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Topics - Charity

1
Prologues / Grace Under Fire
May 07, 2018, 09:32:14 pm
News traveled fast, it was true, but gossip moved even quicker. News required fact and detail whereas all gossip needed was a story and a victim, two things that were always in large supply. It was a gaping, dripping maw, its hunger ravenous and unyielding, and the beast had finally found its prey. In a community of science and discovery, no one man or woman was unimportant. The strides they'd made and the contribution they offered to better society were invaluable, every life in high society treasured. To lose a life, to fail to keep someone of worth and standing alive, it was a social death sentence.

"He let him die, I heard," Elizabeth Vornbach murmured across the table to the companion she'd invited to afternoon tea.

"Not only that," Isabella Boyers, the mother of Reuben Tommy Boyers, began, "My husband told me it was all a case of absolute incompetence on his part. He said he exhibited a lack of medical prowess so grand it would have made the university students seem positively proficient," she continued, one elegant hand resting over her heart as though the story were too terrible to relay.

The well-to-do women sat on the veranda of a grand old mansion, both of them leaning forward in their whicker chairs, eager to lap up the words of the other. Elizabeth was a vision in blue, the silk of her tea dress bringing out the sapphire of her eyes. Her long dark hair was piled atop her head in artfully styled curls and topped with a matching blue sun hat. Her compatriot, Isabella, looked like she'd been dressed in glimmering sunlight. Her own tea dress was a beautiful combination of yellows and whites, her blonde hair in a thick, ornate braid over one shoulder, her sunhat brimmed with golden flowers and white feathers.

Mrs. Vornbach tutted gently and dropped a perfectly cut sugar cube into her porcelain teacup, its edges lined with gold. "How terrible, do you think Reuben will have to associate with him when he graduates?" she asked, seemingly genuinely terrified that the disgraced doctor would somehow taint the boy. "Oh no, I doubt it. I'm sure he'll be relieved of his position promptly," Mrs. Boyers assured her friend.

Gossip had no boundaries, it did not settle like a fog over those who shared it, nor did it hide discreetly in knowing smiles or exchanged glances. It was a virus, spreading from person to person without regard for distance or barrier. And this particular bit of gossip was no different. Just around the corner, hiding behind a pillar facing the veranda, two children huddled together and listened to the words of their mothers. Reuben had his arm around the shoulders of young Charity, protecting her from the troubling tale of the vile doctor. He was sixteen now and would be heading off to university soon, and he hoped with all his might that the failure would be removed from his post soon. "Who are they talking about?" Charity asked in a hushed breath. She was ten now and although she still had a ways to go in her knowledge of the social intricacies of adults, even she knew a failure like this was disgraceful. "Doctor Halladay," the boy answered, looking at her and squeezing her shoulders with a reassuring, cocky smile.
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