitching up Willie Burke's split lip. He stopped in his tracks as Louisa Andrews threw her arms around him and gave him a big kiss on the lips. Tom had rented a room in his classmate Ted's house while he was in college. Louisa was Ted's sister. She was just a kid back then. He had to admit she wasn't a kid anymore. The fellows all teased him because Louisa would follow him around and moon over him. It was embarrassing then and he was really embarrassed now.
Tom had fallen in love with Julie McMillan when he first saw her pounding a bully on the playground because he was picking on a kid much younger and smaller than he was. Julie didn't seem to return the feelings then or all through high school.
Tom was determined to be a doctor and spent most of his time learning all he could from Doc. Since Julie had joined the practice, she was always pleasant but a bit aloof. Tom was mortified when he learned that Louisa would be living in Mrs. Wharton's boarding house just two doors down from his family home.
Louisa was very efficient in the office and Julie had no complaints about her work but she was none too happy with the way she acted with Tom. She had gotten in the habit of waiting for Tom to leave his house in the morning and stepping out of the boarding house at the same time so they could walk to work together. She arranged for Julie to take all the late appointments freeing Tom up to walk her home. Louisa made up her mind she was going to marry Tom Campbell when was 12 years old. She knew he was planning to return to Camden Corners after he graduated from medical school. She figured she would be just the right age for marriage at that time and was so happy her Aunt Martha just happened to live in Camden Corners. She knew it was fate when Aunt Martha told her Mary McMillan was looking for someone to take over for her while she was on vacation.
Louisa was getting very frustrated. She had done everything she could think of to make Tom fall in love with her. She knew she was very pretty and had a figure to match. She had her choice of any number of fellows back home. Tom was kind to her but there was no spark.
One day she noticed that Tom was looking at Julie with longing in his eyes and she immediately knew what the problem was and her name was Julie. Somehow, some way she would have to make sure he got over those silly feelings. Louisa began her vendetta that very afternoon. Julie had written a prescription for nausea medication for Joey Barber after he had eaten too many green apples. Louisa knew enough about medication to know that if she just changed one or two letters, Joey would be given something to make him just a little bit sicker. She would purposely write down the wrong messages for Julie or tell Julie she had time to go to lunch and then her next patient would show up and be left in the waiting room for an hour.
Tom was beginning to be suspicious of Louisa. Ever since she started working in the office mistakes were being made and the fault always seemed to point to Julie. Then the call came in from Mr. Flanagan. His son had fallen off a ladder and wasn't moving. Louisa said she would send Julie there right away but didn't even attempt to contact her. Tom happened to be taking a walk by the fish hatchery and noticed the commotion. He examined Terry Flanagan and determined he'd had the wind knocked out of him and would be just fine after a short rest. Mr. Flanagan said he had spoken to Louisa and she was sending Julie but Julie never arrived. Tom confronted Louisa. She tried to tell him she had given Julie the message. As it turned out, Julie was seeing the Henderson family at their home. Each one of their six children had come down with the chicken pox that morning. Julie had been there for several hours and wasn't upstairs sleeping as Louisa said she was. Tom wanted an explanation and Louisa admitted she wanted Julie out of the picture so Tom would notice her. Tom was normally a very calm and easy going man but his friends and neighbors were being jeopardized by Louisa's foolish behavior.
“You are fired and you are lucky I'm not calling the sheriff to have you arrested for for purposely endangering our patients. Julie McMillan is a fine doctor and the woman I love and have always loved now get out.”
Julie walked into the office just at that moment and was speechless but not for long. She opened her purse and handed Louisa her pay and stood next to the man she had loved for as long as she could remember. Louisa made a quick exit and while Julie and Tom were kissing and laughing and kissing some more, she was on her way to pack her bags to get out of town.
Martha Wharton hated to admit it but she was glad to see her niece go. Louisa Andrews was a very annoying young lady.