Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Huge Roses: Chapter Two, part two.

In chapter one, American nurse Tory Bird, visiting Amsterdam with her sister Jane, meets Dr. Maximilan van den Nie whilst giving first aid to an injured English tourist.  After a lovely weekend that includes meeting the doctor's mother at the Concergebouw thanks to tickets provided by the doctor, Tory returns home to the United States.  In chapter two, an early snowstorm hits on Hallowe'en night, and Tory is surprised that the car that goes off the road near her house (what a coincidence!) contains Max van den Nie.

For installment one, look here.  Installment two is right here, and installment three here.

THE HUGE ROSES (working title)
copyright 2014 by Betty van den Betsy; not for reprint or publication without permission

Chapter Two, part 2

A thick, oversized sweater over her flannel pajamas, sturdy, fleece-lined boots on her feet, and her brother’s battered old ski parka topping the lot, Tory tromped to the front door.  Just a few yards down the street, she saw a shiny new Mercedes – a big one – angled awkwardly into the ditch that bordered the street.  Covered in snow, the sharp drop-off was impossible to see.  With Jennet and Hal floundering happily ahead of her, she made her way to the car to offer assistance.  The driver had already emerged to inspect the situation, and with a shock she recognized the blond giant she had met weeks before in Amsterdam!
Before she could call a greeting, the dogs began their own, barking and leaping clumsily through the foot-deep snow.  “Good mor – Hal!  Jennet!  Quiet!” Tory shouted.  “Come back here!”  But her ill-mannered companions had already reached their target.
“Not to worry, please,” Dr. van den Nie called.  “I like dogs.”  As he fondled first one and then the other, rubbing behind their ears in the magical dog spot, the animals showed they clearly liked him, too.  Jennet leaned bonelessly against him, enjoying the patting, while the impatient Hal butted his new friend’s legs, flattened himself in the snow with tail wagging, turned a quick circle, and barked encouragingly for attention.
“I am so sorry,” Tory said, catching up.  “You would think they’d never been out in public before.  And I’m sorry you’ve run into trouble with your car.  The road drops off sharply at the edges.  I’ll try to help you get it out if you like, but those are rear-wheel drive, aren’t they?  I bet it will need towing.  If you’d like to phone from my house, you’re very welcome to stop here until a truck can make it out.  Oh,” she paused, suddenly self-conscious.  “I don’t know if you’ll remember me.  I was in Amsterdam earlier in the month, when you helped an English tourist with a broken leg.”
“Indeed I do remember you,” the doctor answered, “and I’m delighted to see you here.  Miss Bird, isn’t it?  Or Nurse Bird.  You make a regular habit of turning up just in the hour of need, it seems.”
“Oh, yes.  Right.  I mean, not really.  And it was last month, since today’s November.”  Tory stopped her dithering speech and took a deliberate breath, then started over.  “Please, do call me Tory.  We’re much less formal with names here than people in the Netherlands.”
“Then I shall be Max,” he answered, holding out an elegantly gloved hand.  “Max van den Nie is the full-length version.  I do think you’re very right that recovering my car will require more than you and I can accomplish together.  If you’re quite sure, I’m pleased to accept your invitation for shelter.  It will be very welcome.”
Tory felt her cheeks warm as they shook hands, and hoped to goodness she wasn’t blushing – but knew she probably was.  She could only hope Max would put her reddened cheeks down to the cold air, and turned to lead the way back to the house.  He followed, having grabbed a small case from the abandoned vehicle.  “Well, here’s the house, and of course I’m sure you’re welcome.  We New Englanders are proud of our hospitality, you know.  And you’re hardly dressed for a tromp through the snow.”
“I’m not equipped for a drive through the snow, either,” he responded.  “I ought to have pulled off when I encountered it, but the highway was well cleared, and after a long flight the thought of getting to a comfortable home was too tempting.  If I had known of the conditions when I arrived in Boston, I might have stayed there.”
“My sister’s in Boston, and they hardly ever get snow when we do,” Tory commiserated.  “Have you just come from Amsterdam?  And are you staying here in Bristol?  We’re not really on the way to much of anywhere.”
