What he needed most were fresh insights into what he knew already, some different way to fit the information together. His present ones had failed. Maybe it would be best to turn his mind right away from the problem for a while, stand back, regain some perspective. Allow his mind to shake itself free of current preconceptions and find a better approach. He also had patients to see. It was all very well rushing off to solve the mystery his brother Giles had presented to him, but doing so would not allow him to send out suitably large bills at the end of the next quarter. He might not need the money, but it was pleasant to have it. Besides, he told himself severely, he had people depending on him to help them fight sickness. To abandon them would be a clear violation of his purpose in becoming a physician.
For the next few days, Adam devoted himself completely to his practice and his patients. Many of them suffered from chronic conditions like gout, rheumatism, cases of the pox and ailments of the stomach. Mixed in with these were the usual agues and fluxes, a bone to be set or a wound to be dressed, the routine of almost any physician. He prescribed purgatives and cordials, bled one or two—though he was coming to doubt the efficacy of that treatment—and offered others advice on their diet. Happily, the journeys demanded of him coincided with an unusual spell of warm, settled, autumn weather, so that driving along a country road became a pleasure. He loved the vast skies with their towers of white cloud so characteristic of Norfolk. It was impossible to feel gloomy, while the sun shone, huge flocks of peewits and plovers wheeled over the marshes, and the larks sang as if it were spring.
All this time, the scattered pieces of information he had about the murder of Sir Jackman Wennard slid and shifted in his mind, forming combinations, breaking apart again and reforming in fresh patterns—none of them satisfactory.
Others were active on his behalf. Charles Scudamore wrote to say that Lady Alice had sent letters to several of her late husband’s acquaintances seeking any who had been part of the fox hunt on the day Sir Jackman was killed. Would they be willing to describe what they had seen? He had himself written to one or two colleagues in the legal profession who might have some insight into the affairs of the Wennard family. And though Adam had forbidden him to leave the Mossterton estate as yet, he had spent two useful hours with Lady Alice’s steward probing what he knew of the attitudes of Sir Jackman’s tenants towards their landlord.
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