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In Pursuit of Gainful Employ


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Mature Content: No

With: Jonah Danforth & Aoife Leane
Location: Kalispell Doctor's Office
When: Mid-May 1876
Time of Day: 11am

 

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It had been the first thing on Aoife's mind this morning; to visit the doctor. With board and lodging secured at the host of the Wigfalls, she had little to want by way of creature comforts, and so would need to establish an income. Certainly, she would find her finances running low if she could not find employ soon. By all accounts too, there was plenty to be had - rumor of a hospital had not eluded her - and likely plenty of nursing work along with it. As such, it was with confidence that she walked Kalispell's streets, seeking the brownstone house Jemima had described, willing and ready.

It was early enough that traffic on Kalispell's roads was beginning to pick up, and Aoife made a point of picking out faces. A rider here, pedestrian there, storeowner, streetcleaner, drunkard, all serving to paint a picture of the town. A nice place, for a frontier settlement, though she could hardly say she'd been able to judge it's inner denizens thus far. It was a strange feeling, being somewhere completely new, with no sense of the familiar to cling on to, but not altogether unpleasant.

 

She was dressed neatly, and carried herself comfortably (a fresh bath after months on the road had done wonders), with her hair hanging loose at her shoulders, ribbon tie at her throat, black skirt and white blouse. She knew nothing about Doctor Danforth thus far, though no doubt he would appreciate cleanliness and presentability. Most physicians did.

 

Turning down off a side street, Aoife approached the two-story house, regarding it quizzically. It was certainly unorthodox for a physician's office, but perhaps it's size lent a degree of utility. After all, if a Kalispell hospital was indeed in the works, there would have to be enough patients to justify such a project. Without further hesitation, she stepped up to the door, raising a hand to quickly rap upon it's frame, and subsequently stepped back down, waiting with apprehension. Her hands were held together idly at her middle, and she glanced around absently, hoping that the doctor was in.

@Bongo

 

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Whoever was knocking on his door, Jonah thought, was deserving of a huge kiss!

 

"Ah, forgive me, Mrs. Ermintrout, I'm afraid our time is up!"  Good god, but that old woman could yammer on and complain about anything and everything, from her hangnails to her grey hair, and while Jonah could give her powders for her aches and pains, there was no elixir that could cure the headache the woman gave him!  But she paid cash, and she paid well, so he tolerated her complaints with a smile.

 

Still, she was going on today with a passion, each explanation he gave leading to a  new complaint, and he was about at the end of his patience.

 

Then the knock, and an excuse to escort the nice woman out and on her way.  She was obviously disappointed -- her visits to the doctor were one of her pleasures since her husband of fifty-plus years had recently passed -- but she said she understood, paid her fee, then leaned heavily on Jonah's arm as he headed for the door, not so much that she needed assistance as an effort to be close to him.

 

"Remember, Mrs. Ermintrout," he patted he hand then opened the door, urging her onto the porch and past the newcomer, "take those powders twice a day."

 

After the woman had tottered down the steps, he turned his attention to the young woman at the door.  He didn't recognize her, but there was nothing unusual in that.  "Good morning, can I help you?"

 

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The door swung wide, and rather than the emaciated, grey-haired old man Aoife had been expecting, there stood a well-presented, polite-looking middle-aged fellow. Granted, there was an emaciated, grey-haired old woman at his arm, but judging by the way she carried herself and clung to the gentleman, she was probably a patient.

"Remember, Mrs. Ermintrout," said the man, almost as to confirm Aoife's assumption. "Take those powders twice a day."

She offered the old woman a friendly smile as she passed, though the majority of her attention was fixated upon the doctor. He was cordial and present, a far cry from the fossil she had worked under in Milford, and quite possibly had no need for an assistant or nurse. Ah well, couldn't be helped now.

"Good morning, can I help you?" he asked.

"Doctor Danforth?" she responded. "My name is Aoife Ciara Leane, and I was rather hoping I could help you. Might I come inside?"

@Bongo

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"Oh, yes, of course, Miss Leane, where are my manners?"  He was so accustomed to his callers being patients that to have a caller that was just a caller was unusual. 

 

Standing back, he opened the door wider.  "Come in, please.  Can I get you some coffee...tea?"  Grinning, he chuckled.  "I have fresh Sally Lunn buns, too, Dorcas Coyne broke her arm last night, and her mother paid me in the cakes." 

 

Sometimes the barter was a good trade, and most of what he was given as payment could be traded elsewhere, like the eggs that he used for meals at the Lickskillet.

 

"Oh, and yes, I'm Jonah Danforth, at your service!"

 

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"Oh, yes, of course, Miss Leane, where are my manners? Come in, please.  Can I get you some coffee...tea? I have fresh Sally Lunn buns, too, Dorcas Coyne broke her arm last night, and her mother paid me in the cakes. Oh, and yes, I'm Jonah Danforth, at your service!"

"Well... tea, I suppose, though only if it's ready." she replied, ducking into the building. "I wouldn't want to cause any trouble, Doctor."

She ventured into the house, regarding the interior with an expression of interest. She'd never been in a house-converted doctor's practice before, though of course, most people probably hadn't. It sounded as though he was doing fairly well for himself too - likely this arrangement was one of some practicality that she was not as of yet privy to.

"This is a nice place." she said aloud, eyes flicking back to the doctor. "I've heard rumors of a forthcoming Kalispell hospital project, would that be an extension of this, or...?"

