I have never enjoyed my work so much, I continued. Though the caseload is large and some of the clients well, poverty does not make men good, or easy.
Nor should it, Dorothy replied vigorously. It is a curse.
I do not complain. The work is varied, too. I paused. I have a new case, a boy who has been put in the Bedlam. I am meeting with his parents tomorrow.
On Palm Sunday?
There is some urgency.
A mad client.
Whether he is truly mad is the issue. He was put there on the Privy Councils orders. It is one of the strangest matters I have ever come across. Interesting, though I wish I did not have to tangle with a Council matter.
You will see justice done, that I do not doubt. She laid her hand on my arm.
Matthew! Roger had appeared beside me. He shook my hand vigorously. He was small and wiry, with a thin but well-favoured face, searching blue eyes and black hair starting to recede. He was as full of energy as ever. Despite his winning of Dorothy all those years before, I still had the strongest affection for him.
I hear Samuel has written, I said.
Ay, the imp. At last!
I must go to the kitchen, Dorothy said. I will see you shortly, Matthew. Talk to Roger, he has had an interesting idea.
I bowed as she left, then turned back to Roger.
How have you been? I asked quietly.
He lowered his voice. It has not come on me again. But I will be glad when I have seen your doctor friend.
I saw you look away when Lust was struck down during the play.
Ay. It frightens me, Matthew. Suddenly he looked vulnerable, like a little boy. I pressed his arm.
In recent weeks Roger had several times unexpectedly lost his balance and fallen over, for no apparent reason. He feared he was developing the falling sickness, that terrible affliction where a man or woman, quite healthy in other ways, would periodically collapse on the ground, out of their senses, writhing and grunting. The illness, which was untreatable, was regarded by some as a kind of temporary madness and by others as possession by an evil spirit. The fact that spectacular symptoms could erupt at any moment meant people avoided sufferers. It would mean the end of a lawyers career.
I pressed his arm. Guy will find the truth of it, I promise. Roger had unburdened himself to me over lunch the week before, and I had arranged for him to see my physician friend as soon as possible in four days time.
Roger smiled crookedly. Let us hope it is news I shall care to hear. He lowered his voice. I have told Dorothy I have been having stomach pains. I think it best. Women only worry.
So do we, Roger. I smiled. And sometimes without cause. There could be many reasons for this falling over; and remember; you have had no seizures.
I know. Tis true.
Dorothy tell me you have had some new idea, I said, to distract him.
Yes. He smiled wryly. I was telling friend Loder about it, but he seems little interested. He glanced over his guests. None of us here is poor, he said quietly.
He took my arm, leading me away a little. I have been reading Roderick Mors new book, the Lamentation of a Christian against the City of London.
You should be careful. Some call it seditious.
The truth affrights them. Rogers tones were quiet but intense. By Jesu, Mors book is an indictment of our city. It shows how all the wealth of the monasteries has gone to the King or his courtiers. The monastic schools and hospitals closed down, the sick left to fend for themselves. The monks care was niggardly enough but now they have nothing. It shames us all, the legions of miserable people lying in the streets, sick and half dead. I saw a boy in a doorway in Cheapside yesterday, his bare feet half rotted away with frostbite. I gave him sixpence, but it was a hospital he needed, Matthew.
Excerpted from Revelation by C.J. Samson Copyright © 2008. by C.J. Samson. Excerpted by permission of Viking. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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