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SHE THOUGHT HE WAS TOO BIG FOR HIS BOOTS!
Sister Charity Dawson loved her job, but there was one problem. Like the other members of St. Simon's nursing staff, she had to put up with the arrogant Dr. Everard van Tijlen. When Charity discovered that the distinguished doctor's exorbitant fees funded a playboy lifestyle, she hit the roof. Everard might have an engagingly boyish smile, but he needed to be taken down a peg or two. And Charity knew just how to do it!
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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.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.Her spirit and genuine talent live on in all her stories.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The queue of cars waiting to go aboard the ferry which would take them across the River Schelde to Breskens, so that they might continue their journey to the Dutch border, was large, untidy and impatient, and not the least impatient of the car drivers was Lieutenant–Colonel Dawson, retired, whose somewhat peppery disposition was ill–equipped for delays of any kind. After only a few moments of coming to a halt behind an enormous trans–continental transport, he was already drumming on the wheel with his fingers, poking his head out of the window, and snorting in a rising indignation, actions which caused his wife, sitting in the back of the car with their younger daughter, to murmur soothingly: "Think of your blood pressure, dear," and exchange a wary glance with her companion. Her well–meaning remarks did nothing to help, however her husband began a growling diatribe about foreigners and blew out his military moustache, a sure sign of growing ill–temper— a sign noted by the girl sitting beside him, for she said with an affectionate matter–of–factness: "Don't worry, Father—I'll go and see what the hold–up is—it can't be anything much."
She got out of the car as she spoke and began to make
her way towards the head of the queue. She was a tall, well–built girl, her rich, red–brown hair tied back with a silk scarf, her attractive face, with its straight nose and nicely curved, too–big mouth, made almost beautiful by a pair of green eyes, fringed by lashes whose curly length, while genuine, gave rise to a good deal of speculation amongst those who met her for the first time.
She made her way now through the press of cars, intent on finding the cause of the delay, feeling a little guilty about it, for it was at her suggestion that her father had agreed to return across Holland from Bremen, where they had been visiting an old friend, instead of driving down through Germany to Cologne and across to the coast to catch the ferry. It wasn't the first time they had made the trip; each time she had wanted to see more of Holland and each time there had been some reason why they shouldn't. And now she had had her own way and it looked as though it was to result in her fiery parent having a fit of bad temper.
She sighed and caught the admiring glance of a lorry driver as she wormed her way between the cars; he called to her and she answered him readily in his own language in her well–taught boarding–school French. She could see the cause of the delay now—the small group of people crowding round an Opel Rekord, peering in at a man lying back in the driver's seat, while one of the dock police bent over him. Charity sighed again, foreseeing a lengthy delay before they could get on to the ferry; the man, if he were ill, would have to be taken away by ambulance or taxi; his car would have to be moved too, for it was the first in line and was blocking one lane of traffic.... She edged her way to the policeman's side and enquired if she could help. "I am a
nurse," she explained, and at his blank look repeated the remark in tolerable German.
The man understood her this time and broke into voluble talk, half German, half Dutch—the driver of the car had slumped across the wheel of his car with no warning, he explained, luckily he was at a standstill— no one had noticed at first, not until he had made no move when the barrier was raised for the cars to start going on board the ferry.
Charity nodded as she undid the man's collar and tie and took his pulse. It wasn't too bad, a little rapid, perhaps, and he was very pale. A faint, probably—it was a warm day in late June and even though there was a wind blowing from the sea, it was hot sitting in a car in the sunshine. She leaned across him, tilted his chair back and slipped a cushion behind his head. It wasn't a heart attack, she was sure, nor did he look desperately ill; all the same she asked: "A doctor? There may be one in one of the cars."
The policeman nodded and spoke to someone in the group; he moved away at a rapid trot and Charity asked a little diffidently: "Could you get rid of this crowd?"
They melted away at the policeman's order and she bent over the man again. His pulse had improved, she was counting it when the door on the opposite side of the car was opened and she looked up to encounter the gaze of a very large man whose grey eyes, after the briefest of glances, dropped to the unconscious man between them.
"You're a doctor?" asked Charity, speaking in her stiff, correct German and giving him no time to reply. "His pulse is better and quite strong—his pupils are all right too, though he has a squint...."
