Authors: Helen Wells
“By four weeks after her accident, X-rays will be required again, and it probably will be time to remove the cast. At that time,” Dr. Merriam added, “Mrs. Clark tells me, you will be in Edinburgh—” Cherry’s heart gave a leap. She hadn’t known they were going on to Scotland.
“—where there are wonderful medical talents and facilities. Ask Dr. Bates to refer you to a doctor in Edinburgh.” Cherry nodded. “Once the cast is off, Miss Ames, you’ll need to assist Mrs. Logan in exercising the arm daily. You may also need to massage the arm and shoulder as well. That will depend on what the Edinburgh doctor decides.”
“I understand, Dr. Merriam. I’ve been working on the Orthopedics Ward at Hilton Hospital.”
“Good. Oh, one more thing. Take along a few simple remedies—something for an upset stomach, or head-ache, just in case.” He wrote out a prescription. “See that Mrs. Logan has frequent rest periods, she must not walk or stand too long at a time. That should do it for now, Miss Ames.”
On Saturday, after the usual morning care, Cherry encouraged Mrs. Logan to move her right arm and shoulder at regular intervals. After a rest, she helped her patient get used to using her left arm and hand, 26
starting with combing her hair. The result was ludi-crous. “It’s your fi rst try,” Cherry said. “But you’ll see, practice makes perfect.”
She coaxed Martha Logan to eat lunch and settled her for a nap. Later in the afternoon she gave her a bed bath, and after that, at Mrs. Logan’s request, put some business papers in order. Since Martha Logan was right-handed and had broken her right arm, Cherry was going to have to do paperwork and take notes for her during the trip.
Late that afternoon the travel agent telephoned.
He had gotten a cancellation for Cherry. Now the airline people were trying to get some other passenger to trade seats, so Mrs. Logan could have her nurse beside her. “Cheers!” said Martha Logan.
Just before Cherry was to go off duty, Dr. Merriam hurried in. The doctor and the nurse helped Mrs.
Logan to get to her feet. Cherry was surprised to see that she was taller than she had appeared to be in bed.
At fi rst she was weak and unsteady. She sat up in a chair for a while, and walked better on the second try.
The doctor and Cherry discussed the importance of not allowing their patient to grow stiff and weak from lying in bed. “Help her to walk over the weekend,” Dr.
Merriam reminded Cherry, although she needed no reminding.
Cherry and her patient practiced, and they also grew better acquainted during the quiet of Sunday and Labor Day, Cherry’s mother had sent her a special-delivery letter, and Cherry read the more interesting parts of it
aloud to her patient. Mrs. Logan wanted to hear more, so Cherry told her a little about her parents in Hilton, where she was born and grew up, and about her twin brother who was an aviation engineer. “They must be a good family,” Mrs. Logan said, “to have produced you.
You know, I’d like to call you Cherry. And I’d like you to call me Martha. I know it’s against protocol for nurses to address patients by their fi rst names, but since we’ll be traveling companions for a month, it will seem so much friendlier. Now please tell me more about your wonderful family.”
But Cherry was careful not to talk too much or too constantly. Martha Logan still felt badly shaken up and on this hot day the cast felt uncomfortably tight.
Cherry gave her medication and left her alone to rest.
Later, she took out the rubber ball she had brought with her. She gave it to Mrs. Logan, explaining, “It would be a good idea for you to squeeze this ball for about ten or fi fteen minutes at a time, four or fi ve times a day. It will help your arm muscles to keep their tone.
We’ll work into it gradually. Want to try? I’ll help you, until you can manage by yourself.” They worked with the ball and Cherry also encouraged Martha to move her shoulders, and praised her.
At one interval, Martha told Cherry: “We’ll go to the airport a little early on Thursday morning. A reporter has made an appointment with me. He’s bringing a photographer who wants a picture of us boarding the plane.”
“Good promotion for your next book,” said Cherry.
“My publisher thinks so,” Martha replied. “There already was one news item in the papers when I arrived in New York, saying I’m on my way to England to do research and visit the celebrated Carewe collection for the next book. I expect the reporter saw that news story, because he called up my publisher to fi nd out where I’m staying in New York. The publisher referred him to me. I said okay to the interview, and told him my fl ight date, hour, and number.”
