Winning Phryne

Winning Phryne

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chapter 21

"Excuse me?  But just who are you?" 

Phryne's words shocked most of the people in the room.  For a moment, the room was silent, the kind of silence that made it possible to hear hearts beating rapidly.  A roaring silence.  Deafening.

Jack felt dizzy for a moment; he heard his heartbeat thundering in his ears.  She didn't know who he was?  He shifted his stance to keep his knees from buckling because he was so astounded.

Suddenly everyone in the room started to speak at once.

"Phryne dear, this is Jack, your fiancĂ©," Aunt P spoke up, her voice rife with confusion. 
Jack saw Phryne glance down at her hand and the look of stunned fascination showed clearly on her face.

"Miss, this is Jack!" Dorothy said as well. 

"Phryne!  Of course you know him.  For heaven's sake, he's been one of your main topics of conversation for the past two years."  Mac's words were blunt, to say the least, mostly in the hope to stir her memories.   The idea that she didn't remember Jack was almost beyond comprehension.  What about the rest of them?

What about the rest of them? Oh God, what if she didn't remember any of them?  
Amnesia?  It was almost unthinkable.

The only person in the room who didn't immediately speak, who didn't even look altogether shocked was Dr. Harrison.  He moved to Phryne's bedside and quickly began to examine her.

"I need everyone to leave the room while I examine Miss Fisher," he said over his shoulder.  For a few seconds they all seemed rooted to their spots, reluctant to move.  "Please?"  He needed to determine just how severe her amnesia was and that could be uncomfortable for her family to hear.  It wasn't uncommon after such critical head trauma for temporary amnesia to occur.  Assuming this was only temporary.

Finally Jack, Aunt P and Dorothy filed through the door, all feeling crestfallen at this new turn of events. 

How on earth was this possible they wondered?


"Doctor, you are emotionally connected with this patient.  Are you sure you should be here with her at this time?  It could prove difficult for you."

"Difficult for me?  What about Phryne?  That would seem to be the problem, not me.  Yes, I will stay!" Mac retorted, managing to sound defensive and vulnerable at the same time. 

Dr. Harrison turned his attention to Miss Fisher, pulling up a chair beside her bed and flipping to a new page on her chart.  

Phryne had been quiet for the past few minutes.  Mac was disturbed by this fact; Phryne was never quiet about anything.  Ever!
Dr. Harrison asked, "Do you know your name?"

"Um, Miss Fisher?"

The question had been rather pointless but he pressed on.  "Do you know it because you remember it or because you've heard us calling you by that name?"

"I - well, I heard you say so."

"But you didn't know it until someone said it?"

"Yes, of course I know my own name!" she exclaimed but the unsure look she wore on her face told a different tale.

"Where do you live, Miss Fisher?"

"Here, in this city?"

"Which city would that be?"

A terrified look passed over her face and she started crying as it all began to become clear to her.  She didn't know where she was.  Australia?  England?  Surely not France, the accents weren't right.

The red-haired woman seemed…almost …seemed familiar.  Who was she, besides another doctor?

"Where am I?  Please tell me," she asked, almost choking on the words.


Aunt P felt slightly faint and leaned a bit more on Jack as they walked to the waiting lounge.  She sank down gratefully into the chair that in ordinary circumstances would be deemed abominable. 
Dot noticed that she looked slightly pale and rushed to see if she could find a cup of tea for the elder woman.  As she walked down the hall, Bert, Cec and Mr. Butler arrived with a basket, which hopefully had some tea in it and maybe some biscuits.

Yes, it contained those items and much more.  When Dorothy hadn't returned home earlier as was normal Mr. B rallied the troops, aka, Bert and Cec to head down to the hospital to find out what was going on.

Mr. Butler, always known to have some strange sense about what was required even before the request was made had let his intuition guide him in the case and was grateful that the lads had jumped to, immediately showing up to get him and an over-stuffed basket of food to the hospital.

