Plantation Doctor

Plantation Doctor by Kathryn Blair

Book: Plantation Doctor by Kathryn Blair Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathryn Blair
when the women fell sick they died through being obstinately opposed to any remedies but their own.
    Lyn was allowed to walk down the centre of the wards, to smile at the women in the smaller ward and take a peep at the four tiny black babies which had been born during the last couple of days. One of the native doctors told Lyn that sometimes, about the third day after the birth of a child, both mother and baby would vanish. It was managed carefully and expertly by the woman herself. Questioning of the family would elicit only a bland denial of knowledge about the escape, though they were probably well aware that mother and child were securely hidden in the bush where “white man’s medicine” could not penetrate.
    It was after twelve when Adrian emerged from the surgery and collected Lyn. They went back to the car, climbed into its suffocating heat and moved away at speed to create a breeze.
    “You had an exhausting morning,” he commented. “Sorry I couldn’t be with you, but it turned out to be a busy time for me. Wasn’t too sickening, was it?”
    “Not a bit. I saw the babies.”
    “Cute, aren’t they? They hardly ever weigh anything over six pounds at birth. The latest arrival was under four pounds.”
    “He was fast asleep. All the babies looked so healthy and clean in those little cots that I couldn’t help thinking of those women who are afraid of doctors and remain in the bush rather than go to the hospital.”
    “Superstition is the devil to combat,” he said, “and the women are more deeply ingrained with it than the men. I’m glad you weren’t too sensitive to the more sordid side of it.”
    “I didn’t find it distasteful — only rather humbling.”
    “Don’t regard it that way. Look upon all the new sights and experiences as essentially African. What was your chief reaction?”
    She considered. “The hackneyed one, I’m afraid. I wanted to pitch in and help. I can see now why you think me pretty contemptible.”
    “My dear girl!” His tone was cold and displeased. After that he said nothing at all.
    They drove on through the dark shade of the trees, arrived at the belt of timber, where lichens drooped from brown trunks and the grass was dappled with sunshine, and followed the path which led into the settlement. At Lyn’s house Adrian pulled in and helped her out.
    Pitiless heat trembled on the air, the sky was a huge, glaring arc over the long clearing, and no other human being stirred.
    “Lie down for an hour before you eat,” said Adrian very calmly.
    Unconsciously, Lyn pushed back h er right shoulder to ease it stiffness. Just as unconsciou sly Adrian grasped it with a firm hand.
    “Is it painful?”
    “No. It aches from trying to lift Melia yesterday.”
    Concerned, he let his fingers rove the fine bone, slid them along the collar-bone. “Why didn’t you say? A little massage will soon put it right.”
    Perhaps the morning at the hospital had tattered Lyn’s nerves, or the heat might have teased them, or maybe a restless night had used up too much of her reserves. She only knew that suddenly his nearness hurt like the deep probing of a needle, that the exploring professional hand upon her shoulder was intolerable.
    Rigid with control she jerked from his touch. “The ache will soon wear off. Thanks for sparing me so much of your time this morning.” Then she turned and ran up into the house.
    The next evening Melia was released from the hospital. The sprain would probably take months to mend completely, but seeing that the arm affected was her left she was inclined to be cheerful about it. Being one of those people who inevitably anticipate the worst her swift return to the house had for Melia the unexpectedness of a miracle. When Roger came up to make neighborly enquiries and suggestions she wordlessly and contentedly displayed her disability.
    To Lyn, R oger said, “The doctor asked me to call on you each day and make sure you’re getting everything you want while

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