Max laughed.  “Do you know an orthopedist named Josh Brown?  I’m to stay at his house for a few weeks and take on some of his practice while he recovers from a complex ankle break.”
“Oh, yes, I know Josh.  He lives just a few miles from us, and since I work for the local family doctor, I get to know pretty much everyone in town.  It’s a small place, anyway, and I have a brother and sister who’ve needed orthopedic assistance more than a few times.  But how do you know him?”
“We met at a medical conference several years ago, and have stayed in touch.  I’m working with him and a few others at the hospital here on some ideas to help athletes return to full participation in sport after accidents.  As much as we get done via e-mail and file sharing, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to spend some time at the research center here.  Poor Josh’s accident offered an excuse.”
“I saw Sheila – his wife – a week or so ago,” Tory offered, pushing open the front door and gesturing a welcome, “and she told me he’s been a miserable patient, but everyone at the clinic is too afraid of him to make him behave.  Apparently he’s so embarrassed about crashing his bike that he’s trying to make a super-fast recovery.”
“Yes, that sounds quite right.  In fact, he was trying to jump rope on his one good leg recently, and set his recovery back quite a bit jostling his cast.  So Sheila is forcibly removing him from the center and taking him to a facility in Maryland, where the staff can treat him like any other patient.  It is humbling sometimes to see how very imprudent many in my profession can be when we’re in our patients’ place.  I often see colleagues doing things in recovery that they would condemn in the people they care for.”
“The surgeon’s god complex carrying over from the operating room,” Tory laughed, then stopped abruptly.  “I’m sorry, I hope that didn’t sound rude.  I always think you do so much good, and sometimes so dramatically, that you have a right to a complex – especially with open heart and organ transplants and that kind of thing.”  She stammered to a halt.
“Goodness, Tory, you’re welcome to say what you like.  I expect you were joking, and in any case, you should, indeed, speak up if you see someone suffering delusions of grandeur.  That can be plain dangerous in operating theater or examining room.  But how solemn I am!  Please extend some more of your New England generosity and believe I’m not deliberately being pompous!”
“Of course not,” she chuckled.  “You set a great example of generosity.  Here, let me take your coat.  I can hang it by the stove so it drips onto the hearth, and I guess you’d better take off your shoes.  Do you have a change in your bag?”
“My track shoes – or runners?  No, what do you call athletic shoes?”
“Sneakers, sometimes, or running shoes, tennis shoes, that kind of thing.  You’ve got a bit of an accent that seems more English than Dutch to me.  Did you learn to speak English in England?”
“Partly that,” he answered, “but I learned your language in Holland from the time I was quite young, with the help of my English grandmother and that lovely, old-fashioned tradition, an English nanny.  My native languages are Dutch and Fries – and both of those are so difficult that few people outside our country learn them.  So, as you probably know, most of us learn at least one or two other languages from childhood.”
“What’s Fries?” Tory asked, adding quickly, “Wait, don’t explain yet.  Come through to the kitchen and we can call for a tow truck, and I’ll start some breakfast.  Have you eaten?”
“Breakfast would be very welcome,” Max replied.  “What a delightful house this is.  It has great warmth and character.  Have you lived here long?  Forgive me if the question is too personal, please.”
“Not at all.  If that’s what you consider a personal question, you are in for some culture shock here!  Believe it or not, my mother’s great-grandparents built the place when they married about 150 years ago, and it’s passed down to sons and daughters ever since.  Though I suppose 150 years doesn’t sound that long to you, does it?”
Max chuckled, a deep, warm sound in the stone-floored kitchen.  “I’m afraid my family home in Amsterdam is about 400 years old,” he admitted.  “What’s more, I’m not aware of any case where a daughter got to inherit.  Still, I’m a strong proponent of a family headquarters that spans the generations.”
