free ebooks

An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Ragnor looked like some ecclesiastical prelate


"Both?

Both, Mother?"

"Both!"

"Thank God!" And she would have cried out her thanks and bathed them in joyful tears if she had been alone. But Ian must not see her weeping. Now, especially, he must be met with smiles. And then, when she felt herself in Ian's embrace, they were both weeping. But oh, how great, how blessed, how sacramental are those joys that we baptise with tears!

During the serving of dinner there was no conversation but such as referred to the war and other public events. Many great ones had transpired since they parted, and there was plenty to talk about: the battles of Balaklava and Inkerman had been fought; the never-to-be-forgotten splendour of Scarlett's Charge with the Heavy Brigade, and the still more tragically splendid one of the Light Brigade, had both passed into history.

More splendid and permanent than these had been the trumpet "call" of Russell in the _Times_, asking the women of England who among them were ready to go to Scutari Hospital and comfort and help the men dying for England? "Now," he cried,

"The Son of God goes forth to war! Who follows in His train?"

Florence Nightingale and her band of trained nurses, mainly from the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy, and St. John's Protestant House, was the instant answer. In six days they were ready

and without any flourish of trumpets, at the dark, quiet midnight, they left England for Scutari and in that hour the Red Cross Society was born.

"How long is it since they sailed?" asked Rahal.

"A month," answered Ian, "but the controversy about it is still raging in the English papers."

"What has anyone to say against it?" asked Rahal. "The need was desperate, the answer quick. What, then, do they say?"

"The prudery of the English middle class was shocked at the idea of young women nursing in military hospitals. They considered it 'highly improper.' Others were sure women would be more trouble than help. Many expect their health to fail, and think they will be sent back to English hospitals in a month."

"I thought," said Ragnor, "that the objections were chiefly religious."

"You are right," replied Ian. "The Calvinists are afraid Miss Nightingale's intention is to make the men Catholics in their dying hour. Others feel sure Miss Nightingale is an Universalist, or an Unitarian, or a Wesleyan Methodist. The fact is, Florence Nightingale is a devout Episcopalian."

A pleasant little smile parted Ragnor's lips, and he said with an Episcopalian suavity: "The Wesleyans and the Episcopalians, in doctrine, are much alike. We regard them as brethren;" and just while he spoke, Ragnor looked like some ecclesiastical prelate.

"There is little to wonder at in the churches disagreeing about Miss Nightingale," said Rahal, "it is not to be expected that they would believe in her, when they do not believe in each other." As she spoke she stepped to the fireside and touched the bell rope, and a servant entered and began to clear the table and put more wood on the fire, and to turn out one of the lamps at Rahal's order. Ragnor had gone out to have a quiet smoke in the fresh air while Rahal was sending off all the servants to a dance at the Fisherman's Hall. Ian and Thora were not interested in these things; they sat close together, talking softly of their own affairs.


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us