CHAPTER V | Science | Sleep

CHAPTER V *** The rest of the day was quite uneventful, so I will not spend much time describing the

day's events in detail, reader, I will merely provide you with a summary. I did not speak to my mother at breakfast, for I was still quite furious with her for canceling my lessons; I knew that today was the day that she was going to tell Miss Smith that we were no longer in need of her services, although I have an inkling that my father already warned her, for she took the news without much shock or surprise. Luckily my mother could read in my countenance that I was still very upset with her, for she did not direct much attention toward me. My father did not come to table and I had not seen Mary since our shared time in the library earlier this morning, so I could assume from this that they were still enclosed in my father's study; this left my mother and myself alone at table, sitting and eating in silence. After I had finished my tea and a sweetened roll with dried fruit, I stood and, without looking at my mother, quitted the breakfast room. I found a servant to fetch my cloak, and I put on my pattens—this, for those who are unaware, are devices attached to one's shoe so the mud will not ruin the hem of one's dress, or the shoe itself; then I stepped outside to stroll through the garden. The winter air was quite bracing, causing a shock to my lungs as I took in my first breath in the cold temperatures. After twenty minutes or so, I began to grow quite frigid, so I went inside. The rest of the afternoon I sat in the drawing room and made sketches; out of all the accomplishments that Miss Smith taught me over the years, sketching and painting were the most difficult for me to master, and thus, my least favorite. My rational mind did not see the reasoning for spending an afternoon working on something that could not be used. This afternoon, however, I did not think of why I

should or should not spend my time in such a creative medium, instead, I allowed my mind to rest and I lost myself in my activity. My father joined my mother and myself for dinner, yet still, none of us spoke, we simply let the sound of plate on dishes fill the air of the dining room. I did, however, feel my father's eyes on me throughout the entirety of the meal, which unnerved me greatly; I wanted to know what Mary and he had discussed, but I did not want to be the one to initiate such a conversation, on the off chance that I was suffering from paranoia in regards to their growing concern over me. After dinner, I sat with my father and read with a cup of tea, while my father (who was also reading) enjoyed a nightcap of port. Again, I could feel his eyes on me rather than the newspaper he was pretending to read. Unable to take more of this ocular inquisition, I finished my tea in a rather unladylike gulp and, closing my book, crossed to my father to bestow on him a good-night kiss, then I retired to my bedchamber. Mary, who I had not seen at all throughout the day, came in to assist me out of my dayclothes and into my nightgown. Once this was completed, I slid myself under the thick blankets and told Mary that she was free to leave. She had not said a word to me since this morning, and even now, she simply nodded and turned to go to the door, closing it behind her. Once I heard her footsteps disappear, I climbed out of bed and went to the table where my jewelry box was placed, concealing my golden pocket watch. Once this bauble had been retrieved, I returned to my bed and watched the seconds tick away; the light from the fireplace shone and caused the pocket watch to glisten; this spectacle and the metronome quality of time passing lulled me to sleep, which began quite peacefully, but did not result in such a pleasant outcome. ***

These following events, reader, will be written exactly as I can recall them—this event was quite strange indeed, and still haunts me when I think about it to this day; I do not recall everything, but I will write what I can... I remember that my eyes were open, and I could feel that the golden pocket watch was clutched in my fingers. For some reason, I had risen from bed and was walking downstairs, being led to the front door—I say 'led', dear reader, because I was not in control of my movements, similar in the way I had been led in the previous chapter, I believe it is this that haunts me and frightens me so much, for it cannot be explained rationally. But, back to the point, I had completed my descent to the ground level and was on my way to the front door, no doubt with the overall goal of going outside. This proved accurate, and I found myself once more on the stone step leading from the front door to the courtyard. It had begun to snow at some point during the evening, and still I continued on. I had made it to the garden, and that was when I realized that I had, once again, neglected to put my slippers and shawl on, I became aware of this once I had stepped on a sharp rock and cut the bottom of my foot. This was not enough to wake me, so I continued on, stopping when I got to the garden's iron gate. The gate did not provide me with much of an obstacle, for I placed my hand on the latch and stepped through. I made it through to the three stepping stones that provide a pathway, then to the road, turning to the left towards the graveyard. My body continued toward the hill where the graveyard lies, feeling the cold, frosted earth on my bare feet, which were now beginning to hurt from the cold and the roughness of the ground. I do not know how long I walked, but it felt as if I had walked for hours; I could see the graveyard approaching as I walked, I had now begun a constant shiver, and my feet were feeling quite painful, to the point where I was unsure if I would be able to walk much longer. It was this that startled me awake. I continued to shiver: from both the cold and