Tory, having found the number for the local repair shop, got back to business.  “The phone’s right on the wall,” she said.  “I’m afraid it’s likely there won’t be anyone there yet, but you can leave a message and have them call you back here.  The power’s out, but the phone’s usually very reliable in bad weather, and that will help save your cell phone battery.”  After checking with his car-rental agency, Max put through a call to the local mechanic while Tory began scrambling eggs on the old gas stove.
Many hours later, having waved her unexpected guest goodbye, she padded back into her kitchen to slump at the well-scrubbed wooden table and reflect on an extraordinary – yet very ordinary – day.  Max had settled into the old farmhouse like he’d been born there.  After getting through four eggs, a mound of hash browns and copious amounts of toast, he had pitched in on the dishwashing like an expert.  That chore finished, he volunteered to help with the shoveling.  Dressed in oddments from his carry-on and Tory’s brother’s wardrobe, finished off with her father’s hip waders, he’d done yeoman work on the front walk and driveway.  Then, while Tory made soup and sandwiches for lunch, he’d tackled some of the ancillary pathways.
Over lunch, he’d filled Tory in on the history of Frieseland, a part of the Netherlands with its own unique language and culture.  She had to do some guessing, since Max kept his narrative largely impersonal and always modest, but she inferred that his family was ancient, close-knit and prominent.  The conversation did give her a chance to thank him again for the symphony tickets he’d kindly provided in Amsterdam.  “I’m delighted you were able to use them,” he said.  “My mother sang your praises, as well.  She thought you deftig, and you should know there’s no better compliment my mother can bestow.”
Deftig,” Tory mused.  “That’s one of those words that doesn’t translate well, isn’t it?  I think someone told me it means elegant or chic or distinguished, which doesn’t seem like me, actually.  Anyway, it’s a lovely compliment.”
She hadn’t meant to be funny, but Max’s chuckle rumbled out.  “But the graciousness with which you’ve welcomed me here, and your ease and self-possession, are the kind of elegance the word encapsulates.  Mother has a fine eye for those qualities.”
She was blushing again, and jumped up quickly, gathering dishes.  “How very nice of you to say, and of her, too,” she said quickly.  “I’m sure she’s very deftig, much more than I.  At least, I think I’m sure she is!”
After their morning’s hard work, Tory recommended a restful afternoon, and they had alternated reading from the Bird family’s extensive bookshelves with a few hands of gin rummy until the sound of a booming engine broke into the living room.  The plow had finally arrived, and the two of them headed out to meet it.
“Hey, Patrick,” Tory called, waving to the local man driving the truck.  He pulled to a halt in front of the house, and pointed toward the Mercedes.  “Colin will be along to help your friend out of the ditch,” he promised.  “We tried to phone but didn’t get an answer.”
“We were out shoveling all morning,” Tory explained.  “And with the power out, the answering machine wouldn’t have picked up.  It doesn’t have a battery; I should have thought of that.”  Patrick grunted a reply in typically laconic New Hampshire style.  “Give a holler if you need anything,” he added, and maneuvered the plow carefully past the stuck car.
Colin had been equally economical with both words and motions.  With a bit of help from Max, his truck had the Mercedes back on the road quickly, where they could see the damage had been minimal.  One tire change later, her surprise visitor was bidding Tory good-bye.  “I’m sure we’ll meet around the town over the next few weeks,” he said as they shook hands.  “I look forward to getting to know all my new neighbors, if I may go by the standard you set for consideration and welcome.”
His lavish compliment set Tory to stammering and blushing again.  Before she became hopelessly entangled in counter-thanks and disclaimers, Max had leaned down from his great height and kissed her, very lightly, on each cheek.  “The continental style,” he’d explained, and swung around, sliding gracefully into the powerful Mercedes before putting the car into gear.  Thankfully, Tory had had – just barely – the presence of mind to reply in kind to his farewell wave before pressing her mittened hands against her cheeks.  “Oh, my,” she breathed, watching her breath fog in the cold air.  “Oh, my.”


