Fun Friday: The Doctor and the Scotsman (A Ransome Spin-Off #StoryIdea)
Because I’m trying to re-teach myself that writing can be fun, this year, I’m focusing on coming up with new ideas for stories. Does this mean they’ll all get written in novel or even novella form? No guarantees. However, this is a creative exercise that I both need and want to share.
Adeline Henrietta “Henry” Witherington = Jaimie Alexander
Broderick McLaren = Sullivan Stapleton
With the full knowledge and support of her parents—Michael (formerly known as the pirate El Salvador) and Serena (a yacht/pleasure-craft designer)—Adeline Henrietta Witherington entered the American School of Medicine (Eclectic) in Cincinnati, OH, as Mr. Henry Witherington—because posing as a man was the only way she could study to be a doctor.
Now, with the ink barely dry on her diploma, “Henry” has been hired as the doctor for a small town in northern Kentucky, not too far across the river from Cincinnati. Although she thinks she is prepared for it, the reality of slavery is harder to deal with when she sees it face to face for herself. She learns upon arriving that she was hired (as Dr. Henry Witherington) because the previous town doctor left to go work at a new hospital in Louisville. She’s now solely responsible for treating everyone in town as well as on the surrounding plantations.
As soon as Broderick McLaren sees Dr. Henry Witherington, he realizes there’s something not quite right about the very young doctor. He was able to trust the former doctor with his secret, so Brodie would like to be able to take Dr. W. into his confidence. However, he needs to observe the doctor for a while first.
Adeline/Henry is shocked by the condition of the slaves she’s asked to treat at the McLaren plantation. She doesn’t want to be judgmental, but the injuries and conditions she sees lead her to think the worst of McLaren. Especially since he hides these injured/sick slaves away from everyone else.
After weeks of visits to the McLaren plantation, Addie/Henry realizes that she’s misjudged Brodie—that he’s actually helping slaves escape. The more she’s around him, the more she witnesses his kindness and compassion for the refugees, the harder she falls for him. She finally can’t stand to keep lying to him. She confronts him with the knowledge of what he’s doing, then tells him that she cannot continue being dishonest with him and reveals her true identity. Now each is in the other’s confidence and each has the power to ruin the other should their secrets be revealed.
However, more than one neighbor is suspicious of the Scotsman—after all, Brodie never has trouble with runaways—and because he’s a foreigner, he’s always been an outsider. . .a very successful outsider, and the other planters would love to see him gone.
It’s noticed that the new doctor pays a lot more calls on the McLaren plantation than anyone else’s—which is suspicious, as Brodie is a single man with no family, who claims to have no problems with his slaves (no whippings, no physical punishments that would necessitate a doctor’s care).
When a family of fugitives makes their way to the McLaren plantation with slave catchers hot on their trail, the suspicion that McLaren and Dr. W are helping the runaways boils to the surface. The slave catchers roust up a posse which descends upon the plantation, discovering that Dr. W is there again. When the leader of the incensed group insists on searching the plantation for the runaways, Brodie makes a split-second decision that will, hopefully, save the lives of this family. He reveals to his neighbors and the townspeople that Dr. Henry Witherington is actually Adaline Henrietta Witherington—who really is a doctor—and the reason she’s been spending so much time at his plantation is because they’re in love and getting married soon.
Can this deception protect the innocent? How far will the charade engagement have to go in order to save those under their protection? Will Brodie and Adeline have to make good on his claim?
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