Book Title: More Precious Than Gold
Series: The Hearts of Gold Trilogy, Book 2
Author: Renee Yancy
Publication Date: 28th June 2022
Page Length: 345 Pages
A young woman refuses to become a pawn in her grandmother’s revenge scheme and forgoes a life of wealth and royalty to pursue a nursing career as America enters WWI and the Pandemic Flu of 1918 wreaks havoc in New York City.
Kitty stood and surveyed the medical floor she was in charge of—thirty-six beds full of patients. She had two students with her to care for all of them, girls in their first semester: Miss Floyd, a tiny scrap of a girl, and Miss Blake, a plain-faced country girl.
Only one patient was troublesome tonight. Mathias Eisenmenger, a feisty eighty-year-old German lawyer, had fallen in court while trying a case and fractured his leg in two places. Mr. Eisenmenger had spent the last four weeks on the ward encased in a cast from hip to ankle on his right leg. Once he’d begun to feel better, the nurses couldn’t keep him in bed, especially since he’d learned how to get around in a wheelchair, even though the cast had to weigh as much as a small elephant.
The night nurse had told her one of the orderlies had found Mr. Eisenmenger in the stairwell at four a.m., attempting to go down the stairs in his chair, and had barely rescued him in the nick of time. Kitty was determined that no such incident would happen on her shift, and she had Mr. Eisenmenger’s bed moved next to the nurse’s desk, where she used a cloth restraint to tie him in his chair and then fastened his chair with a belt tied to the desk leg. That worked moderately well until midmorning when there was a terrific clatter and a screeching noise. Kitty looked up to see Mr. Eisenmenger dragging the desk behind him as he fought his way to the ward door. It took all three nurses to pry his fingers off the doorframe and drag him back into the ward.
“Mr. Eisenmenger.” Kitty wheeled his chair close to the nurse’s desk, pulled a chair over, and sat down next to the patient. “Where is it you want to go?”
“ZuHause. Home.” He drummed his fingers on the arms of his chair and glared at her from under bushy gray eyebrows. “Out. Of. Here.” With each word, he poked his forefinger sternly at her.
“Well,” Kitty said, keeping her tone matter-of-fact, “you’re progressing very well. Just two more weeks and the cast will come off and you will be out of here. But meanwhile, if you fall down the stairs and break more bones, you could be here for months. You don’t want that, do you?”
“Nein.” Mr. Eisenmenger smiled at her, his blue eyes sparkling.
“So then.” Kitty made her voice stern. “Can we agree there will be no more escape attempts?”
Mr. Eisenmenger pursed his lips as if he was considering it. Then he shook his head. “Nein.”
Kitty sighed. Keeping one hand on his wheelchair, she reached for the telephone and put in a call to maintenance. A few minutes later, Otis, a barrel-chested man who serviced Bellevue’s furnaces, came to the floor with the item she had requested.
“Here be what you wanted, Miss.” He held up a padlock and a length of steel chain in his work-hardened hands. “What’s it for?”
“I’ll show you.” Although Mr. Eisenmenger put on the brakes with his feet, she managed to force his wheelchair over to the heavy-duty enameled-iron sink at the front of the ward. The sink was big enough to bathe an adult in, if needed, and weighed a ton. “Please chain the wheelchair to the pipe, Otis.”
Otis’ eyes widened. “Yes, miss.”
It took no more than a minute or two. Kitty and Otis stood back and watched as Mr. Eisenmenger pulled against the chain. When his wheelchair didn’t budge, he started yelling furiously at them.
Otis scratched his head. “What’s he saying, miss?”
“I presume he’s speaking German. And I don’t think he’s complimenting us on our plan, that’s for sure.”
“That orter keep him in place, I guess.” Otis chuckled. “He sure is mad. Anything else you need, miss?”
“Thank you, no.”
Otis left the ward, and Kitty returned to dispensing medication, glancing up to check on Mr. Eisenmenger every few minutes. He continued to try experimental tugs on the chain, but after an hour he seemed to have resigned himself to staying in one place. One of the student nurses had given him a newspaper, and he seemed to be reading it.
