(all rights reserved by Gratiana Lovelace; copyrighted 2023); [(1) Story Cover, below left]
Illustrations: I cast my stories as I write them. So from time to time, I will illustrate my story with actors or illustrations, including: Richard Armitage as Lord Pendleton MacKittrick (aka Sir Mac Pendleton to the Carpenter family), Justine Waddell as the widowed Corinne Carpenter, Noah Carpenter illustration, Bill Peterson as Dr. Finneas Lively, and others as noted.
Author’s Notes: This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scenes, locations, or other descriptions were made at the creative discretion of this author. And this is a gentle romance (G to PG-13), but with some frank discussions about love, marriage, and Regency society put to humorous effect. This is my disclaimer.
Chapter 02: Seeking medical attention
As country physicians go, they can be a diffident lot—with varying degrees of education and experience, and sometimes with no formal education. That is why when Lord MacKittrick sought to install the next physician for the Woodbury Village area and for himself, he chose a long established but not elderly London Physician who wished to retire permanently to the countryside.
And with Lord MacKittrick providing/paying for the Woodbury Village doctor’s medical offices, nursing and midwife assistants—as well as, a generous quarterly salary, a handsomely refurbished small two story stone manor house with four family bedrooms for the physician and his extended family when they visit, and sleeping rooms at the back of the kitchen for the household staff—he was able to entice the seasoned and well educated Dr. Finneas Lively [(2) right] to retire to the medical practice at Woodbury Village three months ago, after the previous doctor had died of extreme old age, four months prior to that.
The good and kind Dr. Lively [(3) right] is aptly named. He is a robust man, walking everywhere in the small Woodbury Village and its lovely forested surroundings, despite his sixty years of age. His somewhat reddish hair is distinguishedly tinged with not much white in it. And his face’s ruddy complexion from being out of doors, has the wrinkles of his sixty years–made on a man who smiles and laughs a lot.
When Lord MacKittrick’s–Sir Mac Pendleton to the Carpenter family–carriage and entourage reach the outskirts of Woodbury Village, they pull directly into Dr. Lively’s small manor estate—with a separate one story stone out building across from the stables for the medical clinic facilities of a patient waiting room, Dr. Lively’s medical office, a large examining room that can be turned into a surgery when needed, a small currently empty patient ward of four beds, a bathroom, a small kitchen, a general storage room of non medical supplies, and two small bedchambers for a live in nurse and live in midwife. The remaining staff is a cleaning char woman who comes in from Woodbury village daily to clean the medical clinic in the late afternoons, so it is ready for the next day’s patients.
The Coachman drives Lord MacKittrick’s carriage straight to the medical clinic—with the advantage of being able to avoid Woodbury Village proper for the moment, to prevent Village busy bodies from gossiping about the young and lovely Widow Carpenter with their bachelor Earl. Lord MacKittrick bounds out of his carriage first, not waiting to assist Mrs. Carpenter and her children down from it. His footmen will see to that.
For her part, Corinne has not had cause to visit the new doctor since he came to their village three months ago. To her mind, he did not come soon enough, because if the former old village doctor had not died one month before her husband’s hunting accident, then he might have been able to receive true medical care and perhaps survived. But her husband Will Carpenter died quickly from his injuries six months ago—and she became the Widow Carpenter at the young age of twenty five years.
However, there is another aspect to Corinne Carpenter’s reticence about seeing Dr. Lively, but she keeps that private for now. Though she and her children attend regular Sunday church services each week, they sit in the back and leave quickly. Such that, she has not had the occasion to meet Dr. Lively in person in the village–though she has heard some of the neighboring villagers speak well of him and his care of their families. So Corinne guesses that her secret is certain to come out at some point—with that likely occurring in the next few minutes.
Bounding into Dr. Lively’s patient waiting room, Lord MacKittrick happily sees that no one else is waiting at the moment. So he addresses the clerk who serves to organize Dr. Lively’s medical appointments and records.
Clerk: He stands at attention, then bows his head and smiles cordially to their feudal lord. “Good Day, Lord MacKittrick. How may we be of service?”
Lord MacKittrick: “Well for one, please do not address me as Lord MacKittrick, or anything. I will explain later. First, we have a young family who suffered a wagonette accident and they need tending to.” He replies to the young Clerk’s quizzical expression. “Ah! Here they are!”
