Read an Excerpt
"Augusta Somers, please," the male voice on the telephone asked.
"Yes, speaking, how can I help you?" Augusta replied.
"This is Tom Seldin, the editor of JAMA. I want to tell you about our decision on your submitted paper. You certainly have created a lot of discussion here. The peer reviewers have said it's one of the best examples of clinical, laboratory and theoretical work they have seen in many years. We are going to run it this month. We still need a few things corrected, but they wouldn't be a problem. It usually takes about six months after peer review to schedule a paper in our journal. Yours is going to be the exception. Congratulations."
It took several long seconds for Augusta to comprehend what Tom Seldin had just said. To rearrange the publishing schedule of a very conservative and well-respected journal like JAMA was unusual. It was a first, as far as she knew.
"That's very kind of you. I was wondering how people would react to it. I hope it helps in my field. You know for all our strutting and boastfulness about advancing knowledge, we are still only just shoveling sand using a child's shovel from a sand pile as large as Mount Everest. One day, we'll discover something so profound that it will change our understanding of what life is. My manuscript is just another shovel full of sand. It may take decades before we really know what we are doing."
"I can't argue with you because I agree with everything you say. There is another reason for my call. We would like you to come and talk to the Conference of Applied Genetics and Medical Science. We need you to talk on the very subject you were telling me about. Maybethe title of your talk could be 'Further Inroads in Our Quest for Knowledge'. Is it possible for you to give us a pep talk?"
"I don't know what to say." replied Augusta, "I would like to, but I need to get permission from my boss, Charles Scribner. He may not want me to say too much."
"Oh, that's fine. I was going to call Charles today anyway. We went to school together. Is he still an avid golfer? Tell him for me that he still needs to work on his slice."
Augusta sat and looked out the window and then back to the picture of Grace.
"Well, Gracey, soon we'll know if all my efforts are worthwhile. I wish you were here. I miss your laughter. This conference is in California. Maybe Charles will give me permission to go. I know I need a break. I feel so frazzled."
Charles Scribner put down the phone. He hadn't heard from Tom Seldin for years. They had been roommates in their first year. Now Seldin was the editor of JAMA. He thought Augusta's manuscript would raise the blood pressure of the genetic research fellowship. It was inwardly satisfying to know that he had hired a winner who was making a name for herself and bringing his company into the limelight. GenDnaPath was slowing making waves. Those waves were soon to return a healthy profit and turn into a tsunami.
"Augusta, can I talk to you a moment?" he asked after having knocked at her office door.
"Oh, Charles, I was just coming to see you. I have been..."
He answered "asked to give a paper at the Conference of Applied Genetics in San Francisco on the 20th of September."
He saw the slight testiness come into her eyes. She had wanted to tell him her news. Next time, he'd remember his oversight and not take the pleasure of her news away from her.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to steal your thunder. I was just coming to tell you to go for it. It will be a good outing for you. You need a break. Old Tom was always a shrewd judge of people. He's quick and if he says you are creating waves then you had better believe it. Why don't you take some time off after your speech? I owe you two years worth of holidays, but you've been so dedicated or if I could describe it in other words 'pig-headed', that you haven't taken any. Take two weeks. Our new lab should be nearly finished around then. I was thinking about giving the technicians and other researchers time off too. They can't do much here until the Health Department passes it for safety."
"Working at home is an option. I did take a holiday last February. It was my birthday and I treated myself to a decadent dinner and scrumptious dessert. I don't think I am that pig-headed. It's just the Scottish blood of stubbornness in me. What do you think about their praise of my paper?"
"Augusta, you with your blonde hair and bright blue eyes, has someone actually got you feeling better about yourself? Lady, I'm somewhat older than you, but we could be centuries apart. You are remarkable. I'm lucky that you took my job offer. GenDnaPath has benefited from your work. Maybe if your plans come to fruition, you might in twenty years get a Nobel Prize in the Advancement of Genetics. Who knows? Take your holidays. Don't think of work for a minute. Do something that gets you out in the open. Let the wind blow in your face and invigorate your lungs. You've been hunched over a research bench for too long. If you've never realized it, you are a very attractive woman. It would be a sin to keep you here like a novice in a nunnery. I'm a man who recognizes that the world needs all the beauty it can get."
Augusta had never heard someone describe her in that way before. It was embarrassing and she felt her cheeks redden.
"I guess you're right. I do need a break. Lately, I haven't been sleeping very well. My eyes get so tired that they ache by the end of a couple of hours. I will take your advice, but I don't know about the other part. But thanks for saying it anyway. I guess we all have to be valued. I didn't know you were such a cavalier and judge of old horses, equestrian or human."
Charles started to laugh. "I'm taking you out for dinner tonight, so go home. Do your female stuff and I'll pick you up at seven."
Augusta started to laugh, as she rode her bicycle back to her apartment. Charles was a good boss. What he thought of her and doing her female stuff was an open question. Men had no clue on how to handle the better half of the species. Did he think she went home and carried out secret spells of the sisterhood? She'd have a long hot bath and soak in bath salts and feel the tiredness being pulled from her body. That was just about all she'd do in her list of female stuff. She laughed again. Men were so droll. She was looking forward to a night out. Cooking for one was not the best way to have a delicious meal.