All three men were stymied by the news, as shocked and afraid for Miss Fisher as the other three.

No one was particularly hungry and even though Jacks favorite sandwich was included he didn't dare to eat right now.  His stomach was as nervous as if a swarm of bees had taken up residence in it.

Aunt P and Dorothy accepted cups of tea and sipped the delicious brew cautiously.  Mr. B made about the best cuppa of anyone they knew but there was too much worry in the room to be able to enjoy it.

"So the doctors are examining her now?" Mr. B ventured.

Jack nodded glumly.  "We really don't know anything yet," he said and it was hard to not notice the despair in his voice.

At this point he wasn't really worried that she hadn't remembered him. What he was concerned about was how the amnesia might affect her; the idea of not remembering anything was a terribly scary prospect for a human being who so cherished past memories, for anyone, but especially Phryne. 

He couldn't stop the worry that perhaps she remembered everyone except him.  What if she truly didn't love him?  Didn't want to wear his ring? 

How would that change things?


"We are in Melbourne, Miss Fisher.  Does that sound familiar to you at all?"

Phryne's brow wrinkled for a moment as she tried to place something here.  A child, maybe?  A little blond girl?  For a moment it almost became clear and in a second the memory vanished, leaving her feeling even more lost.

She shook her head and tears sprung to her eyes again.  "For a moment, there was a young girl, a blond haired girl.  She might have been wearing blue ribbons."  She snuffled as more tears stung her eyes.  "My goodness, do I always cry so much?  Do I have a…a…" she left off, not being able to think of the right word.

Mac knew exactly what she wanted and found a clean handkerchief in her pocket.  "It's clean," she said with a smile and a nod.

Phryne looked at it for a moment and accepted it with a murmur of thanks.

Mac spoke up and said, "That small girl was most likely Janey, your younger sister.  She died when she was very young."


"That’s not important now, but it was very hard on your family.  I'll tell you about it at another time."

Phryne nodded numbly, not sure what to think.  She had to force herself to focus on Dr. Harrison when he spoke again.

"Miss Fisher, let's start with what happened to you, what brought you to the hospital.  Do you remember any of that?"

"I, um, no, I don't think so.  What happened to me?"

Dr. Harrison nodded to Mac who told the story.  "We had just had a family celebration.  You were there as was Jack, myself, Dorothy and Hugh, Mr. Butler, Bert, Cec and Alice."

"What were we celebrating?"

"Basically the last case you and Jack worked on.  And also, Cec and Alice announced she was pregnant."

"Case?  What do you mean?"

"Jack is a Detective Inspector with the City Police.  You solve mysteries and you often work with him.  This was a case where young girls were abducted and sold into white slavery.  You found them on a ship that was getting ready to leave port and you, Jack and Hugh managed to release the girls and get the bad guys!" Mac told her, smiling at Dr. Harrison's expression as he heard the tale.

"What the bloody hell was I doing something like that for?"  The words were just one tiny decibel below a scream and both Mac and Dr. Harrison winced.

"Because it's what you love to do; that and drive poor Jack to distraction, I might add."

Phryne was clearly puzzled by the red-haired woman's words.  "So you were there, at dinner?  Are we…friends?" she ventured.

"Yes, for many years, since the war in fact.  We were in the ambulance service, in France."

War?  France? Yes, she vaguely remembered a war, but it still was a huge mystery.  "Um, so what happened after the dinner?"

"We all agreed to meet back at your house for drinks.  I believe you and Jack arrived first.  Apparently when you arrived and got out of the automobile someone started shooting at you.  Jack was hit in the arm and you were shot in the head.  When you fell you hit your head on the curb.  If I'm correct, I believe that Dr. Harrison thinks that might be what is causing your amnesia."

Phryne watched as the man, whose name was Dr. Harrison nodded in agreement.  "What is your name?" she asked the red-headed doctor who was evidently her friend, from the war?  It seemed only a surreal memory, more like something she'd read about rather been a part of. 

