Ring for the Nurse

By: Marjorie Moore


It was just one of those days! Everything had gone wrong since the moment Felicity Dene had set foot that morning in John Mason ward. Even Sister Robinson, usually so affable, was suffering from one of her rare moods of irritability and Felicity, as Staff Nurse, had been constrained to bear the brunt of it. To add to the general chaos, two probationers had chosen that particular day to report sick and three emergency admissions had thrown the ward into confusion just at the very time that Matron decided to pay a visit of inspection. Now, to cap it all, someone had left Sister Robinson’s office window wide open and a playful March wind had scattered every paper and document from the desk until the small room looked like a nightmare paperchase. Felicity Dene smothered a sigh as she stooped to retrieve the muddled papers, and with the maddening knowledge that she was already behindhand with her routine jobs she began to sort them out and replace them in their correct order. As she straightened up to answer the sharp ring of the telephone, her voice betrayed her annoyance. “Yes ... yes, John Mason ward. Who is it?”

“Theatre here. Hullo, is that you, Felicity?” Nurse Weste’s tone was calm and laconic. Perhaps her day hadn’t been so upsetting, Felicity mused as she waited for Diana Weste to continue, not that anything ever perturbed Diana. From the day they had both started at St. Edwin’s Hospital as probationers, Diana had remained completely unruffled through all their early difficulties. The very difference in their temperaments had drawn them together and they had become fast friends. Diana Weste had also risen to be a Staff Nurse and although she was now attached to the Theatre while Felicity worked in the Orthopaedic Ward, their work on occasions brought them together.

“Hullo, are you still there? I thought the line had gone dead.”

Diana’s voice came clearly through the receiver. “What’s up with you, is old Robinson’ in the room?”

“No ... I’m just feeling browned off. I didn’t know it was you or I wouldn’t have snapped but I’ve had an awful day. I’m longing to go off but I’m not nearly ready; it’s no use for you to wait supper for me, I’m bound to be late, and since a disastrous visit from Matron this morning old Robinson, as you call her, has been in a flat spin.”

“You think you’re going to be late ... I know you are!” There was suppressed laughter in Diana Weste’s tone. “Theatre Sister told me to ring you and say you’ll have to do a fracture reduction tonight, with your own nurses too, as we haven’t anyone to spare. Brenton’s doing it and he’ll be ready in ten minutes ... you’d better get a move on! You know how he loves being kept waiting!”

For a stunned second Felicity was bereft of speech. Then as the full significance of her friend’s information dawned on her, she burst out, “It can’t be true, I believe you’re making it up.”

“Of course I’m not!” Diana replied indignantly. “And what’s more, the case has got to be warded in John Mason. Brenton insists on that and I can assure you he’s in no mood to be queried as to the sweet reasonableness of that arrangement. You wouldn’t expect our dear Guy Brenton to consider such a trifling inconvenience, would you?” Diana mocked. “He’d have a bed fixed on the roof if he felt like it, yes, and expect the nurses to perch on a chimney while they changed the dressings,” she ended laughingly.

“Don’t be such an idiot!” Felicity found herself joining in her friend’s infectious laughter. “Now you’re wasting my time with all your nonsense! I must get along to break the news to Sister ... bye-bye, see you some time!” Felicity replaced the receiver and bundling the rest of the scattered papers back on the desk, hurried to the ward.

It was typical of hospital life that things managed to get done in the end however impossible and difficult the situation appeared to be. As Felicity had fully expected, Sister Robinson was only too thankful to delegate the task of assisting the surgeon to her staff nurse with the instruction that Nurse Jones was to attend as well. Sister Robinson was not only shrewd enough to recognize Felicity’s ability and efficiency in any emergency but she tacitly acknowledged that Felicity had an uncanny knack of handling the orthopaedic surgeon even in his most recalcitrant moods. Guy Brenton was attractive, all the nurses admitted that; abrupt and a bit sarcastic at times, a real tyrant where work was concerned and intolerant of mistakes. Felicity supposed she’d been fairly lucky in her dealings with him, anyway he’d always been quite reasonable with her and she liked him. Some of the staff had been up against him she knew and, no doubt like a fool, she’d been too inclined to speak up in Guy Brenton’s favour against her fellow nurses and although the chaff was always well meant and free from malice, she had made herself conspicuous by committing the unforgivable sin of openly defending him. With the large staff of physicians and surgeons attached to St. Edwin’s it was only natural that greater preference should be shown by the nurses for some than for others, a few were general favourites while others were simply accepted as a necessary part of hospital life. Guy Brenton belonged to neither category; his physical attraction every female on the staff readily admitted, but generally speaking he was considered the most exacting and difficult person to work for. Felicity had always been intrigued by his personality but even her feelings for him had not been untinged with awe, his aloof manner was anything but encouraging and his caustic tongue, should anything displease him, was sufficiently terrifying to keep the most intrepid nurse at a distance. Felicity, even when a probationer and throughout her training, had always managed to steer clear of trouble, perhaps because she had the happy knack of smiling disarmingly at the propitious moment, or more possibly because, however intimidated she might feel, at least she managed to conceal it. Some of the nurses were foolish enough to show how much they minded and were the perfect butt for a man of Guy Brenton’s type. They just asked for trouble and grumbled when it submerged them. Of course it was quite absurd how the few casual remarks she had made in his favour had immediately caused her particular circle of friends to jump to the ridiculous conclusion that she harboured some secret passion for the man!

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