from fear. I was now completely terrified—I did not understand what was happening to me, and why I could not sleep through the entirety of an evening, and I was feeling that this was more than a simple anxiety disease, which also worried me because I did not want to end up like those poor young women who are sent off to Bedlam by their family. My rational mind halted my emotions and took the reins, which calmed me down enough to regain some semblance of control over my faculties, enough to turn me away from the graveyard and took me back to the house. My feet were now becoming numb and looking down, I saw that they had begun to bleed slightly, this caused me to quicken my pace, and I was relieved when I stepped into the foyer, closing the door behind me, and sighing with relief at the wave of warmth that instantly crashed over my body. I stumbled into the library and collapsed into the armchair; I began to sob; I sobbed because I was cold, frightened, and exhausted. Regaining a modicum of strength, I crossed to the window seat and fell asleep as my head rested on the cushion. *** This is the part that I remember the least, reader, but again, I will do my very best to describe everything. I could still feel my body shiver, but not from coldness, but from fever, apparently I had become ill from my late night snowy walk without shoes or a jacket. I heard voices, one sounded like my father and the other, I think belonged to Mary; I was not coherent enough to be able to tell exactly what they were saying, only that they were in fact speaking to one another. The voices cut in and out of my mind, the things I heard were: ―How long has...‖, and ―could this be related to the book?‖, things of that nature. I remember being raised up into the air—my feverish mind imagined many scenarios, all of which involved being led by some messenger or other to some after-death realm: Heaven or Hades, or other such place. I discovered later that both Mary and my father had found me in the library, and, upon seeing how

ill I was, my father carried me up to my bedchamber before leaving to call on the doctor that lived in –shire. By the time I had been placed in my bed, I had lost consciousness and entered the realm of nightmares and fever dreams. *** I had been in my bed, sleeping soundly like the child I was. A servant came into the nursery (which was where I slept for a time, until I was old enough to have my own bedchamber) and gently roused me from my slumber. She told me I needed to come with her to another part of the house, that I had been summoned. Confused and still sleepy, I rubbed my half-closed eyes with my small child's fists. Taking me by the hand, the servant led me down the hall, up one flight of stairs (the nursery was on the second floor, while the room to which I was summoned was located on the third floor, the room across the hall from the chamber that I now inhabit) and into a large, open room. My mother and my father were sitting on each side of a bed, which was in the middle of the room, the fireplace against the wall at the foot-end of the large fore-poster bed. There was a boy—older than me, for I was only seven years old—he was lying in the bed, caught in the throes of dream and reality. He was dying. As I was led closer to the bed, I saw the face of a boy who appeared very familiar to me. My mind then came to the realization that this was not, in fact, a dream like I had originally thought, but instead, was a memory, brought from my sub-conscious to my conscious mind. The boy's countenance showed that he was in a great deal of pain and was very tired, and oddly, a look of relief; this look was quite buried, but I could still infer it from his face. His face was also pale as death and his forehead was beaded with sweat. Seeing me enter, my father held his arm out from his seat by the bed, as a way to signal his desire for me to come to him. Obeying, I crossed the room—which was rather warm; the fire