So many questions filled her head, like how old she was, who her family was.  She owned a house?  Her life was all gone, every last detail.  How could that be?  She seemed to remember basic things, just not any personal memories.  Was that possible? 
"My name is Elizabeth Macmillan but you always call me Mac."  Mac took her hand for a moment and was surprised when Phryne immediately pulled it away and tucked it down firmly by her side.

The name didn't sound familiar at all, no matter how hard she tried to remember.  A new question came to mind, "Where was I shot?"

"In your head Miss Fisher; your temporal lobe to be precise.  We successfully removed the bullet.  It's the wound on the other side that is causing your memory problem, as Dr. Macmillan suggested.  Now, let's get back to a few more questions.  For instance, let's see what general memories you have.  Can you name the alphabet?"

Phryne thought about it for a moment and then recited them all without missing a single one.  "Is that good?" she asked and for the first time a small smile lit up her face.  She remembered something!

"Can you count to 20?"

Again she managed to get them all correct and felt a bit more confidant.  She knew there were 4 seasons and that Australia was in the southern hemisphere and that England was in the north.  She named many countries successfully but when she was asked which ones she had visited she drew a blank.

"Who are my parents?  Are they here?"

The corners of Mac's mouth tweaked up as she tried to control a wide smile.  Phryne may not realize it now but in normal circumstances she was positively thrilled that they weren't in Australia.

"No, Phryne, they are actually in England.  Your father inherited a Baronetcy during the war.  You are actually referred to as 'The Honorable Miss Fisher'.  What do you remember about British rank and titles?" she asked, suddenly curious about this subject.  Mac cared little for Phryne's title but this again shocked Dr. Harrison who hadn't realized he had been treating a member of the nobility.

Again this subject came easily to her, except the part about her father. 
Dr. Harrison made a few more notes on the chart, considering what he believed the issue to be.  Miss Fisher seemed to have some sense of memories far in her past, although they were blurry at best.  She seemed to remember nothing of her own personal life, so any memories that she did have would be colored by that.  The good news was that she remembered most of the learned memories, which made him hopeful that she would eventually recover her memory.  It was possible that she would never remember the trauma when she was shot, but otherwise he was sure that she'd be okay, eventually.

"Miss Fisher, considering everything we have discussed and learned; I think it very likely that you have a type of amnesia caused by traumatic events."  He went on to explain his reasoning and Phryne listened quietly, trying to process it all.

"So you believe I will regain my memories?" she questioned, almost afraid to hope.

"Yes, I do.  You may not ever remember the traumatic event, but the rest of your life, I do feel hopeful about.  Think of it as the event sort of blocking the pathway for your other memory."

"How long?"

"I don't know for sure.  It could be an hour, a week or a month or more.  Most people seem to recover within a few weeks, although some almost immediately."

Phryne lay back on the bed, feeling terribly discouraged.  It was like there was a large black cloud shrouding her memory and she didn't like it one damn bit!

To be continued…

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chapter 20

Jack looked in the mirror and tried again to get the knot on his tie to at least look presentable.  In frustration he untied it and again tried to get it correct.  Finally, he thought that it would have to do and let out a long breath, not really pleased.  Phryne had a gift with his tie and he shut his eyes tightly as he realized that it might be a long while before she came home; if she woke up at all that is.  Mac had told him she would, but sometimes he felt overcome with abject worry and desperation to see her beautiful eyes looking at him.

Getting dressed presented problems for him.  His arm ached abominably; just trying to get it into the sleeve of his jacket hurt like the dickens he decided.  Mac had been treating his wound with Lisozyme, a salve to prevent infection from developing.  She had also told him to ask for some medication for the pain when he needed it but he didn't like the numb and fuzzy feeling it gave him; better to just work through the pain he decided.

Mr. Butler had cleaned and pressed his black suit.  As he looked at himself in the mirror he admitted that what was wrong really didn't have anything to do with his clothing; it was the task he had to do today that presented the problem.