“What newspaper is he with?” Cherry asked.
“This man—Blake or Blakeley, I forget which—is a freelance reporter who writes occasional special-interest stories for the
London Evening Times
and other newspapers here and abroad. Such reporters are called stringers, aren’t they? Anyway,” Martha said, “they supply local items to out-of-town newspapers, and they hire their own photographers.” Cherry asked what masterpieces in the Carewe collection she particularly wanted to see.
“Well, this is to be a historical novel,” said Martha,
“about—” and she named an English nobleman and two ladies, sisters, who had fi gured in his long eventful service to his embattled country. “In the Carewe collection there are portraits of all three of them. Even better, there are
portraits of Henry—one when he was young, and one when much older. I want to see how he changed, in character. I want to study the faces in the portraits for more understanding of those persons.
I want to see how they stand and sit—whether their bearing is humble or proud or defi ant, or what. And
I want to study the details of their dress, because dress reveals character, too. I’m especially interested in a ring of Lady Mary’s that disappeared mysteriously—
perhaps given as ransom. I’ve heard she wears it in the Carewe-owned portrait.”
Martha was a scholarly person, without being tire-some about it. The past sprang to life as she talked of ancient places and long-dead personages as if they were old friends of hers. During the holiday weekend Cherry learned a great deal and enjoyed it.
Tuesday brought people bustling back to work, on regular busy schedules, and it brought Cherry requests from Martha Logan to shop and pack for her. Doing this, in addition to nursing, picking up her passport, consulting with Dr. Merriam one fi nal time, buying travelers’ checks, changing a few dollars into English currency for immediate taxi fares and tips, then going to the hairdresser and doing her own packing, kept Cherry racing until late Wednesday evening. She had to be at the Clarks’ apartment early the next morning in order to help Martha Logan dress and check her over once more.
That night Cherry said her goodbyes to her Spencer Club friends and telephoned her mother and father to ask, “What presents shall I bring you?” She laid out her nurse’s uniform, cap, and nursing kit for the next morning. When at last she tumbled into bed, she felt too excited to sleep. This time tomorrow she would be in London!
c h a p t e r i i i
Flight to London
the sun shone down on the airport and on the jetliner waiting just outside the terminal. It was nine fi fteen, forty-fi ve minutes before takeoff. Mrs. Clark, who had driven Cherry and her patient to Idlewild, pulled in at the second-fl oor level of the terminal.
A porter took their baggage, and waited.
Cherry in her white uniform and an airlines steward helped Mrs. Logan out of the car and into a wheelchair. Cherry had telephoned ahead for the wheelchair. Martha Logan was still stiff from her fall, and Dr. Merriam advised against her walking across the big terminal and then the walkway into the plane.
“Alison,” Martha Logan said to her friend, “it will be a nuisance for you to park the car and walk back across that huge parking lot, to return to the terminal just to see me off. Let’s say our goodbyes now, my dear. Thank you for everything.” 30
FLIGHT TO LONDON
said Mrs. Clark, and leaned out of the car to kiss her. “Enjoy yourselves, both of you. I know Cherry will take good care of you.” Mrs. Clark waved and drove off.
Cherry and the porter followed the steward pushing Martha in the wheelchair. In the terminal he helped them quickly check their baggage through. Cherry tipped the porter, and they moved to the next counter where they showed their tickets. Then, at Mrs. Logan’s request, the steward wheeled her to just below the centrally located Flight Information Board. Cherry, carrying a small canvas fl ight bag, looked up and read: Flight 160 10:00 a.m. Gate 6. “That’s
” she thought.
“Thank you very much,” Cherry said to the young steward. “The photographer should get a fi ne picture of Mrs. Logan here.”
“Not in the wheelchair!” Martha groaned. “Although it is a great comfort,” she said to the steward. He asked if there were anything further he could do for them and promised to return to help them board.
They waited for the reporter and his photographer.
Cherry thought Martha Logan looked most attractive in her soft-colored, lightweight tweeds, and what’s more, looked well. Cherry said so. Martha smiled and thanked her for the compliment.
