The Silk Mind

Ashlin Smith is bored with his apparently pointless job in the Royal Badger Survey, and is trying to quit so he can go and be a blacksmith like his family expected. However, the true purpose of the Badger Survey is a lot less boring than he knows or would prefer.

Ashlin, Jenna, Justin and Derk face monsters natural and unnatural as they are tangled up in political intrigue and the civilization-threatening side-effects of ancient sorcery.


17. Prognosis

The Regent Counsel stood by the window in his temporary office. Whenever he was here, he liked to work out of this room, that had once been the bedroom of a king. It had a good view, and was convenient for the library. The old King’s Adviser had had an office two doors away, but that had been badly damaged in a fire long ago, with the loss of a lot of documents and some fine paintings. It had never been properly renovated.

When he took up the newly created post of Regent Counsel, Doctor Grey had never taken up the old adviser's office, saying he was sure it had been suitable for his predecessor, but the room just didn’t suit him.

At the doorway, where he might have been standing for some time, young Doctor Hopkin coughed politely and then entered.



This was almost a joke between them, but they had greeted each other thus so often in earnest, that while in times of good humour it almost seemed comical, it would be absurd to begin smiling at it now. And this was not one of those times.

“Is the man well?”

“I think he will live. There are no signs of infection. I'm sorry to say that he cannot very well make a living as he did before.”

“We can pension him, if he lives. Did you save the leg?”

“No, we cut it off just below the knee. I thought you ... oh, I see what you mean. Yes, it is on ice.”

“If it starts moving around by itself, burn it immediately. If it does nothing unnatural by the end of the week, burn it anyway.”

“I wonder then, if perhaps keeping it for a week makes no difference?”

“It will make a difference to your Mister John.”

“Quite.” The doctor bit his lip. “How did you know of his accident?”

“I hear rumours. It was a rather remarkable story, which no doubt stood him a few drinks. Honest poacher goes into the woods hunting rabbits. His dog starts whining and yapping, growling at the bushes and drawing back. Frightened. So he cautiously pokes the bush with a stick, and a rabbit jumps out, upside down, walking on its front legs, all covered in weeds and twigs. It has a spring trap balanced on top, with the rabbit’s leg mashed into it. He jumps back, astonished, and it flops to the ground. When he gets closer, up it gets and bites him on the leg. Not with the rabbit's mouth, but with the trap.”

“Astonishing indeed.”

“And far too imaginative for a poacher to have come up with, I thought. I sent Green and his team out to check the story, and if it seemed even slightly true, to bring him in. They are back out there looking for the ‘rabbit’ now.”

“And you suspect ...”

“A gruellus.”

“Then, you must have more knowledge than I do about such things. I never did think that old story made any sense.”

“It doesn’t. Dead is dead, and living is living. In general, dead things and inanimate objects do not walk around biting people. If the man was out drunk and fell over onto one of his own traps, or ate a few too many of the wrong mushrooms, then I am afraid he’s lost a leg for his carelessness. On the bright side, he’s gained a pension and can give up his criminal poaching and become a respectable man.”

“I hope and pray that is the explanation. At least that way it remains within my medical experience.”

“Yes, and for now it still seems the most likely.”

“So---and as a medical man, I am forced to ask---might it not have been an overreaction to amputate so promptly?”

“The most likely explanation would mean we have done a little needless harm. A poacher loses half a limb for his lack of caution and our overabundance of it. The less likely explanation is very much less likely, I grant you, but terrible. It may not in actual fact be possible to overreact to it.”

The medical doctor shook his head sadly, but did not reply.

Doctor Grey sat at his desk.

“So, to other business for now. Have you considered my question of yesterday?”

“I have.”

“And your answer?”

“It would probably work, but I couldn’t have any part of it. I am sworn to saving life and limb, or at least occasionally sacrificing limb to save life. It is not for me to sacrifice life to save life.”

“Don’t worry, young doctor. I am not asking you to do it. It is merely a question that had preyed on my mind. I valued your medical opinion, and as to the ethics of the question, I know that nobody can divide or dilute their own responsibility in these difficult matters by asking others for advice. I am sorry to have troubled you with it. Put it aside.”

“Very well. But ...”


“You deal in difficult matters of state. I don’t want to interfere. I can’t for my part take responsibility for sacrificing any life to save any other.”

“You have said so. I have said I don’t ask you to.”

“What I mean is, it cuts both ways. You have my confidence, you have my trust. If, you know, something unfortunate has to be done, I can’t do it but I won’t interfere. You must do what needs to be done, and it’s not for me to sacrifice the lives you are trying to save in order to save the lives you need to sacrifice.”

“You are getting very deep, doctor. It may not come to that, but thank you. I’d rather have you interfere a little than let me run completely wild on a self-justified killing spree, of course.”

The doctor looked blank. Was that a joke, of all things?

“It definitely won’t come to that. Attend to Mister John, and please make sure his leg is healing well. The part that is still attached to him, I mean. I commend that part to your care entirely. If the other part begins healing, let me know.”

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...