Ella Ruth has gotten herself a paying position at a convalescent hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, and she starts the job today!
"What on earth have I gotten myself into?" Ella Ruth whispered to herself the next morning as she debated on what a "Matron" would wear in a Yankee hospital. She began to pace the room, attired only in her shift. Nothing came to mind. The doctor had given her no instructions, no advisement at all except for an arrival time. If she didn't solve her attire dilemma soon, she would be late. She was already cold. Heaven forbid she should start to shiver before she even left the house.
Lula stood patiently at the open door of the wardrobe, silently awaiting her direction.
Ella Ruth turned and strode toward Lula, whose eyebrows had raised expectantly in the last few moments. The girl would soon give an exasperated huff and adopt a less restrained attitude. Ella Ruth threw up her hands.
"What do I wear," she asked. "I have no experience of Yankee hospitals."
"Your uncle, Doctor Allen, he didn't complain none when you wore your ordinary dresses," Lula said, her expression starting to harden.
"All right. All right," Ella Ruth conceded. "Find me something."
When Lula touched the skirt of the gingham dress Momma brought into her room last week, a purple gingham dress sprigged with white flowers, Ella Ruth burst out, "No!" and then took a breath and thought better of railing at her servant. "It's not warm enough," she said in a more moderate tone. That was true enough. Momma meant for her to wear it come spring.
Lula had the temerity to grin. "I's joking with you, Missy. Here's your old wool skirt, plenty good for the Yankees and with wear enough in it for the whole winter."
Ella Ruth nodded, not sure whether she should be outraged or thankful that Lula could dredge up a sense of humor for the occasion. The black skirt would suit. She could wear the black bodice from yesterday, as well.
"I reckon you'll want this apron, Missy," Lula said as she held up a very large white number that surely came out of Cook's wardrobe.
"Where did you get that?"
Lula chuckled. "Cook has three. She won't miss this one."
Ella Ruth felt her nerves settling. Of course she should wear a protective garment over her clothing. Who knew what she would encounter at the hospital? Soiled bandages always made a mess, and if any of the Yankees suffered from illness instead of wounds, there might be more unpleasantness to face.
"Thank you, Lula," she said, and her shoulders relaxed. She gave her head a tentative shake. No pain. Perhaps hard work was to be the cure for her headaches.
While you're waiting to find out how Ella Ruth's first day on the job goes, be sure to pick up a copy of my latest novel, The Zion Trail:
|The Zion Trail|
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And here's the newest piece to read, my novella, Blood at Haught Springs: