The Book of Hours

The Book of Hours by Davis Bunn Read Free Book Online

Book: The Book of Hours by Davis Bunn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Davis Bunn
Tags: Ebook, book
longer wanted to depart. Why, he could not say. He had no good reason to want to hang around. But he could not argue with what had resounded through the pain and the night.
    Brian winced as the first discomfort sliced cleanly through his side. He knew an instant’s fear, for he was certain the doctor had meant exactly what she said. Dr. Lyons was not going to return.
    The pain subsided momentarily, long enough for him to knead his side and take an easy breath. But it was just a fleeting lapse; he could almost see the clean ice-blade of coming agony poised over his belly. He wanted to shout, to call and plead for someone to come and help. But the manor’s interior walls were so thick he doubted anyone could hear. And certainly no one would be able to help stop the pain.
    Fear of what he was about to endure pushed a sheen of sweat to his face. But it was not just the fear. Brian curled up on his side, pressing hard to shield himself from the torment, and heard the silent cry resound through his panic-stricken mind. He wanted to live. Cecilia was out the main gates and a hundred yards down the road before she finally accepted that she had to go back. No matter how hard she argued with herself, she could not leave her landlord unattended until the duty nurse made morning rounds. It might be another two hours before the nurse arrived, and Cecilia had seen enough patients with kidney stones to know those minutes could last a lifetime.
    She turned back, resigned to the fact that she could not even become angry with the man. She was too busy worrying over little Tommy Townsend.
    As she passed back through the front gates and crunched down the weed-infested drive, her mind continued to circle over the latest developments in the child’s case. The previous day’s examination had yielded nothing new. Cecilia took no comfort in the youngster’s proving an enigma to her boss as well. Tommy was nearly five years old and was not growing. He suffered from undefined aches and pains. One day it was his chest, the next his knees. He slept too much. He was listless. His fever varied by as much as four degrees in a twenty-four-hour period.
    As Cecilia pushed through the front door, crossed the gloomy front hall, and started up the stairs, she reflected that Tommy’s mother was almost as great a worry as the child himself. Angeline followed every diagnostic test with an overwrought horror.
    She was halfway up the stairs when it hit her—the test she had failed to carry out, principally because she had never heard of it being used. It harkened back to earlier times, when tiny babies refused to grow, and underweight children were a tragic norm. Cecilia hurried on, determined now to finish here and get to the office so she could call Angeline Townsend and prepare her for yet another night of worry and dread.
    The world and the morning did not truly come into focus until she pressed the doorbell and heard the scraping sound inside. She felt a rising tide of guilt, which crested when Brian Blackstone opened the door and stood there clenching his side and breathing in tight little gasps.
    â€œHere, let me help you back to bed.” She slipped under his arm and felt the perspiration that sheened the skin of his chest. These panic-sweats were a classic symptom of kidney stones, and along with the off-side pain offered one of the speediest diagnoses in medicine. Together they made the journey back down the hallway and into the formal parlor. The air of faded grandeur was even stronger in the morning light. As was the desperately grateful look Brian gave her as he returned to his pallet.
    The man’s gratitude left Cecilia feeling even worse. No matter that he was stealing away her beloved Rose Cottage. He was a patient, and he was in great pain. It went against the foundations of her profession to realize that she had caused him to suffer unduly. “How long since the pain returned?”
    â€œAbout an hour.” His

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