had been built up very high, and was burning with an intense ferocity, in spite of the lateness of the night. My father drew me in close to him, kissing the top of my head; I could smell the cigars he would smoke—never around my mother, mind you, because at the time it was very improper to smoke around ladies, so he would smoke his cigars when he worked in his study, so I have a fondness for the odor. I could also detect a hint of sweat, this odor and the scent of the cigars had soaked into his clothing—he must have been sitting in the room for an extended period of time, for he was still in his day clothes and was quite damp from perspiring, caused by the hellfire that raged in the hearth. I looked up at his face; he was watching the boy very intently, almost as if he thought that if he were to look away, that they boy would die while his attention was elsewhere; his cheeks were also tear-stained. As I child, I did not fully understand the nature of the events, but I remained silent and did not ask questions, I merely observed. ―We called on you so you could say good-bye, Eleanor,‖ he lifted me and placed me on his knee. From this height, I was able to see the boy better; I saw that this was the boy that had lived with us for the first seven years of my childhood. I felt cool tears on my warm cheeks, I was reminiscing on the boy and how he would always play with me, he would read fairy tales to me, and together, we would explore all of the hidden rooms and try to discover all the secrets that were in the house, in spite of being able to remember all this, I could not remember his name...The boy's eyes, glassy and making him appear blind, looked on me and he smiled as he recognized me sitting on my father's knee. Exerting a great deal of strength, he lifted himself, reached to the bedside table, and grabbed something off the top, then turned back into his original supine position. This item he grabbed, he placed into my small hand—it was the golden pocket watch that I keep with me to this day. He smiled again, closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his body tensed and slightly convulsed—at this, my mother stood up from her chair on

the opposite side of the boy's bed. Instantaneously there was a reaction from everyone in the room, the servants and the doctor that had been standing in the back of the room swarmed to the boy's bed, ready for action. ―Get her out of here!‖ My mother exclaimed, and a servant came over and picked me up off my father's knee and carried me out of the room. The doctor was now leaning over the boy, but I could not see what he was doing; at this point, I had begun to cry out and sob at being so abruptly torn from my childhood friend's side, as well as for his impending death. Another servant, Mary, came and closed the door to the boy's room; and that was the last time I saw him. *** This dream disturbed me into wakefulness—I sat bolt upright and found that I was in my bed, my father and Mary speaking softly in the corner of my room. At seeing me, they both rushed to my bedside, Mary armed with a damp rag that she used to cool my warm, feverish face. My vision was clouded, but I could tell that my current setting was similar to that of my dream—the fire was high, and my father and Mary both had very concerned looks on their faces. ―I am going to leave you now, I will be back with the doctor soon,‖ he crossed to me and kissed my cheek; I fell back into unconsciousness as he closed the door behind him as he left the room. *** I became vaguely aware that there was someone else in the room—most likely the doctor that my father had gone to call on. Mary was still dabbing my forehead with a damp rag, which provided only a modicum of relief to my feverish face. The doctor and my father were talking; I was only able to understand pieces, for I was quite delirious.

―What is your diagnosis, doctor?‖ My father asked, concern and worry evident in the timber of his voice. ―A simple fever, that is all. I have some sedative drops that will help her sleep throughout the night until the fever breaks. Keep the fire built up, and continue to dab her forehead with damp rags. I will return in two days' time, unless you need me, in which case you can call anytime. If there is nothing else, I should return home.‖ I could hear the doctor rummage in his bag—most likely retrieving the drops he had spoken of to my father. ―No, thank you. That will be all, William,‖ my father's voice in reply to the doctor. ―Richard!‖ Mary's voice exclaimed, halting from her task of cooling my brow. ―Oh, yes, doctor...‖ here my father paused, then continued, ―what do you know of anxiety diseases?‖ ―Very little, I am only a country doctor, but I can tell you a bit of them. What would you like to know?‖ ―Anything you can tell me about them...‖ Here I cannot provide you with much detail, reader, for a wave of delirium flooded my senses momentarily. When the wave had passed, I heard the doctor ask my father: ―Has the Miss complained of such symptoms?‖ ―No. Why do you ask?‖ ―Her illness seems just as much a fever of the mind as of the body,‖ pausing a moment, he rummaged through his bag once more and then continued. ―These pills should help with any symptoms she may be having. If she is anything like you Richard, she will not complain and merely suffer in silence. Most patients who come to me, complaining of such symptoms, I would normally refer them to another physician who is better equipped to assist them. I would certainly

