by Karen Gilleland © 2014
On September 18, 2014, Scotland will vote on a referendum to break away from the United Kingdom, a move with serious political and economic implications. Cornwall is also pressing for home rule and a resurgence of the Cornish language.
(March 5, Saint Piran’s Day, patron saint of Cornwall, is celebrated with parades and other festivities.)
“Myttin Da, Morwenna,” greeted Cormoran Crocker, a man in his early sixties with a wide smile. “Gool Peran Lowen.”
“Dydh da,” she replied. “Happy Saint Piran’s Day to you, too, Mr. Crocker. ‘Doc’ is ready for you.”
“Granddad taught me a bit. He and Mr. Crocker here spoke it together all the time.”
The man walked over to Louisa, took off his hat and said, “It’s been too long since I’ve set eyes on you, lass. I heard you married the ‘Doc.’ What a grand, wee Cornishman this one is,” he said jiggling the baby’s fingers.
“Mr. Crocker,” Louisa began.
“Call me Cormoran, lass.”
“Cormoran, may I speak with you after your appointment with Martin?”
“It will be my pleasure,” he answered and walked into the consulting room.
“Myttin da! Doctor Ellingham.”
“Yes,” murmured Martin. “What can I do for you today, Mr. ah, Crocker?” asked Martin looking at the patient file.
“Came in for a repeat prescription for my thyroid.”
Martin looked at his notes. “You’re due for a blood test,” he said and took out a tray and drew Cormoran’s blood. “Do you have any other medical complaints?”
“No, sir. I feel pretty good for an old geezer.”
Cormoran rolled down his shirt sleeve and said, “You’re a London man, aren’t you, Doctor Ellingham?”
“What do you think about self-governing for Cornwall?”
“I’ve been tied up with work and family and haven’t paid much attention to politics.”
“It’s an important issue, Doctor,” said Cormoran. “Cornwall is at a point in our struggle — which goes back centuries, mind — of attaining devolution from Britain.” The man paused, but Martin did not respond.
“I’m head of Mebyon Kernow, sons of Cornwall,” continued Cormoran, shaking a finger at Martin. “We’re determined that decisions affecting the people of Cornwall should be made in Cornwall.”
“I do not have time to debate with you,” said Martin. “I have patients waiting.”
“Yes. Another time then,” and Cormoran rose and left the office.
When he entered the reception area, Morwenna told him that Louisa was in the kitchen.
“Would you like a cup of tea, Cormoran?” asked Louisa, lifting two cups out of the cupboard.
“I’d be delighted,” he said, sitting down at the table.
Louisa poured tea and set out biscuits. “Cormoran, I’m head mistress at Portwenn Primary. As you know, the Council would like us to teach Cornish in the schools.”
The man nodded. “It’s important to promote pride in our heritage. I wanted to talk to the Doctor about self-rule, but he’s busy.”
Louisa shrugged and smiled. “The problem for a village like Portwenn is finding teachers,” Louisa said. “I wondered if you would be willing to teach our students?”
Cormoran sat quiet, fingertips on his lips. “It’s an intriguing proposition, but I’m busy with the home-rule campaign.” He stopped, then said, “Let me think about it. I’ll see if I can find someone for you.”
The visitor stood up and said, “Come to the parade this afternoon. I’ll be giving a short speech. Cormoran walked out the kitchen door, tipping his hat, “Dydh da!”
About five o’clock, a sandy haired man, suit, tie, rimless glasses, leather attaché case, knocked at the surgery door. Martin answered, took in the man’s appearance and thought, He may as well wear a sign flashing “Home Office.”
“Doctor Ellingham, I’m Charles Surridge. May I speak to you?”
The man straightened his shoulders. “If I might come in, I’d be happy to explain.”
“Fine,” said Martin, stepping aside.
Just then, Louisa walked into the hallway. The man let out a surprised, “Louisa?”
She walked closer and said, “Charles! Good heavens. It’s been years.”
Martin frowned as he watched the two hug.
“What are you doing in Portwenn?” Louisa asked, breaking loose from Charles’ grasp.
“I came down from London to talk with people about Cornwall’s position on home rule. I wanted Doctor Ellingham’s opinion.” He extended a hand to Martin, but his eyes focused on Louisa.
“Martin, Charles is a friend from my college days.”
“Why not join us for supper, Charles?” she asked.
“If I’m not intruding –”
Martin said nothing.
“You and Martin can talk in his office while I fix dinner.”
The two men walked into the consulting room. Martin left the door open, sat behind the desk and motioned Charles into the chair.
Charles began, “As you know, Cornwall is pressing for home rule. You must understand how important keeping the United Kingdom intact is from an economic and political standpoint. I’ve been asked to come down and take the pulse of the people, so to speak, see how the land lies.”
“I’m not from Cornwall,” said Martin. “I suggest you go down to the harbor and talk with the locals. You might start with Cormoran Crocker, the head of Mebyon Kernow.”
“Yes, yes, I’ve listened to the speeches and cornered quite a few people during the parade. The thing is, you are in a unique position. The villagers respect you.” Charles stopped talking and leaned toward Martin, stressing the message with eyebrows raised and voice lowered. “We need your support.”
“What support would that be?”
“Well, being a Londoner, we’d expect you to support Cornwall’s staying in the UK.”
“What makes you think I’d support that position? My wife,” Martin said with emphasis, “and my son were born here.”
Before the man could reply, a squeak from the bedroom brought Martin to his feet. “I have to see to James,” he said and left the room, thinking as he walked upstairs, Twit.
Charles walked into the kitchen. “Smells delicious,” he said.
Louisa smiled at him and continued stirring a pot. “Everything’s ready. When Martin brings James down, we’ll eat. Please, take a seat.”
“You’re as beautiful as ever, Louisa,” Charles said, then hesitated. “I didn’t picture you marrying a man like Martin.” Louisa frowned, and Charles added, “No offense.”
“Who did you picture me marrying?”
Charles walked over to her and said, “Me.”
Louisa set down the spoon and turned toward him. “Did you never marry?”
He looked at the floor and stammered, “Ah, um, it didn’t work out.”
“Sorry. Would you like some wine?”
The telephone rang. “Excuse me,” said Louisa, and she hurried into reception and picked up the phone. “Yes, I’ll tell him,” she said and ran up the steps to the bedroom. “Martin, emergency. Sarah Jensen’s dad has taken a fall.”
“Will you finish up with James?” Martin washed his hands, went downstairs, grabbed his bag and left.
Martin determined that Mr. Jensen had suffered a stroke. After administering a clot-busting drug, Martin waited for the ambulance. By the time he arrived home, night had set in, and stars twinkled in the sky. He noticed the glow of light from the kitchen and walked around back. As Martin entered, he heard the sound of footsteps and the front door opening, so he went to the entryway.
Louisa and Charles stood facing each other on the porch. About to turn back, Martin stopped short when Charles suddenly took Louisa into his arms and kissed her passionately. Martin was astounded to see Louisa wrap her arms around Charles and return his embrace.
Martin stood frozen, his heart pounding, a feeling of rage engulfing him.
He heard Charles speak. “Please, Louisa, my feelings haven’t changed since college. Tell me you feel the same way.”
Louisa shook her head and said, “Good night, Charles.”
He held onto her arms and said, “I’m at the Riverside in Delabole. I’ll call you.”
Louisa watched him walk away and turned to discover Martin in the doorway, moonlight touching his pale face.
“Martin,” breathed Louisa, but he turned and walked away.
— To Be Continued —
“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.
Part 2 of “Cornwall” can be found at https://karengilleland.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/19-doc-martin-fanfiction-cornwall-part-2/
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