Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Samples. In this week's sample, I'm including the names of a couple of real people who lived around Mount Jackson during the era of the Civil War. While what Dr. Meem says about his hospital post and the land donation truly happened, this conversation did not. It is used only to enhance the storyline of Gone For a Soldier.
One Sunday after church services, the Hilbrands family was surprised by an afternoon visit from Dr. Meem, a prominent physician in the area. He asked to speak with Mrs. Owen, and Mary agreed to entertain him in the parlor.
"We are most honored by your visit," Mrs. Hilbrands said, and turned to lead the way into the room.
"Mama," Mary said so low that the visitor could not hear. "He wishes to speak to me."
"Nonsense," retorted her mother in the same fashion. "You cannot be alone with the man."
And so, Dr. Meem sat down to converse with the two ladies of the house, senior and junior.
As soon as he had been made comfortable with a bit of refreshment, the doctor put down his cup and cleared his throat. "Mrs. Owen, I have been appointed as director of a new soldier's hospital that is to be built upon land donated by Colonel Rinker. We will have a need for ladies from Mount Jackson to lend a hand with some of the tasks suited to their station and nature. Your name has been presented as one who might wish to give such service, since you have a husband, I believe, at the front serving his country?"
Mary bent her head, basking for a moment in the recognition of her married state and of Rulon's sacrifice. At last she smiled and lifted her eyes to give the doctor her assent, but her mother's voice cut across her train of thought.
"Certainly not. My daughter is in a delicate condition. It is not fitting for her to be among those of the opposite gender while she is, um, that is, while she remains, um, so indisposed."
"Mama! I am perfectly able to nurse the poor men who have given so much to our country. When will the buildin' of the hospital be finished, Doctor?"
"Next spring, madam. It will--"
"I forbid it, daughter. Think of the odors, the contagion. You can scarcely hold food upon your stomach as it is."
"I am told that the sickness will go away soon, Mama. I will manage."
"No." She gave Mary a stern look, then turned to the doctor and said, "My daughter is unwell on many days. I am sure you will understand, Dr. Meem. She cannot help you." She arose. "Good day to you, sir."
While Mrs. Hilbrands showed the unhappy doctor to the door, Mary could hardly hold her temper in check. She stood beside her chair in the parlor, quivering with indignation that the decision had been so rudely taken from her power. When it was clear that her mother would not be returning, Mary went after her.
"How dare you speak for me?" she said, almost overcome with rage. "That was unconscionable. Mr. Owen would want me to help in any way possible."
"You forget yourself, Mary. You live in my house, under my roof and your father's protection. That husband of yours has no concern in the matters of my household. He was happy enough to leave you in my care, and I shall do as I see fit to keep you safe." She took a step away, then turned and threw a cruel thought over her shoulder. "He is young and reckless. You cannot trust him. He is likely going to take up with the sort of women who follow the soldier camps."
Mary dug her fingernails into her hands and bit the inside of her cheek until it bled. She would not faint or carry on for her mother's benefit. She watched her go, with a bleak question sitting in the pit of her stomach. What if what Mama said was true?
Thank you for
visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample
compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write
and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.
Come back next Saturday for another sample. Please use this list
to find other blogs for more Sweet Saturday Samples. I know the authors
participating in our weekly blog hop enjoy comments as much as I do, so
please don't be shy. Thank you!