Corinne Carpenter carrying her baby Nancy in her sling and her son Noah walk into the small waiting room and look around. She had only been here once before three years ago, when Noah was little and had a nasty cut from falling that had to be stitched. Noah remembers that painful visit and frowns. The old doctor was not very gentle with his patients—to put it mildly.
Such that when Dr. Lively came to replace the old doctor, the Woodbury Villagers soon discovered that their new doctor’s disposition and caring medical treatments were a welcome relief—not to mention that the good Dr. Lively did not charge them more than they could pay, him often accepting payment in kind such as eggs or milk, or garden trimming, snow shoveling of walkways to and from his clinic, etc.
Lord MacKittrick: “This is Mrs. Carpenter. She and her children had taken a tumble on the road when her small wagonette had overturned. Fortunately, my men and I had happened upon her accident almost immediately and assisted her in returning to Woodbury Village. She is especially concerned about her baby. Is the good doctor in?”
Clerk: “Yes, but he is with another patient. Though he might be available in the next quarter of an hour. So in the meantime, I will let Dr. Lively know that another patient has arrived, then take Mrs. Carpenter’s family information from her.”
The Clerk pointedly says that, because although Lord MacKittrick is well meaning, like the doctor, the clerk is bound by patient confidentiality. Then he goes to inform the doctor of a new patient family, but he does not give their name—him waiting until he has all the family particulars to relate to the good doctor. The doctor nods to his Clerk through the ajar door and the Clerk returns to the reception room to take the new patient information.
Picking up a blank half sheet piece of paper from his desk, the doctor’s Clerk invites Mrs. Carpenter to come forward to his desk and sit on the adjacent chair to it. So she stays her hand to her six year old son Noah, for him to remain seated on the one settee with Sir Mac. After the Clerk neatly prints her family’s names, birthdates, and medical complaints of bruising and such, Mrs. Carpenter returns to the settee, sitting on the other side of Noah. Then the Clerk brings them some tea—more so as a nod to Lord MacKittrick, rather than him providing tea being a standard patient refreshment offering, other than the jug of fresh water and cups sitting on a table off to the side of the reception room.
They wait only a few more minutes, then the Day Nurse enters the waiting room, the Clerk hands her the piece of paper with pertinent patient information on it, and she takes Mrs. Corinne Carpenter and her children back to Dr. Lively’s medical office for an initial consultation. This allows, Dr. Lively’s other patient in the examining room to leave privately through a back door. Patient confidentiality is uppermost in Dr. Lively’s mind—along with medical care, of course. So the Woodbury Village Parson leaves by the back door to head to his home at the vicarage, not seeing Lord MacKittrick in the reception room with the Carpenter family.
Whilst the Carpenter family is being seen to by the doctor, Lord MacKittrick politely sits in the waiting room sipping his tea—him wishing the drink were stronger, due to the vagaries of the day involving the Carpenter family’s wagonette accident, Lord MacKittrick having two of his footmen attend to the now derelict wagonette’s wagon wheel repair with a Richmond blacksmith, and him facilitating the Widow Carpenter and her children now receiving medical attention in Woodbury Village.
Walking into Dr. Lively’s office with the Carpenter family following behind her, the Day Nurse succinctly relates the information upon the card, before giving the card to Dr. Lively.
Nurse: “Dr. Lively, this is the widowed Mrs. Corinne Carpenter, her 6 year old son Noah, and her 9 month old baby daughter Nancy. Mrs. Carpenter is worried that her baby might have sustained injury when they fell out of her wagonette as it toppled onto its side. She would also like her son examined for bruising.”
Dr. Lively: Smiling kindly at the young mother who looks at him tentatively, he sets her mind at ease. “Mrs. Carpenter, is it?” Corinne nods mutely—her knowing that he knows who she is. And, of course, she knows who he is. The doctor smiles encouragingly at her—she has grown and matured since he saw her last in London, just before she was a young debutante at seventeen years—the year before she met and married her late husband Franklin Carpenter. And now she is a mother herself. “Well, let me examine your baby first.” Dr. Lively holds out his arms and Corinne hesitantly removes her sleeping baby Nancy from her baby sling in her arms, before depositing her into the doctor’s arms. Then they walk through a connecting door into his medical examination room.
Corinne: “Nancy has been crying ever so much since the accident. She is only sleepy now because I nursed her but a half hour ago.”
Noah: “My sister always naps after she feeds.” Young Noah states while rolling his eyes, as one who know the intimate details of family life. Noah also wonders when his baby sister will become more interesting. Of course, Noah does not remember his own babyhood years. So for Noah, baby Nancy’s milestones at 9 months are mostly her pooping smells and her drool that his Mama has to constantly wipe up. Noah does not even have an inkling that his baby sister is to begin teething soon and she will bet crying all the time in pain due to it.
