The Gilded Hour Page 155


SHE SAID, “DON’T you have a full day planned?”

Jack’s arms tightened around her waist. “You owe me a rainy Saturday in bed.”

“I might debate that, if it were raining. But it’s not. Jack.”

“Heartless wretch.” Just a mutter, but she heard it and she knew without a doubt that he was already asleep again. It was a trick Anna knew too; she had learned it out of necessity during her training. Somehow that made it easier to rouse him again. She pressed a hand to his shoulder.

“Jack. Don’t you have to go in?”

His eyes opened. “I didn’t get in until three hours ago.”

“That late,” Anna said. “Did you make some progress on the case?”

He rubbed a hand over his jaw and the beard stubble made a sound like a scrubbing brush on brickwork.

“Three doctors named Graham so far, none of them fit the bill. We talked to maybe ten night porters. Later today we’ll go to the registry office and have a look through the books.” He yawned and stretched, opened one eye, and waggled both brows at her.

“Come here.”

“Oh, no.” She danced away, grabbing up her robe.

“You woke me not once, but twice. Now you must face the consequences.”

She slipped out the door and ran, and he came along after her, grumbling, struggling into his robe. In the dining room she said, “Why are you following me?”

“Now you’re fishing for compliments,” he said, and gave another great yawn.

•   •   •

AT THE TABLE he showed her the text of the advertisement they were going to run in the newspapers. Anna read it while she buttered her toast.

She said, “So the idea is that if you can’t stop him right away, you might be able to slow him down?”

“At this point we have to warn the public.”

Anna reasoned that if this announcement in the newspaper frightened one woman away, it was worth the effort and expense. “But what if it makes him angry, what might that mean? Would it make him—strike out more often?”

“My sense is that it won’t make a difference,” Jack said. “I think he’s picking up his pace anyway, and that may mean he’s getting sloppy. I’ve been wondering ever since we interviewed Mamie Winthrop’s maid. She gave me the impression that women like Winthrop don’t have trouble finding a doctor to solve this particular problem, if the price is right and it can be handled privately. Is that true?”

“Nobody talks about it, but yes, probably. This is one of those areas where physicians say one thing publicly to protect themselves, but then do what they must in the patient’s best interest.”

“Or for their bank balances.”

She nodded, stiffly. “There are unscrupulous physicians, as there are unscrupulous bankers and factory owners and police. Can we talk about something else?”

Just then Mrs. Cabot brought in the mail, a letter from Amelie on the very top.

“Apparently not,” Anna said, and opened it while Jack began to look through the rest of the mail.

She said, “She sent a newspaper clipping with a note. We’re supposed to go see a woman called Kate Sparrow who lives on Patchin Place; she’s got a market stall where she sells sewing supplies, buttons and ribbons and such. I know her stall, but where is Patchin Place?”

“Just across from the Jefferson Market, off Tenth. What’s the clipping?”

Her gaze still on the letter, she handed the newspaper article over.

“From the Morning News.” He swallowed the last of his coffee and read aloud.




Yesterday the jury of physicians hearing evidence in the Janine Campbell inquest heard testimony from Dr. Anna Savard and Dr. Sophie Savard Verhoeven. Questioning of Dr. Savard Verhoeven was particularly sharp and often accusatory in tone.

“She may be a lady of unusual intelligence,” commented a juror who wishes to remain anonymous. “But she is still a woman and a mulatta, and unsuited to the practice of medicine.”

In questioning Dr. Savard Verhoeven, Anthony Comstock of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice criticized the deceased’s behavior and declared that in pursuing an illegal operation Mrs. Campbell had reaped the terrible harvest of her sins against the laws of God and man. In the testimony that followed the jury and gallery heard details of the Campbells’ marriage that were so personal in nature that Dr. James Cameron, a retired physician, left the courtroom in an outrage.

“Such topics violate all rules of decency,” he told reporters outside the Tombs. He went on to quote the second book of Timothy, verses 11–12, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

When asked whether his admonition was meant for the deceased Mrs. Campbell or the Drs. Savard, Dr. Cameron said: “Both.”

Jack said, “She underlined the name of the doctor they quote, James Cameron. In the margin she wrote: ‘He’s not dead after all.’ What does that mean?”

Anna felt as if she had been struck hard in the stomach.

“Anna, is this the old man who bellowed at the coroner and then stomped out of the courtroom?”

“I think it must be. Do you remember what he looked like?”

Jack shrugged. “Frail, bent. Very proper, old-fashioned. Walked with a cane.”

“Yes,” Anna said. “Of course, the cane.” She looked at him directly and knew that she could not hide the disquiet she was feeling. “I saw him, this Dr. Cameron, just the other day, but I didn’t recognize him. It was when I came out of the coffeehouse across from Jefferson Market.”

One of his eyebrows peaked, and she knew she had his entire attention. “Go on.”

“He was coming down from the el platform. I suppose I never really looked at him in the courtroom, I was so focused on Sophie on the stand. But he looked at me as if he knew me and didn’t like what he knew. I remember now, there was another letter he wrote, to the editor at the Tribune.”

Jack stood up and walked across the room and then back again to sit down where he started. “Tell me what your cousin said about him when you saw her.”

Anna closed her eyes to concentrate, and then recounted what she remembered: a man more bent on purifying women’s souls than saving their lives.

“And she said he was old when she knew him, and was probably dead. He’s so frail, Jack. I find it hard to imagine him operating at all. And why would a woman who can afford to pay three hundred dollars settle for him? A steady hand is the very least a woman would want.”

Jack said, “They had resources, but don’t forget that all of the women we know about lacked connections. Some of them were from out of town, others were from overseas, a few were isolated for other reasons. Mrs. Schmitt’s husband is a Baptist minister, for example. None of them could go to sisters or cousins or aunts for advice on what doctor to consult. Now I wonder if we wasted a day looking for Neill Graham’s father or grandfather. I need to roust Oscar and get moving on this.”

He turned back suddenly. “This Kate Sparrow, she may not want to talk to us without you.”

“I could meet you there at noon, unless I have an emergency. And if it won’t be too long.”

He came around the table, leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Good.” He took a moment to look at her, his eyes moving over her face.

“Sometimes your eyes are brown and gold and green, and sometimes they seem mostly brown. Sometimes green. How do you do that?”

She tugged on an earlobe. “It’s a secret I dare not divulge.”

He smiled against her mouth when he kissed her, and then they both went off to get ready for work. The small bit of breakfast Anna had managed to get down lay like a lead weight in her gut.

•   •   •

ELISE HAD SAVED her time off without a specific plan for how to use it, until the trip to Greenwood came up. Even such a short trip—they would be gone overnight—was exciting. On Saturday morning she woke thinking that she had three full days, and committed herself to using the time to best advantage. She started the day by airing bedding, changing sheets, sweeping and dusting and polishing her way through all the bedrooms.

Mrs. Lee came marching upstairs, wanting to know if Elise was trying to put her granddaughter out of a job, or if she was just set on working herself to death.

“Let me,” Elise said. “Please let me. There’s enough to keep Laura Lee busy.”

Mrs. Quinlan steadfastly refused to accept any payment for board and lodging, but Elise needed to contribute in some way for her own peace of mind.

“Save your money,” the old aunt had said when Elise offered to help with household chores. “You’ll have expenses in medical school, even with a scholarship.”

Today while she worked Rosa followed her around, helping but mostly asking questions. Because, she pointed out, Elise knew more about the Catholic Church than anyone else in the house, which Elise herself had to admit was true.

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