Liberty and Opportunity is a family saga that centres around four forthright, liberal women, spans five generations, three continents and two world wars throughout the twentieth century.
The story begins in present day New Zealand when Nicole receives an ancient diary from her Canadian grandmother, Cindy that she begins to read. It begins in 1898 with Amanda’s elopement with her beloved Jack and her struggle to survive and prosper away from her domineering father in Washington State. The two begin a new life in Vancouver, Canada where, over the years, she develops a publishing empire.
Her daughter, Dorothy becomes a nurse serving in England. She falls in love with a soldier about to be charged for desertion from the trenches in the Western Front in World War 1. Will he be court-martialled and shot?
In World War 11, Cindy becomes a Land Girl in war torn England and tragedy strikes their family.
Each period in time is filled with drama, joy and sometimes tragedy, but vividly illustrates the determination of each woman to enrich her life through love of partners and families and a liberal outlook on life.
She wheeled the trolley into Ward 3 where three beds had the ominous white sheets over the deceased soldiers. She moved up beside the first body so the trolley was adjacent to the bed, then placed a wooden platter under it, lifted and pushed it up so the body slid across to the trolley. Like most corpses, this soldier had been extremely undernourished so the manoeuvre wasn’t too difficult. She pulled a sheet over the head and wheeled the trolley down a zigzag ramp to the morgue.
There, she removed the dog tags from the body and recorded the details in her notebook as well as a cardboard tag tied to the body’s big toe. The dog tags were placed in a locked drawer she had the key for. Her job was complete.
In the morning a doctor would walk through issuing death certificates. The dog tags and personal items would be sent back to the regiment the soldier came from. If they were not claimed by relatives within three days the corpses were buried in a nearby military cemetery. The funerals were held with military precision. Dorothy knew there would be ten Anglicans, three Catholics, a Presbyterian and a Methodist waiting to be buried the next morning. It was all recorded in the morgue’s records.
Dorothy’s plan hinged on the fact that there appeared to be no follow up check made between the dog tags and actual corpses. Her idea might just work but she needed a body similar to Tim in size.
The fifth one she wheeled in would do. According to the dog tag the soldier was Australian. That was even better. There would be no local parents wanting a body. With her heart beating furiously in her chest she placed this body near the door, slid the dog tags in her pocket and completed her collection of corpses. Next she headed for Tim’s room, nodded to the M.P., a different man from the previous night, and found Tim asleep inside.
‘Tim,’ she hissed. ‘Wake up.’
The boy opened his eyes and stared at her. ‘Hello, Dorothy.’ He gave a sad sort of smile. ‘It’s good to see you.’
‘I have a plan,’ she whispered. ‘Now listen…’
‘You can’t do that,’ Tim complained when she had finished explaining everything. ‘If anyone finds out they’ll shoot you.’
‘They don’t shoot nurses,’ retorted Dorothy. She knew discovery would mean immediate discharge and probably a jail sentence but the consequences of her action meant little to her at the moment.
‘When you hear me come back and talk to the guard, pull the sheet over your head and don’t move a muscle. I’ll do the rest.’
She smiled at Tim and stalked out of the room as if she was in a hurry. Dorothy depended on the guard not knowing the routines as she pushed the corpse she’d selected, still covered in a sheet, back along the corridor up to Tim’s room. Also placed on the trolley was a large first aid box painted with a red cross against a white background.
‘You won’t have much to guard, tonight, Corporal.’ She smiled at the M.P. and tried to sound frivolous. ‘I don’t think this poor boy will last the night.’
The young soldier smiled and ignored the trolley she was wheeling.
‘Is that so, Nurse?’ he said as his eyes strayed down to her figure.
Dorothy pushed the trolley into the door and shut it behind her. Tim immediately staggered up and, together, they rolled the body onto his bed. Tim took his dog tags and placed them around the corpse’s neck while Dorothy undid the tag tied to the toe and shoved it in her skirt pocket. She shuddered. If the morning nurse or doctor remembered Tim and recognised the body as someone different the consequences could be disastrous. This could happen but with so many patients and a changing duty roster, the changes were in her favour.
‘Up you get,’ she whispered and pulled the blankets up so the head was poking out. She nodded and Tim climbed onto the trolley and covered himself with the sheet. Dorothy swallowed and pushed the trolley out.
If they were challenged now everything would be ruined. She left the room with an enforced slow casual walk past the guard who watched her but didn’t say a word. It was one in the morning and he watched as Dorothy swayed her buttocks as she pushed the trolley away. If he was looking at her he wouldn’t worry about the man on the trolley.