Oct. 3rd: 1330 hours
"Mail call." Corporal Klinger knocked at the door of the surgeons's tent. After entering, he dispensed the letters that belonged to each man.
"Did you lose any this time, Corporal?" Major Winchester asked as he, very precisely, slit an envelope with a letter opener.
"Not this time, sir." The clerk answered. He lingered in the tent and pretended not to hear the major's dismissal. "Captain Hunnicutt, can I speak to you about our new nurse?"
"Klinger! And after all those training films, too." B J Hunnicutt teased.
"No way, sir!" The corporal proclaimed. "She's a lady."
"She is, indeed. What about Lieutenant MacAllister, Klinger?" The major asked. He set aside his mail to listen to the clerk.
"I think she's hurting more than she lets on. This morning, she was helping me straighten out the files in my office. Every now and then, she'd move wrong or something and she'd flinch and bite her lip. But when I asked her about it---she said she was fine and dandy."
"And then, when she came back from working with Major Houlihan, she was very pale and her hands were shaking. She did not look like she felt good. She said she was just hungry. When I offered to bring her something from the mess tent, the lieutenant said she would go to her quarters for a while, instead. She hasn't come back yet."
"What was she doing with Major Houlihan?" Hunnicutt questioned.
"The major told her that it was time for her to start learning the routines of this M*A*S*H unit."
"OK, Klinger. I'll make a tent call." Doctor Hunnicutt announced.
Carrying two chairs and a reading lamp across the compound was awkward. Corporal Klinger wasn't complaining, however. All of his discomfort was worth the smile that Lieutenant MacAllister gave him as she opened her door wide and stepped aside.
"Great! Now I won't have to sit on the floor. Or be in the dark!" The woman exclaimed. "Set those down in here." Klinger arranged the chairs and the lamp by the heater. She nodded approval. "Thanks, Corporal!"
"I'll be back in a few minutes with the other things, ma'am."
"There's no hurry."
"I've got the time, Lieutenant." Klinger said. He indicated a chair. "Why don't you sit down and rest?"
When the company clerk returned, he was carrying a small table and some empty creates. "These crates make great shelves." He informed her as he placed them on the floor of her tent.
"Thanks again." Sarabeth told him with a grateful smile.
"I'm still working on the desk. I can requisition one," he grinned at her, "now that I can find the forms! If I can't get one here in a couple of days, I'll acquire one for you."
"Wait a minutes, Corporal. Please don't take anyone else's desk. Or, at least," she teased, "don't get caught doing it."
"Who me?" He bragged. "I'm from Toledo. Nobody's going to catch me, Lieutenant." Klinger joked with her. He liked the way her smile was back in her eyes.
"See that they don't. By the way, whenever we're off duty, I'm Sarabeth."
"I'm Klinger. Nobody calls me Max, except my mother...and Major Winchester...when he wants something."
MacAllister grinned. "Klinger," she asked, "were you the one who left those cloth flowers on my bed?"
The corporal looked embarrassed. "When I brought your gear over---it was so bare---with only the cot in here. And you had had such a bad experience. I cut that bouquet from one of my hats and left it for you. I hope you don't mind."
"Not at all! I walked in here...and saw all that emptiness...and then saw those bright colors. You don't know how much I needed that little gift! It was good to see something so cheerful. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, Klinger. Thanks."
"Aw, you deserved it." The corporal said. He paused. "May I ask you something?" He quickly added, "You don't have to answer."
"Let's sit down first." She grinned. "In my new chairs."
MacAllister sat with her feet resting on her cot. She gave a small sigh of relief. She motioned for him to sit, as well. "OK, what do you want to know?"
The man was uncomfortable. "You don't have to answer this." He repeated."
"Understood." The woman said. "What's the question?"
"Why did Major Houlihan say if you were going to remain? I thought you were permanent."
"It's my ankle." She explained. "If I can't get it healed in three weeks, they're going to transfer me. And I don't want to go."
"You actually want to stay here?!!" He was incredulous.
"I sure do."
Klinger shook his head in disbelief. "With all due respect, ma'am, you're the one who should be trying to get a Section Eight."
MacAllister grinned. "Probably. But I...." She was interrupted by a knock on her tent door. "Would you get that, please? I don't feel like getting up."
"Sure." The man pushed the door slightly ajar and looked at the visitors. "It's the piano movers, Winchester and Hunnicutt." He reported. "Shall I let them in, ma'am?" He had taken on a haughty servant's tone.
