Perpetual Anticipation

Chapter 1

“Why can’t I watch?!”

“I don’t think poor Father Pallière would like to see a girl watching me amputate his leg.”

“You need help!”

“I’ve asked for Bartholomée.”

“He’s fifteen!”

“I need someone with the strength to help me.”

“I’m seventeen and as big as he is!”

“I am not having this conversation, Olivie. You only think you are as big as he is. Will you get the bandages and swabs ready?”

“Fetch and carry. Your only child, and you won’t let me be anything but a nurse!” She flounced off.

Denis Enjolras sighed. Olivie needed a mother to tame her wild nature. How would he ever prepare her for marriage when all he could teach her were the arts of physic?

Bartholomée was greeted at the door by a stonily silent Olivie. “Monsieur le Docteur sent for me?” She merely pointed towards the back of the house, where her father had what served as both operating theatre and specimen chamber.

Father Pallière was quite pale and also quite drunk. Dr Enjolras was carefully laying out the last of the necessary bandages. “Ah, there you are. Good, good. Olivie, it is not polite to hang about in doorways! Come here, Bartholomée. It is quite simple. I need you to keep the upper part steady while I remove the crushed lower part. Mind your fingers, just press down on this artery here, do you feel it? Good boy, good boy.”

Except Bartholomée was shaking even as Dr Enjolras took up his saw. Olivie stormed in and pushed him out of the way. “For god’s sake, must you be so worthless?” She clamped her fingers down right on the artery. “Make your cut,” she ordered her father in the familiar. To Bartholomée she snapped, “If you want to be useful, you can leave us to our work!”

He backed away and collapsed against the wall when a spray of blood shot out, directly onto Olivie’s white dress, splattering onto her pale cheek. She ignored it, letting her father do what he must in order to finish sewing up the stump. Only when he was finished did she let go to assist the bandaging. “Bartholomée, come carry this out.”

“He’ll faint if he comes any closer!” She tied the last bandage tightly and grabbed a towel to wipe off her hands. “Does this scare you, Bartholomée?” She waved a bloody hand in his direction, as if it were a spider.

“Olivie, please, let him alone.”

“You should have just asked me to help.”

“I know.” Her father kissed the top of her head, then wiped at the blood on her face. “Madame Noiret will be furious about the state of that dress.”

“She’ll just have to get over it,” Olivie flippantly replied.


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