Authors: Lynn Morris,Gilbert Morris
Tags: #FIC014000, #FIC026000
Cheney & Shiloh: The Inheritance
The Moon by Night
Â© 2004 by Lynn Morris and Gilbert Morris
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
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Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Ebook edition created 2012
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Cover illustration and design by Dan Thornberg
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for letting me poke her and prod her and measure her,
but she still grinned.
Thanks also to Kylie's person, Maureen Russell.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
Except the Lord build the house,
they labour in vain that build it:
except the Lord keep the city,
the watchman waketh but in vain.
For the third time Cheney started, then darted a quick glance behind her right shoulder.
Of course there is nothing there,
she thought as she doggedly returned to her work.
Just as there was nothing there the last time and the time before that
. She adjusted the oil lantern so that she could see her yardstick better, then measured out three feet and marked the floor with a piece of charcoal. With satisfaction she straightened and surveyed the space she had outlined for a microscope worktable. Absently she pressed two hands to her aching back and then realized that her legs had pains shooting through them and her knees felt as if they were capped with slabs of ice. Quickly, with lithe grace, she rose from her knees, holding the lantern carefully so as not to brush against her wide skirts.
She was a tall woman, with a quick athletic grace that was certainly unfashionable in 1869, the thirty-second year of Queen Victoria's reign and the third decade of the reigning fashion for women being that of pale complexions, dreamy eyes, frail constitutions, vaporish tendencies, and meek and complaisant temperaments. Dr. Cheney Duvall Irons-Winslow had none of these things. She was a strong woman, both physically and emotionally, and had a direct gaze and manner that was often intimidating, even overbearing. Her eyes were a brilliant green, her hair a fiery auburn, waist-length and thick and curlyâall but impossible to tame. As was Cheney herself.
But this morning her maid, Fiona, had managed to pull Cheney's hair back smoothly into a modest French chignon, though some curls had escaped at the nape of her neck and around her ears. She was wearing a plain white blouse with a plain gray skirt, though the white coveralls she wore hid them. It was a physician's uniform, and over the pocket at the breast was embroidered “St. Luke the Physician Hospital” and a dove with an olive branch in its mouth.
She was in the cellar of St. Luke the Physician Private Hospital and Dispensary. St. Luke's had opened only a month ago and was already at seventy-five percent capacity. Of the thirty-two available beds, there were thirteen patients in the women's ward and eleven in the men's ward. There were only two charity cases, one woman and one man, and the rest were paying patients. This had made the ownersâMr. and Mrs. Richard Duvall, Dr. and Mrs. Devlin Buchanan, Dr. Cleve Batson, and Mr. and Mrs. Shiloh Irons-Winslowâvery happy. But what had made Mrs. Shiloh Irons-Winslowâor Dr. Duvall, as she was known to the staff and patientsâreally happy was this cellar. Cheney herself had designed it and had personally supervised the renovation that had turned a damp, dank, cavernous cellar into a well-lit, clean, efficient laboratory/morgue/storage area.
St. Luke's was actually what was called “the old van Dam place.” In 1752 Kiliaen van Dam had built a gracious mansion far north of the little village of New York, in the forest close to a quiet little stream that ran into Collect Pond. It was a fine spacious three-story home, built of costly yellow-hued Holland brick. In the Georgian style, the front door was framed with fluted classical columns and topped by a pediment inscribed in block letters: Siste Viator. Latin, it meant
which seemed very hospitable of Mr. Van Dam. But the first time Cheney had seen it, she had recalled that the ancient Romans had put this inscription on roadside tombs, and she had thought it rather odd, even a little sinister. She knew very little about the history of the house, though she knew its name because it was on the same block as the offices of Dr. Devlin Buchanan, M.D., R.C.S.; Dr. Cheney Duvall, M.D.; and Dr. Cleve Batson, M.D.
