tagBDSMAfflictions of Unruly Passion Ch. 04

Afflictions of Unruly Passion Ch. 04

byPhilippaMaQuente©

-IV-



Time was short, but August had enough to pen a quick note. Valentine's well-used, decrepit journal book had looked as though it had been to war, and his first impression of the woman who bore it certainly matched. He almost got hard again just looking at his desk and remembering her juicy cunt had opened for him there. The Scot tittered a little to himself. She thought what she wanted from him was so simple, so easy to give and get. What he wanted was so much more. He wanted everything. She was not just his patient, his subject of study, but his future. Courtship was his goal, and with that in mind, he produced his missive and put it in an envelope, scrawling the name and address of a friend (at his shop down in Nairn) upon the front. He sealed it with a blob of wax and his personal stamp, and kept it nearby while he gathered what he needed for the afternoon's schedule.

The days were well-structured at Mistress Halifax's; patients rose at six and were taken for breakfast at seven. The first meal was served as a buffet and ended by eight, when quick daily appointments and minor treatment sessions began. The medical staff had four hours to see their charges each morning, with in-depth appointments for each person throughout the week, usually conducted during the social time. Luncheon began at noon, and lasted until common time an hour and a half later. Blackmore checked his watch. It had been about ten minutes since he'd ushered the patient body and his staff to the sitting room, and he still had twenty before he was due to meet with the men and hear the day's reports. Enough time to begin a few of his smaller projects for the day. Taking a fresh leaf of paper, August began to scratch out a notice he intended to put up, ensuring Valentine would be left to his care.

As he wrote, he knew he should feel guilty for his selfishness and besmirching the honour of his position, but he could not find a trace of the emotion within himself. It had been too long, waiting for her. Not as long as it might've been, but long enough. It was also an odd paradox that the very study he'd so longed to write all this time required a woman like Valentine- all too aware of her mental state and physical needs, and unafraid of expressing them. Her 'madness' was not out of her grasp, nor did it render her insensible or incapable. It only existed because she was limited in her actions and free will by cruelly restrictive social imposition! Though housed in the facility, the girl was far from insane, and he simply could not think of her, truly, as a madwoman.

A sane but passionate, intelligent, intense, and determined woman masquerading as a lunatic was a fine match indeed for a Dominant, analytical, equally intense, and brilliant man masquerading as a gentleman of agreeable temper. Their secret selves had mated, and at least for him, there was no going back. August finished his draft of the notice that would put the comely creature into his care and left it for later. He gathered his usual notes and stood, perusing the surface of his desk for necessities.

The note left for him this morning (or perhaps some point in the evening) from the orderly the girl had frightened caught his eye. He snatched it up; it would certainly prove a useful tool in his quest to keep her out of others' hands. Blackmore had been a bit skeptical of it when first he'd read it hours ago, but after hearing the report of Valentine's mood when she was woken, and actually meeting her, obviously there was something to it.

Doctor Blackmore-

I must request to be excused from my early duties for the day (9 May). I had escorted the late arrival of the evening to her room, and before I left she went into a mad fit, became savage, and attacked me. It was dreadful. I did sustain some injury, but not serious harm. The situation has left me quite outraged, and I refuse to go near her again, for my own safety. I am sorry for the disruption to my work but I need the morning to settle my nerves. No, I do not wish any penalty for the girl. She is obviously entering this place for good reason. Please accept my apologies for being unable to work, and I thank you deeply for understanding.

Yours,

Charles R.


What sort of injury the boy sustained August still did not know. After a look at the orderly's records, the doctor found him to have positive reviews from the staff, no written or verbal warnings on file, no history of issues, and certainly no reported altercations with either patients or staff. So, he'd sent word along the line to give the lad his morning and put the entire incident down as a bizarre, if not entirely unheard of, event. Meeting Valentine had given him a number of questions about it, and he scolded himself for forgetting to ask. It was strange how well he'd been received by her, even considering her obvious hostility at circumstance. Why had she 'savaged' this orderly, and not him?

Taking his materials into one arm, August swept out of his office neatly and paused by Carolina's desk.

