14

Fourteen

Oct. 5th: 0600 hours

Corporal Klinger knocked at Lieutenant MacAllister's tent door a second time. "There's no one home." A feminine drawl informed him. Klinger turned to see the Texan bobbing along on her crutches. Returning from the nurse's shower, she had a bright smile for the company clerk.

"Howdy, Klinger! You're too late. Corporal Goldman already brought me breakfast."

"I know. I asked him to stop by. I was waiting for a call from Seoul. They're sending you a desk with the mail truck today!" He announced.

"Great! I've got the spot already picked out." She smiled at him. "Klinger, I'm going to Father Mulcahy's church service in a few minutes. Will you have time to stop by the ranch house and visit after that?"

"Not this morning, Sarabeth. I'm catching up on my reports. Now that I can find them, I have to write them!"

MacAllister chuckled. "See what you get for being organized?"

"It was worth it. I can actually see the top of my desk again!" He joked. "I also came over to tell you that the Australians are being sent out on an evac. bus some time this morning. I'm going to have the driver stop by here. I know you haven't been able to visit them, so I thought you'd like a chance to say goodbye."

"Thanks, Klinger. I really appreciate the way you're taking care of me."

The clerk liked the way she smiled at him. "I'm glad to do it. I have to go. Colonel Potter wants those reports leaving on the mail truck today."

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

"No. Thanks, though. I'd like to come over later, if that's all right?"

"Absolutely. You're always welcome at the MacAllister Ranch."

************************************************

After the young woman waved to the men on the ambulance bus a final time, she returned to her tent. Selecting a report from the stack on her table, MacAllister sat in her chair and elevated her feet.

Captain Pierce sauntered by. He peered through the tent flap screen. "Sarabeth, may I come in?"

"Sure, Hawkeye. Come on in and have a seat." She indicated the other chair as he walked into her tent. "I was wondering if you were going to pay me a daytime visit. Or if you only came out at night."

"Some of my best work is done in the dark." He replied with a suggestive rise of his eyebrows.

"I don't doubt that." Sarabeth laughed. "Would you like some water to drink?" She offered.

"No, thanks. I only bathe in that." He grinned. "So, what are you reading?"

"Treatment records. I want to know what kind of cases y'all have had and how they were handled. Just to give me some idea of what to expect."

"In meatball surgery, expect the worse. You won't be too far wrong."

"Terrific." Sarabeth shook her head. "I hear you're good with a scalpel. But, how are you with a hammer?"

"Probably all thumbs---smashed ones at that. What do you need?"

************************************************

Oct. 5th: 1130 hours

In the mess tent, a group of nurses were waiting anxiously for their mail. The company clerk was reading off the names. "Baker, Campbell, Hernandez, MacAllister, MacAllister, and another MacAllister, Smith, Tanakhamara...."

"Hey." Liza Campbell protested good-naturedly. "Why are you getting so much mail? You've only been here three days!"

"That's because my folks sent these---addressed for here---while I was still at the Army Nurse's Training Camp in California. They figured I'd be in Korea before these letters arrived."

"You're lucky to be getting them before you leave!" Kellye joked.

"Oh, Lieutenant MacAllister," Corporal Klinger announced, "you also have a desk in your tent. Rizzo and I brought it in---special delivery."

"Thanks, Klinger! I'll go look at it as soon as I finish eating dinner."

"If it doesn't finish you first." The corporal teased.

************************************************

Passing the surgeon's tent, Sarabeth stopped to examine the camp signpost. Hand painted signs indicated the places M*A*S*H personnel called home. At the very top of the post, a board was labeled BOSTON. She studied that sign, smiled to herself and began hobbling to her quarters.

"Lieutenant. Wait a minute, please." Major Winchester called to her through the tent screen. He walked outside to talk to her. "I distinctly remember Captain Hunnicutt telling you to stay off your feet as much as possible. Surely, someone could have brought you some lunch...as unappealing as it may be."

"I slipped away before anyone had the chance, sir." She grinned. "Besides, Doctor Hunnicutt said I had to rest---he did not say I had to remain in complete isolation. I'm heading back to my quarters, right now." MacAllister looked at him. Her green eyes were sparkling with amusement. "I could use a cup of coffee, Major."

"Coincidentally, Lieutenant, so could I. Shall I bring you some?"

"Please."

************************************************

Sarabeth was waiting for him at her tent entrance. "See my sign, Charles?" The woman showed him the board she had painted and nailed to her door.

Winchester read the words: MacAllister Ranch, Korean Headquarters.

"What is this?" He pointed to the drawing beneath the words.

"That's our brand. The Rocking Double A." She traced the pattern with her fingers. "An A' for Austin---that's my daddy. An A' for Ada---that's my mama. Together, they form an M' for MacAllister. And the rocker rail is a 7' for the kids." She chuckled. "It meets with Klinger's approval. He says it looks like a camel's back."

"Are you still being dazzled by dromedaries, Sarabeth?"

"And I'm being befuddled by batrachians." She answered with a smile. "Come on in."

The major set the coffee cups on the table. He surveyed her quarters. "You have definitely made some improvements."

"Hawkeye was over this morning. He was driving nails, hanging shelves, things like that. He also taught me some colorful new phrases. And I thought my brothers knew a lot of cuss words!" MacAllister added with a laugh.

"I take it, he is not much of a carpenter."

"Well," she answered diplomatically, "I appreciated his efforts, anyway. And I did enjoy talking to him."

The man pulled a book from his pocket. "I brought a book of poetry...if you still want me to read to you."

"Sure! I was hoping you would." She replied, happy that he had remembered her request. "May we have some more of those good cookies, as well?"

"Of course."

She placed the tin on the table beside the coffee mugs. Once again, Winchester helped her to a chair before seating himself. Smiling her thanks, MacAllister rested her feet on the crate he provided. "What's your first selection?"

"I found another Masefield poem I thought you might enjoy." He said.

Then read from the treasured volume

The poems of your choice;

And lend to the rhyme of the poet

The beauty of thy voice.' (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

MacAllister quoted in response.

Amazed, Winchester asked, "How many verses can you recall from memory?"

"Lots of them." She replied. "I told you: I like poetry."

************************************************

"You do have beauty in your voice, Charles. I like to listen to you." The woman smiled at him. "How about a small amount of that brandy, now? To ease your throat and to prepare mine. It's my turn to read to you."

"An excellent suggestion, my dear. You have beauty in your voice, as well."

With a delicate reverence, Major Winchester poured some of the amber-colored liquid into her cup. He sighed. "Madetta Brandy---in a coffee mug---how discouraging."

"I could probably scrounge up some clean urine specimen bottles." Sarabeth offered helpfully.

"Given that option, I'd prefer the coffee cups." He responded dryly.


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