Today the hospital had been open for exactly one month, and Cheney had managed to secure their first corpse for autopsy, a prostitute who had evidently drowned in the Hudson River. Cheney was very excited about using her new morgue and laboratory, but when she had come down to the cellar, she had seen that she still had some organization and renovation to do before the laboratory could be considered complete. Although she had come downstairs at seven o'clock, it was already full dark, and she had realized that the gas lighting was insufficient for microscopic studies at night. So she had sat down and sketched out a design for a suitable workspace with good lighting and then had measured out the space along the wall where a long counter would be installed.
The cellar of the old van Dam place was huge, spanning the entire length and breadth of the original house. The rear half of the room had been built as a storage area, with cupboards along the wall and three rows of floor-to-ceiling shelves.
The front half was divided equally between the laboratory and the morgue. Cheney was so proud of her specially designed morgue. The rectangular room was built of the finest cypress and lined with a double thickness of tin. Along each side were long metal slabs with metal ice bins beneath. Cheney had also designed a rolling dissection table. When their ward policeman, Officer Sylvester Goodin, had delivered the corpseâhe had called her Miss Darleneâto the hospital that afternoon, he and Cheney had placed the body onto the dissection table and simply rolled it into the morgue to wait until Cheney was ready to perform the autopsy. Now she went into the morgue and rolled the table out of the double doors straight into the laboratory area. In this way Cheney could handle autopsies by herself without needing an assistant on hand to help move the body.
But as Cheney began the dissection, she reflected ruefully,
The only problem with my wonderful design is that I can't see the east stairwell from here because the wall of the morgue blocks it. And I could swear I hear something over there sometimes
. The cellar, which was, of course, sunken six feet underground, had two staircases leading up into the first floor of the hospital. The west staircase was plainly visible from the lab area, but the east one was not. And the outside entrance to Sixth Avenue was also on the east side of the room and out of sight from the lab.
Impatiently Cheney pushed away the unsettling thoughts.
It's silly. Probably just a draft or this old house settling or maybe a mouse. Perhaps we should get a cat
She heard a noise on the stairs and realized with relief that someone was coming down the west stairwell, which she could see. It was Dr. Lawana White, an intern, and the way she was running down the stairs two at a time made Cheney stop her initial Y incision to ask sharply, “What is it, Dr. White?”
“Emergency telegram, Dr. Duvall. From Officer Goodin, so I thought that you would probably like to handle it.”
“Yes, of course, let me see.”
Dr. White hurried forward, rather nervously handing the telegram to Cheney while eyeing the lurid corpse on the table. The intern was a slight, small girl with red-gold hair, a lovely creamy complexion, and big innocent hazel eyes. Though she was soft spoken and meek, she was extremely intelligent, and her shy ways belied an iron determination. Dr. White had decided to specialize in surgery, still a controversial field even for well-established and respected physicians. She had managed to get Cheney's adopted brother, the famous and renowned Dr. Devlin Buchanan, to accept her as a preceptee along with two other male interns, Stephen Varick and Duncan Gilder.
Dr. White had also succeeded in attaching herself to Cheney when she worked at the hospital, and Cheney had even agreed to tutor Dr. White along with her ongoing tutelage of her former maid, Nia Clarkson, who was attending the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women. Now Cheney could see, with slight amusement, that Dr. White had every intention of sticking to Cheney like a leech to deal with this emergency.
The telegram, sure enough, was on the special paper with the red heading: EMERGENCY-ALERT-EMERGENCY-ALERT
It read: EMERGENCY STOP MULTIPLE INJURIES STOP ACCIDENT WEST 10TH & WASHINGTON STOP REQUEST DR. W/AMBULANCE STOP
“If Officer Goodin requests a doctor with the ambulance, then it must be bad,” Cheney murmured half to herself.
“I'll go,” Dr. White said eagerly. “I've already sent word to Dr. Batson to stand by on call. And Dr. Gilder is still here.”
Ordinarily the male student doctors, or the male attendant, went with the ambulance. The simple reason was that only the very basic medical proceduresâsuch as a tourniquet, a quick bandage, or the administration of laudanumâwere attempted at the accident site. The main objective of the ambulance was to get the person to the hospital as quickly as possible. It was better for the physicians to be preparing to receive the patient rather than to be out riding at a breakneck, teeth-cracking, heart-stopping pace through the streets.