not prescribe medication for them, at least, not without first thoroughly examining them. Since it is you, however, I will give you these. Have her take one post-breakfast and post-dinner; they should help her greatly. Also, keep a close eye on her; take note of any changes in her behavior and physiognomy. Keep close guard over her these next few hours as well; a fever of this nature can become very serious in a very short amount of time. It is a tumultuous position she is in. I must leave you now, but call on me if anything changes. Good-night, Richard. Mary.‖ And with that, I heard the door to my room open, and then close, as the doctor took his leave. I remember hearing water being poured into a glass and then I heard something being stirred into the glass, this was probably the medication that the doctor prescribed to help break my fever. My head was lifted and held by my father while Mary poured the mixture into my mouth—it had the bitter, metallic taste of blood, but, regardless, I swallowed it down; and then I fell back into blackness. *** I slept for two days after that. I was told on a later occasion by Mary that my mother even came to my sickbed, she even stayed for an afternoon. At first I was touched by such an uncharacteristic display of maternal action, but that was eradicated when she never returned to my bedside again. I remember on the third day, waking and seeing my father sitting in an armchair by the fireplace. He had fallen asleep and I could hear the cadence of his breath, and it made me smile slightly; it soothed my mind and I slept once again. Later that evening, I opened my eyes slightly to see if my father was still sitting in the chair; he was, but this time, he was reading aloud from a thick book. Upon further listening, I became aware that it was the collection of stories by the Brothers Grimm that we had downstairs in the library; he was reading

my favorite story, Rumpelstiltskin. I always loved when my father read to me, which he had not done since I was a very, very young child. His voice was a soothing bass, with just a hint of a gruff tone, and his tempo was closer to rapid than slow. I listened as long as I could, but Mary came in after a few pages to administer the vile concoction the doctor had given, I then had to feign sleep, or else I would be sermonized for not sleeping. The morning of the fourth day, the doctor returned. By this time, I was able to sit up, but not get out of bed. I had been given a cup of tea, even though I was very hungry and wanted food, but apparently, my body was still not ready for such things. The doctor asked my father and Mary to leave the room, which my father did quite reluctantly, and only left once the doctor took him aside and told him, ―I have been in contact with a colleague in the city who is better versed in the subjects discussed on our last meeting. Please Richard, let me talk to her alone; her answers not might be as detailed if you are in the room, and we need all the information we can get. Diagnoses of the mind can be delicate.‖ Then my father departed, informing us that he would be right outside, in case we were in need of him. The doctor began by asking me some simple questions: 'how are you feeling this afternoon?', 'was I able to hold the tea down?', and other such questions. However, after ten minutes of routine questions, he made it to the subject of more importance. ―Why were you outside in the snow the other night, Eleanor?‖ He asked. He was holding a notebook with a fountain pen poised to make note of everything I said, which made me somewhat nervous. ―I'm not sure.‖

―Please, Eleanor. I would like to help you. Your father and your maid, Mary have expressed certain concerns regarding your nerves, and I must admit, that given the past few days, I believe their concern to be valid.‖ I could not stop staring at his notebook and pen, and in my mind I saw women locked in cells in a madhouse, and I began to feel that if I started telling this doctor—whom I knew I could trust, for he had been a good friend of our family for many years—that he would send me off to such a place, and I would never see the light of day again. ―Eleanor? Can you tell me why you went outside that night? Or why you left without a shawl, or shoes?‖ ―I don't know.‖ ―I don't think you realize how lucky you were, Miss. Any longer in that storm and we would have had to put you to rest in the graveyard at the top of the hill!‖ Then, I realized that this was the same doctor that was in my memory from the first night of my fever, he was bending over the boy as I was carried away! I began to feel my lungs loose power, and I was not able to catch my breath. He leaned over me to better judge what was happening; this was counterintuitive, for it made me remember my dream, which quickened my pulse and made my breathing worse. ―Its okay, Eleanor. Relax. I can see that this conversation is better left for a later date, when your faculties and nerves are stronger. Lie back down and try to get some sleep.‖ He bent over and retrieved a bottle from his bag, then he went and filled a glass with water from a carafe that was sitting on my wash table. With the bottle and the glass in hand, he returned to me, by now I was feeling a little better, and was curious as to what he was doing. Out of the brown glass bottle, he took out a small white pill and handed me both the pill and the glass. ―This will help your nerves.‖ I consumed the pill and drank deep of the water, for it had been four days

