An Irish Country Christmas

An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

Book: An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor Read Free Book Online
Authors: Patrick Taylor
voice from upstairs call, “What in the hell’s going on down there, Kinky?”
    Before she could answer, Barry saw Doctor Fitzpatrick tilt his head back and look up to the landing. He took one step and said, “My good woman, step aside.” He was beginning to raise his voice.
    Barry’s fists unclenched. He started to grin. He had to admire Doctor Fitzpatrick’s persistence, but the man clearly had not got the measure of Kinky Kincaid. This was shaping up as the classic irresistible force meets the immovable object—and Barry knew
exactly
where he’d put his money. He saw Kinky’s eyes narrow to the merest of slits.
    “Your good woman, is it? I am not one of your chattels,
sir
. My virtue, with all due respect, is none of your business,
sir
, and I will not step aside, so. Himself is ill. Himself needs his rest. Himself will not be disturbed by the likes of you,
sir
.”
    “I don’t think you know who I am.” The man’s Adam’s apple bobbed furiously. His voice grew louder.
    Kinky chuckled but didn’t budge an inch. “Don’t know, is it? Don’t know who you are, is it,
sir
?”
    “That’s right, my good woman. I am
Doctor
Fitzpatrick.
Doctor
, d’ye hear? I’ll not be spoken to like that by a mere servant. Let me by.” He was shouting.
    “Aye, so. I hear well enough.” Kinky’s voice remained calm, measured. “
Mere
, is it?
Your good woman
, is it?
Doctor
, is it? And here I thought you doctors were all meant to have very good memories.”
    “What on earth are you going on about?”
    “Aye so. Sure it’s only one wag of a wagtail’s tail since I told you I am
not
your woman, good or otherwise. And I told you Doctor O’Reilly’s not to be disturbed. Maybe you’ve forgotten that too, so I’ll not step aside.” She took such a deep breath that, as her bosom swelled, her crossed arms rose like a lift ascending from the depths of a coal mine. “Ah, sure,” she said, “it’ll be the poor memory you have indeed, so.” She moved forward, grabbed him by the elbow, and steered him back along the hall. She stopped at the clothes stand, handed Doctor Fitzpatrick his hat and gloves, and helped him into his raincoat. She looked at Barry and jerked her head to the door, which Barry instantly opened. A cold blast swept into the hall, its force only slightly blocked by Doctor Fitzpatrick’s body as Kinky pushed him out onto the step. “And it’ll be the same poor memory that led you to ask me if I know who you are. Sure only a fellow with a
very
poor memory could forget who he is. I’d wonder if you are really a doctor at all?”
    And with that she shut the door and turned to Barry. Kinky took a very deep breath, expelling it in a long sighing exhalation. Rather than show pleasure in her victory, however, it seemed to Barry that she actually deflated. She shook her head. “I hope himself upstairs won’t be cross with me.”
    “Why on earth should he be, Kinky?”
    “I wasn’t altogether polite to that gentleman, and he
is
a doctor, so. If he goes away cross, he might try to take it out on Doctor O’Reilly.”
    Barry heard real concern in her voice and hastened to reassure her. “I think, Kinky, that Doctor O’Reilly, once he’s better, will be able to look after himself, and because he can’t right now, and you did, he’ll be proud of you. I certainly am.”
    “Honest to God, sir?” She managed a small smile.
    Barry nodded.
    “Well, I don’t normally rear up on my hind legs, but that new doctor wanted to go up there”—she tossed her head upward—“and disturb himself.”
    “And we couldn’t be having that, could we?”
    “No, sir.” She hesitated, then asked, “And you don’t think Doctor Fitzpatrick could harm our practice, do you?”
    Barry heard the possessive “our” and understood how protective Kinky felt. If things ever came to a fight, he’d not want to be trapped facing Mrs Kinky Kincaid on the one flank and Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly on the other. He

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