The Doctor's Notes
A TPDoEQ extra scene, by Lady Norbert
(Corresponds with chapter eight of vol. III, "The Wintering")
A/N: Yep, another outtake. It's been awhile since I wrote this, and I've forgotten who asked for it (sorry!), but they wanted to know what happened when Elizabeth developed dysentery. There was a bit of a gap in her diary, because she was suffering from a fever so serious that she was basically comatose for a few days, and, well, one of my friends was curious. It's from Jekyll's point of view. Hope you like it; thank you for all the lovely feedback on the others.
It was, of course, terribly unfortunate that the illness should befall our company at all. But as the resident doctor, how ironic that I should be among those stricken, at a time when my services were most needed!
At least I was able to rest comfortably, knowing that my dear Mina was looking after everyone. She came to sit at my side whenever she had a chance to rest; given her nature, there was no danger of her catching the disease from me or anyone else. The other remaining healthy members of our party, of course, were in more danger. She was able to keep Elizabeth somewhat out of harm's way by assigning her primarily to cooking and water preparation duties, but the girl insisted on helping as much as possible. Skinner and Nemo, too, did their part to make things less uncomfortable for the sick men, myself included.
After nightfall, when Elizabeth took the first watch over the patients, Mina sat with me and discussed everyone's prognosis. "Everyone is coming along well," she assured me one night. "Tom is up and around again, and I expect you'll be out of bed in another day or two. The worst of it seems to be over."
"Thank heaven for that. We're very lucky; some of us could have died."
It was at that moment that Elizabeth appeared. She was pale and trembling, and her breathing was irregular. "What's the matter?" asked Mina. "You don't look well."
"I...I don't feel well," she whispered. "I think there's something wrong."
Mina and I exchanged glances before she jumped up to help the girl. They moved out of my range of view, but I knew Mina would set things right again and Elizabeth would be fine.
Two days later I was well enough to get up and resume my duties as doctor, and I found out how wrong I was. Elizabeth had grown steadily worse; she too was vomiting like the other patients, but unlike most, she had developed a fever. Her temperature continued climbing, and that night she slipped into an unconsciousness that she seemed unable to escape. The other League members and I held a conference as she slept.
"I won't mince words," I told them. "This fever is dangerous. I'm doing everything I can for her, but it's alarmingly high."
"Should we return to the ship?" asked Nemo. "Finding the lost Incan city is not worth risking anyone'se life, and we have had many close calls already."
"She's too ill to travel," I said. "If we move her now, it could finish her." I looked around at the grave faces; Skinner had resumed wearing his facial greasepaint, and I watched his jaw tighten. "I think she'll pull through," I added hastily, "but we have to watch her constantly. The slightest change, if unnoticed, could be fatal."
"Not a problem." This from Skinner. "I've got nothing planned; I'll sit with her."
"There's a surprise," Mina said in a low voice that only I heard.
Elizabeth's delirium continued for the next few days. If Skinner ever once got out of the chair near her bed, I never saw it. I'm not completely certain that he ever even slept. His meals were brought to him there, but he ate little. Once, Tom tried to get him to take a break and get some fresh air; I overheard the conversation. "I'm fine," he said.
"No, you're not. Look, just take five minutes for yourself. I'll sit with her."
"Really, I'm all right. Besides, it's raining."
He would sit there for hours on end. Sometimes he'd be stretched out in the chair, sometimes he'd fold himself up with his chin on his knees. I couldn't see his eyes, of course, but I didn't need to see them to know where his gaze rested at all times. When I would come to examine her he would sit up, waiting for news, but there was not usually much to give. She slept fitfully, her skin burning with the fever, and periodically I instructed him to wipe her face with a damp cloth. Beyond that, there was little he could actually do...but he would not leave.
I've never had so much sympathy for Skinner in all the time I've known him. Nor was he ever as obvious, before or since, about how he really felt about Elizabeth. He was never good at hiding it completely, of course, and the rest of us knew even if she didn't. But for those few days, when her life was uncertain, he didn't bother to hide it at all.
We were all very relieved when, on the third night, he came to find me. The grin stretched across his face could have lit up a London street. "She's awake," he said simply.
The fever had broken, and she was going to recover. She was rather confused, the poor girl; the last time she'd seen me, I was sick and she was healthy, and now our roles were reversed. She seemed not to remember having fallen ill. She drank the water Mina brought her and received the well-wishes of the men with relative good spirits, but she was very tired. "You should rest,"I told her gently. "If you need anything, we won't be far. I don't think Skinner's been out of this tent all week." I tried to keep the amusement out of my voice, not wishing to perplex her further. She glanced over to where he had resumed his perch nearby and gave him a weak smile, then closed her eyes. I looked up at him.
"She's going to be all right, I think," I told him. "You should get some sleep too."
"Yeah, maybe I will." He sounded suddenly exhausted. Casting one last look at Elizabeth, he stretched out in the chair and, in minutes, was sound asleep. Mina brought an extra blanket with which to cover him, and we observed the pair for a moment in silence.
"He's hopeless," she said. She regarded him with more fondness than usual.
"Yes, well, I can relate," I said, putting an arm about her waist. "And I hope someday he gets to be as happy as I am."