Rob slipped his feet into his socks, reveling at the soft, polypropylene-blend fabric. He thrust his legs into his jeans with a sigh, wriggled happily into his cotton T-shirt, and eased his glasses onto his face, smiling broadly as the whole world came into focus.
Rob was back in his own clothes, and though they were cold, damp, and badly in need of a wash, he finally felt like himself again.
"Doctor," the Godmother called to him from the other side of her pumpkin-shaped carriage. "Are you decent? Are all of your belongings accounted for?"
"Yes, yes, everything's good. Where did you say you found my things again?"
Rob emerged from behind the carriage to face Her Ladyship Overseeing Guilds, Inns and Market Fairs, though most people simply called her the Fair Godmother. "Some of my guild members may have stumbled upon your garments," she said. "They'll be dealt with, I assure you."
"That was more than a stumble," Rob said. "They could have killed me. I can still feel the lump on my head."
"Your survival remains our good fortune," she said. "But as manager of this town's professional organizations and commercial markets, I will remind you that our barber's guild was less violence-prone before you began stirring up doubts about blood letting."
"Bleeding people doesn't do any good."
"But as far as medical treatment goes, it probably does them little harm," the Godmother said. "And the fees help our barber-surgeons feed their families."
"It's still unnecessary."
"Unnecessary for you, but perhaps not for everyone." The Godmother opened the door to her carriage and picked up a wand-like pen with a feather poking out the back end. "May I remind you of our agreement? The one you signed with this very pen?"
Rob remembered. The Fair Godmother had summoned Rob within days of his arrival to this world, informing him that he needed to join the guilds if he wished to practice medicine. Rob's brain hadn't been steady enough to determine what was real or not in this strange place, let alone whether he planned to set up a medical practice, but Hans had argued that playing nice with the Godmother would keep Rob's options open.
Securing the Godmother's blessing had also helped people overlook his foreign dress and manners, though it hadn't worked with everyone. Not the barber's guild. And not always the Godmother, either.
"I remember agreeing to provide medical services," he said.
The Godmother pointed the pen at Rob. "You also agreed not to interfere the other guilds."
"I did?" Rob said. "Well, that part was probably in the fine print."
"Those things usually are."
Maggie returned to Rob's side, an empty basket in her hand. She didn't make a sound, but the scowl on her face spoke volumes.
"When I was a girl," the Godmother began, ignoring Maggie and making her scowl even more pronounced. "We always had two, sometimes three doctors in town, but age and illness have taken them from us. We're far away from the major schools of medicine, and so the physicians who do find us tend to be ineffective or mercenary."
"I hope you're not putting me in one of those camps," Rob said.
"Most certainly not. Your arrival was unexpected, and your mannerisms strange, but your success in treating injury and illness cannot be argued." The Fair Godmother drew open the carriage door, began to step up inside, then paused. "Perhaps I'm not what you expected either. Women don't usually join guilds, let alone oversee them. I can appreciate the value in being unexpected. Truly, doctor, I can."
YOU ARE READING
After an accident strands Dr. Robert Henry Lang in a medieval land without surgical supplies, medicines, or even hot running water, all he wants to do is find a way home to present-day Seattle. But Rob can't ignore the medical needs all around him...