Samuel came onto the ward mid-morning and, at the sight of him, Kitty’s pulse shot into the stratosphere. All her plans to remain cool and aloof when she encountered him for the first time since she had returned to Bellevue flew straight out the tall windows lining the ward. She ignored him as he walked over to the desk and examined Mr. Eisenmenger’s attachment to the sink.
“Rather unorthodox way to restrain a patient.”
His friendly voice overcame her better judgment and she turned to face him. His smile and the warmth in his blue eyes almost undid her. Did he think he could act as if nothing had happened between them?
“If you have a better idea, please tell me, Dr. Hayden.” Her voice came out sharper than she intended.
But she didn’t need any criticism this morning, especially from him. “That patient is determined to get to the stairwell, and that’s the only thing I could think of.”
Dr. Hayden raised his hands in an amiable show of surrender. “It’s unusual is all. Rather like you.”
Because she wanted to go to medical school? Blood rushed to her face as she turned back to the doctor’s orders on her desk. “Apparently, I am. Much too unusual for you, Doctor.”
She saw him stiffen from the corner of her eye, then turn and walk away. His retreating figure left an ache in her heart. She didn’t want to be mean, but she didn’t want to encourage him either, especially since he had such a rigid idea of what a “proper” marriage should be.
She pushed him out of her head as best she could and went back to work. She was at the end of the ward changing a dressing when there came a violent clanking of chains. A moment later, a tremendous crash reverberated through the room. Screams and a whooshing sound followed. Kitty ran up the aisle and yelped as water streamed over her shoes. Like a madman, Mr. Eisenmenger furiously rolled his chair toward the ward door, dragging the screeching sink behind him and carving a deep furrow in the wooden floor. Water gushed from the broken pipe like a fountain, showering the closest patients, who were yelling and screaming.
At just that moment, Dr. Winkler arrived on the scene. “We have to find the water shutoff,” he yelled.
Pandemonium broke loose. Other staff rushed in from outside. Kitty picked up the phone and dialed the operator.
“We have a water pipe break emergency on Ward C. Send help.”
Then she ran to Mr. Eisenmenger, wheeled him to the far end of the ward, and assigned Miss Blake to stay with him. A moment later, maintenance men and hospital workers rushed into the ward. She had the men move the patients away from the water as the plumbers wrestled with the pipe. At the end of the shift, she surveyed her water-soaked domain. The patients had been removed to other wards. The plumbers had finally managed to cap the pipe. Most of the water had been mopped up. Mr. Eisenmenger had been placed in a private room with a one-to-one orderly, hired at the hospital’s expense. Now people from administration had arrived to assess the damage.
At this inopportune moment, Samuel entered the ward and walked over to where she sat, wet and frazzled, at the nurse’s desk, writing up her report.
He leaned against the side of the desk “I’m sorry to see your plan didn’t work. For what it’s worth, I thought it was a good one.”
She didn’t answer. She didn’t need his sympathy or the way her heart jumped every time she caught sight of him.
“If you think it would help, I could speak to the administrators on your behalf.”
Kitty stood. “I can defend myself quite well if need be. I’m independent, remember? I don’t need your help.”
They stared at each other, and then Dr. Hayden stepped back. “Very well, Miss Winthrop,” he said, his voice resigned. He turned and left her for the second time that day.
Kitty groaned. No one was happy with her tonight. Not Samuel, nor the patients, the plumbers, Administration, and certainly not Mr. Eisenmenger.
Renee Yancy is a history and archaeology nut who works as an RN when she isn’t writing historical fiction or traveling the world to see the exotic places her characters have lived.
A voracious reader as a young girl, she now writes the kind of books she loves to read—stories filled with historical and archaeological detail interwoven with strong characters facing big conflicts. Her goal is to take you on a journey into the past so fascinating that you can’t put the story down.
When she isn’t writing, Renee can be found in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband and a rescue mutt named Ellie. She loves flea markets and collecting pottery and glass and most anything mid-century modern.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Renee-Yancy/e/B00726MJDQ