I didn’t go back to Luc’s room until it was time to bring him his dinner. According to Jacques, his stomach had settled so we gave him turkey, potatoes, and peas. Even though I was sure he’d get upset, I cut his turkey up for him before I brought it up.
Jacques opened the door for me. Luc didn’t even look up as I placed the tray in his lap. When he started to eat without speaking, I went into my room and sat down heavily at the journal in front of me. It was hard to believe I have only been here for two days. Taking care of Luc and his outbursts was more tiring than stitching for 14 hours straight.
Without realizing it, I started to doze and was woken by the bell. I rubbed my eyes and walked through the door.
“I’m done,” he announced so I reached for the tray. “No. Jacques is on his way to take it.”
“Then what does the Master need from me?” I asked, thinking longingly of my bed.
“To sit down,” he muttered and I obeyed, “and accept my apology. These… moments of mine.” He sighed. “Forgive me, but they’re hard to speak about.”
I crossed my legs and leaned back in the chair to get comfortable.
He glared at his blankets. “Because I am supposed to be strong. I am the man, Madame Petit, take that however you wish. To admit my failings is… difficult.”
I smiled and laughed a little. “Master Luc, to admit our shortcomings is difficult for everyone, no matter their sex. Why do you have outbursts like those?”
“I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head. “One minute I feel normal and the next I’m yelling at the nearest person.”
“Sounds to me as if you are depressed,” I said. “It does not surprise me, all things considered.”
“Depressed?” he repeated.
“Yes,” I said. “It is a mental condition but just as physical as what you’re experiencing right now. There are many treatments but the easiest on your body is the hardest on your pride.”
He narrowed eyes. “And what is it?”
“Talking about what bothers you,” I answered.
As I expected, he scoffed and shook his head.
“I’m not going to talk about my feelings. Not to you.”
“Why not?” I asked curiously.
“You’re a stranger,” he said.
“A stranger that nurses you,” I pointed out.
“Don’t be smart,” he snapped. “I’m aware of all you are doing and I appreciate it. It’s not the same, though.”
“I never said it was,” I said quietly. “But just remember to choose your words carefully. Just because I’m a stranger it does not mean I don’t have feelings. I could have easily been offended and what would have happened next?”
“I don’t know. What?”
“I would leave,” I whispered. “And that upsets you.”
His eyes were sharp as he studied me.
“What?” he hissed.
“The thought of me leaving upsets you,” I said. “Perhaps not me specifically, but being left behind.” I saw his jaw clench and his hands balled into fists. “Don’t do that, Master Luc. You will harm your hands.”
He was glaring but did as I said and loosened his hands.
“How many doctors have come through?” I asked.
“Why does it matter?” he demanded.
“Because,” I said and he flipped the tray.
“That’s not an answer!” he shouted. I flinched as his plate clattered to the floor. “Give me a damn answer or leave! Get out of my home!”
I stood and picked up his plate and tray, thrusting them at Jacques when he came to find out what was wrong. I turned to Luc and his glare faded at the one that had taken up residence on my face.
“I understand anger,” I said evenly. “But you will not throw things or harm yourself. I don’t care how angry you are. Shout. Do not throw.”
“Are you chastising me!?” he demanded.
“Yes,” I said. “The reason it matters is because, with each doctor that has come through here, they brought you a modicum of hope. They brought you the thought that maybe you would get better. Then they leave and you’re left wishing that you never met them.”
I walked to the door then turned around. The bell had fallen off the table so I replaced it.
“Ring if you need me.”
I walked through and shut the door, taking deep breaths as I stormed to my desk. I had so wanted to shout back but that would do no good. I didn’t mind yelling. I wouldn’t stand having someone throw things at me. Not again.
Today’s observations were not as hopeful as I had hoped. Though he has shown progress with the lotion, the trip to the greenhouse only seemed to do more harm than good. Two outbursts later and his dinner tray was on the floor. Surely there must be a way to get past these. I have no doubt Master Luc is experiencing depression from being locked up all the time with this illness. For now, I will leave him alone unless he calls on my services.
If his pride will let him.
I closed the journal and got my brush out, pulling it through my hair slowly. I remembered how my father would have moments where all he did was yell and throw things. Even though my mother never did that, she did get stone cold. It was a sure sign that Luc was letting his illness win. If he did that, there was no curing him; even if I did find the ultimate cure.
Someone knocked on my bedroom door and I opened it. I smiled a little at Duke Moreau.
“Good evening,” I said with a curtsy.
“What happened?” he asked. “Jacques said that Luc got most upset.”
I sighed. “Your son is depressed. We must have touched a sensitive subject for he yelled and tossed his tray.”
“He yelled at you again?”
“I will continue to be patient with him,” I said. “But, next time you speak with him, let him know I will not tolerate having things thrown around. I don’t care if it’s not at me.”
“Are you going to leave?” he whispered.
“No,” I said and gripped the doorknob. “I’m going to promise you that, I don’t care what I have to do, I’m going to figure this out. Even if it means just getting a name for what’s afflicting him.”
He grasped my hands. “Thank you so much. I will speak to him.”
“Around noon every day we’re going to open his windows for an hour or until he gets uncomfortable,” I told him. “I think that will help.”
“Will it make him sick?”
I smiled a little. “Duke Moreau, now that this affliction has made itself known, it doesn’t matter. He’ll get sick regardless. The best we can do is find out what to do when he does get sick and get him to the point of recovery.”
His shoulders fell. “I’m confused, Madame Petit.”
I thought for a second.
“No matter what preventive measures you use, he’ll always get a cold,” I said. “He will always get a fever. However, not all is lost. If we can find a way to… attack whatever is the underlying issue, the colds and fevers will pass quicker with proper medical care.”
He frowned. “So you’re saying that we have to treat the root before pruning the leaves.”
“Always prune the leaves,” I said. “But don’t neglect the roots.”
He nodded. “I think I understand now. Your friend has not responded yet. Does she live far?”
“Not too far,” I said. “I don’t anticipate a response until the end of the week.”
He nodded again. “I see. Well, thank you, Madame Petit.”
“Percy,” I corrected and he laughed.
“I keep forgetting.” He saw my open journal. “Ah. I’ve interrupted you. Please forgive me.”
I shook my head and put a hand on his arm. “You did not interrupt me. This is why I am here. Go get some rest, Monsieur. You look exhausted.”
“I will after I speak with Luc. Good evening, Percy.”