The Scholar (Emerson Pass Historicals 3) - Page 53

“I think I know what’s making your mother sick.” I quickly explained my theory.

“They were sitting in the cellar in dampness for a long time,” Nora said. “When we found them, the box was completely covered in black mold. I washed it off best I could, but Mom didn’t want to risk me smearing the letters.”

“Is there anything else that has mold on it?”

“The entire cellar is covered in it. No sooner do I wipe it away than it returns.”

“What are you using to clean?”

“Soap and water,” Nora said.

“You need vinegar. It kills mold.” I looked over at the barn where her hired men were stacking bales of hay. “Send them down to the basement and have them scrub every surface.”

“What about the box and letters? She’ll never part with them.”

“We have to put them away at least. And the whole house should be cleaned. I’ll send my mother and sisters over later to help.”

“You’re going to have to tell Mom about the letters. She’ll never listen to me.”

“Hopefully she’ll look at me as a doctor and not Theo,” I said with a laugh.

I squeezed her shoulder. “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be all right.”


When I returned home from work that afternoon, I found Louisa and my sisters on the back porch playing cards. Warm from the afternoon heat, I took off my jacket as I loped up the steps.

“Hi, Theo,” Fiona said. A pitcher of iced tea perspired on the end of the table. Each of the ladies had a glass next to her and a handful of cards.

“What’re you playing?” I poured myself a glass of iced tea and sat in one of the empty chairs.

“Old Maid,” Cymbeline said. “Louisa doesn’t know how to play poker.”

“Father thought it was a game for heathens.” Louisa gave me an apologetic smile. “He was strict about certain things.”

“He’s not incorrect.” I looked over at Cymbeline. “When did you two learn to play poker, anyway?”

“Flynn taught us,” Fiona said, answering for both.

“Don’t give me that look, Grandpa,” Cymbeline said to me. “We don’t use real money.”

“Sunflower seeds mostly,” Fiona said. “Or raisins.”

“What other vices did Flynn teach you while I was gone?”

Cymbeline and Fiona exchanged a look but didn’t respond. I wondered what that meant.

I drank down half of my iced tea. “I’m surprised you all aren’t down at the creek.”

“Louisa and I were earlier,” Fiona said as she took one of Louisa’s cards. “We took the little girls down for a swim after lunch. Then came back up for tea and decided to get cleaned up and play cards.”

“I helped Poppy this morning,” Cymbeline said. “We did our rounds, but there wasn’t much to do so I came home in time for tea.”

“How was your day?” Fiona asked me.

“Very good, thank you. I may have figured out what’s wrong with Mrs. Cassidy.” I shared my theory and basked in the glow of my sisters’ and Louisa’s comments about my cleverness. “You ladies make it nice to come home.”

“Who wouldn’t like to come home to this house?” Louisa flushed pink. “I mean because of all of you, not the house itself.”

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