Dr. Lively: Knowing that young children are often fearful of doctors—and noting the suspicion in young Noah’s eyes, but not the cause of it—he speaks cordially to the boy. “Is that so? Good to know.”
Dr. Lively pats the top of the young boy’s head, then he lays the baby on a folded towel that his Nurse had kindly placed there for him upon his leather upholstery padded examination table—the examination table is an innovation that he brought with him from London. The soft towel is for the baby’s comfort, less so to mop up any messes that the baby might make. And the Day Nurse is in the room to assist him if needed for any procedures and such.
Corinne: “Nancy, that is my baby’s name, seems too quiet to me now.” She worries.
Dr. Lively: “Oh? Did she hit her head in the fall from the wagon?” While he waits for her reply, he examines the baby’s head and shoulders for bruising, finding none.
Corinne: “I do not think so. But I fell on top of her since I was carrying her in my baby sling.” Corinne quickly covers her mouth, but her weeping for possibly having injured her baby cannot be suppressed and she wails. “Is Nancy hurt? Did I hurt my baby?” Corinne losing her husband but 6 months ago was bad enough, but to have one of her children also be injured, perhaps grievously, is too much for her tender heart to bear.
Dr. Lively: Dr. Lively pats the young mother’s shoulder with his free hand, the hand not securely holding onto the baby on the examination table. “There, there Mrs. Carpenter. Babies are resilient. At present, I see no sign of injury on her. In fact your falling over your baby probably prevented her being hit by other items tumbling out of the wagonette, since your cheek has some bruising on it, My Dear.” He gazes at her in a kindly fatherly way.
Corinne: “Oh no! I am fine.” She states dismissively about her own injuries as she touches her cheek—with her hand showing some scratches from her fall. “But please finish your examination of Nancy, and then check Noah.”
Dr. Lively proceeds to listen to baby Nancy’s heart and tummy with a listening tube. Then he gently touches her arms, legs and tummy. Though baby Nancy stirs awake a bit, she does not seem in any pain, nor are there any bruises forming, nor cuts to her skin. And he hands her back to her Mama Corinne.
Dr. Lively: “Baby Nancy seems just fine.” He gently pats the back of the baby’s head as she is now cradled in her Mama’s arms. “I find no injuries on her. But her acting subdued might be in part from the upset of the wagonette accident. My guess is that she will be right as rain on the morrow, after she has a good night’s sleep. But do not hesitate to return to my offices tomorrow or in the coming days if she does not bounce back and behave as she normally does.” Dr. Lively smiles again at Corinne, him thinking that she is so young herself to be widowed with two young children. “Now! To your son!” He smiles broadly and turns to the boy, lifting him up upon the examination table.
Noah: “What der yer mean by saying my baby sister is sub-dude?” He asks cutely and he folds his arms in front of his chest, not allowing the doctor to examine him.
Corinne: “Now Noah, please let Dr. Lively check you over—to make sure the you are not injured?” She caresses her son’s face and nods her head pleadingly.
Dr. Lively: “That is a fine question, young Noah. It betokens your curiosity.” Then the good doctor realizes that he will have a second word to explain to the young boy—hopefully as a distraction during his examination of him. First, Dr. Lively touches the top and sides of Noah’s head, feeling for bumps. “The word subdued, means quiet.”
Noah: “Then why did’n you say so?” Noah looks perturbed at the doctor. Noah speaks plainly and clearly, and he wants others to as well.
Dr. Lively: “A fair point.” Dr. Lively smiles at Noah and then shakes his head at Corinne, her being worried that Dr. Lively might take offense at her son’s forwardness. Then the doctor holds out his hands, palm up. “Push down on my hands.” The boy does so without problems. Then Dr. Lively turns his palms facing downward and gives his next direction. “Now push my hands up.” Noah does that, but only part way.
Noah: “Ouch!” Noah yelps in pain and brings his left arm close to his chest. “Why’d you do that for? That hurt!” Noah frowns.
Corinne: “Noah.” His Mama pleads.
Dr. Lively: “Ah! My apologies, Noah. But some injuries don’t make bruises, but can be felt if you turn a limb or your body a certain way. Now let me feel your arm.” Noah shakes his head no. “Come now. I’ll be slow and gentle. But we must ascertain, figure out, if you have a broken arm, or merely a sprain.”