This morning was Rosie's funeral.  It was important for him to attend, he knew that.   Annabelle and John had handled everything as George was once again ensconced in City Gaol.  Commissioner had decided to let George out to attend the service, with the understanding that he would go immediately back to gaol with the conclusion of the service.

Annabelle had been very steady through it all, and of course John had stood with her all the way, through the scandal and Rosie's death. It could have taken a terrible toll on his position at the bank, but John himself was beyond reproach, considered an exemplary financier that commanded deep respect.  If others were talking behind his back, (and undoubtedly there were some people who did) they were very careful to keep it from him.

John and Annabelle had stopped by the hospital last evening to see how he was.  It only took a few seconds for them to see his deep love for Phryne and his anguish that he couldn't help her right now.  They'd tried hard to lift his spirits and encouraged him to just love her and be patient. 

That was the hardest task of all.

Convinced that nothing else was be to done about his appearance he headed downstairs and was greeted by Mr. Butler asking if he wanted breakfast before he left.

"Just some coffee, please," Jack answered, not sure if his unsteady stomach could take anything else.

"Sir, might I say that I believe that it would be good for you to eat a little something.  Might I suggest toast to go with the coffee?"  He didn't want the Inspector to think him to be too forward but he definitely looked a bit peaked this morning.

Jack nodded to please the older man; he was concerned about him he knew.

"Won't be but a minute, Inspector.  Would you like to sit in the dining room?"

"No, I'll sit in the kitchen, thank you."

"As you please, Inspector."

Jack followed him into the kitchen and watched as the impeccable butler poured him a cup of coffee, added sugar, which he knew that Jack liked in his coffee and sat the cup and saucer on the table in front of Jack.

"The toast will be done quickly.  Would you like jam or marmalade with it?"

"No, I think plain will be better, Mr. Butler.  I'm not quite sure that it is going to sit well with my stomach."

"Of course, I assumed as much. I'm sure this will be a trying morning, Inspector, if I'm not being too presumptuous.

"Not at all.  It is not a morning I am looking forward to.  I'd much rather be at hospital with Miss Fisher."

"Certainly, I do understand."  

Jack saw a look of something that was akin to fear cross Mr. Butler's face.  Jack was familiar with that.  Mac repeatedly told him that she would wake up, but this was the 5th day and mostly she just lay stiffly in the bed or thrashed around a great deal.  Both scenarios were hard to watch.

When the toast was ready Jack managed to choke down one piece with his coffee and decided that was all he could handle.

Mr. Butler accompanied him to the foyer and handed him his overcoat and hat.  When Jack told him thank you Mr. B uncharacteristically laid a warm hand on Jack's shoulder and said, "You are one of the strongest persons that I know, Inspector.  You will get through this."

Jack nodded and tried to smile but it didn't quite work, so he turned abruptly left the house, feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. 
He hoped that Mr. Butler was correct in his estimation of Jack's strength because he knew that was the only thing keeping him steady.


Sidney paced frantically in the dingy parlor of the small cottage they were using as a hideout.  He'd seen the notice in the paper that stated that Rosie's funeral was today.

He was in turmoil; his precious love, his childhood companion was being laid to rest and he couldn't be there for her.  In his mind he had completely rationalized her death and that it was all her fault for him having to shoot her.  He'd forgiven her of course, but he still couldn't go to the funeral, unless he came up with a good disguise.

Things hadn't been going his way since his arrest on charges that were ridiculous.  He'd only been helping those girls but the Melbourne Constabulary refused to see that point.  No, instead he'd been handcuffed and taken away like a criminal!  They'd refused to bring his personal physician in to treat his wound, telling him that the gaol doctor would take care of it.  He'd shuddered when he saw the man and grimaced over his lack of cleanliness.  Still, it was all the treatment he was going to get so he muddled through it.  It still hurt like the dickens though he thought, rubbing his arm slightly as he remembered the gunshot.

