Index > Ongoing Stories > Miss Fortune Visits Doctor Stein Once More
Miss Fortune Visits Doctor Stein Once More
[Written by byzantiumc and kendrafortune, a collaboration between the players of Dr Frank Stein and Miss Clarissa Fortune]
Clarissa leaves the house wrapped up against the cold. It has been a while since she last went out and even crossing the street makes her feel quite breathless. She does not like to think about how feeble she has become over the last few weeks, but she has finished the last of the medicine Dr Stein gave her, and she knows she cannot avoid going back to see him again for any longer. She raps sharply at his front door.
Dr Stein looks up from his book. Who would it be? Mrs Pratchett is home for the holidays and he does not expect her back until the 5th. Timmy Timple with a letter for him that might have erroneously reached Mrs Hatch's? He shuts his book with some reluctance and and walks to the window and looks out. Miss Fortune! He furrows his brows. He pauses for a moment, considering how to answer if she asks for a diagnosis again. He opens the door and musters the slightest smile.
"Miss Fortune. Do come in."
He guides her into a sparsely furnished room, dusty and dark, with the faint smell of chemicals lingering in the air.
"I apologise for the dust and general disarray. I have a woman coming in to cook and clean, but she is on holiday." He picks up some books from a chair and gestures for her to sit.
Clarissa smiles faintly and takes the offered seat. The dust in the air irritates her throat and sets off her wretched cough. She struggles for a moment to control it and catch her breath.
"I have finished the medicine you gave me, Doctor, but I am still not better. I hoped you might have another suggestion for treatment. I am sure I will improve when the warmer weather returns, but Spring seems so very far away!"
Miss Fortune looks pale, and considerably more frail than she had been the last time he'd seen her. Something in her eyes reminded him of Helen. Perhaps it was the pallor, but no, it was more. He looked to his desk. The dusty box with her lock of hair and letters were all he had left - a faded memory of a different time.
He turned to Miss Fortune "I am sorry to hear it." She had no idea how sorry. "Some physicians suggest blood letting but it's inadvisable in my opinion. Take hot salt compresses - it will ease the coughing. Drink hot milk twice everyday. Add this medicine, with some sugar - it's bitter." He hands her a vial with dark liquid. He pauses. "How frequent are the coughing spells? Any phlegm? What colour is it?" He hesitates to ask if she sees blood in it. That would alarm her for sure.
Clarissa hesitates before replying. Once she has put the words out there they cannot be unsaid, and she does not think this doctor will present her with good news when he hears her symptoms. She has been ill for too many weeks now with not a sign of improvement.
"The cough is frequent, particularly at night or when I overexert myself." She steels herself to admit the truth. "The cough is productive and sometimes there is a little blood with it now."
Dr Stein looks thoughtfully at her and sighs. "In the spring, you may sit in the sunshine and take some fresh air." Will she be lucky enough to see the spring? "The only other treatment is what I have suggested. The bottle of medicine will last a fortnight. You may send someone for more later, though I would rather see you personally, to assess your condition." He pauses, and continues in a kinder voice. "Are you comfortable at home? Do you have someone to care for you?"
The prospect of Daniel and Kendra looking after her fills Clarissa with dismay. They are barely able to look after themselves.
"I live with my brother, and my sister lives down the street. She calls in on me regularly." She looks at the doctor again. She is certain she does not want to know the answer to this question, but finds herself asking it anyway. "Is it just a cold, doctor, or something worse? Should I be...concerned?"
The usually direct Dr Stein finds himself looking for the right words. "I'm afraid madam, it looks to be more than a cold. You mustn't be alarmed, or lose hope. Believe you shall recover soon - many patients do. But perhaps you should arrange for some help - at least to help you through the winter." He wishes he could have delivered the news to her family instead.
She sighs and looks at him directly. "Perhaps with the power of prayer also? Thank you, Doctor. I will take the medicine and look into hiring another maid." He did not give her the news she feared, but her mind is not eased. She does not know what to tell Kendra and Daniel when they ask. She wishes she had not come. Now she just feels so very tired. She closes her eyes for a moment.
Dr Stein find himself unable to tell her directly - he must write to the brother, or perhaps the sister - she seems more in charge. He rises. "You look tired madam - shall I call for a carriage perhaps, or walk you home?"
Clarissa opens her eyes and smiles faintly "A carriage I think, please, Doctor. I find myself quite fatigued from the walk here." She remembers when she could walk miles without rest. How stupid she was to think this was just a cold!
"Of course. I shall call for your carriage."
When the carriage arrives, Dr Stein helps Clarissa into it.
"Good night, Miss Fortune." He wishes he could say something more encouraging, but he cannot find the words. He sees her worried expression, and remembers Helen again.
"Goodnight, Doctor. Thank you. Please send the bill to me at my brother's house."
"Of course, madam."
He waits outside till her carriage rounds the corner, and disappears from sight. Slowly, he walks indoors. He takes off his coat, and sits down at his desk. It has been years since he had thought - really thought - of Helen. Today, Helen's Box seemed alive with memories again.
"Enough of this foolishness, Frank," he mumbles. "Do your job."
He pulls out a sheet of paper.
I must speak with you soon. It is of great import. Your sister Miss Fortune is gravely unwell.
He sighs and looks out into the cold night air. It begins to snow.
|Posted 3 weeks ago|
|Posted 3 weeks ago|