Corinne: “Go on, Noah. He won’t hurt you. You saw how gentle he was with your sister. He’s a good doctor.” She smiles at her son encouragingly.
Noah: “Alright.” Noah scowls. “But don’t make me hurt again!” Noah forcefully orders the doctor.
Dr. Lively: “Understood.” The doctor nods, and Noah nods back to him. After gingerly helping the boy Noah remove his child’s vest and shirt, the doctor notices some bruising on Noah’s lower left arm—which was likely the cause of his pain in pushing up on Dr. Lively’s hands. “Now Noah, I’m going to start to feel your left arm at the top and work down your arm to your hand. And you tell me if you feel anything—and what it feels like. Is it a sharp pain, like from a needle? Or is it a dull ache, like you have with a regular bruise?” Noah nods.
Corinne leans in, biting her lower lip, her worrying about her son’s possible injury as Dr. Lively slowly and gently feels the boy Noah’s lower left arm.
Noah: “Ow!” Noah whines. “That hurts!” Noah leans back from Dr. Lively.
Dr. Lively: “I’m sorry you felt pain, Noah. Now what did the pain feel like? A sharp pain, or a dull ache?
Noah: “I dunno. Both.” The good doctor tilts his head and looks at him quizzically. “Well, it was a sharp pain where you touched my arm, but it made all of my arm hurt, too.” Noah pouts.
Dr. Lively: “Hmmm.” He nods sagely as he slowly and gently continues his examination of Noah’s arm, not getting a further pain response..
Corinne: “Is that bad, doctor?”
Dr. Lively: “I believe that Noah might have a small fracture in his arm—a broken bone—or a very bad sprain. So I will splint his arm to stabilize it—as well as give him a sling for him to wear. And he must not use his left arm for 6 weeks, in order to allow it to heal.”
Corinne: “But my son is an energetic little boy. He will not like these limitations to his play and work time.” She frets.
Dr. Lively: “Noah? Do you want your lower left arm to heal properly and quickly?” He intones imperiously.
Noah: “Can’t my arm just heal quickly on its own?” He asks impertinently.
Dr. Lively: “Well, for your arm to heal quickly, you must keep the splint and sling on it and let it rest. Otherwise, it will take twice as long or more to heal. And you wouldn’t want that, now would you?” The cagey older doctor is also a father and grandfather, well versed in cajoling his own little ones.
Noah: “I suppose.” Noah hangs his head forlornly.
Corinne: “Thank you, doctor. We are so grateful. Noah? Please say thank you nicely to Dr. Lively.” She cajoles in a sweetly lilting voice.
Noah: “Thank you.” He pouts.
So Dr. Lively sets and splints Noah’s lower left arm, and ties a sling around his neck.
Dr. Lively: “I expect the first few days will be the worst of it—for as the swelling goes down each day as you’re healing, I will need to adjust the splint slightly tighter for it to still brace and support his arm. So he will need to visit me daily for me to do that for him.”
Corinne: “Noah! Language, please.”
Noah: “I’m sorry, Mama. But I want to run and play and fish?” His mother almost looks as if she will suffer an apoplexy.
Dr. Lively: “Now, now. You may still have a good time, just being more quiet than usual. In fact, with fishing requiring you to be seated, that might be fine for later on—a month from now. But for now, I suggest that you read books.” Then he thinks a moment? “You’re rather young for a boy. Do you read yet?”
Noah: “I read!” He states proudly.
Corinne: “I have taught him his letters and numbers. And he can read his bible at home and in church.” She states proudly.
Dr. Lively: “That sounds wonderful! Well Noah, I shall loan you a book to read, that I have just finished reading again myself. It is an adventure book called “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift—which was published quite a while ago [(4), in 1726 ]. Then you and I can discuss its story when you come for your daily appointments over the next few days.” Dr. Lively fetches the small bound book and hands it to Noah.
Noah: “Thank you.” Noah looks the book over. Then balancing the book on his legs–while he is still sitting on the examination table—Noah carefully turns the pages with his right hand. “Alright, I think I can read this book.”
Dr. Lively: “Good lad!” And he pats the top of Noah’s head.
Corinne: “That is very kind of you, Dr. Lively. But are you certain that you want to loan your nicely bound book to a child?” For she fears that the book might sustain some damage from her six year old son Noah.
Dr. Lively: “Not to worry, Mrs. Carpenter. Books are meant to be read and enjoyed. So I hope that he will enjoy this book.”
