Dr. Llwellyn worked feverishly on carefully stopping Lydia’s bleeding until a carriage arrived to help transport the wounded to a nearby hospital, one that specifically treated injured patients from the factories. There, the work continued until the rosy hue of morning crested the horizon, parting the clouds from the day before. Sunlight edged over rooftops and peeked through windows with the promise of a clear day.
With Lydia sleeping peacefully and safely in a soft bed, the elven doctor reached up and ran a hand through his disheveled brown hair to comb it straight with his fingers. It was sheer luck that the nearest hospital had enough beds for everyone that needed one, almost miraculous that they had one room, despite having several beds, that was empty. It made it easier to work on Lydia without having to explain her condition to the overly curious, beyond a nurse or two.
Brushing hair behind his gently pointed ears, he looked across the room at the sound of a light snore. Rodney, after having worked tirelessly alongside Dr. Llewellyn all night, had passed out only an hour before in a nearby chair.
“Sleep well, lad,” the doctor said with a smile, “you more than earned it.”
Thorias looked out at the morning sunrise with a harsh frown, and suppressed a yawn. Sunlight streamed in through the pair of tall, narrow windows that adorned the eastern wall of the room. He walked over and pulled a curtain closed to block some of the sunlight before it shone into Lydia’s face and woke her.
He considered taking a carriage back to the ship, or to an inn for a proper room. Thorias decided on one of the four other empty hospital beds close by. Stretching out on one, he was fast asleep in moments.
When he awoke, the sun had begun to set. Waning sunbeams painted the sky a calming mix of orange-red light, dancing through the window to shine in his eyes. Slowly rolling over, he found Moira standing next to the bed, staring down at him with a look of amusement. He jerked awake, blinked in confusion, then frowned at her. She grinned.
“Top of the evenin’!” She said brightly.
“Has anyone told you that you are, at times, insufferably cheery?” Thorias mumbled while he sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes. “What hour is it?”
Moira looked out the window at the remains of the setting sun, “oh, I’d give it six or seven in the evening.”
“Heavens,” Dr. Llwellyn muttered, “I can’t believe I’ve slept the day through.” He looked around the room. Lydia was still asleep, but a porcelain cup and saucer sat next to her bed. The cup was almost empty, but still maintained a light stain of tea on the inside.
He looked at Moira, “She’s had some tea?”
Moira nodded, “oh sure. She woke herself up quite a bit ago. She was real hungry and thirsty. So, I tracked down and drug back some scones and tea. Rodney left to sleep it off, so I stayed.” She grinned at the doctor again. “Y’know, ya softly sing drinkin’ songs when ya sleep. Pretty good at it, too.”
Thorias shook his head slightly to clear the cobwebs from it. “Good, she’s drinking then – and despite your astute analysis of my sleeping habits … thank you, Moira, for watching over Miss Olivander.”
“Yer quite welcome!” Moira replied. “The Cap’n’s been asking after ya, by the way. He wants ya to come by the White Hart as soon as yer able. I brought some fresh clothes for ya.” She pointed at the duffel bag.
Thorias climbed out of the bed. A brief attempt to smooth the wrinkles from the waistcoat and shirt he had slept in proved futile. He surrendered to the disheveled look with a frustrated sigh. “A proper shave first, and a chance of clothes. Then the Captain.”
A half hour later, Thorias was washed, shaved, dressed in relatively wrinkle-free clothing, and opening the door to the White Hart Tavern in search of Captain Hunter. After a brief look around the crowded room, he found him. The captain was sitting at a table on the far side of the common room from the front door. Two pint glasses filled with some dark liquid sat on the table in front of him.
The crowded tavern was filled with conversations about the killings and conjecture regarding Mary and her illicit experiments, of which the police had so far been very silent. The doctor listened to some of the theories while he crossed the room. Some, like one that claimed she was using parts of the dead bodies to make cheap labor, were almost frighteningly accurate. Others, such as the story where she was trying to fabricate a new type of wine, were laughable at best.
“I see Moira got my message to you,” Captain Hunter said while Thorias approached.
“Oh yes, with nothing short of her usual grace and elegance,” the doctor said dryly.
“Leaning over you while grinning like a gibbon, was she?” Hunter said with a polite chuckle.
“That woman,” Thorias said with a long sigh, “I swear there is something wrong with her. I just haven’t found what to call the condition, yet. But I’m quite sure it’s some sort of derangement.”
“It’s called a healthy exuberance for life, old bean,” the captain replied. “She just has it in abundance, that’s all. I count my blessing’s that she’s on our side.” Hunter said, sitting forward. “Doctor, I prescribe a stout tonic for your current delicate condition,” Hunter pushed a pint across the table.
Thorias smiled, “in my professional capacity, I must concur.”
“How are the others fairing?” The captain asked, watching as Thorias took a drink. “I was able to inquire as to Mrs. Givens and William, to which I know they are both recovering nicely. Beyond that, they ushered me along rather rapidly when I asked after anyone else, such as Miss Olivander or Detective MacTaggart.”
“Quite my fault, there,” the doctor explained. “I warned the staff that Miss Olivander’s condition was rather … brittle. So, she needed as little excitement as possible. Therefore I suspect they may have taken a rather draconic stance over it. Although, before I left, she had been drinking tea and was sleeping soundly. That is a very good sign in and of itself. Detective MacTaggart and Constable Martin are recovering nicely, as well.”
Hunter took a sip of his own drink, “you attended to them?”
