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Chapter 19

New Life

"I can't take it any more! I need an anaesthetic!"

     "Stay calm Bess," Nancy remonstrated her panicky chum. "It is George who is in real labor. Yours are only sympathetic pains."

     Although tense with a contraction, and feeling in need of relief herself, George found that her cousin's psychic distress took the edge off of her own considerable pain.

     "Shall I remove the distraction?" offered Nancy officiously.

     "Leave Bess with me," pleaded George. "I can concentrate fine without coaching, and at least she is in synch with me. When she screams I feel that I don't need to."

     "I could give Bess a sedative," offered Ned.

     "No," said George firmly. "I want her to be fully awake during the birth of our babies."

     Ned left Nancy to supervise her laboring chums and went out to check up on his other patient. She was lying on a gurney in the hallway.

     "Are you sure that I cannot find you a room where you can be quiet and alone?" he asked her. "It is going get even noisier and more hectic around here soon."

     "You warned me about that before," Natalie said with a smile.

     "I guess I did," admitted Ned.

     "Please let me stay right here," she requested. "I have been kept in such quiet surroundings until today, that I felt I was being suffocated."

     "Which wasn't far from the truth."


     "Why did the gang suddenly put you away like that?" Ned asked.

     "I had just discovered what some of my so-called disciples were doing. I had walked in suddenly on what I thought was a healing session and discovered it was being used for the sale and distribution of illicit drugs."

     "But why did they drug you like that and spend all that effort keeping you alive in an almost comatose state? Why did they not kill you right away?"

     "The center had to be in my nominal control or else a large portion of our funding would have been lost. And it was only my name and reputation that allowed us to maintain our medical standing. I was an essential part of their cover."

     "And when they found the cover was blown," Ned added, "you were then expendable-a liability even. And they sent two assassins to keep you from talking."

     "And thanks to you and Nancy, I am alive and able to testify against the gang that destroyed my clinic."

     "You can start it up again, once you are recovered."

     "I no longer want to work in that way," Natalie assured him. "I plan to start again as an ordinary neurosurgeon. And I am thinking of doing some of that research I talked of earlier to make something of pixie dust. That, I think, will go a long way towards making this horrible episode in my life meaningful."

     Ned gently squeezed his sick colleague by the hand. At that moment both physicians noticed a change in the quality and pattern of the noises emanating from Bess and George's room.

     "It sounds like you are needed in there right away," Natalie prompted.

     Nancy stuck her head out into the corridor. "Baby time, Dr. Nickerson."

     It was not long before Natalie heard the sound of two shrill voices crying aloud. And neither one belonged to Bess. The birth of these children represented much to the rescued neurosugeon. They were new life. It was the world making itself all over again. These new lives issued from and depended upon the old ones, but, at the same time, were a completely fresh start. For while humanity built its knowledge by accummulation, at the same time it stored up frustration, bewilderment, false starts, mistakes, and sin. It was by a periodic beginning all over again that real progress is made. We die in sleep at the end of each day, she meditated, to clear away the cobwebs of ill. When we are reborn into tomorrow much that was wrong has been brushed away, but most that we need to keep is retained. In the same way we may bequeath to our children the best, she meditated. And, if we are good parents, we take the ill with us and bury it next to our graves. And our religious faith, whether it be Christian or Buddhist or ancient Egyptian, gives us the plan of personal reorganization: of starting anew when we find ourselves blocked into a blind alley. Let the nightmare of Lady Asta and Spring Rock be ended, she told herself. I can start again. I may have years before me to fill; let me fill them with a productive and fulfilling life. A life lived not out of agony or compensation for horrific, but now distant past events. But life lived in the now, on its own terms. And life lived for the people I love who are still alive. My brothers who are gone and my parents who have departed me in mind have passed to me this world as my inheritance. This time here at Spring Rock has been as a sleep for me. I will awaken into a new day.

     "Dr. Mellencamp, I presume?"

     Her visitor was a distinguished older gentleman, dressed in an aggressive gray pinstripe suit, but whose courtly and compassionate manner belied his professional apparel.

     "You must be Mr. Drew."

     "Carson Drew," he stammered. "It is so good to meet you at long last. I hope to see you feeling better."

     "I am starting to feel much improved already."

     "I would like to have a conversation with you soon about these events that have recently transpired. I hope this will not prove too distasteful to you."

     "No, Mr. Drew, I quite understand the necessity of talking about what has happened. I will not be able to put these things behind me until I have confronted them honestly. As soon as my body feels stronger I will be entirely at your service."

