31 August 1854


31 August 1854, early afternoon   Establishment for Gentlewomen during Illness.

                                                                      Matron’s chambers, Middlesex Hospital.

Previously on 24 August 1854       General Register Office, Somerset House.

(William Farr on zymotic diseases and elevation/John Snow’s early thinking about cholera/Snow’s 1848/49 cholera hypothesis/natural cholera experiments in Exeter and Hull/Snow and Farr as collaborators/the London cholera epidemic of 1853/epidemic cholera returns to London in July 1854)

Previously on 9 August 1854      Snow notes resumption of a cholera mortality pattern.

17 August 1854                                 Snow begins inquiries in Kennington, South London.

24 August 1854, resumed            Farr and Snow discuss implications of initial findings.

31 August 1854, afternoon           Snow updates Farr on their South London study.

                         late afternoon           Female ward, Middlesex Hospital, St. Marylebone.

                                      evening           9 Hopkins Street, St. James, Westminster.

Opening narrative: Thursday 31 August 1854

Establishment for Gentlewomen during Illness, 1 Upper Harley Street, St. Marylebone, London

Reynolds(1859)-UHSt_0001 copyJohn would soon be knocking to say the cab was waiting. She sensed her irritation mounting, but she had no intention of rising to this bait. Eventually the Matron stopped kvetching.

After a few more moments, the Superintendent began speaking calmly to Mrs. Clarke. Everything is sorted. Lady Canning knows which patients will be ready for discharge after their two months in the institution, and she will present their names to the Committee when it meets on Fridays and Mondays. The Quarterly Report is in the Committee’s hands. They have been informed that you wish to return to Yorkshire, so the search for a new Matron will be set in motion when summer holidays are over.

The three nurses have also been informed that they will receive daily instructions from the Matron for the next fortnight, or so. They should be able to manage the patients on their respective floors without assistance. The lift from the kitchen is in working order. Good that the boiler in the attic was repaired, so hot water is again available on each floor. Saves steps for the nurses and the under-housemaids. In case of medical emergencies, send for Mr. Bowman or Dr. Bence Jones. Both are aware of the situation.

There are no additions to the Matron’s duties in my absence. Trips to Covent Garden for vegetables? The cook will see to that. Specific duties of under-housemaids, cook and porter, as well as management of household accounts and petty-cash disbursements, remain under the Matron’s control, as always. The hospital is close by, less than a kilometer from the institute. Send a messenger for me if something unexpected occurs.

John Strachin begged their pardon for the interruption; the hansom had arrived. The Superintendent wasn’t quite ready to depart–have the cabbie take the traveling-bag to Middlesex Hospital and deposit  it with the day porter at the front entrance. She’d walk.

The Superintendent spoke awhile longer with Mrs. Clarke, who eventually resigned herself to the situation when her superior promised to drop by the institute as her new duties permitted. Noise coming from the dining room meant that supper was being readied for the ambulatory patients. It was time to end the conversation so the Matron could supervise final preparations.

When Mrs. Clarke was gone the Superintendent took stock of her room, set a few things to rights, closed the window, selected a white shawl from the coat-tree, and stepped into the ground floor foyer, locking the door behind her. Several strides brought her to the front door, then out of the house onto Upper Harley Street. A warm afternoon. Won’t need this shawl for long. Two quick left turns and she was east-bound on Weymouth Steet.

She didn’t look back.

*  *  *

Mary Jarrow untied the string around the hospital’s blue-grey folder containing papers about the young woman in the b1853-54-Flo-Bostrdg,plate21-detlack dress sitting across from her. . . .

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