Friday, May 18, 2012
Caroling in the Snow
Caroling in the Snow
Gordon Mackenzie was worried his wife, Fiona would have trouble getting through the snowdrifts on her way home from the pub. He hitched the horses to the sleigh and set out to meet her. Along the way he saw a young man walking against the wind.
“Hey there young fellow, would you like a lift?”
“Don't mind if I do, sir. I'm on my way to visit Doc McMillan, his office is just down the street but I seem to be fighting a losing battle trudging my way through these snowdrifts.”
“Climb on in, I'll just stop here at the pub for my wife. Here she comes now. It looks like she has some company.”
Grady moved over and looked up into the eyes of Elizabeth Lawrence. She looked familiar but he was always so distracted lately he couldn't place her and couldn't imagine that he knew anyone who lived in Camden Corners.
Introductions were made. Gordon drove slowly to Doc's office. Fiona noticed Audrey couldn't keep her eyes off of Grady Murphy and Grady couldn't seem to look away from Elizabeth who was watching the sky and wondering if she would ever be able to board the train to get back home to Buffalo.
“Dr. Murphy, we haven't met formally before but we have worked together at Buffalo General Hospital. Elizabeth and I are nurses there.”
“You must be here to visit the new hospital in town. We are very proud of our facility. Camden Corners has long needed a hospital of its own,” said Fiona. “It won't be completed until the spring at the earliest, are you all going to be working with Doc until then?”
Elizabeth chimed in, “No, Mrs. Mackenzie, we aren't here for work although it does seem like a lovely town. My friend, Audrey was jumping the gun a bit wondering what Camden Corners was like. As far as I know there is no need for our nursing skills just yet.”
Grady spoke up. “Miss Lawrence, I do recall seeing you at Buffalo General. I believe it was in the children's ward.”
“That is where I have been assigned Doctor. You may also remember Audrey. She has been there even longer than I have.”
“I don't think we have ever met before miss.” His eyes drifted back to Elizabeth who seemed to be oblivious to his attention.
They reached Doc's office and Gordon stopped the carriage to let Grady off. He thanked Gordon for the ride and smiled at Elizabeth as he fought the snow drifts up to the front door.
“Oh Elizabeth” sighed Audrey. “Did you see how he is being coy with me. He pretended he didn't know me. The silly man. He's going to play hard to get with me.”
Fiona and Gordon glanced at each other skeptically. It was obvious the good doctor only had eyes for Elizabeth.
Jack Mackenzie met them near the barn. He helped his father take care of the horses while his mother and her guests went into the house.
“You go ahead mother, I'll bring the suitcases in after I help Papa with the horses.” He glanced at the two visitors and liked what he saw.
Jack was the most serious of all the Mackenzie children. He was a talented artist and seemed to lose himself in his painting. He worked in New York for a couple of years and established himself as an artist there. He missed his home and family though and moved back much to the delight of Fiona and Gordon. He recently opened an art gallery in Camden Corners and invited other artists in the area to display their works. Jack was amazed at what young Tony Marino was able to capture with his camera and proudly displayed his creations also. His sister, Carrie helped him in the gallery and took pains framing each and every work of art. The gallery was a huge success and had an enviable reputation as far away as Connecticut. Even with his success Fiona worried that he had forgotten how to have fun. All through high school Jack never lacked for female companionship. He was a bit on the wild side back then. Although he never spoke of it, Fiona believed his heart had been broken while he was living in New York. She was happy to see the sparkle in his eyes when he saw the two pretty girls walk by him and into the house.
“I certainly hope he doesn't fall for Audrey. She seems to have eyes only for her young doctor friend.” she whispered to Gordon as they were getting out of the carriage.
“The young doctor has eyes only for Miss Elizabeth so maybe she will need Jack around to pick up the pieces.” Gordon said quietly. Gordon was as worried about their son as Fiona was.
Fiona showed the girls to Amanda's old room where they unpacked the few clothes they had brought with them and changed into some dry footwear.
“Jack is very nice looking, don't you think Elizabeth?”
“Audrey, you are suppose to be head over heels in love with Dr. Murphy. Why are you looking at Jack Mackenzie? Yes, I guess he's good looking, I'm still angry with you for dragging us all the way here for no reason at all.”
“What do you have waiting for you in Buffalo that's so important Elizabeth? Your father has moved to Pennsylvania with his new wife. Your brother is in New York City and you don't even have a cat to go home to.”
“I'm glad my father has found happiness with Janice and you know it. Why do you make me sound like a pathetic orphan? You know my father begged me to move to Pittsburgh with them and I'm always welcome at my brother's home.”
“I know but they have their own lives. You work all day and go home to an empty room in a boarding house at night. Wouldn't you like to have an adventure of your own?”
“Like a wild goose chase after your doctor friend?”
