Fortunately for Adam, at that moment Annie, Lassimer’s maidservant, entered with a letter on a small tray.
“Beg pardon for disturbing you, gentlemen,” she said, “but there’s a man at the door says he is a messenger. He went first to your house, doctor, and was sent here. He says you have to read this at once so that he may carry your reply. A most handsome man he is too.” Annie’s eyes shone at the recollection. “All kitted out in the finest worsted cloth, with the king’s coat of arms on his saddlecloth and holding the biggest horse I ever did see.”
Adam hurried to open the letter and read its contents. “It is from Mr Wicken at the Alien Office in London,” he told Peter.
“That much I had guessed for myself,” Peter said. “See, once again your mysterious Mr Wicken is on hand to involve you in another mystery. Already your prayers are answered, though you have not even prayed them. ”
“To be cured of your low spirits.”
Adam frowned, but decided to ignore Peter’s silliness. “Mr Wicken asks me to meet him in Norwich as soon as I may be able to get there,” he said.
“Go! Tell the messenger to say that you are on your way. While you are there, you can also visit your mother … and Miss LaSalle too, of course.”
“But my patients! I cannot ride away and forget about them. What will happen to my practice?”
“Have you any urgent cases at present?” Peter asked.
“No, but …”
“Then there is no problem. Instruct your servants to explain you have been called away for a few days and will deal with medical business on your return. Any urgent requests for help they can send to me.”
“But I cannot impose upon you in this way,” Adam said. “You have your own business to deal with …”
“… which is not yet so onerous that I cannot make time for a patient in urgent need,” Peter said. “Set your mind at rest. You do not impose upon me, for I have offered you my help of my own accord.”
“You are a true friend, Lassimer,” Adam replied. “Only …”
“Do not dose your patients with any of my vile brews?”
“That was not what I was about to say. This is no matter for levity. I wanted to say be sure you do not neglect your business in favour of mine.”
“At times, Bascom, you speak the greatest nonsense. Now sit and compose your reply to the great man who waits upon your arrival.”
Adam pulled a face at that, yet sat and did as he was told. His reply promised that he would be in Norwich that evening. He would call on Mr Wicken at eleven the next day.
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