That bastard Jack Robinson had had the nerve to actually shoot him!  How dare he?  He should have been taught as a school lad to have respect for his betters, but obviously he hadn't the sense to see it. 
Sidney knew that the problem was that he was jealous about Rosie, that she had left Jack to be with him.  She obviously had made the right choice; she was his jewel.  He'd wanted to tell Jack that he had personally enjoyed the favors of his wife that he didn't want to share with her.  A woman, such a beautiful woman deserved to be lavished with love and attention and Sidney had done his best to give it to her.

Before he left Melbourne he was going to make sure that Miss Fisher and Jack Robinson each were killed in the most distressing manor possible.  He wanted them both to suffer, to watch as they were tortured in front of the other.  He'd also take Miss Fisher, let Jack see how a real man pleases a woman.

All that couldn't be done until he has his passage away secured.  And THAT was proving to be the biggest thorn in his side; finding a safe way out of Australia.

Neither Rudy nor Scotch Barlow, another associate that Sidney sometimes employed had found Patch Bigelow.  It would be helpful possibly if they knew his given name because Patch was only a nickname.  Still, even asking about a Bigelow hadn't helped either.  So it looked like he was going to have to find another way out of here and taking a ship from Melbourne harbor didn't look like it was possible.  The boys said the docks were heavily covered with coppers and he'd likely never make it to a ship.
Possibly he might go over land to Brisbane or even farther to Cairns if he had to.  It wasn't a good choice but it was better than just sitting here waiting fruitlessly while twiddling his thumbs.


Elise and James Robinson arrived at the church for the funeral before Jack did.  They decided to wait outside for him suspecting that he would need their presence with him.  It wasn't usual for an ex-spouse to attend such things but Jack was above all a man of honor and felt it would be bad form not to attend.  So here they were, standing in the chilled air while their breaths made small puffy mist as they exhaled.  A few minutes later Jack arrived and both his mother and father were alarmed at how gaunt he looked and pale, very pale.  He was wearing himself out trying to be with Phryne constantly.  Even yesterday, when Elise and Amanda stopped in to see if anything had changed he hadn't looked this badly.  It must be nerves over the funeral.

Actually, that wasn't really the reason; Jack was feeling overcome with guilt over his marriage.  He'd thought he had put it all behind him but this funeral was just another reason to heap more guilt on his soul. 
Rosie hadn't deserved to die like this, or at all for that matter.  If he'd been a better husband, if he'd paid more attention to her and cherished her more, than she wouldn't have turned to Sidney Fisher as she had.  She'd be safe now, instead of dead.

As a constable he saw far too many dead bodies; he should be inured to it, but he couldn't be with Rosie.  He'd not seen her body because he'd been too occupied and worried with taking care of Phryne.  In truth, he'd not known that she was dead until later at the hospital, when Constable Collins had told him.  He'd managed to push it out of mind for the most part because his worry was so focused on Phryne, but every now and again a pain hung heavy on his heart as he thought of her.

He greeted his parents with a hug for his mum and a handshake for his father.  He couldn't even express how grateful he was for their presence today and he felt just a bit steadier as he walked in, his father's arm across his shoulder and his mum on the other side her dainty hand on his arm.

Inside they greeted John and Annabelle.  John had always been Jack's best friend and both Elise and James liked him a great deal; he was actually more like a son to them as anything else.  He and Jack were practically inseparable as children.

"Annabelle, I'm so sorry for your loss.  Such a terrible tragedy.  Please, if there is anything I can do for you, you'll let me know?"

"Thank you so much Elise.  Roberta delivered enough food this morning to feed an army and we're very grateful for that kindness.  We're not having a gathering after the funeral; we think its best just to let things be, considering it all."

"Yes, I understand," Elise murmured.  She gave Annabelle a hug before they all took their seats.

Not many people attended the service and it seemed that most of them were only there to gather gossip.  Jack tried to keep his cool as he heard the nasty, hushed voices around him but that was no easy task.  Still, he refused to let it get to him; instead he tried to focus on the early years with Rosie, the good times.

