The Bride Sale

Free The Bride Sale by Candice Hern

Book: The Bride Sale by Candice Hern Read Free Book Online
Authors: Candice Hern
“what’s the trouble? I hope I have done nothing to—”
    â€œIt be n-not about ’ee, ma’am.”
    Gonetta looked up. “Oh, I m-meant no d-disrespect, ma’am. I be right sorry ’ee be leavin’ so soon. I liked ’ee right off, I did. Happy to maid ’ee. B-but that be not it. Y’see…y’see…”
    Her voice became choked with tears and she could not go on. Verity stood back, feeling unbearably oafish, and let her cry, convinced this was sincere anguish and not some calculated deception. She wondered what could have upset the girl so.
    When Gonetta’s sobs quieted to gentle tears, Verity said, “Tell me, please. Tell me what has upset you so.”
    Gonetta looked up, wiped her nose on her sleeve, and hiccoughed. “I can’t help it, Miz Osborne,” she said in a trembly voice. “It be me littlest brother, Davey. He do be real sick and Ma says he be d-dyin’. He be only just gone on five, y’see, and always do be such a hellion, beggin’ yer pardon, ma’am. I can’t bear to see him sick and dyin’. Not little Davey.”
    The girl’s sobs tore at Verity’s heart. “What is wrong with him, Gonetta?” she asked in a soft voice.
    â€œHe got the putrid sore throat and it just do get worse and worse. We can’t get nothin’ down him. And now it be gone to a real bad fever.”
    â€œWhat does the doctor say?” Verity asked. “Has he given Davey any physicks or other preparations to reduce the fever?”
    Gonetta gave a plaintive wail. “We ain’t got no doctor just now, ma’am. Dr. Trefusis, he had to go to Penzance on some fam’ly business. So we ain’t had nobody to doctor poor Davey.”
    â€œYou’ve had no one to help you with Davey? No one at all?” Verity asked, appalled that no local doctor was available. “Is there no village apothecary?” Gonetta shook her head. “What about local healers, green women, herbalists?” Gonetta furrowed her brow in puzzlement, as though she did not understand, then shook her head again. Verity sighed.
    What should she do? Could she stand by and allow the child to die through sheer ignorance? Verity had some skill with herbs and knew a few remedies that could possibly help the boy.
    Yet to remain and help would delay her departure from Pendurgan. Nothing was more important than to get away from this place.
    Except that a little boy was perhaps dying.
    â€œWhat have you been doing to care for him?” she asked.
    â€œJust bathin’ him to keep his skin cool, givin’ him tea and honey, when he can swallow it.”
    Those things could only make him comfortable. Nothing they were doing would help to break the fever or heal the infected throat.
    She began to pace the length of the room. Any sort of delay almost scared her to death. What if she was never able to leave?
    Dear God, what should she do?
    â€œI believe I may have something to help him,” she said at last. She could not let the boy die. Gonetta stared at her, wide-eyed. “Do you recall seeing some muslin pouches,” Verity asked, “when you unpacked my trunk yesterday?”
    â€œThem little sachets, ma’am? I put some in each of the bureau drawers to keep yer things fresh.”
    Verity cocked a brow and almost smiled. Sachets, indeed. Some of them positively reeked. She pulled open each drawer and rummaged around until she had located all her herbal pouches.
    â€œDoes Cook keep fresh honey in the larder, Gonetta?”
    â€œAye, she do,” the girl replied with a puzzled look, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy. “Why?”
    â€œWith this,” Verity said, holding up one of the pouches, “and this one, too, along with a bit of honey, I can make up a syrup that might help your brother.”
    â€œTruly?” Gonetta asked, her eyes large with wonder. “’Ee can

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