"Miss Birdie, have they sent out the post already today?" he asked.

"I believe so, Doctor Blackmore." Carolina paused over her ledger. "If there's something pressing we could send out a telegraph." An investment Madam Halifax had insisted on. She was absolutely correct on the matter.

"No Miss Birdie, not needed. I just wish to send a message out to a craftsman in town. Would you see that someone rides out with this, please?" Brandishing the envelope with a flourish, Blackmore extended his request to the secretary. She plucked it from his fingers.

"Right away sir," she answered with a smile.

"Thank you, Miss Birdie. I'm headed to meet the men."

"Have a good afternoon, Doctor. I'll see this gets taken right out."

The woman rose from her desk and bustled off to attend her duty, leaving Blackmore to wander toward the doctors' lounge, smiling wide. Seemed he couldn't get rid of the expression. All his questions about Valentine's motives and needs could not stop the flood of happiness that had taken his world from acquiescence to routine and begrudging solitude to the marrow-deep satisfaction he felt after just one spending in her quim. His longing was rising again, and it went beyond mere physical gratification.

As he walked into the doctors' lounge, he had to stifle his smirk in favour of a more placid facial expression. Even while he greeted his staff, the one thought burning hardest in regards to the Godwin girl was how quickly he could sway her to marriage. A mad thought indeed, and only half-serious, and he could already picture her face if she knew he was thinking it.

With that, he shelved the thought for later use and focused on his job. Valentine's arrival had inspired him; he still had to put it to good use!

Blackmore surveyed their 'lounge'. It was somewhat of a meeting room, an office, and an escape for overtaxed medical men all in one. It held a large, antique dark-wood varnished table, masculine and grand. That took focus in the room sitting on the eastern side, surrounded by matching seats. A stately cabinet for brandy and snifters stood along the wall behind the long edge of the table. In the western half of the room a fireplace crackled merrily, flanked by a pair of grandfatherly leather armchairs. As August entered this refuge he noticed their tension and they all shifted toward him expectantly.

"Afternoon, gentlemen. Let's hear it, then." August flashed them a wry grin and waited, his arms full of papers. There was a brief pause. Every man there knew precisely what he meant.

The silence soon shattered.

"My God, Blackmore!" said Murphy, one of the younger men (though older than August himself). "What sort of creature have we taken as a ward, and how on Earth did you get her back to civility?"

"We've never seen a patient like this before," chimed Finnegan. "Attacking staff members, flouncing about in her bloomers..." August chuckled.

"Aye, she is a veritable tempest. But not a mystery, gentlemen. Yes, I had to administer emergency treatment this morning, and no, I have never ever diagnosed a patient as quickly as I have Miss Godwin. I've never seen her like. Severe hysteria, men, incredibly severe." An immediate babble rose as the men reacted, gasping and turning to each other to argue their previous hypotheses and the revelation of Blackmore's insight. Only Reginald remained unaffected.

It was well known that Blackmore rarely gave a diagnosis of female hysteria; he scoffed at the vague absurdity of the symptoms that were often attributed to the disease. "'Tendency to cause trouble'?" he'd sneered to Whyte once. "How was that ever determined to be a symptom of disease and not just a quirk of character?" Dr Whyte had to admit that there was far too much, well, hysteria about women having the illness. Hence the young Scotsman's reluctance to acknowledge it. In Mistress Halifax's, the majority of patients suffered from depressive diseases, some of them leaning toward self-harm and requiring in-depth care. There were only a scant handful of diagnosed 'hysterics' in the lot, and the worst case so far in their history had been the Adams gel... His very own charge, and just one of the cases frustrating him at the moment.

"You almost never determine hysteria, Blackmore," came the voice of the eldest member of staff, Dr Dumfries. A native Scot like the younger man he addressed. "Why do you declare it so readily now?" Dumfries leaned back, his expression slightly amused. A hint of challenge from the old man to the stripling laddie (as he often thought of his direct superior). Youngest of them all and somehow running the show; Gregor supposed that's what it meant to be a 'prodigy'.

Not at all riled by Dumfries' good-natured needling, Blackmore gave him a beatific smile.

