Dr Finlay's Casebook

Dr Finlay's Casebook by AJ Cronin

Book: Dr Finlay's Casebook by AJ Cronin Read Free Book Online
Authors: AJ Cronin
expectation. Since parking was always difficult in Tannochbrae on Saturdays, Finlay had ordered a taxi. As he helped her into the rear seat beside him
her expression was one of sheer delight.
    ‘Just think of it, Dr Finlay. Teresa in a taxi for the first time in her life. Going to her first tea party.’
    Since the bank was closed on Saturday afternoon both Mr Ferguson and his wife, a fine, full-bodied woman, were waiting for them, upstairs, in the big roomy house. And how warmly welcomed were
Finlay and his little companion. In the front room the table was laid for a magnificent tea, with a beautiful iced cake, crystallised fruits, and crackers to be pulled.
    It pleased Finlay to see how well Teresa behaved and how quickly Ferguson and his wife took her to their hearts.
    ‘I do wish, Mrs Ferguson, that I had found a proper party dress for the little one, but you see, I’m not good at these things.’
    ‘Don’t worry, doctor,’ said Mrs Ferguson, ‘I think I have just the thing for the lass.’ Holding out her hand she said: ‘Come with me, Teresa, and we’ll
look for a pretty dress for you.’
    With a glance at Finlay, who replied with a reassuring smile, Teresa went out of the room with Mrs Ferguson.
    A silence followed; then Ferguson said: ‘Some years ago my wife and I had the dreadful misfortune to lose our own little girl, killed by a drunken driver who, without warning, and
travelling at high speed, ran off the road and on to the pavement where she was standing . . . Anyway, my wife insisted on keeping everything that had belonged to her, all her clothes, books, toys
– everything.’
    Finlay was silent. What could one say? And already, with dreadful premonition, he was beginning to fear the possibility that lay awaiting him. And, indeed, at that moment the inner door opened
and Teresa made her entrance, dressed in a beautiful full-skirted white-silk frock, with silk stockings and fine patent-leather shoes. Her hair had been brushed back and clasped by a silver fillet.
A necklace of silver and amethyst adorned her slender neck. She looked at Finlay, shyly conscious of her altered appearance, then flung her arms around him and kissed him fervently.
    ‘Oh, Dr Finlay, don’t you like to see me nice? And underneath I am even nicer, with what Mrs Ferguson calls my “undies”. Would you like a look?’
    ‘If Mrs Ferguson is satisfied, dear, then I am too.’
    ‘I don’t call her Mrs Ferguson now. She likes me to call her “Mama”. Now I am to go down and show my new self to Nora, the cook.’
    When she had gone, Ferguson looked at Finlay in silence. Then he said: ‘My dear, my very dear Finlay, the little lass has explained the situation better than I could ever have done. It
will be hard on you, I well know. You have saved her from a crippling infirmity. You love her as your own. And yet, Finlay, is she not better off in a comfortable home with a mother, a loving
mother who will care for her, and bring her up as though she were her own daughter? Only a woman can properly care for a young growing girl, maturing to womanhood. Don’t you feel within
yourself that whatever your sacrifice it would be wise to let Teresa come to us, as our own child?’
    Finlay bent forward and raised his hand to his brow. Yes, he thought, for the sake of my little one I must let her go.
    ‘Yes,’ he said finally. ‘I see the reason of what you say. And I consent. I must consent.’ He paused. ‘Don’t ask me to stay for the feast. Teresa will not
miss me. And it is better so. I am happy at her good fortune for I know that you, sir, and your wife will do everything you can to make her life a happy one.’
    Finlay had risen and was prepared to go, when Ferguson rose and shook him by the hand.
    ‘What we will never, never forget dear Finlay is that but for you, our beautiful little daughter would be a helpless, hopeless cripple.’
    Finlay walked home slowly, in a mood that verged on despair. What is wrong with

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