The Miner’s Girl

The Miner’s Girl by Maggie Hope

Book: The Miner’s Girl by Maggie Hope Read Free Book Online
Authors: Maggie Hope
the shaft at all,’ she said aloud. What was the good of looking on the black side all the time? Pull yourself together, girl. She could almost hear Gran berating her for her attitude. She had to make proper plans, especially if Ben was somewhere in danger. She had to find him and she had to get other people to help her. The folk in Winton Colliery would help her; she knew they would. Tomorrow morning she would go there again and this time she would not be too timid to ask for help. This time she would knock on doors, get off-shift miners to help her. She would do it.
    How she was going to manage without going in to work at the hospital she didn’t know. But she would manage. By hook or by crook. The most important thing was to find Ben.
    Merry got back to Old Pit, undressed and sluiced herself under the pump outside by the light of a half moon that shone fitfully down. She had never washedthere since she was a little child and that was in the hot weather. But the cold water on her skin felt good and afterwards she towelled herself dry and went straight to bed. Her skin tingled and she was warm beneath the bedclothes. Anxious thoughts still filled her mind but nature took over and she slept the night through.

    ‘I’m afraid we’re short staffed today, Doctor Gallagher. The auxiliary has not turned up for duty. I’m beginning to think that Nurse Trent will have to go; we cannot have anyone who is unreliable.’
    Tom looked up from scanning the patients’ notes at Sister Harrison’s stern expression. He had come early to do the rounds because he was bothered about Merry Trent and her brother. He wanted to know if the boy had come home, something he was naturally concerned about.
    ‘She probably has a good reason for not turning up for work, Sister,’ he said. ‘Her young brother has gone missing—’
    ‘Nothing should come before a nurse’s duty,’ said Sister. ‘This will be a black mark on her record when the time comes for her to apply for training. She may not be accepted by the Board. After all, the Board will have tobear most of the costs of her training and if she is unreliable it may be a waste of the ratepayers’ money.’
    ‘Come on, Sister, have a heart,’ said Tom. ‘Her brother is her only relative now that her grandmother has gone. Besides, she must have years to go yet before she is old enough to do any formal training.’
    Sister Harrison was affronted at the suggestion that she was being heartless. ‘That may be so but my first concern is my patients, Doctor,’ she said. ‘Now the cleaning has not been finished and half the beds remain unmade. When Doctors’ rounds begin everything has to be ready for the patients’ comfort.’
    By this Tom was to understand that he too had offended against hospital routine by turning up early for the ward round.
    ‘Do you wish me to go and come back later, Sister?’
    Sister Harrison’s starched cap quivered and rustled against her starched collar. ‘Oh no, certainly not, Doctor. It is entirely up to you when you wish to see patients.’
    ‘Righto, then, let’s get on with it,’ said Tom, rising to his feet. He picked up the notes and handed them to the sister. ‘The sooner I start the sooner I will get out of your way.’
    It was half-past ten before Tom left the hospital. He set off along Cockton Hill, unsure what to do. He didn’t have a surgery this evening as it was Saturday and so forthe rest of the day he was free – Dr Macready, whose practice was at Eden Hope, did alternate weekends with him and this weekend it was his turn.
    He would go to Old Pit, he decided. After all he could say he was concerned for Ben, as he surely was. First of all he would call in at home to see if there were any messages. Also, he might be in time to have coffee with his father, feeling a little guilty at spending so little time with him.
    Miles was in his study when Tom put his head around the door. The coffee tray was on the table and he was sitting

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