Corinne: “And what is your medical fee, Dr. Lively?” She asks as she looks for some shillings & pences in her full reticule of market goods profits from this day that will see to her expenses for the coming months—with her also wanting to maintain the ruse that she and the good doctor are not family as niece and uncle, her mother’s brother.
Dr. Lively: He rubs his chin. “Well, Mrs. Carpenter. I have heard tell from other villagers that your apple tarts are quite tasty. So perhaps you would gift me with one of them as Noah is healing. Hmmm?” He smiles cordially at her.
Corinne Carpenter nods her head in agreement, with a small knowing smile. She remembers that her uncle has quite the sweet tooth, from her childhood. And she will bake a fresh batch of apple tarts and have Noah take it with him to tomorrow’s medical visit.
So the nurse escorts the Carpenter family back to the waiting room where the now heartily bored Lord MacKittrick (Sir Mac) is waiting lounging uncomfortably across the smallish settee.
Lord MacKittrick: “Ah! At last!” Though the Carpenters had only been gone from his presence for about half an hour, Lord MacKittrick is unused to having to wait upon others time frames.
Corinne: “My apologies, Sir Mac. But my boy Noah has a broken arm that had to be splinted.” She gestures to Noah.
Noah: “See?” Noah points at his left arm splinted and in a sling, with his good right hand holding the book that Dr. Lively loaned him.
Lord MacKittrick: “Oh! Sorry to hear about your broken arm Noah. What is that in your right hand? A book?” He asks with incredulity, for common folk do not normally know how to read.
Noah: “Dr. Lively let me borrow it to read, since I won’t be allowed to run and play while I’m healing. I can’t even fish yet. Hhhh!” He sighs heavily.
Corinne: “Yes, Dr. Lively was very kind to loan Noah his book to read.
Lord MacKittrick: “The boy reads? Who taught you?” Lord MacKittrick looks askance at the small boy and his Mama, as if they were ethereal creatures not of this world—or certainly not of their presumed lower station.
Noah: “My Mama taught me to read sose I can read my bible—and now this adventure book from Dr. Lively.” He beadily stares down the condescending Sir Mac.
Lord MacKittrick: “Oh! You read, Mrs. Carpenter?”
Corinne: “Yes, Sir Mac.” She bristles. “I also write nicely for letters and invitations, do sums, embroider and sew garments, and play piano forte.” Now she beadily stares down Sir Mac. And her young son Noah nods vigorously in support of her statements of her lady like accomplishments.
Lord MacKittrick: “My apologies, Mrs. Carpenter.” He bows his head to her, acknowledging that he has tacitly insulted her. “I applaud your expertise, and for your teaching your son to read. That skill alone will serve him well in the years to come.”
Lord MacKittrick states these apologetic phrases in a chastened manner. For to him, the well spoken Mrs. Carpenter seems to have a background of some education and upbringing that belies her now orchard owner and baker stations. He surmises that she might have even been a governess, who plighted her troth to her late husband, the former orchard owner. And though governesses are respectable and often take meals with the families they serve—as well as chaperone their charges at society events–they are not of society themselves, usually.
The widowed Corrine Carpenter nods curtly in acceptance of Sir Mac’s apology. So the Carpenters are returned home to their orchard farm by a now slightly impressed Lord MacKittrick and his carriage. And in farewelling them, Lord MacKittrick wonders if they will cross paths again? For he is now quite intrigued by the seeming puzzle that is the widowed Mrs. Corinne Carpenter.
To be continued with Chapter 3
References for the Ch. 02 of “A Lonesome Lord”, January 29, 2023 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1509)
- My “A Lonesome Lord ” story logo is a composite of a portrait of British actor Richard Armitage from 2020 by An Le, and Harrington text on a teal background.
- The image representing the eminent medical practioner Dr. Lively in his home office milieu is that of Bill Paterson in “Wives & Daughters” found at Pinterest at https://i.pinimg.com/originals/71/dd/3d/71dd3d8c3be20f4113742a7d3e752ba5.jpg
- The image representing a smiling Dr. Lively is that of actor Bill Patterson, as found at The Jane Austen Film Club blogger at https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5vmqSatHyds/UNxyKt6LfrI/AAAAAAAAFjg/IXCGBVkB6vQ/s400/bill+paterson.jpg
- For more about the story “Gulliver’s Travels” book published in 1726 by Jonathan Swift, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulliver%27s_Travels ; and the image link is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gullivers_travels.jpg
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