@Bongo

 

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"There will be room for my offices at the hospital," Jonah explained as he started for the kitchen at the back of the building.  The front parlor had been converted to an office/waiting area, and the other rooms that would have served as library and such had been appropriated as exam rooms.

 

"For now, my quarters are upstairs, along with a couple of rooms for patients that need to stay," he added, "and in all honesty, I'll be happy to have my home as just that!"

 

He chuckled, although if his income didn't improve with the hospital, he'd never be able to afford to stay here, even with Miss Harriet renting space.

 

"And the kitchen..." he waved her in to the large space that held a table for dining, as well as the kitchen itself, "although the most cooking I do here myself is to heat water for coffee and tea!"

 

He motioned the young woman to the table, then went to the stove, where he poured coffee for himself, then hot water into a mug with tea leaves for his guest.  These he set on the table, along with the small cakes he'd offered earlier.

 

"I must say, it's a treat to have a visitor who isn't here with a medical complaint.  What can I help you with, Miss Leane?"

 

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Aoife followed the doctor through the house, mostly keeping to herself, ensuring she didn't touch or set anything out of place. Fortunately for her agenda, the practice seemed large, and likely would have required a mammoth effort to maintain, at least for one man. Each exam room would pose a unique challenge, for the adaptation of domestic architecture to the more utilitarian nature of medicine would undoubtedly not be an easy one. Shelves, lampshades, unsealed floorboards, all requiring a great deal of care so as to ensure that no pesky accumulations would pose a threat to patient care. If there was one thing that medical minds of the past few decades had proved - it would be that germ theory would be the future of medicine, a future that Aoife intended to be a part of.

 

The kitchen, fortunately, seemed to be just that; a kitchen, and Aoife followed Doctor Danforth's motion, lowering herself into a seat at the end of the table while he busied himself with a pair of cups.

 

"I must say, it's a treat to have a visitor who isn't here with a medical complaint.  What can I help you with, Miss Leane?"

 

Asked the doctor, as he brought the steaming mugs to the table. Aoife graciously accepted her drink with a 'Thank you', pulling it in towards herself and warming her hands upon it's surface.

 

"Well." she began. "In all honestly, I am here to offer my help, should you require it. The thing is, see doctor, I've worked a few years in your field, that is; the field of medicine, nursing, of course, and would consider it a great opportunity to continue that work."

She paused, glancing down at her drink and giving it a tentative sip. It was a good temperature, not too hot at all, and the leaves were strong on her throat.

"I have a letter, here." she continued, pulling a small slip of paper from the hem of her skirt (curse how few pockets women's clothes had), and offering it to him across the table. "It's from the physician, in Milford, where I used to help. So y'know, you can check I'm not lying about all this."

@Bongo

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"Oh, I see no need to question your veracity."  Jonah took the paper anyway, giving it a cursory glance, then looking at the young woman.  "I certainly could use help, I have a woman who cleans and does some cooking, but she isn't happy tending to patients, particularly the males."

 

Indeed, the poor woman was embarrassed at having to deal with anything that wasn't hidden under the material of clothing, preferably long sleeves and high collar.

 

"The hours might be unpredictable," he continued, "if I need someone over night for a patient."  He hadn't really put much thought into what he might be looking for in a nurse, besides someone who wasn't going to cringe or swoon at the sight (and odor) of body fluids!

 

"What sort of compensation were you looking for?"  That was another thing that he had no clue about.  "I'll warn you, I'm often paid in eggs, chickens, milk, baked goods...Mrs. Coyne offered Dorcas and her twin, Melvina, but I was compelled to turn that down!"  He laughed.  "And puppies and kittens, too, this would be a zoo if the good people of Kalispell had their way!"

 

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"I certainly could use help, I have a woman who cleans and does some cooking, but she isn't happy tending to patients, particularly the males."

"Well I can certainly manage that, yes." Aofie said, with just a hint of enthusiasm breaking through her tone. Tending to patients aligned far better with her interests than cooking and cleaning ever had, and all the better if there was a maid to take care of that unpleasantness for the most part.

 

"The hours might be unpredictable, if I need someone over night for a patient."

"That I can manage, too." she chimed. Ironically, most of her work in Milford had been at night - street fights and brawls tending to take place more frequently after dark, and as for her own endurance... well, she was inured enough against the soporific by way of experience.

 

"What sort of compensation were you looking for? I'll warn you, I'm often paid in eggs, chickens, milk, baked goods... Mrs. Coyne offered Dorcas and her twin, Melvina, but I was compelled to turn that down! And puppies and kittens, too, this would be a zoo if the good people of Kalispell had their way!"

At this, Aoife's enthusiasm wavered a bit. If she was to stay in the boarding house for any length of time she would indeed need money, even if she would not want for any foodstuffs.

"Well, I suppose it'll have to do." she decided after a moment's silence. Perhaps she could negotiate a reduced rate with Mrs. Wigfall, in exchange for some of the more material payments.

@Bongo

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"I'll certainly do my best to give you actual pay," Jonah assured her, "but it's always a mystery what is going to be offered."  He frowned.  "I do have to wonder at how that will work when there is a proper hospital, with a board of directors and all."

 

He rolled his eyes, he hated dealing with politics, and that was going to be the worst aspect of having a proper hospital.  "While it's not ideal, I know that people give what they can, and I know that Miss Steelegrave won't turn anyone away because of how they choose to pay."  It really wasn't good business practice, of course, but that was part of working in a rural area like this.

 

"Perhaps we'll have to have our own farmer's market every couple of weeks, to convert jams to cash!"

 

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