Mary Russell’s War (thirteen): visitors and responsibilities
On a sheet of stationery pinned to the pages of Mary Russell’s journal:
27 October 1914
Mary, because you seem worried that your brain has sustained an injury in the accident, as evidenced by your occasional lapses in memory, I am adding a page here as an aide memoire, that you may read it and reinforce your natural memory of the facts.
Rest assured, dear Mary, that each morning I personally bring the wall calendar across from your bed up to date, drawing a line through the previous day, checking to be sure the day’s appointments and scheduled visitors are accurate. I promise you I will continue to do this until you no longer need my help. I further promise you that your brain will return to its customary sharp state as its physical trauma subsides. Your fretting about it only delays healing.
Your family servants, Micah and Mah Long, visit on alternate afternoons, and bring you food since you seem to find that more appealing than the more Western foods offered by the hospital or your other visitors. Your friend Flo comes two or three days a week, and your father’s lawyer needs no more signatures at present (I mention those two people because you seem particularly concerned with them.) You have replied to all the letters in the lidded box on the small table, and between the Longs and me, any new letters reach you within a day of their arrival at your house. Similarly, I read you the day’s news and anything else of interest each morning, and again—yes, the headaches will lessen, as indeed they are beginning to do already, although it may not seem so to you.
Oh, and the other thing that worries you is your mother’s canary: yes, I have taken it home with me, where it sings to my large collection of artificial birds from around the world. I shall try to take a photograph of the little yellow thing perched atop the large black hawk carving you have admired in the past.
Please, child: worry not, and get well. Next week you will be moving to a convalescent hospital, where I believe you will find things more comfortable and less troubling. Certainly it will be quieter.
I will place this atop your journal when I come to your room this morning. Also, you will be pleased to hear, the October issue of The Strand arrived at your house, so I will bring it and see if you would like me to read you some of the new instalment of the Sherlock Holmes serial that you said you were anticipating.
(Later that morning: I am not at all certain that “The Valley of Fear” is an appropriate piece of fiction to read to a convalescent girl, concerned as it is with a brutal murder. However, when I made to stop, Mary grew agitated, and so I continued. Perhaps the story will be less appealing by the time its November episode appears. At least it has taken her mind off of German spies.)
(For the previous installments of Mary Russell’s War, see here.)