The Gardener's Daughter

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Chapter 22

The two dark suited gentlemen met in the hallway and looked knowingly at each other. Each had a bulky black case in their hands, containing the tools of their trades. They were prepared to perform their solemn duties and had heavy hearts at the loss of the only son and heir of such a noble family.

Fr. Clark had brought the necessary items needed for the performance of a person’s last sacrament, extreme unction. He did not know if he would be in time to be able to offer this comfort to the family, but he hoped so. He had with him some oil for anointing the sick and a consecrated host for a final last communion. A viaticum, to nourish him on his final journey.

One of the grooms took them up to the landing and pointed out the correct door before going back downstairs to see to the horses.

As the doctor and the holy man entered the room they saw David sitting up in bed eating hot buttered toast.

“Ah, good morning gentlemen!” he greeted them, laughing at their astonished faces. “How are you both?”

“More to the point how are you?” they stammered in unison, looking amazed at the sight before them.

“I am sorry to have got you out of your beds prematurely, but as you can see I am just fine! I’m afraid you’ve had a wasted journey.”

They looked at each other, then looked at his parents

“How did this come about?” asked Doctor Lee

“We do not know for sure…” his mother started

“I was saved by an angel” David interrupted them “She stayed with me all night and gave me heavenly medicine”

The doctor looked confused

“You may have been hallucinating, due to the high temperatures you suffered.”

Lord Dearing took the doctor aside.

“One of the scullery maids made a concoction, from bark, she claimed. Could that have done this?” he waved his hand towards the bed.

Doctor Lee pondered that for a minute.

“Well some bark does have miraculous properties, and that is where we get quinine. I would advise that he still take that when it arrives, just to chase all vestiges of the disease from his body.”

“Could it have harmed him in any way?”

“I have heard of this being used before, although I have never seen its effects. Do you think I could speak to her?”

“Of course, I’ll have her brought to the study, when you have completed your examination.”

The doctor’s body thermometer showed that David’s temperature had returned to normal for an adult human male. All his other vital signs seemed regular and the doctor advised that he could resume his normal activities, gradually.”

“Take it a little slowly for the first couple of weeks and do not exert yourself unduly.”

“Don’t worry, he won’t.” said his father “He’s been invited down to Lord Fitzroy’s estate in . I think it will be advisable for him to accept I’m sure some sea air will do him good.”

“Well, leave it a week or two before letting him embark on such a long journey, he will still be weak.”

David promised that he would indeed take care.

The good doctor smiled at his patient, relieved to see him looking so well. He was unsettled though by the way a maid managed to achieve what he hadn’t been able to.

He may have to waive his fee on this occasion.

After a prayer of thanksgiving Father Clark left discreetly.

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