“Thank you,” Dr. Booker said, handing Mrs. Reinhardt his panama hat as he walked inside the central passage of the manor house. He moved his medical bag to his other hand and greeted Victor. “How is everything this morning?”
“Good to see you Doctor Booker, but to answer your question I must say it could be better.” He motioned toward the little parlor. “Would you like some tea or coffee before you visit Father?”
“No, thank you,” he said, following Victor into the little green room where he sat across from him at the small round table.
“Before we go up to see Father, I would like to have a word with you.”
Dr. Booker sat his bag on the floor. “I am aware of the recent intrusions.”
“I thought you would be. As you know, I am rather ignorant as to the inner workings of the monastery; however, I am quite aware as to its importance.”
“Your father has been talking.” Dr. Booker’s jowls drooped like a bulldog’s. “Is the nurse still here?”
“Ms. Rush will leave when she is done assisting you. She will not be back.”
“That is good.”
“Father’s mind has not been very clear lately. I am sure it is the dementia that has caused his misjudgment in words.”
“That is true. He has always been extremely devoted to the others.”
“His mind is sound enough to recognize when he has misspoken. I think it causes him suffering.” Victor crossed his legs and tapped a finger on his knee. “Did they tell you what to do?”
The doctor nodded. “For their protection, he is to be kept away from people who do not belong here.”
“That has been taken care of. Mrs. Reinhardt can manage his care from here on out.”
“I have no doubt. But they did tell me that you should be prepared to take over his position.”
“I was aware it was coming,” Victor said. “I would be quite happy to be the new guardian. But as you are aware, I know not what it entails.”
“I am the same as you, I only know enough to do my job. But when the time comes, they will tell you.”
“I understand.” Victor slowly stood up. “Let’s go see Father.”
The doctor picked up his bag, and they walked upstairs. Victor knocked on the bedchamber door before walking inside to where Lord Andrei was leaning forward in the wheelchair. His head was dropped forward and an arm dangled over the side.
“Father, are you alright?”
Dr. Booker rushed up to Lord Andrei and gently shook a shoulder. He did not respond. The doctor felt for a pulse in the neck and then took his stethoscope from the bag and listened to the lord’s heart. After a minute he turned to look at Victor. “He is dead and not to be resuscitated.”
Victor and Dr. Booker turned to see Ruby standing in the doorway.
“Yes,” Dr. Booker said. “Help us lay him on the bed.”
After placing Lord Andrei’s body on the scalloped overlay bedspread, Victor said to Ruby, “You are no longer needed, your employment has ended.”
“Would you like me to perform post-mortem care and call the mortuary for you?” Ruby said, standing at the foot of the majestic bed.
“We will take care of things from here,” Victor said, looking away. “You are dismissed.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Ruby said.
“Thank you, Ms. Rush,” Victor said, sounding as gruff as his father.
When Ruby left the room, Victor said, “What do we do now?”
“I will notify Brother Lestat.”
Victor sat down on the edge of the bed and touched his father’s swollen hand. “How do you contact them? Do you need me to escort you to the passage?”
“Normally I enter at the bay, but since I am inside the manor, I would appreciate use of the passage.” He walked toward the door. “You stay here. I’ll inform Lady Beth of her husband’s demise. In the meantime, do not leave the house and make sure you get that nurse out of here.”