He wasn't entirely successful, but when the service was over he felt a bit of relief and possibly a bit of shame over it.  But it didn't matter in the end.  He just hoped he made peace with his past; it was the most he could hope for.

He drove back to Phryne's home to change before heading to the hospital, anxious to see her.  He focused on seeing her and touching her, it's what he needed right now more than anything.


When Jack finally arrived at the hospital it was just quarter past two, much later than he usually arrived.  As he walked into the room he saw Mac and Dr. Harrison examining Phryne.  Aunt P and Miss Williams stood to the side, watching, both wearing a distressed look on their faces.

"Aunt Prudence, what is happening?" he asked, kissing the woman on the cheek lightly as a greeting.  Her name, or the more familiar 'Aunt' didn't yet flow easily off his tongue but they were family, of a sorts as she believed them to be engaged.

"She may be waking up; something has changed as they examined her.  Or, if that isn't happening, she might be passing, Jack." She saw the deeply panicked look on his face and said, "We just don't know yet.  Please, hold on to your faith.  Say a prayer."

Praying wasn't something that came easily to Jack.  He tended to put his faith into tangible things rather than the intangible.  Still, the past few days he had prayed a few times and if it did nothing else it had made him feel a bit better.  He sent up a plea to God, to a supreme being to please let her wake up, to be okay.

Yesterday he had noticed that the bruises on her face were starting to fade to more of a yellow, with only shadows of a bluish tint in them now.  He'd taken that as a positive sign, even though they were still worried about her fever and infection in the gunshot wound.  They cleaned it often and again, it seemed to be getting better.  The swelling around the wound was also down a bit as well, another good sign.

Mac and Dr. Harrison were still talking quietly when he stepped up to the bed and took Phryne's hand.  It still felt a bit warm, but hopefully the fever would go altogether soon.
Suddenly Phryne opened her eyes and sat straight up in the bed and called out, "JACK!" then immediately fell back into the bed covers.  Mac rushed to her side, followed closely by Dr. Harrison.

Jack continued to hold her hand and called her name.  Her eyes opened again and she looked around the room and blinked.  It was damnably bright in here she decided, using her free hand to shield her eyes.  Miss Williams immediately rushed to close the blinds, rendering the room a bit more shadowed.

Phryne looked around at the group and focused on each face in turn.  Finally she looked at Jack and heard him tell her he loved her, how happy he was that she had awoken. 
She squinted a little as she looked at him.  The room still seemed too bright but her eyes were adjusting a bit. 

"Phryne, my darling.  I am so happy to see you awake.  How are you feeling?"

Darling?  The man standing next to her and holding her hand was exquisitely handsome and he had the most beautiful eyes she thought.  But why was he calling her 'darling'?

She tried to speak and found her mouth abominably dry, it felt as if it was full of cotton.  The woman with red hair quickly realized the problem and grabbed a tumbler and filled it from the pitcher on the bedstead.  She held it to Phryne's lip and watched as Phryne drank deeply until Mac pulled the glass away.

"Not too much, Phryne.  It could make you sick."


Jack leaned over and kissed her hand; his love was awake.  He smiled at her again, his heart overcome with joy.

She was startled by the gesture and immediately pulled her hand away from him. "Excuse me?  But just who are you?"

To be continued…

Hi everyone!  Sorry to have missed the last few weeks but we're back on schedule now.  Real life has a way of kicking your behind and mine has been a target for awhile.  The good news is that my daughter is doing much better now; the bad news is that most of us in the house have had the flu and still has 3 grandsons down with it and home from school.  LOL, try being here with 3 cranky, bored kids!  Yikes…

Thank you all so much who take the time to read and comment as well.  I am terribly behind on answering comments but I'll try to catch up.

By the way, I often post messages on Face Book about what is going on.  If you would like to friend me on there, you'll usually find out if the post will be delayed.  You can find me at Cyndy Klein Hodge.