The Texan had a merry laugh. "By all means, Jeeves."
Klinger opened the door and gestured grandly. "This way, gentlemen. The lady of the house will see you, now."
"Howdy, sirs." MacAllister smiled at the surgeons. "Come on in and have a seat." She told them as she moved over to her cot.
Both of the doctors drew their chairs closer to her bed as Klinger approached. "Shall I bring the paint, the hammer and the nails now, m'lady?"
"Yes, of course. And do tell Cook I want supper served promptly at seven."
"Very good, ma'am." Standing at stiff attention, the clerk bowed and left the tent.
Winchester was amused. "I have never seen yon Lebanese lackey so enthusiastic. How did you manage that?"
"All you have to do is compliment his camel." Sarabeth explained. "I would love to get a peek at his wardrobe. That has got to be fascinating!" She laughed and added, "So gentlemen, what brings y'all out to the MacAllister Ranch?"
Hunnicutt answered. "I've come to do an ankle check, Miss Sarabeth."
"Why? Is one missing?" She quipped.
"They do have a tendon-cy to disappear." B J returned with a smile.
"Did y'all hear about the tree surgeon who expanded his business?" She asked cheerfully. Not giving them a chance to reply, she continued, "He opened up a branch office."
Without hesitation, the sandy-haired man answered with a pun of his own. "It must have been difficult to up-root himself like that."
Sarabeth responded equally as quick. "No. It was something he had been plant-ing for a long time."
Major Winchester groaned.
B J grinned at the young woman. "Looks like Charles could use some re-leaf from our stem-ulating chat. Guess we'll get on with the business afoot."
"Yes, I reckon we should toe the line." She agreed.
Becoming more professional, Hunnicutt carefully lifted her foot until it rested on his knee. As he examined it, he gently felt for the bones through the swollen tissue.
With a hiss of pain, Sarabeth reflexively tried to pull away from his grasp.
"Easy. Remain still." Major Winchester spoke to her. He held her leg as the captain continued his exploration.
"That ankle sure hasn't turned up missing." She whispered through clenched teeth.
"Did you stay off your feet, as I instructed, while you were reviewing the M*A*S*H routines with Major Houlihan? And did you take your pain medication on time?" Her doctor asked. He knew that her answers would be negative.
MacAllister looked at him in surprise. "How do you know what I did this morning, sir?"
Hunnicutt shrugged, not revealing his source. "It's a small camp."
The major added, "Lieutenant, Major Houlihan is known for her diligence in preparing her nurses. However, she does realize the necessity of pain medication being taken when it is needed."
"I don't reckon I mentioned that need to her, sir." MacAllister answered with a calm Texas drawl.
"And why not?" Hunnicutt demanded.
"Captain, with no disrespect intended towards Major Houlihan---if you have a dog trying to tear out your throat---you don't pull down your collar to make it easier for him."
"Nonetheless, Lieutenant; if you do not allow your ankle to heal, you will not be allowed to remain with this outfit. Which, although I fail to understand why, is your stated intention."
"I know, Major." The lieutenant replied in an unhappy voice. "All right. I will do what's necessary to get this ankle reliable. I'll deal with any other problems later."
"Good. And to make it easier for you, I'll restrict you to the non-medical portions of this compound for the next two days." B J told her. "Unless Colonel Potter sends for you, you are not to set foot, or crutch, near the hospital. And you are to rest often."
"Understood, sir. You won't see hide nor hair of me over there." Sarabeth smiled and changed the subject. "By the way, I realize that it is a tradition for the newest arriving officer to buy the resident officers a drink. How about, after supper, we go over to the Officer's Club and I'll take care of that obligation?"
"Dinner." The major spoke.
"Pardon me?" MacAllister asked in confusion.
"The proper word for the evening meal is dinner." Winchester explained.
"The proper word for the evening meal is supper." Sarabeth corrected.
"Supper." The lieutenant insisted.
"Dinner." The major refuted.
Smiling, B J asked, "Why do I feel like I'm watching a tennis match?"
"I reckon we are making a racquet." Sarabeth returned his smile. "Doctor Hunnicutt, will you lift the restrictions long enough for me to go over to the colonel's office to invite him and Major Houlihan?"
"Thank you, sir. I'll see y'all in the Officer's Club after supper, gentlemen."
MacAllister called to the men as they started back to their tent. "Hey. Y'all forgot to move my piano."
"We shall take care of it." Major Winchester replied with a smile. "After dinner."