"It will be better if we speak English," said the man, with only the faintest trace of an accent. He was opening his bag as he spoke. "You have a very marked English accent, you know."
She would have liked to have made some telling reply to this piece of rudeness; her German was good enough not to have merited it, but she was forced to remain silent because he was using his stethoscope and by the time he had finished examining his patient, the man was showing signs of returning consciousness and presently opened his eyes.
It was apparent when he spoke that he was an American; it was also apparent that he had no idea why he had fainted. In answer to the doctor's few inquiries he admitted to a tingling sensation in his hands. "I felt kinda jerky," he explained. "I guess I've been overdoing it a bit."
To the doctor's suggestion that he should spend the rest of the day at an hotel, have a good night's sleep and continue his journey on the following day, he agreed without enthusiasm, although when the doctor went away to make arrangements to have the car moved and a taxi fetched he raised no objection. His colour was normal again, indeed, he seemed perfectly well again— it must have been the heat, thought Charity, and wondered uneasily about the squint, because the man wasn't squinting any more.
"I'm grateful to you, little lady," he said gallantly, and Charity, a nicely curved five feet ten inches in her stockings, suppressed a giggle. "My name is Arthur C. Boekerchek, from Pennsylvania, USA, I'm at The Hague, attached to the Trades Mission." He gave her a hard stare. "And what's your name, ma'am?"
"Charity Dawson, from England, and if you're sure you're quite all right, I'll be getting back to our car." She put out a hand. "I hope you'll be quite fit after a rest, Mr Boek—Boekerchek. Goodbye."
He shook her hand. "You a nurse?" he wanted to know, and when she nodded: "Which hospital?" She told him, said goodbye for a second time and turned on her heel.
Charity couldn't see the doctor anywhere as she went through the crush of cars and transports. She admitted to herself that she would have liked to have seen him again, if only to tell him that his manners were bad. She wondered which country he came from; his English was faultless, but he wasn't an Englishman. She had almost reached her father's car when she caught sight of him, strolling ahead of her to the back of the queue. Six feet and several inches besides, she guessed, and with the shoulders of an ox. Not so very young either, with that grizzled hair, but very good–looking. His laconic manner had irritated her, and she frowned, remembering it, as her father said: "Well, what on earth was it all about,
She got into the car and explained why she had been so long, making rather less of the doctor than she need have done, so that her mother asked: "Wasn't he a nice man, dear?" and Lucy wanted to know: "And what was
Charity bit her lip. "I only said about two words to him, Mother, so I couldn't possibly know if he's nice— and I didn't notice what he was like." Which wasn't true.
She saw him again—when they drove off the ferry at last, on the south side of the river and started up the road towards Sluis and Belgium. He passed them, driv–
ing a white Lamborghini Espada. He was travelling fast too. Charity pondered the fact that such a placid man as he had appeared to be and not young any more either should own such a powerful car and drive it, moreover, with all the nerve of someone half his age. She kept her surprised thoughts to herself, however, even when her father made some derogatory remark concerning the youth of today driving flash cars they probably couldn't afford.
"They're very expensive," pointed out the Colonel. "Probably some pop singer," he added disgustedly, and Charity, her head bent over the map, wondered what the doctor would have said to that. It was a great pity that she would never know.
She still had a few days of her holiday left; driving down to Budleigh Salterton beside a calmed and rested parent, she was thankful for them. She hadn't really wanted to go to Bremen; she would have preferred to have stayed at home, pottering in the garden and taking the dogs for long walks on the common, but somehow she had found herself agreeing to accompany her parents and sister, mainly because she knew that her calm common sense could cool her father's little rages when her mother or Lucy aggravated them.
He was getting elderly, she thought lovingly, glancing sideways at him as they drove westwards; small things annoyed him, and Lucy, younger by five years than herself, had a gentle nature whose acceptance of his contrariness merely irritated him still further. Her mother, of course, was perfectly able to manage him, but she was recovering from a bout of ill–health and hadn't yet regained her usual fire and spirit. He was a devoted husband and a kind and indulgent father; his
irascible nature had never bothered her—it didn't bother her brother George, either, although now that he was away...
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