Authors note: This is the first story about Charles I've even done, although I enjoy the character immensely. Any big Charles fans out there, I hope I'm not infringing on your territory or anything, and I'm sorry if I get any information wrong. That said, this takes place in the later years, e.g.. after Radar left, and involves mainly Charles and Maggie, my other protagonist. This takes place around November/December of 1952, about six months before the end of the war. I quote a lot of different people in this book, mainly my man, Shakespeare. So, many thanks to all of the people whose lines I have pirated for the purpose of setting the scene and the characters in this story.
A friendly reminder, the lines I have written belong to me, and I am not a happy camper when I discover that someone has helped themselves to said lines without crediting the source. That said, enjoy!
"Would the senior medical staff and Father Mulcahy please report to the CO's office?" The loud speaker interrupted the still of the bitterly cold night.
Margaret sat ramrod straight in the chair facing Potter's desk. Silly choice, she was seated in front of Hawkeye, who nudged her in the behind throughout the meeting. Hawkeye and BJ occupied the chairs in the back of the room, and Mulcahy and Charles remained standing next to the doors. The Father had to be to the orphanage, and Charles just plain wanted to leave. He had an unread letter from Honoria on his bunk, and was anxious to learn more about her new beau.
"Okay gang, I'll try to keep this short. Can it, Pierce," Potter ordered when Hawkeye applauded this bit of information. "As you know, we've needed a new nurse since Harris was discharged. Well, I-Corps finally heeded my request, although not exactly in the way I had hoped, and we have a new person coming. Houlihan, she can have Harris's old bunk. Pierce, Hunnicutt, Winchester, you all go easy on her, she's never been in a field unit before." He had skirted around the truth, but Margaret was too sharp for him.
"What did you mean, 'not in the way you expected,' Colonel?" She narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
He looked at the floor. He remembered the reaction received the last time they had been in a similar situation. "Well, we got a new woman, all right, but she's not exactly a nurse."
"What are you saying, Colonel? We have a new...what? What is she?" That was Hawkeye, finally taking a break from his tormenting of Margaret.
"Well, she's a...doctor. A surgeon from Ireland. The UN sent her." There. The secret was out.
The reaction was swift and explosive.
"A female surgeon? Is she here permanently?" That was Margaret.
"A woman? From Ireland? How extraordinary. Well, we can show her the ropes." Charles was his usual arrogant self.
"A female surgeon, huh? That's great!" BJ thought that the skilled hands would be useful no matter what they were attached to.
Only Hawkeye remained silent. He, too, remembered how he had behaved to Inga, and was ashamed. Well, he'd redeem himself this time. Anyway, he wasn't interested in another woman. He thought Margaret was looking more and more appealing every day. As she was actually warming up to him. It was remarkable. "Curiouser and curiouser," he thought, remembering Lewis Carroll's words.
"Pierce, you go easy on her, and that's an order. Winchester, you don't treat her like she's stupid because she's a woman, and if she shows you up in OR, you're to smile and act like you like it. Houlihan, you take it easy. Don't eat her for breakfast. And don't bother taking exception to my order, Winchester, because I saw how you acted to Inga, and there'll be none of that this time around. She's supposed to be among the best in Ireland, and I don't want you jokers to scare her off. Understood?"
They all nodded and shuffled out, murmuring amongst themselves.
"Hey look, she's here." Captain Fitzpatrick's jeep had just pulled into the compound, and a young woman got out. "I wonder who that is," Hawkeye said, peering at her through the mosquito netting of the Swamp. "She looks too young to be a surgeon, doesn't she to you, Beej? And if that lady's Irish, she must be Black Irish. Look at the hair."
BJ was already heading out the door to welcome the new doctor. "I dunno, Hawk. Lets go find out."
The two made their way across the compound to greet her.
"Captain Fitzpatrick?" BJ asked.
She turned, and held out her hand. "Maggie. And you'd be...?"
"I'm Captain Hunnicutt. BJ." She shook his hand and turned to Hawkeye.
He smiled at her. "Captain Pierce. Hawkeye." He shook her outstretched hand. "It sure is good to get another doctor in this camp. We're pretty busy now. Post-Op is full, and there's more choppers expected soon. Welcome."
She looked at them askance. "It's grateful I am for the welcome. But aren't you going to be ostracizing me for being a woman in a man's profession?" She seemed genuinely confused by their hospitality.
"We made that mistake before, at least I did. The last woman we had turned out to be great, not that I gave her a chance. So, I'm trying to get over what our head nurse described as 'terminal stupidity and closed-mindedness.' Unquote." He looked at her again. It was a shame he had vowed to act respectful to this woman. She was strikingly beautiful. She had long black hair and vivid blue eyes. At about five feet seven, she was tall for a woman, and slender. But, he had promised Margaret that he'd treat her like a professional, and besides, she wasn't any prettier than Margaret was, though in a different way.
"I don't know about the whole thing with the other woman doctor, I'm just grateful for another skilled pair of hands, male, female, or indifferent. But, you haven't met our ranking surgeon, other than Col. Potter. Major Winchester isn't fond of change, nor is he appreciative of any doctor better than he is. He's in Post-Op now, if you want to meet him before the casualties arrive. I'd suggest lunch first--you'll need your strength." BJ smiled as he set her bag on the ground.
"I thank you both, but I think I'll be trying to catch a nap if I have time." She turned to Klinger, who had picked up her bag. "If you could show me to my tent, Corporal?"
"Of course, Ma'am. This way." He carried her stuff into the nurses tent, with her following behind him.
"She seems nice, Beej. What do you think?" Hawk looked at his fellow Swampmate.
"Charles'll hate her," BJ predicted. "She seems smart, which will just kill him."
Hawkeye rubbed his hands together gleefully. "I know! I can't wait to see her put him in his place!"