     "Thank you," he said with genuine appreciation. "Now, as a doctor, can advise me whether it would be proper for me to interject myself into the tender scene that is transpiring beyond this door?"

     Natalie gave Carson Drew a broad smile. "Go ahead, Mr. Drew. They are waiting for you."

     Inside the Health Center dormitory room Carson found a scene worthy of comparison to that depicted in a Yuletide crèche. George was lying in her bed, head propped on two pillows, holding one of her infants to her breast. Her face glowed as if she had just delivered, to massive applause, a major dramatic speech of her own composition. Bess sat on a chair next to George, looking exhausted and feeling more elated than if she had been awarded another Nobel Prize. On the wall behind George's head crawled a tiny spider, a representative of the rest of the animal kingdom. Hannah Gruen sat quietly on the edge of Bess's bed, her AK-47 demurely semi-covered by Bess's sweater. At the foot of the bed stood Ned, cradling the second baby in his arms, while Nancy, her arm entwined around her fiancé, looked upon the tiny child adoringly and marveled at the minute fingers which seemed to be capable of grasping and squeezing one of her own, rather larger digits.

     "Ned, can we get one of these of our own?" Nancy was asking, as her father walked in. When she heard him enter she looked up and blushed.

     "In the fullness of time," Carson answered for Ned. Ned said nothing, as he wanted to appear to agree with both of the Drews.

     Carson turned to George. "Congratulations, Georgiana, on the safe delivery of your two children. Have you named them yet?"

     "Bobbi and Bobbie Watson," Nancy teased.

     "No more Watsons and definitely no more Bobbies," George said firmly. "My babies will take their adoptive father's surname: Marvin. And, for Christian names, they will be named after two of the fiercest and most courageous people I know: Nancy Drew and Hannah Gruen. I am suckling little Nancy Fayne Marvin, though I misdoubt that she is getting much nourishment yet. And Ned and Nancy are holding Hannah Drew Marvin."

     "Georgiana, it seems highly irregular to call Bess a father," protested Mr. Drew.

     "It is highly irregular,' conceded George. "But I have always been highly irregular. Bess, in spite of her stately world reputation, is a fountain of chaos set loose upon the world. This whole situation is highly irregular."

     "But what if either you or Bess later decide to get married?"

     "To each other, or to others?"

     "I meant to others, of course," Nancy's father sputtered.

     "We will cross those roads when we come to them," said George. "Bess and I have a special relationship that ties us together inextricably, no matter what other friendships we add to our consortium. We are not married to each other, we don't need to be. We are not lovers, because-well we are nearly sisters and such a love would be both inappropriate and superfluous. We are Bess and George. Inseparable cousins and friends. That is a bond stronger than all others combined."

     "But how is this unique relationship-together with joint responsibility for these children-to be worked our legally?" asked the perplexed lawyer.

     "I leave that as an exercise for you and Nancy to work out."

     "Don't worry Daddy," said Nancy. "I'll help you hit the law books tomorrow. Come look at little Hannah. Isn't she so cute?"

     Nancy's father moved to just behind his daughter and looked at the infant discretely from over her shoulder.

     "She is a delicate looking object," Carson admitted. "She resembles a fried tomato with hair."

     "Daddy!" snorted Nancy. "She's beautiful!"

     "Almost as beautiful as you were when you were born, my darling."

     "Were you there when I was born?" asked Nancy. She had never probed this question before.

     "Every minute."

     Nancy sensed that this was an opportune moment to get a concession from her father.

     "Daddy, this case has worked out rather well didn't it?"

     "We were fortunate, my child. I still think that you behaved unwisely. You are still in the doghouse."

     These words were uttered so gently that Nancy could hardly believe that her father was not really mad at her.

     "But I am partly to blame," Carson continued. "I sent you all into danger, and that was a bad example to you, Nancy. I can hardly expect you to behave more wisely than I do myself. And it was a mistake to punish you by demoting you to a maid. Your new punishment is to go back to being a junior partner lawyer. That way I can supervise you better."

     "Thank you Daddy," Nancy gushed. "And I have learned my lesson, I believe. I certainly won't have myself hypnotized again. My other self had such tacky clothing. It was horrible!"

     "Speaking of horrible," interjected Bess. "I would like to put a stop to everyone calling poor George, Georgiana. She is too shy to mention it herself, but I feel that I must. She has undertaken a new role and new responsibilities since she has become a mother, but she is not thereby a different person. She is the same old George as she always was."

     "So, since we are all together, class," said George, following up on Bess's speech, "tell me what is my true name?"

     In one unison voice, they all recited-even Bess-a single word: "Mom!"