|A Stimulating Cure by Madeleine Swann|
Helena is a Victorian housewife who has a problem with her nerves. When her doting husband brings her to the best doctor in London, the good doctor asserts that Helena’s hysteria is lodged between her legs. There is only one, truly exquisite cure. (M/F)
“Perhaps it won’t be too awful,” she murmured.
“That’s the spirit,” Alfred smiled.
The horse stopped outside a smart set of West End buildings. Helena stepped sloppily out of the cab door, holding onto Alfred’s outstretched hand. “Oopsie daisy,” he chuckled, his smile a little too fixed. An aging female housekeeper answered the door.
“If you would like to follow me,” she said in an East End accent, “Dr Britestone will see you next.” Helena caught the look in her eye, so slight most wouldn’t have seen. Another hysterical woman, it said, causing trouble for her hard-working husband.
They stopped in a small, airy waiting room. A light wooden door with an oval window set near the top was situated at the back. They sat in waiting chairs next to a fellow who repeatedly pulled a watch from his waistcoat pocket and tapped his foot. A maid dusted the books on a nearby shelf; Helena pursed her lips when she saw Alfred’s eyes caress her curves. She pulled her hand from his and he lowered his head silently.
Within a half hour the wooden door opened and a red-cheeked woman appeared, floating to the nervous man as serenely as a swan on a crystal lake. He took her hands and led her from the room, their bodies melting into each other.
“Mrs Symmonds?” said a young man from the doorway. He was a touch shorter than she, slightly built and dark-haired with a lively and interested expression. Helena rose and accepted his warm handshake. “Good day, I’m Dr Britestone, very pleased to make your acquaintance.” The smell of old books in his room comforted her. He shut the door and led her past shelves of skeletal creatures underneath glass bell jars and puffy white objects lurking in containers of darkened liquid. He requested she sit in a musty, brown leather chair. He spoke calmly, like a scientist preparing a subject for testing. Helena placed her finger in a crack on the chair’s arm. “Oh dear,” smiled the doctor, “Please forgive my current possessions. One day my findings will permit me to buy the plushest of furnishings but, sadly, that day hasn’t yet arrived.”
Helena shook her head. ”I couldn’t possibly bear thoughts of such an ugly manner.” As he filed through pages on his desk she looked upward—and wished she hadn’t.
“Oh, fear not,” he said as he followed her gaze after her sharp intake of breath, “that metal contraption is merely a vibration device for easing back ailments, nothing a lady with a hysterical womb need concern herself with.”
“Well, yes,” Dr Britestone seemed taken aback that she didn’t know her own prognosis. “A lady’s womb can cause fits of nervousness and knows only one cure.”
“Complete bed rest,” said Helena bitterly.
“Of course not,” laughed Dr Britestone, “that is the very last thing it needs. If you’ll permit me to say, a woman as handsome as yourself should not be shut away. Oh, I’ve embarrassed you.” A blush had crept over Helena’s cheeks and she rubbed the side of her face, willing it to turn pale again.