  1. Our Tory. What a dear little chatterbox! Oh, my!!!

  2. I didn't see this one coming. Awesome. An orthopedist, and Max a specialist with a new technique for speeding and ensuring recovery of athletes. Very modernized version of Betty's doctors who come in to demonstrate new techniques.

    These are the only ones I remember. There must be others?

    A Secret Infatuation: valve replacements

    Esmeralda: orthopedics

    Catherine (a Betty van den Wasatch)

    1. Interesting question. I found a few more doctors with new / their own techniques. But the Great Betty does not always elaborate...

      Wish with the Candles
      There's a lobectomy at half past two; he'll be using his new technique, so there'll be an audience in the gallery

      Cruise to a Wedding
      ...he worked fast and thoroughly, and not until he reached the stage where his own new technique was involved did he speak more than a few words

      The Awakened Heart
      There was this super man operating—Professor something or other. He's from Holland—a pal of Mr Bellamy's—and over here to demonstrate some new technique.

    2. A Girl Named Rose
      Mr Werdmer ter Sane was operating; nobody had attempted that particular surgery in England, although he had had success with two cases in Vienna, so that he would take the lead, inaugurating a new technique

      A Christmas Wish
      Handed over several new techniques, shared his ideas with Mr Jenks

      The Gemel Ring
      Professor van Tijlen is outstanding in surgery, you know, and this particular operation is of his own technique

      A Girl in a Million
      ...he is so very good with children and has [...] a technique with anaesthetics especially for children and for those who need special treatment with an anaesthetic

      Sun and Candlelight
      ...he and Sarre worked closely together in a technique which the pair of them had devised

      orthopedic surgery + osteopathy
      It was unusual for orthopaedic surgery and osteopathy to join forces so closely, but it appeared to work well. The clinic, she had been told, had been going for five years now and Wienand had told her proudly that their treatment had resulted in success for at least seventy per cent of their patients. 'And that doesn't include the improvements,' he added ...

    3. Thanks for finding these. I recognized the theme as one of Betty's reasons for why her RDD were a step above the rest (ignoring the unsurpassed good looks, a head-full of hair (albeit graying), impeccable doctoring skills, money, sophistication, iron-will, and uber-alles knowledge, of course).

      Catherine (a Betty van den Wasatch)

  3. I'm loving your wonderful story! Thanks.

  4. Apropos of nothing...

    Gina Fratini – Pinafore

    "What? " you will say, "Gina Fratini? A pinafore? Huh?"

    Today, when I turned on my computer I saw a Betty from Montrouge, France, online and I asked myself, how many times was France mentioned throughout the Canon.
    And, of course, I got sidetracked. When I clicked on Stars Through the Mist, © 1973, and I came upon a Gina Fratini model.

    Gina Fratini model for the evening—white silk, high-necked and long-sleeved, pin-tucked and gathered and edged with antique lace.

    So I looked for images of Gina Fratini dresses. There are quite a few on Pinterest, which is where I found this Fortnum & Mason advertisement from 1973: Gina Fratini is now in Miss Fortnum. Pinafore embroidered either in Petal Pink or or Sea Blue 10 – 14 £ 168.00

    1. Thank you for sharing. Love the dress--I'm sure it would have been very stylish on Lauren Bacall.

      But, um, how many times did she mention France? Do tell!

      Catherine (a Betty van den Wasatch)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. How many times did she mention France? Sorry, I did not attempt to count the number of times. (I would have had to read the whole of The Great Betty's œuvre...) But it was mentioned more often than I thought it was. In fact, I was amazed when I saw the list of novels on my computer screen. Also, I noticed that quite often it is "the south of France".

    4. Thank you. I could only remember two stories:

      - The almost 18-year-old ward of the RDD was in Paris. The RDD married for convenience to have a role-model for his ward.
      - The RDD's fiancé was in Paris (or maybe the South of France. The RDD drove like 12 hours one-way to spend the weekend there. It wasn't for passion but to catch the fiancé in a position where she would break the engagement (and probably marry and American).

      Can anyone help with the titles of these stories?

      Anyway, speaking of driving all over Europe in a great honking Bentley, I wonder at how rich the RDDs really are. I remember one that said he was a millionaire in gulden, but not rich enough for his fiancé. A million is really not enough money to also drive a Bentley. Bentley Motors in Las Vegas ( sells my favorite for about US$400,000! (About a quarter-million British pounds or 300,000 Euros.)

      Catherine (a Betty van den Wasatch)

    5. Yes! Here's the passage that struck me as so funny when I read Roses for Christmas (and why that trip to France was so memorable to me). BTW, according to Yahoo Maps and Google Maps, it's 918 miles from Groningen, Netherlands to Cannes, France, taking the shortest route, or almost 1000 on the scenic route with no toll roads. In addition to not knowing how to drive, Betty apparently didn't understand that cars don't drive as the crow flies--they have to follow the roads! I can just see her taking out a metal compass (remember those from trigonometry), and putting a metal tip in Gronigen and another in Cannes, and then using the map legend to estimate the 'about 750 miles'. :)

      And so, from Roses for Christmas:

      'You're never going to drive all that way and then back again by Tuesday?'
      ...'It's too far,' declared Eleanor wildly.

      'Roughly seven hundred and fifty miles--fifteen hours' driving on excellent roads.' He smiled thinly. 'If it makes you feel better, I shall only drive six or seven hours before I rack up for the night. I should be in Cannes some time during tomorrow afternoon.'

      'But coming back?' she persisted, and then drew a sharp breath as he said blandly: 'I haven't been so fussed over since I had a nanny.'

    6. Betty didn't drive so perhaps it was a bit abstract to her.

      Betty AnoninTX

    7. I put the problem to my trusted routeplanner viamichelin:
      1464 km, that's 909 miles
      14h50 – Hey, Betty was right about that, roughly fifteen hours' driving.

