While with him, I did my best to hide my emotions. Seeing Luc lay in that bed, though, barely able to lift his spoon reminded me of my parents. I sighed and took my hair out of the braids I put it in before leaving this morning.
The room Duke Moreau had given me was truly grand and beautiful. The carpet was a rich red and the blankets blue. I had a vanity but asked it be switched with a writing desk. I didn’t wear makeup anyway. There was no need for it; especially now.
I sat down at the desk and opened the journal my sister purchased for me. I went to the third page then wrote today’s date.
Today’s observations were brief. Monsieur Luc Moreau exhibits the same symptoms I and my sister saw in our parents’. His fever is severe though part of that can be due to mistreatment. I have created a new soup for him to eat that will give him more nourishment than the broth they have been giving him these last few weeks. Tomorrow I go to the gardens to inspect their herbs with my book. I hope to find what I need for this new tonic.
Meanwhile, I have yet to hear back from Dr. Katerina Giovani. Monsieur Jean Moreau was uncertain about my consultation but I assured him she will not charge and have given him all of her studies. I have converted him. I am anxious. I know she can help me.
Though I do not know this young man, though I do not know why I was chosen, though I do not know exactly how, I will do all I can to heal this young man.
I blew on the ink until I knew it was dry then closed the journal. I rubbed my eyes and blew the candle out, feeling my way to the bed. I had just drifted off to sleep when I heard the bell. Quickly, I put on my robe and opened the door that connected my room to his.
“Master Luc?” I asked.
He was on his back, his face twisted in pain.
“Right hand,” he said through clenched teeth and I took it gingerly.
I observed it. The fingers were locked at the joints and I nodded to myself.
“One moment,” I said and went to the bag I had brought with me, sifting through it until I finally found the lotion. “May I sit?” I asked.
“I don’t care,” he mumbled.
I sat on the bed beside his hand and put some lotion on my hand. It wasn’t exactly beautiful smelling, but it did the job. I rubbed it then took his right forearm. He opened his eyes curiously as I gently massaged from his arm and down to his wrist.
“What interests you, Master Luc?” I asked as I got closer to his hand.
“Why?” he demanded but I didn’t answer. He sighed. “Books. I love history and….”
“And what?” I prompted.
“You will laugh.”
I looked at him. “There are many painful things I may have to do to you, but laughing at your interests is not one of them.”
He hesitated just as I got to his wrist and he gasped in pain.
“What else interests you?” I pushed, being as careful as I could.
“Poetry,” he murmured and I nodded.
“A beautiful subject,” I said. “Do you have a preferred poet?”
“Take a deep breath, Master Luc,” I said.
I didn’t answer again so he obeyed. I started at his thumb and this time he cried out.
“I know it hurts,” I said soothingly. “It will pass. Keep taking deep breaths. Do not clench your left hand,” I added. I glanced at his face. There were tears streaming down it so I thought for a second. “Do you enjoy plants?”
“Yes,” he gasped while I got to his pointer finger. “I used to garden.”
“The disease as stopped you?” I asked and he nodded. “I see. Tomorrow I am due to visit your greenhouse. Would you like to join me?”
He didn’t answer right away but I gave him time. I had reached his pinky finger and all the pain he just went through quite possibly put him to sleep. I was massaging his palm when he spoke.
“I would like that,” he mumbled.
“Then it’s set,” I said. “After breakfast. How is your hand?”
I sat back and waited anxiously. It always worked when mine seized up from stitching too long but for this kind of thing….
He lifted it and looked at it curiously.
“How did you do that?” he breathed.
“It’s a simple lotion,” I answered, handing him the bottle. “It may not smell like roses, but it’s very effective.”
He bit his lip. “Can you make more?”
I smiled gently. “Of course I can.” I stood up and he passed me the bottle back. “I will bring you your breakfast in the morning. Good night.”
“Good night,” he muttered.
I shut the door and let out a sigh of relief. I rushed to my journal.
An update: my pain lotion was effective! His right hand had locked up and, with the lotion and massaging, his pain was alleviated. I plan to make more.
I yawned and went back to bed, hoping my writing is legible.
The sun woke me up and I got out of bed, changing into a dress. Before going downstairs, I checked in on Luc. He was fast asleep, his right hand on his stomach. I looked at it and the fingers were curled. I sighed sadly when the same could be said for his left hand.
I backed away and shut the door quietly. As I walked down to the kitchen, I pulled my hair into a loose knot. Duke Moreau was eating and I paused to tell him of last night. Hearing about the lotion made tears jump to his eyes.
“I will make more,” I said before he could ask. “I’m visiting the greenhouse to see your herbs and offered him to join me.”
“Did he say yes?” he asked and I nodded.
“Sir,” I said with a curtsy to dismiss myself and went to the cabinets.
“I have Monsieur Moreau’s breakfast already prepared,” the cook said but I shook my head.
“I’m sorry, madame, but he cannot eat that today,” I said, looking at what she had prepared. “At least not for breakfast.”
She frowned at the plate.
“He always has ham for breakfast!” she cried. “It is his favorite!”
I sighed and picked up his fork and knife.
“Very well. Put it on the counter please.”
She looked confused but did as I said. Carefully, I cut his ham up for him and chopped his scrambled eggs up a little more. I wasn’t sure if he liked to have his toast with jam so I left it as it was.
“And your breakfast?” she asked.
“Later,” I shook my head and took the tray before she could object.
A male servant whose name I learned was Jacques came out of Luc’s room. He bowed to me and I curtsied a little.
“Is he decent?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“And you helped him sit as I requested?”
“Yes ma’am,” he nodded and I smiled.
“Thank you, Jacques.”
“Madame,” he said and held the door open for me.
I smiled at Luc. He had a book in his lap but, as I suspected, his hands were curled in his lap.
“Good morning,” I said and he looked up.
“Good morning,” he returned. “Who cut my meal up for me?” he demanded angrily.
“I did,” I said, sitting in the chair as he glared at me.
“You touched my food!?” he yelled and I waited, used to men’s pride getting in the way. “I’m perfectly capable of that, thank you very much!”
“Are you?” I asked.
“Yes,” he snapped.
I nodded. “If you’re certain, butter your toast.”
He glared at me and sat up straight. He took the knife but he couldn’t grip it. His face was pink but he wasn’t giving up. With a shaking hand, he held the toast. He got the butter but I stopped him before his shaking hand caused him to cut through into his hand.
“It’s time to let go of your pride, Monsieur,” I whispered. He avoided my gaze. “Do you enjoy having jam on your toast?” He just gave me a curt nod and I did it for him quickly. I stood. “I am going to the greenhouse in fifteen minutes. Would you be ready?”
“I do not wish to go,” he said and I nodded.
“I assumed as much,” I said. “Jacques will be here if you need me.”
I left to give him an opportunity to nurse his pride. I informed Jacques of where I would be. When I got to the greenhouse, I cried a little. I wrote down the names of the herbs they had and took a deep breath. I leaned against the table and shut my eyes, controlling my tears as I saw my father stabbing his hand trying to do the very thing Luc had.