Esmeralda. Betty Neels

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Esmeralda - Betty Neels

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      “I have a suggestion to make which you might like to consider,” said Thimo.

      “I have a private practice in Leiden. I employ two nurses, and one, Willi, is going to Australia to see her brother. She will be away…for a month or six weeks, and I wondered if you would care to take over her job for that time.”

      “I can’t speak Dutch,” claimed Esmeralda.

      “I daresay Loveday will help you there. You won’t need more than a few routine phrases.”

      Her impulse was to say yes at once, for it would be just the thing to fill her days usefully, but she was a practical girl and could see several snags.

      “I’ve no uniform. And where will I live?”

      “Willi will let you borrow hers, and she has a very small house near my rooms.”

      She said contritely, “I’m sorry, Dr. Bamstra. You’ve been so kind to me.” She looked down at her plastered leg with the cotton sock pulled over the toes to keep them clean.

      “Call me Thimo.”

      “Thimo, then, though I don’t think I should.”

      “You find me too elderly?” His voice was bland.

      “Don’t be silly. Of course not, but you are a senior consultant at the hospital and I’m your patient….”

      About the Author

      Romance readers around the world were sad to note the passing of BETTY NEELS in June 2001. Her career spanned thirty years, and she continued to write into her ninetieth year. To her millions of fans, Betty epitomized the romance writer, and yet she began writing almost by accident. She had retired from nursing, but her inquiring mind still sought stimulation. Her new career was born when she heard a lady in her local library bemoaning the lack of good romance novels. Betty’s first book, Sister Peters in Amsterdam, was published in 1969, and she eventually completed 134 books. Her novels offer a reassuring warmth that was very much a part of her own personality. She was a wonderful writer, and she will be greatly missed. Her spirit lives on in all her stories.


      Betty Neels

      MILLS & BOON

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      THE orthopaedic ward for children at Trent’s Hospital was in the throes of its usual periodical upheaval: Sister Richards, on the edge of retirement, and, after a lifetime of caring for the small, sick children, a trifle eccentric, was making the cot change, an exercise which entailed her little charges being moved up and down the ward as well as from side to side, until none of them—and that included the nurses—knew exactly where they were any more, so that the children were either screaming with delight at being at the other end of the ward, or roaring with rage at being moved at all, and the nurses, especially those who were new to the experience, were on the edge of hysterics. And this time she had been fortunate in enlisting the help of the two housemen who had unwittingly arrived to write up their notes, and instead now found themselves, under Sister Richards’ inspired direction, shifting cots too. One of them, trundling a cot containing a very small and cross girl, asked furiously: ‘Is she out of her mind? Can’t someone stop her? My notes…’

      The girl he had addressed was guiding him towards the far corner of the ward. ‘Certainly not,’ she protested in a pleasant, cheerful voice, although it held a faintly admonishing note. ‘It works splendidly, you know—the children are mostly here for weeks and they get bored; moving them round is good for them—they never know where they’ll be next.’

      ‘And nor do you, I’ll be bound, Staff.’

      ‘Well, it’s a bit awkward at first, but we soon get sorted out.’

      They pushed the cot into a corner, and he said: ‘I do believe you like the old thing.’

      ‘Yes, I do—and she’s a wonderful nurse.’

      He stood aside and watched her settle the small girl against her pillows, thinking that she seemed a nice little thing; not much to look at though; too small and thin, and all that mousey hair piled high—if it wasn’t for her eyes she would be downright plain, but those green eyes, with their thick, dark lashes were really something. It was a pity about her foot, of course—he gave it a quick look and glanced away as she limped round the end of the cot. He was fairly new on the orthopaedic side and he had been warned about Staff Nurse Esmeralda Jones; she didn’t take pitying glances easily, and anyone wanting to know, however tactfully, why it was that one small foot dragged so horribly behind its fellow would get a cold green stare and no answer at all. True, there was one person who could apparently say what he liked to her—the orthopaedic Registrar, Leslie Chapman. The young houseman had heard him boasting about it in the common room one day, and hadn’t much liked him for it.

      ‘Anyone else to shift?’ he wanted to know cheerfully.

      Esmeralda beamed at him. ‘No thanks, you’ve been a Trojan. Sister will be having coffee in her office, I expect, and I’m sure she’ll give you a cup—after all this, you’ll be in her good books.’

      He started to move away. ‘What about you?’

      She was adjusting a gallows frame with careful skill.

      ‘Oh, I’ll be along in a minute—it’s Mr Peters’ round in half an hour and this place looks like a fairground—we’ll have to tidy it up a bit.’

      She knew as she spoke that she would probably not get her coffee—even with three nurses to help her, it would take time to get the place straight, especially when half the children were objecting at the tops of their voices to being moved. She coaxed and scolded gently, slicked down untidy heads of hair, wiped faces and hands and then, with a minute or two to spare after all, was hurrying down the ward with the intention of swallowing a quick cup of coffee in the kitchen, when the ward doors were swung open—Mr Peters, bother the man, was early.

      He was a short man, looking older than his forty years, and already going bald, which might be why he cultivated a heavy moustache and a formidable beard. The children loved him and the nurses went out of their way to fulfil his every whim. He stood just inside the doors now, bellowing good morning to the children, and added: ‘Hullo, Esmeralda—taken you by surprise, have I?’

      She fetched up in front of him, said ‘Good morning, sir,’

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