Mary Russell’s War (eleven): Continuing the record

13 October 1914

[In the hand of Dr Leah Ginzberg.]

I write this entry in the journal of Miss Mary Russell, who is currently in no condition to do so herself. A journal records a life, and it should be kept.

It is not ten days since the terrible accident that robbed Mary of her family and the world of three good people. Mary is in hospital with a series of injuries resulting from her being thrown from the family automobile as it went off a cliff south of San Francisco. The family’s housekeeper-cook, a Chinese woman named Mah Long, has asked me to help with various arrangements until Miss Russell is able to make decisions for herself.

One thing I help Mrs Long do is take various items to the hospital for Mary’s comfort and reassurance. Inevitably, a cook thinks of food, and although Mary has to be coaxed to eat anything at all, she is slightly more amenable to taking familiar tastes. I, being a therapist of the mind, address the less concrete means of healing this young woman. Her own bedding, her sweater over the hospital gowns, familiar books and childhood toys (we all regress, under trauma.) When I found this journal in her bedroom, it seemed to me she might be interested in recording her thoughts, and I brought it along with the porcelain-headed doll and the worn stuffed rabbit she kept near her bed at home.

As yet, in the four days the journal has sat beside her hospital bed, she has yet to pick it up (indeed, she scarcely speaks.) So rather than allow it to sit abandoned, I have taken the responsibility to sit down with her pen and enter this Tuesday’s events, from another’s point of view.

The journal to up to now appears to have been largely taken up with the events of the European War (Mary: I have glanced over it, but not read it closely, so as to preserve the privacy that is a necessary part of any journal.) Today’s entry has no such headlines, although that war continues, inexorably. There is sufficient conflict here in this hospital room to be going on.

—Leah Ginzberg


  1. Merrily Taylor on October 13, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Poor Russell, poor Dr. Ginzberg – I don’t think I remembered that Dr. Ginzberg was at Russell’s bedside from the first. Thank God she had someone to take care of her (until she found Holmes).

  2. Merrily Taylor on October 13, 2014 at 5:23 am

    Poor Russell – but I’m so glad that she had Dr. Ginzberg there with her from the first…someone to take care of her until she found Holmes.

  3. A.E. Matheson on October 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    It has always bothered me (regardless of the true root of the accident, revealed in Locked Rooms) that Holmes agreed with Mary’s declaration that she was responsible for the accident. Mary, despite strong intelligence can be excused due to trauma, but Holmes is just being stupid. Dying in the accident does not excuse you from responsibility. Three other people were in that car. Mary’s brother may have a pass because he, like she was a child at the time. But Father didn’t pull over and have words of whatever kind with his offspring. He kept speeding down the road and allowing them to distract him. Mother didn’t do anything to make them stop either, which as co-pilot was her job. Mary is partially responsible, giving the information at the time. But Holmes was irresponsibly stupid to say it was her fault.

    Thank you. Just had to finally get that off my chest. Looking forward, as always, to the next book. Been enthralled since 1994. aem

    • Laurie King on October 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      I wonder if Holmes wasn’t just appearing to agree with her? Certainly he would see that a flat denial of her self-accusation–no, you were not responsible–would alienate her, making her think that he was merely trying to soothe her guilt. The man is certainly devious enough for that…

      • Merrily Taylor on October 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm

        I would add that, given what we learned in LOCK (which I won’t repeat for fear of Spoiling for those who may not yet have read it) we really don’t know what Holmes is thinking as he listens to Russell’s “confession.” He may have suspicions that no one in that car was entirely culpable.
        And I agree, I suspect that any attempt to tell Mary at that point that she wasn’t responsible would likely have been met with anger, denial and disappointment (however irrational).

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