"Hysteria, as you know, was thought by the Greeks to be the disease of the 'wandering womb', and as absurd as it is to imagine any internal organ freely roaming the body, I do not think there is no value in the base theorem. I object to the overuse of the diagnosis, and the ridiculous litter of 'symptoms' attributed to the illness. I do not object to the concept that girls and women are sometimes at the mercy of their wombs." Dumfries stroked his dour grey beard, looking over his professional foil with deepened interest. "Such is absolutely the case here. She has already bullied a staff member, and shown us all that she is willing to compromise her modesty without qualm. Her interview this morning also hints at a very troubled past, and I fear she is dangerous to a point. I have here the complaint from the orderly she attacked-" he brandished the note, and passed it off down the line- "and there is also testimony from this morning's discovery of her out of her clothes and sleeping on the floor in a mess of shredded silk, notably the very dress she arrived in."

"And by emergency treatment, you meant...?" Dumfries pushed. August's smile dropped to a properly serious purse of his lips.

"I found it necessary to induce paroxysm to calm her." Another wave of astounded susurrus rose up. That too was one of his rarities. He waved the noise down one-handedly. "She put a gown back on, did she not?" August finally set his papers down on the table and stood before them with his arms folded across his chest. "We have had this discussion before, as I'm sure all of you recall. I know I have often dismissed female hysteria as a catch-all, and I absolutely do still feel that it is, largely. It's become a crutch." Oh yes, it was such a sticking point for him he'd written it into his original rote when he'd been hired. His hand-picked staff initially balked, and there had been a great deal of debate upon the subject, with much consternation. Especially when he limited use of "pelvic massage" and completely forbade both hysterectomy and clitoridectomy. "However, in certain cases- rare cases, mind you- it is the only diagnosis possible because female hysteria is a specific illness. Specific enough to be misinterpreted. Valentine Godwin is the perfect example. She's tense, haunted, desperate, angry, and trapped by her body, by her womb specifically. This was quite clear to me within an hour. Hearing and seeing what you have, will you all tell me none of you considered it?"

"Well- most of us did," Connelly conceded. "But no one was willing to bet you would." A ripple of laughter broke the tension and their head man grinned again.

"The odds were extremely low, I'll admit it, but if one of you had put money down, your pockets would be much heavier right now."

"And have you thought about who is going to be the most suited to caring for her...?" came the voice of mild Dr Penwood, warily.

"Indeed I have. A formal posting will be up by this evening, but as of now the girl is mine, gentlemen. She is the case study candidate I have been waiting for, and I will not surrender the opportunity to any of you." His claim was staked, and he allowed them another minute to absorb the news.

"My word," someone muttered under the hum. August thought it was either McAlister or Cahill. They were seated next to each other.

"You certainly look as though someone's lit a fire under your backside, Blackmore," Dumfries mused. "Strange that a case of hysteria is the one that prompts you to take a personal patient."

"Finally having my chance to put the old argument to death is why, Dumfries," August said dryly. "When the analysis is finished, you will all have my absolute last word on the subject and, I hope, a better understanding of the disease." The doctor finally drew out his chair to punctuate his statement and begin to change the topic. He sat, tidying his papers. "Now that's settled for the moment, your charges are my concern. How goes it, you bastions against the clutches of madness?"

Whyte cleared his throat.

"Actually, Blackmore, I do wish to address some issues. Most of my patients seem to be making progress, but with a certain few it's like banging my head against a wall." August frowned.

"How long have you felt so?"

"Long enough. I think I've exhausted my resources and tried every method I could at this point." Blackmore rifled through his materials and turned up a blank sheet. Taking a pen from his vest pocket, he jotted down the complaint.

"Which cases?" Blackmore asked, poised.