since any sustenance had passed into my body, other than medicine and the cup of tea from this morning. Within five minutes, the doctor had left my room, and my mind began to feel cloudy and I slept. *** I slept for another twenty and four hours before Dr. Ellis returned. That morning, I was given half a roll with my cup of tea, both of which I consumed with great vigor. The doctor entered my room at a quarter past two, and he sat in the same place as the day before and took out the same notebook and pen. ―Excuse me, but I would feel much more comfortable if you did not take notes,‖ I mustered enough courage to tell him. ―If you please...‖ After a moment's hesitation, he placed both the pen and the notebook back into his bag. ―Now, Eleanor, can you tell me why you were outside that night?‖ ―I cannot tell you,‖ the doctor sighed, and was clearly irked by my remark, and I quickly added, ―It is not a matter of defiance. I honestly could not tell you why I was outside; I remember nothing from that night, other than becoming aware that I was in the middle of the road in nothing but my nightdress, and a loss of feeling in my feet. Other than that, I cannot tell you what happened, or why I was out in the storm to begin with.‖ This answer seemed to satisfy him, then he asked, ―Do you remember going to bed?‖ I nodded in the affirmative, then he asked, ―Is this the first time something like this has happened?‖ I shook my head in reply. I did not want to tell him that I had indeed had this strange incident once before, but my fear out ruled my rational mind, and I told him that I had been reading in the library when I fell asleep and the next thing I remembered was being blinding by the rays of dawn's first light over the horizon. He took a few moments to reflect on what I had

told him, then finally responded, ―Have you been having difficulty sleeping?‖ Again, I nodded in the affirmative, which caused him to nod as well. ―Have there been any other strange incidences that have happened in the past fortnight, that have caused you to feel frightened or overly upset?‖ ―None that comes immediately to mind.‖ ―Very good. I am going to step outside and talk to your father, then I will be back in.‖ He smiled and crossed to the door, then left, closing the door behind him. I was feeling comfortable with telling him what I had. I did not feel frightened that he would send me off, or encourage my father to send me off. For the first time in a fortnight, I was feeling at ease, and even somewhat hopeful. Dr. Ellis entered again and, nodding to me, he bid me good day and picked up his bag and left. My father came in as the doctor left, telling each other ―good day‖. My father closed the door behind him and came and sat in the chair that was sitting on the right side of my bed. His look of worried was softened slightly by a similar glimmer of hope that I, no doubt, had in my eye as well. ―William thinks that he can help you,‖ he gave me a small smile, and the hope in his eye shone brighter. ―What does he think is ailing me?‖ ―He says that he does not know if there is a specific name, it is merely called, anxiété on the continent. He also said that it has attributes of something in the medical field termed ―partial insanity‖. It is some sort of nervous malady, but the medication he prescribed is supposed to be the best of its kind to combat such symptoms as yours.‖

―That is wonderful, Father. But I want to tell you, I am not leaving. I am going to stay here.‖ ―What are you talking about, love? No one has mentioned such a thing.‖ ―I have heard of young women being sent to madhouses, and I am telling you that I am not going!‖ I had become quite vehement in my emotions, which was rather unlike me, and my father comment on my outburst. ―Do not worry, Eleanor,‖ he was looking into my eyes, speaking directly to my soul. ―I will not let such a thing happen. Now please, you should calm yourself, and sleep some more.‖ ―I have slept enough father. I want to move about.‖ ―William told me that you should remain in bed at least another day yet.‖ He leaned over me and kissed my head, and I knew that no matter what I said, I would have to remain in bed through the day. He left and I laid in bed, looking up at the ceiling, not feeling tired in the least. Regardless of my instructions, I threw off my quilt and swung my feet over the edge of my bed. I placed my feet on the rug and tested my weight, and instantly fell back into bed. Looking down, the sight of my feet was quite distressing; they were bruised and cut from walking such a rough, earthen road. I tried again, biting through the pain, I made it to the armchair by the fireside before I needed to take a rest. ―Perhaps my father was right,‖ I inwardly thought, ―I hope I can make it back to my bed.‖ Standing, I stumbled back to my bed and covered myself back up with my quilt, feeling unbelievably exhausted, I was now able to sleep. ***

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