Fiona knocked on the door. “Come downstairs girls and meet the rest of the family. We will be having a quick supper and then piling into the carriage for some caroling. We won't let a little thing like a blizzard keep us from entertaining the neighbors with our glorious singing.”
Audrey thought it was a wonderful idea. Elizabeth wondered if it would be rude of her to stay here under that toasty looking quilt and read the novel she had begun on the train. She decided it would be and joined in with a smile on her face.
Jack liked Elizabeth right away. She had a sensible head on her shoulders especially compared to her friend Audrey. Audrey was pretty enough but she was silly and scatterbrained. The Mackenzie's stopped by the Burke house. They also had their own carriage and the two large families covered in blankets and quilts were on their way to the Blackburn house for a little liquid refreshment before venturing back out for their caroling.
Elizabeth was happy she decided to come along. She didn't remember ever having such a good time. She and Audrey were welcomed by everyone. Dr. Murphy came along with the McMillans and was appearing to be much more relaxed than he had been earlier in the day. Audrey was staring at him with longing in her eyes. Jack noticed the doctor was looking in her direction but could only see Elizabeth.
“I think our new doctor friend is trying to get your attention Elizabeth.”
“Oh no, he is interested in Audrey. She has set her sights on him and once Audrey makes up her mind to snag a gentleman, he doesn't have a chance.”
“That figures. She does seem to have her head in the clouds, doesn't she?”
“Jack, are you interested in Audrey?”
“No, of course not. I like a girl more down to earth.”
Lucinda walked by and mentioned that she would like to talk to Jack about art work for the hospital when he had some time.
“Go ahead, I've been monopolizing Jack's time long enough. I think I'll check on my friend Audrey.” Elizabeth walked Audrey's way and noticed a scowl on her face.
“Elizabeth, Grady keeps staring at you not me. I think he is attracted to you. After traveling all this way he doesn't even know I exist.”
“Don't be silly, Audrey. Every man in this room has noticed you. Jack Mackenzie can't stop talking about you. Why not go over there and make his evening.”
Audrey's eyes lit up. She looked over at Jack and her heart skipped a beat. He really is very nice looking. Grady Murphy was all but forgotten.
Fiona and Gordon smiled at each other. “If anyone can bring Jack out of his shell it's Audrey” said Fiona.
The young people all went out caroling in spite of the weather. Everyone else stayed behind to have a little more cider and eggnog. Reggie was happy to play host. After working outside all day he was very comfortable in the warm cottage.
The snow had let up and it was just falling lightly as the carolers made their way through the town. Mack and Maddie Mackenzie saw a noticeable difference in Jack. It seems Nurse Audrey was just what the doctor ordered.
“He's practically giggling.” Mack said to Maddie and Carrie.
“It's about time he got back to the living” Carrie said with a smile.
“I think our new physician and nurse will be playing doctor themselves before too long.” Maddie said with a chuckle as she glanced at Grady and Elizabeth. Mack was embarrassed but Carrie laughed.
Elizabeth found herself standing next to her friend Audrey and whispered in her ear. “Isn't Camden Corners a wonderful place? I'm so glad you brought me here.” Audrey just smiled.
The evening came to an end. Elizabeth and Grady bid each other a good evening with the promise of meeting the next day.
Grady slipped into his room with thoughts of Elizabeth as he readied himself for the big feather bed. It had been quite a day. Grady was nervous about his meeting with Doc but he needn't have been. Doc was a warm, kind man just like his mentor, Dr. Gilbert said he would be. Grady had met his share of egotistical physicians at Buffalo General. He knew he would feel comfortable in a small town setting and already he was sure Camden Corners would be the place for him. He had spoken briefly with Elizabeth about her plans for the future. She indicated she might be thinking of a change herself.
Within the next couple of days Audrey and Elizabeth both had promises of positions in the new hospital when it opened. In the meantime, Doc Julie hired them both to help out in the office.
“Dad, a nurse can do many of the things you, Tom and I have been doing for the patients and it will allow us more time to help them. Now that there are four doctors in the practice, we can't expect mother and April to do even more work than they do already. April will be leaving for nursing school before we know it and then it will only be mother.” Julie said
“Yes, and you would like them both to stay in Camden Corners. I may be getting on in years but I know when romance is blossoming. I can see our Dr. Murphy is smitten with Elizabeth Lawrence and your old friend Jack Mackenzie has found a new lease on life with the spunky Miss Audrey. I think it's a wonderful idea. Let's hire both of them.”
It was decided all three would return to Camden Corners shortly after the new year. It would give the hospital time to fill the soon to be vacant nursing positions. Elizabeth and Audrey also wanted to be there for the children who sadly had to spend their Christmas in the hospital. They, along with the other nurses and doctors always made the day very special for their little patients.
Shortly after the train pulled out of the station heading north, Jack Mackenzie was at the counter purchasing a ticket to Buffalo for the following weekend.