"Notably, Mariner and Adams, though I am starting to run up against similar difficulties in the Blakely girl as well." The names went recorded alongside Whyte's initials. August knew each of these patients already; curiously, Adams was another confirmed hysteric. Not severe, or aware of her illness enough to be able to make his case, but whatever new information arose because of Valentine would help her fellows. Blakely was a fifteen-year old with severe compulsions and sensory issues involving food and clothing. The Mariner case was a difficult one, and would not be easily rectified. Her presence in their hospital was even less understandable than Valentine's, yet rooted in the same societal delirium that had earned his woman her stay. To fix that poor young lady's situation, August would have to dismantle social systems much larger than one person's sanity. Their facility could only serve as a refuge for so many unfortunates left behind when justice failed, at the expense of so many more.

Whatever he could do he would.

"Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Has anyone else found any of their charges experiencing stagnation instead of wellness?" Nearly all of them put a hand up. "I see. Well, perhaps we've hit the limits of what our profession has been doing until now. We are lucky to be practicing at this time though; some of our far-flung contemporaries are developing new methods as we speak."

"Are you referring to the 'talking cure', Blackmore?" said Wallace, in a skeptical tone. August nodded.

"Indeed. Part of what I plan on doing with Miss Godwin will be based on that. How are we to know what plagues their minds and spirits, gentlemen, if we do not ask?"

"Well, what if they won't open up?" Connelly petitioned nervously. "I've tried desperately to get Annie Tailor to explain her feelings, and short of tying her hands behind her back I've done everything to get her to stop her self-destructive behaviour!"

"Medicines, therapies, walks, bathing, rest, all that?" August returned, looking at him coolly. Connelly dipped his head.

"Even the electro-shock! She just meekly lets me attempt to cure her but she never makes any progress! Every time I examine her I find new marks. Even when I've ordered her nails trimmed to the quick!"

"Is this your only case where you are seeing no progress, Connelly?" Blackmore asked, making notes.

"No, but the others are not getting worse. Miss Tailor has gotten worse in her behaviour, and even less inclined to discuss her problem." Blackmore nodded, his face grave.

"I want a detailed report of her case when you can, Connelly. Everything you've tried, everything you've asked her, and the answers she's given, whatever they were. I'm thinking there's a key piece of leverage you've missed. A question or observation that can open her up. I think you'll find you'll have a little more leeway soon." Witnessing Valentine coax Annie out of her shell at the midday meal had been eye-opening. And the nymph's earnest demand that he speak to her so frankly in his office had seized him by the ballocks.

Really, they should all feel like fools. It was classic Occam's razor.

"The same goes for any patient any of you are having difficulty with. I want detailed reports on my desk or given to my assistant, and I'd also like each of you to begin pondering your own thoughts and approach to the 'talking cure'. Part of what helped me restore Miss Godwin to normalcy this morning was speaking with her frankly, and I think we all need to be doing far more of it." Writing furiously as he said all this, Blackmore eventually looked up, folded his hands in front of himself and looked at them pointedly over the rims of his spectacles. "As the field of psychology has developed, we've tested medicines and machines designed to 'correct' abnormalities in the mind or body we think cause problems like depressive moods and bouts of self-harm. What if, in a number of people suffering from emotional and mental malady, the cause is not within their bodies, but their environments? Their worlds? Surely we could be doing better for them?" Another bout of mumbling rose. The men gathered before Blackmore's stoic presence looked at each other, trading gestures and questions.

"If that's the case, they have been removed from their environments. Shouldn't we already see a spike of improvement?" asked Ferguson Craig, the next youngest man on staff, also a Scot. In fact, he and Blackmore had overlapped a bit in their studies.

"Removed from but not purged of, Craig. Though of course our hospital should be a welcoming and safe place for these women as they try to heal. I will again refer to Miss Godwin, as I suspect her madness is largely influenced by her home life: Just removing them from their potentially harmful families or surroundings is not enough if we do not unravel the damage built up while there." Another babble. "And what if we must send them back? Will they simply relapse?"

"Our calling remains complicated, as usual," Dumfries said, with a glitter in his eye. "But we did not choose it because it was simple, did we gentlemen?" Murmured assent rose up. "You continually upend me, Blackmore. The idea of 'psycho-analysis' seems so bloody simple, but in about three or four questions you've demonstrated the complexity of Freud's idea. It runs deep."

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byPhilippaMaQuente© 3 comments/ 2688 views/ 3 favorites

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