Chapter 30, Part 2

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Simon was laid out on the narrow bed that he and Evelyn had shared. Cassia came to his side, examining him. She turned to one of the footmen.

“Fetch a bucket of cool water, and rags. Quickly.”

Evelyn watched as her mother touched Simon’s face and forehead. Her voice trembled. “Mama,” she asked, almost in a whisper, “Will he die?”

Cassia shook her head. “I cannot say. But he is gravely ill. Fever has taken hold.”

“Oh Mama,” Evelyn gasped. She started to cry...and was immediately scolded. Cassia looked at her with a harsh glint in her eyes.

“Evelyn, if you dare to erupt into hysterics, I will send you from this room and not allow you back. Is that understood?”

Guy, who had been standing nearby, came forward. He put his arm around Evelyn, offering her his support, while maintaining a sense of stoicism.

“Your Mama is correct. You will serve your husband no purpose by losing mastery of your emotions.”

Evelyn took a deep breath, trying her best to keep her composure. It was difficult to do, looking at Simon and seeing him so silent and still. He had always moved with such power and confidence. Even at night, in their bed, she had found him to be a restless sleeper, constantly changing his position. At times, it had tested her patience. But now, she feared she would never again have the chance to tease him for disturbing her sleep.

When the footman returned with a large bucket of water, Cassia sent everyone from the room except for Guy and Evelyn, and they began pulling at Simon’s clothes. His chain-mail and gambeson had already been removed when they had burned his wounds, and then a loose shirt had been put on him for the purpose of dignity. But they removed that now, and then his boots and breeches, exposing him completely.

“Take this,” said Cassia, picking up a rag. She wet it and wrung it out, placing it in Evelyn’s hand. “Put it over his belly. It will help to cool him.”

Evelyn nodded, placing the damp rag over Simon’s abdomen. His flesh was burning hot, and it was terrifying. Cassia handed her another wet rag, instructing her to place it in the pit of his left arm. It was then that Evelyn saw the burned wound on his side. She gasped, covering her mouth.

“Oh Mama, look at this,” she cried.

Cassia came around to Evelyn’s side of the bed. Seeing the wound, black and curdled, a sickened look came to her face.

“Good God, it is putrefied,” she declared. “No doubt it is the cause of his fever. We will have to make a poultice to draw out the ill humors. Evelyn, bathe his face and chest to cool him. I will return shortly.”

She departed, along with Guy. And Evelyn was left alone with her husband.

Taking up a clean rag, she wet it. Carefully and gently, she cleaned Simon’s face. It was dirty and speckled with blood. His skin shined with sweat, and with a determined hand, she wiped it all away. From head to toe she lovingly bathed him, and then she pulled a sheet over him, granting him his dignity. Returning to his side, nearing his head where it rested on the pillow, she ran her fingers over his handsome face. There was a fear of disturbing his rest, but she could not help herself from bending down to kiss him. Without her mother there to witness or correct it, her eyes filled with tears. But those same eyes became filled with stubbornness and determination, and it showed in her voice as she spoke softly to him.

“Simon Jean-Carre, you have married a Gisborne woman. You know us well enough. We are a most stubborn lot. And I will not allow you to leave me so soon.”

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