    8. Roses for Christmas, © 1975
      Alas, Fulk drives a Panther de Ville not a socking great Bentley.

      Panther De Ville: Price at launch in 1974.: £21,965 which equalled ƒl 139,050 (gulden)

      Couldn’t find the price of a Bentley in the1970‘s, but to give you an idea of the price of a Bettyesque motor car back then here is the price of a Rolls Royce Camargue:
      The recommended price of a new Camargue at launch on the UK market in March 1975 was £29,250, including sales taxes (which equalled fl 167,690 gulden)

      When it was launched, the Camargue, which was the flagship of the Rolls-Royce lineup, was the most expensive production car in the world, eventually selling in North America for approximately US$147,000 ($588,000 in 2008 dollars).

    9. I really enjoy your research talents! Thank you. You're amazing. :)

      I looked up a currency converter for 1975 and found that the conversion rate was US$3.308 to the pound. ( There must be a price increase between 29,250 GBP in England and the 147,000 USD in the US--probably import taxes.

      According to the inflation calculator, $147,000 in 1975 would be $641,502 in 2014! ( So the Panther De Ville is even more precious than a Bentley!

      Now about that Mercedes in The Huge Roses--What model would the RDD drive? Perhaps an S550 or an S63 AMG?

  5. Hello, there Betty Barbara! I see you. :o)

    I wonder... Later, was Tory embarrassed about the RDD seeing her in her grey flannel pj's?

  6. Hello Bettys,
    I discovered Betty Neels just this month. The first one I read was nice, but nothing more. I was sure that in a 134 book career the quality probably varried. So I found your amazing and wonderful site. I'm working my way through the books that made it to the finals. Love them. Charming, delightful books.
    The 79 nurses document is incredible and helpful. The reviews and comments here are hilarious.
    I wonder why Fate is Remarkable isn't in print. Is it just me, or is it the only one of her books that isn't available?

    1. 135, actually. :-) I bought almost all my books used anyway. What aggravates the tar out of me (Texas speak) is that Fate Is Remarkable is not available on the Kindle. I wish everyone would go to Amazon and request it. If you look up the title, there is a link down on the right side of the page you click to tell the publisher you want to read it on your Kindle. Just one click. Easy to do.

      Betty AnoninTX

    2. Mills and Boon sells it in e-book format. You have to download a free e-reader, but you can at least read it on your computer or a tablet.

      Fate is remarkable

      Catherine (a Betty van den Wasatch)

    3. Excuse me, Betty AnoninTX, I "visited" and I did see a Kindle edition of Fate Is Remarkable
      Kindle Price: $5.46 includes VAT* & free international wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
      Here is the link.

    4. I should specify in the US. When I am logged in and go to that Amazon link, it says this title is not available for purchase.

      I had the brilliant idea of purchasing my missing titles from amazon uk, but amazon will not let me. All Betty titles are available for the kindle in the uk. Yes, I actually checked. :-)

      In the US, all but 9 are available. The four novels unavailable are Fate Is Remarkable, Saturday's Child, The Girl with Green Eyes, and Three for a Wedding. Also unavailable here are five of the novellas, called shorts on amazon uk: Christmas Romance, Dearest Eulalia, Ordinary Girl, Doctor's Girl, and The Proposal. Four of those titles are in my top ten!

      I, of course, could walk over to my shelves and pull off the actual book to read (regular or large print, hahaha). But I'm strangely in love with my Kindle. We have a very close relationship.

      Betty AnoninTX (who is frequently wrong)

    5. I am sorry. When I go to (Books) it shows a different "catalogue" from the one on I thought it was the same for the Kindle Store. I often go to and when I look for books I cannot find on Well, I think it is pretty mean of them to dangle the kindle book in front of your nose and then to say, "You can't have it!"

    6. I'm not sure anyone will ever see this, but I shall post it anyway.

      Amazon now has the book with The Doctor's Girl available for the Kindle (Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl\A Special Kind of Woman). In November, An Ordinary Girl (The Engagement Effect: An Ordinary Girl\A Perfect Proposal) will be available. I'm still campaigning for the other 7 not available in the US.

      Betty AnoninTX

  7. Thank you Betty van den Betsy for a delightful update. I love the Americanism. Call me Tory, indeed. It was very bettyesque. The stranded vehicle, our hero and heroine working diligently in the snow and his impersonal account of Friesland.

    Keep it coming!