Whoops—three weeks have got away from me and I had this post of Regency Bagatelle ready to go. I have sold nine POD copies of my fantasy Rast and nine copies of the Iskander PODs, three of each title—all as locally as one might imagine, our own little hamlet at the edge of the mountains. For that I must thank the lady who writes our senior’s column for the local paper, who read the copy of Rast at the local library and wrote a nice plug in her column. See, it does work in home territory, if only the book gets the right word of mouth. I’ll be selling again the first weekend in December.
Now, back to Bagatelle… this post follows directly from the preceeding one below.
When the coach party left, and Miss Austen, Miss Georgiana, and Mr Bennet took care of the hysterical Mrs Bennet upstairs Mr Author was left alone while Haggerston went to prepare the house for the arrivals.
He had to marvel that Gisel had more talents than even he had written for her—surely a huge example of a character going far beyond the author’s intention. His plot intention was to give her one of the most valuable of intellectual abilities, the gift of almost perfect recall. Whatever she learned, indeed whatever she saw, heard, or participated in was stored where she might call upon it at need. He hoped her store of knowledge included the care of premature babies … how many weeks premature was the Bingley babe?
No doubt the expertise of Regency England was poorly equipped to save such a child from an early death, but perhaps that offered him a small opportunity to help. He found his way to the servants’ stairs and went down to the kitchens.
A very stout lady with grey hair looked up from a mixing bowl as he entered. “Can I help thee, Sir? This be kitchen.”
“Yes, I see. I was looking for Mr Haggerston and the girls he has gathered to help with the arrivals … particularly the babe.”
“Ah, thou needst not bother yoursel’ with that, Sir. The servants will do all that be needed.”
“Perhaps, but if Miss Matah is taking a major part in the matter I have a very good idea what measures and treatments she will insist upon. It seems to me that I can assist by preparing Mr Haggerston for some of the demands she might make.”
“I don’t know, I’m sure … we has not had a birth at Pemberly since Miss Georgiana was —“ She cut off as Haggerston came bustling in with one of the upstairs maids. “Why, here he be, now.”
“Can I help you, Sir?”
“Well, actually I have come down here to offer you my assistance. I was just telling Cook that Miss Matah will have some definite instructions that none of you may be familiar with … if Mr Darcy and the Bingleys ask her to continue helping.”
“I’m sure you know that a premature baby is in a medical emergency. I suspect Miss Matah may be able to offer valuable help, but she will need to use her medical knowledge rather than rely upon English custom. Not that I wish to impugn good English custom. I hope you understand what I mean.”
Haggerston nodded to the maid to continue what he had instructed and then turned to Mr Author. “I understand, Sir, that you and Miss Matah are very concerned to help, but I will be bound to follow Mr and Mrs Darcy’s instructions”
“We, that is the servants and myself, have noticed that the young lady has a very confidant manner, unusual in one so young, but likely merited by her unusually wide experience of the world. It is unheard of that a woman should be reckoned a physician, but if Miss Matah’s mother has indeed passed on such knowledge to her daughter it would be a boon to the family… I hesitate to speak out of turn, but the district has not possessed a good physician since old Dr Farnon died. It is to be hoped that Mr Bingley is unable to rouse Lambton’s Dr Hodgekin from his cups.”
“I see. And is there a good midwife in the district?”
“Mr Darcy has sent Bonsall to fetch old Mrs Brown in the shay. She’s a reliable old soul, but likely to be troubled in the manner of this birthing. It seems usual for such an event to result …” he paused and exchanged a troubled glance with Cook … “in much sadness for the family — not that we does not pray that this should be different.”
“Indeed. It is in my concern to see a better outcome that I offer my suggestions for preparations before the rescuers return. I know that Miss Matah will insist on her methods of preventing sickness if such should threaten.”
“An’ what be those, Sir,” said Cook, taking her hands from the mixing bowl.
“Perhaps nothing that you are not acquainted with. It is a matter of sterilization, the strict methods of cleaning everything that should be brought in contact with the mother and child.”
“An’ how be that done, Sir?”
“By immersing everything in boiling water to kill anything likely to convey sickness to the patients. It is recognized that many harmful disease organisms are too small to see with the unaided eye and that boiling water can kill them.”
“As you says, Sir,” said Cook with a rising colour. “A cook is not unfamiliar with cleanliness—particularly in her kitchen.”
“Then I am sure you can put a reliable girl to work with preparing boiling water, with sterilizing some containers that may be used to store boiled water, and holding herself ready to supply such items as Miss Matah may request.”
Haggerston looked at Cook. “Is that acceptable, Cook? We must not presume to trespass into your kitchen, but I must suggest that the possible plight of mother and babe do call for our most urgent exertions. If dinner must be delayed until we have dealt with the emergency, then delayed it must be.”
“Very well, Mr Haggerston. I will call my girls and set them to work.”