“You look positively radiant with health,” Martha said. “And that fetching cap and trim uniform! I wish Ruth and Bobby could meet you.” 32
Cherry said she hoped to meet the Logan children some time. “Speaking of time—” Martha glanced at her wristwatch and said, “That reporter is late.” More minutes went by, the food trucks fi nished loading the plane, and the passengers were entering at the open glass door marked Gate 6. Still no reporter or photographer. Cherry asked if Mrs. Logan wanted her to go look for them, or telephone the reporter.
“I don’t know where to telephone him, since he’s not on the staff of any newspaper,” Mrs. Logan said. “As for looking for him, there’s no point. I clearly said nine thirty and at this spot. Well, I guess he’s not coming,” she said matter-of-factly. “Maybe something unexpectedly detained him.”
The same young steward returned to ask if Mrs.
Logan was ready to board now. He would push her wheelchair along the walkway that led directly to the plane’s cabin. He suggested they start before all the other hundred or so passengers poured in.
“A good idea,” Martha Logan said. “I don’t enjoy being interviewed, anyway.”
They started along the walkway, Cherry going fi rst, then the steward carefully pushing her patient. Halfway across, the wheelchair balked for some reason.
A short, portly man ahead of Cherry turned around.
Before she could do it, he bent and adjusted one wheel with his left hand,
“A little slower there, steward!” he ordered. Cherry felt embarrassed for the obliging young steward. Standing
FLIGHT TO LONDON
up again, the man looked imposing. “Are you all right, madam?”
“Yes, thank you,” Martha Logan said.
As they entered the plane cabin’s door, the short, portly man gave a little assistance again, even before the stewardess could. Then with a slight bow he left them and went to his seat.
The stewardess greeted them and helped Cherry get Martha Logan to her feet. “I feel so conspicuous,” Martha grumbled to Cherry, “and clumsy as an ox.”
“You’re not, and anyway, must you expect miracles of yourself?” Cherry murmured back. Better to jolly her patient than offer too much sympathy.
Martha Logan grinned and refused to take Cherry’s arm. After thanking the steward again, she walked slowly down the plane aisle. Cherry followed close behind her and found their numbered seats. Fortunately, Martha had an aisle seat. Cherry got her comfortably settled. Because of the cast, Cherry had a little diffi culty in fastening the seat belt around her patient’s waist. Another stewardess came and helped, took their coats, and said the cabin crew was at their service.
Cherry, seated at Martha Logan’s left, watched the plane fi ll up. Music played and the passengers, mostly Americans, a few English and Canadians, seemed festive. On Cherry’s left, an elderly man dozed beside the plane window. Across the aisle a brisk young American took business reports out of his briefcase; beyond him sat a reserved-looking middle-aged couple. Cherry 34
thought their nearest seatmates probably would not want much conversation, and that was just as well for her patient.
Or was it? Martha Logan was watching everyone with alert, sparkling eyes. “Grand to be out in the world again,” she said to Cherry, “after being confi ned to a sickroom.” Martha pointed out the man who had helped them on the walkway. He sat four seats ahead, on the opposite aisle. “He’s keeping the stewardesses busy with his requests,” she remarked.
An extremely pleasant-looking young man came in and stowed a string bag, fi lled with books, under the seat ahead of Martha Logan. He glanced at her inquisitively, then at Cherry in her nurse’s uniform.
Cherry didn’t know him, but thought he might turn out to be a lively traveling companion. He was nice-looking in an unexceptional way—he was of medium height, brown-haired, and he wore glasses—and he had a friendly, breezy energetic air about him that Cherry liked.
“Excuse me, is this yours?” he said, and handed Martha her scarf, which had fallen under his seat. He gave Cherry an admiring look and reluctantly sat down.
Martha seemed amused; she noticed everything.
Promptly at ten o’clock the jetliner took off, rising like a giant bird. After several minutes’ climbing into the brilliant blue sky, the plane leveled off. It fl ew out over the Atlantic, east toward the sun. Cherry unfastened her seat belt, and Mrs. Logan’s, and took her patient’s pulse. It was normal.