Lady With a Lamp
by Marina J. Neary
Lucan in his morning coat is smoking his cigar. Bennett is standing by his side, head bowed, hands clasped to his chest, exuding servility.
BENNETT: Thank you, my lord, for granting me this audience.
LUCAN (looking ahead): Your crude interruption of my morning walk hardly constitutes an audience. Consider yourself lucky. Ordinarily I would have you removed from my path by the scruff of your neck, but today I’ll make an exception.
You see, in half an hour I, too, have an audience, one that promises to be tiresome. Perhaps, if I indulge a creature like you, even for an instant, God will credit me this good deed and shorten the impending ordeal. You chose a good day to ambush me. Speak, young butcher.
BENNETT: My Lord, you are in grave danger.
LUCAN (yawns): What shocking news. Who is after me this time?
BENNETT: Your own brother-in-law, my lord.
LUCAN: Dear old Jimmy? Who would’ve imagined? I thought we were getting along so splendidly. Tell me, young butcher, whence do you derive such wild ideas?
BENNETT: My lord, it’s true! He’s plotting your overthrow as we speak. He had recruited that diabolic doctor, Thomas Grant, who has been on his yacht since yesterday. I do not know what your brother-in-law has promised Grant, but that man has no principles, no honour. He won’t think twice before breaking the Oath for his personal benefit. Take my word for it. I’ve worked under his watch.
Sadly, my colleagues do not seem to grasp the full extent of Grant’s moral depravity. He has fooled everyone, from the chaplain to Miss Nightingale. She is smitten by him! And the soldiers worship him. It’s quite gut-wrenching.
LUCAN (interrupts Bennett, still looking ahead): Have you finished, young butcher?
BENNETT: Almost. In light of the situation, I assume that Thomas Grant will not be returning to the hospital corps. Now that he has a new personal benefactor in the face of Lord Cardigan, he will surely abandon his medical responsibilities.
The unit will need a new physician. I hope it is not overly presumptuous on my behalf to recommend myself for the vacant position. True, I do not have a diploma from Cambridge, but I am familiar with the patients, their wounds, their conditions. They trust me. And I in turn am bound to them by duty and compassion.
LUCAN: In other words, you came to ask for a promotion? Then you should’ve started with that. You should have said: “Lord Lucan, Thomas Grant is in my way. Please remove him from his post, so I can to slice and dice my patients freely.” That would’ve saved us both a few minutes.
BENNETT: My lord, you are mistaken in regards to my motives. I swear on my life that my primary concern is for your well-being — and that of England.
LUCAN (turns to Bennett abruptly): Am I expected to believe such declarations? You pitiable gossip boy! If anyone deserves to be removed from his post, it is you! First you interrupt my morning walk, which alone merits court-martial. Then you insult me by suggesting that I have something to fear from my imbecile brother-in-law and that hairy abortionist from Southwark. You truly fathom yourself so significant to imply that I cannot solve a family trifle without your assistance? Back to your victims, butcher!
BENNETT: My lord, you will regret not heeding me.
LUCAN: Out of my sight!
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 by Marina J. Neary