“I assisted,” Thorias corrected. “The police contacted the Medical Academy for one of their top surgeons. Nice work, as well. Both the detective and the constable should make a fairly speedy recovery, as well as anyone can from a bullet wound.”
“Of that I’m all too familiar,” Hunter said darkly.
“What of our mad scientist?” Dr. Llwellyn asked. “And her menagerie of assistants?”
“As I understand it from Constable Anderson, Dr. Hereford is being remanded into the care of an asylum. Predominantly for the criminally insane, though I’m sure they see all kinds.”
“I’d say ‘poor woman’, but given what she did, I can’t muster the sympathy,” The doctor said grimly. “From what I saw of Liam, he couldn’t have survived the jolt he took from that CASS.”
Hunter shook his head slightly, “no, he didn’t. He’ll be answering to Providence for his misdeeds, not any court.”
“So, what of Sirrah Conor O’Daily, and the Monkhouses?”
“Ah well, you see once all concerned were brought in, I heard that Conor was quite cooperative.” The captain explained. “Earned him passage right to the Royal Navy shipyards at the Bermuda penal colony instead of to a noose. Mrs. Anita Monkhouse has been remanded to prison until her hearing. I suspect she’ll be sent right back there after the trial. Her husband, well, he’s quite a different story.”
Hunter took a short drink, “As it was told to me, he suffered a breakdown. He is cooperating, but he is under direct medical observation. I suspect he’ll be tried if he fully recovers.”
“Did the police uncover anything about Dr. Hereford’s … project?” Thorias asked with a grimace.
“Yes, they discovered a laboratory nestled underneath the factory from directions provided by WIlliam,” Hunter explained, “once he was awake and in his own mind. Monkhouse was, through his wife, purchasing ‘upgrades’ for his factory. He knew something of what was going on, but kept a blind eye to it. His wife managed the direct dealings with Dr. Hereford.”
“So the victims were prototypes? Simply experiments to validate the process?” The doctor asked, horrified.
Hunter took a drink of his stout, setting the glass down carefully. “Experiments … yes. And the failures were sold as revenue sources to augment the stipend from Monkhouse.” The captain looked thoughtfully across the tavern while more patrons entered, settling at tables or along the bar. “What of Miss Olivander’s … Lydia’s … condition?”
“Ah, yes, her ‘condition’,” the doctor echoed. “On one hand, I’m horrified. Vivisection of a helpless girl struggling to make a life? Monstrous. Although, the work was itself brilliant.”
Thorias hesitated, as if the words were painful to say. “I can’t remove any of it, you know. She’d die for certain. As it stands now, amazingly, I believe she’ll survive just fine.
“Although, the ‘enhancements’ haven’t caused her any medical grief that I can see,” the doctor said with a shrug. “As long as she sees a physician regularly, I suspect she’ll recover to enjoy a very long life. I sent word to a gentlemen I know, a Dr. Joseph Bell. He lectures at the University of Edinburgh when he’s not busy in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Brilliant fellow. He enjoys a challenge.”
“How extensive were her … ‘enhancements’?” Hunter asked carefully. “Do you know how much was replaced?”
“Extensive,” the doctor replied grimly. “Bone and sinew replaced at key stress points, her lungs have been replaced, her heart augmented with some clockwork timing mechanism. I didn’t perform any deep surgery for fear of causing her great harm. I swear I thought I heard more, but I didn’t find anything else when I was removing the metal filings that sliced her so badly.”
“You only worked around and in her wounds, yes?” The captain asked.
“Yes, just where she was sliced when she was tossed into the wagon,” Thorias replied. “Although there were faint burn marks on the base of her skull, near what looked to be a scar. I didn’t know what to make of that, so I let it be for the moment.”
He then frowned, giving Anthony a suspicious look. “You’re driving somewhere with this. What are you after?”
Hunter looked at his friend in surprise. “Me? Nothing.”
“Rubbish,” the doctor replied. “I’ve known you far too long. You’ve deduced something. What is it?”
The captain shook his head, “it’s a theory. Nothing more. If I’m accurate in my guess, I’m not certain if I should be elated at solving the mystery, or greatly disturbed.”
Moira walked up to the table with Rodney in tow, both ducking between a small knot of teamsters that were entering the tavern at the same time.
“Theorizin’?” Moira asked curiously. “About what, Cap’n?”
As Hunter glanced up, a ghost of a smile spread over his face. “Ah, smashing! You’re both here.” The captain stood, lifting the coat from the chair next to him. “Which means we need to go.”
“Wait, what?” The lady blacksmith said in surprise. “Go?”
Dr. Llwellyn continued to look at his friend suspiciously while Moira and Rodney exchanged a befuddled glance.
“Pray tell, where are we going, Anthony?” Thorias asked, “you’re being right cryptic, even for you.”
“To prove a theory,” Anthony said, donning his coat. “Or to disprove it. Care to join me in a field test?” With the ghost-like smile still on his face, he dropped two coins on the table.
“Hasn’t anyone wondered, through all of this, why were the heather blossoms left at the overturned cart? Fresh blossoms?” Before anyone could answer, the captain turned away, heading briskly for the door.
“Infuriating,” the doctor said with a ragged sigh, “just infuriating.” Taking a last drink from his stout, Thorias rose, following Anthony to the front door.
Rodney shrugged at Moira, then turned to follow the first two.
“What theory?” Moira sputtered with a frustrated glare aimed at the trio exiting the front door. When no one answered, she rolled her eyes as she raced to catch up with them.