Maisie watched Magrat help Winnie out of her loose-fitting jacket and then the equally loose-fitting man's shirt she wore underneath.
The girl's care and gentleness were immediately apparent, but Maisie was tensely poised to take over, just in case.
Having Winnie sit on a chair next to the treatment table,
Magrat had held the jacket away from the old woman's torso so that she could remove her arm without brushing against the painful blisters that would likely have formed by now.
Very aware of the head nurse's eyes on her, Magrat did the same with the old shirt, probably chosen because of the oozing pus from the blisters beneath.
She took Winnie's shirt and lay it on top of the treatment table. Behind her, Maisie folded her arms.
"So, girlie-girl. Tell me what you know about shingles and then tell me what you are going to do."
Sitting between the two medicos, Winnie picked up on the slight edge in Maisie's voice.
Anyone that had ever been treated my Nurse Maisie soon learned that she didn't suffer fools, either gladly or any other way. She turned her head to see the young trainee medic's reaction.
Magrat, however, had spent half her life being intimidated by arseholes intent on getting a reaction from her. She soon learned that to do so was a very, very bad idea.
But letting them walk all you wasn't going to work either. By the time she was ten, Magrat knew how to walk the line.
"Shingles," She began, plucking what she could remember of Doctor Troy's casual but information laden commentary from the only time she and the others had witnessed her treating the infection.
"Can happen to anyone who has had Chickenpox..."
The immediate question caught Magrat by surprise, derailing her train of thought. It took her a couple of awkward seconds to find the fallen boxcar that held the answer.
While she floundered, Winnie flicked her attention to Maisie in time to see the smallest of sneers twitch against the corner of her mouth.
In that moment, and rather to her surprise, Winnie found herself rooting for the young Devil's Own gang member.
"Because they are both caused by the same virus." Magrat had found the boxcar amongst the wreckage and was now looting its contents.
"The virus remains in the body after chickenpox has cleared and can reactivate at any time, leading to shingles."
Maisie was actually impressed. She had expected the girl to be familiar with gunshot wounds, knife wounds, broken bones and everything else likely in a gang society.
But shingles? Maisie had had another question ready, but instead, she just nodded.
"Okay, good. Go on."
Putting the train back on the tracks Magrat determinedly sought out every other thing she could remember.
"A rash forms after a few days of feeling unwell and this often becomes painful blisters." She stopped to indicate Winnie's nest of livid looking pustules. "Ummm. During the...
ermmm, the period of the rash or blisters the patient is infectious and can pass on the virus to anyone who hasn't had chickenpox..."
Winnie was grinning like a cat that had stolen the cream. You go, girl!
Maisie held up a hand as Magrat took a breath.
"So how do you treat it?" She then tipped her chin to the still grinning, half-naked old-timer on the chair. "And what are you going to do now?"
Magrat was rolling.
"There used to be anti-virals, but we don't know how to make them anymore for shingles. Instead, we just have to treat the symptoms until it clears up."
"And how do we do that?"
A quick rummage through another boxcar found the answer to that one.
"Painkillers. Erm, keep the rash clean and dry." Magrat put her hand on Winnie's shirt. "Wear loose-fitting clothes. And use a cold compress a few times a day."
A silence followed as the teenager seemed to have come to the end of her list. Maisie raised an eyebrow.
Magrat's mind went blank, but a small cough from Winnie attracted her attention to where the old woman was gently tapping at her rash. Magrat's eyes lit up.
"Calamine! Calamine lotion."
Maisie threw Winnie a suspicious look before returning her attention to a grinning Magrat.
"Very good. So, what are..."
Magrat was already in action, confidence positively glowing from her like light from a beacon. As she worked, she described everything she was doing and why.
"Firstly, we need to gently dab away the old calamine residue, checking for signs of infection..."
Maisie watched, ready to step in should Magrat put so much as a finger wrong.
But, by the time Winnie's rash had been cleaned and dressed, the head nurse had to admit that she couldn't have done a much better job herself. Maybe a bit quicker, but Magrat had nailed it.
After completing her notes, Magrat led a thrilled Winnie away to the clinic's exit.
Back in the treatment room, it was a thoughtful Nurse Maisie who cleaned up ready for the next patient.
Magrat returned from the waiting room with the bandaged boy. Maisie wasted no time on pleasantries but got down to business by pointing to the chair recently vacated by Winnie Barrow.
The boy sat down heavily in the chair; his truculence obvious. Maisie filled a tray with the necessities of wound dressing before pulling up a stool to sit facing the boy.
"This is Evan." She explained as she started to carefully unwrap the bandage that was protecting the left side of Evan's face. "He's one of Arch Stanton's young 'uns.
Of the three brother's he's probably the 'good' one although that ain't saying much." The bandage unravelled to reveal two deep gashes down the youngster's face.
"His big brother is another story; Hope will be a better place when he leaves. Bad to the bone that one."
Evan squirmed in his seat, and the glare he was giving the head nurse would have fazed a lesser woman.
Maisie, however, never gave his expression a second thought as she leaned in to examine the wounds.
"Lord alone knows how his baby brother will turn out." Maisie sat up and beckoned Magrat to take a look while she prepared some gauze on the tray.
"Take a look at these lacerations and tell me what you think."
Magrat bent down to get a better look.
"How'd he get them? Fighting?"
Maisie was soaking lengths of narrow gauze strips in a bath of clear liquid.
"Nope. Him and his cronies were playing chicken. Running across the ploughed field. Evan tripped up and got leapt on by a Blood Rabbit. He was damn lucky his daddy was close by."
Magrat was puzzled by the state of the wound.
"This looks days old. Why isn't it stitched up?"
Maisie held Evan's head still with one hand while she gently dabbed at the wounds with a wet gauze pad.
"Doc Troy's idea. Normally we'd suture a deep cut like this. But it being on his face and all, she reckoned to use secondary intention instead."
But Maisie was already answering Magrat's question.
"If a laceration is too wide to stitch up, we use what's called 'secondary intention' healing. The wound heals from the bottom up.
" She finished cleaning the wound and reached for an implement from the tray. "Makes for a good strong scar but that ain't why the doc chose to do it this way.
" Magrat waited for Maisie to go on while watching what the experienced nurse was doing with the stitch cutter she had picked up. "Letting it heal this way also makes for a less noticeable scar.
I guess the doc didn't want him growing up scaring the girls away."
Maisie held the stitch cutter up for Evan to see.
"Now, you hold still. You flinch when I do this and I might slice your damn face off."
The look on Evan's terrified face suggested that he would remain statue-like while the large nurse did what she was going to do.
Maisie indicated Magrat to get closer.
"See here? See where little bridges have formed here and here."
Tiny bridges of skin had formed between the sides of the lacerations. Magrat nodded. Maisie tightened her grip on the boy's head, making him groan.
"Well, they can be a problem, so we need to cut them away, so the wound only heals from the bottom up."
At the mention of 'cutting away', Evan's breathing became noisily more rapid and he clutched the seat of the chair with both hands. Maisie wasn't impressed.
"Oh, give over, we've done this before. You can't hardly feel it, you just think it hurts." With that, two quick flicks of her wrist and the job was done.
Evan, however, had gone white and was blinking back the tears. Maisie checked her handiwork and sat back.
"Good job, if I do say so myself."