The trip to London was pleasant, if uneventful compared to our recent adventures. Harvey and Shepherd were cementing a friendship based upon intellect and mutual respect. Harvey, the renowned physician to the court of King James, was drawn to Joseph Shepherd, a physician, philosopher, scientist, theologian, and world traveler. As they discussed the concept of the circulation of the blood in the human body, Shepherd seemed to speak with the authority of a scholar. Harvey began to write as they spoke. I have seldom seen such animated conversation. My medical training seemed insignificant compared to their lofty discussions. I satisfied myself listening to their discourse. Kensington, bored by the conversations, alternately slept or read through reports he had collected from voyages of East India Company ships. He was particularly interested in the tobacco crops growing in Virginia, and he was planning to find other areas in the world where this miracle crop might grow.
We arrived in London on the evening of the 5th of September, 1620. We disembarked from our carriage at Lord Kensington’s estate in West London. We were greeted by a group of servants who quickly scooped our bags from the carriage. We were led into the entry room, where we found Lady Kensington and Edwin Carr laughing over a bottle of Madeira.
“Andrew!” greeted Anne Kensington. “I see you have brought guests.”
“Yes,” he replied, “I see that you have kept yours with you.”
“Edwin Carr is not a guest here,” said Anne. “He lives here.” She giggled a drunken little giggle. Andrew had seen this many times before.
“I shall have the servants prepare a feast,” said Anne.
“Spare them the trouble,” said Lord Kensington. “We will do well with brandy and some eel pie.”
“Just the brandy will be fine with me,” I retorted. “I am ready to go to bed and get some real sleep for a change.”
Shepherd, Harvey, and I sipped some brandy, talked with Edwin Carr about his voyage, which had been strangely intertwined with ours, and retired for a restful night’s sleep.
I suspected that Lord and Lady Kensington’s night was not as peaceful as ours. Raised voices could be heard throughout the spacious house as the Kensingtons fought over her latest new friend who would share the house. Edwin Carr was not the first man to have spent time under Lord Kensington’s roof, and this was not especially a secret in London social circles. Lord Kensington’s anger at his wife seemed less about her lover than about the increasingly brazen manner in which she flaunted such affairs. Whereas in the past she had been somewhat more discreet about such liaisons, she now seemed almost excited to bring such affairs to his attention. For his part, Lord Kensington seemed resigned to her behavior, but embarrassed by her disregard for whatever was left of his public image. Indeed, Lord Kensington had never been lacking for female companionship either, but Anne’s insistence upon equal consideration for outside lovers rankled him to no end.
Harvey and Shepherd were anxious to get back to Harvey’s office and laboratory. I was simply anxious to get on to a new adventure – something to distract me from my growing sense that my life was increasingly without direction or meaning. I had to admit that seeing Harvey and Shepherd’s animated medical discussions both shamed me and sparked a renewed interest in my need for continued education in these advanced ideas.
Shepherd, ever the gentleman, invited me to accompany them to Harvey’s laboratory the next day. I accepted the invitation. We embarked the next morning by carriage to London Square. I was struck by the busy streets, the sounds of street vendors hawking their wares, and the smells that emanated from the alleys. The stench of human waste, the entrails of animals that had been discarded by butchers, and the rotting fish dumped by vendors after the day’s sales were completed came together in my nostrils. Indeed, having spent the last few months at sea aboard the Intrepid had almost inured me to such smells, but I was struck nonetheless.
The colors of the cloth for sale by some merchants caught my eye, and the sound of languages foreign to me all turned my head in this fascinating city. Perhaps the excitement of London could renew my spirit.
Shepherd too was drinking in this mixture of sounds, smells, and color, but he seemed troubled by the street urchins who pounced on us for money at each step. They knew the territory, and they knew that we were visitors – perhaps by our continual gawking at each new sound. These children were dressed in rags, mostly. They seemed to have renewed energy each time they saw a new mark. Shepherd was drawn to them, and he quickly dispensed what few coins he had to the first children who approached him.
“Best not to do that,” cautioned Harvey. “They will never leave you alone. Worse, you’ll be marked as one with money, and you will be dragged into the nearest alley as soon as you’re not alert.”
“I will take that chance,” said Shepherd. “These children must live a terrible life.”
“It is the life of this city,” said Harvey. “They survive somehow.”
We spent several hours touring Harvey’s office and laboratory. There were the usual specimens, skeletons, chemical solutions, books, and other academic papers. However, I was fascinated by the odd-looking tube of metal and glass sitting prominently near the window. I asked Harvey about it, and he seemed proud to discuss it.
“That is my magnification scope,” he said. “With it, I can see minute parts of cells in the body. For example, I can see that in the blood there seem to be bodies of various shapes and sizes. I am looking forward to having Professor Janssen build me a better scope when I see him in Holland next year.”
Harvey offered to let me look through the end of the scope. I looked at a drop of water, and I could see small bodies wiggling in the drop. The water itself seemed to teem with life, unseen by anyone else. I felt the awe of discovery wash over me as I pondered a new world that I had never before conceived of. I believed that I was in the presence of something sacred, yet somehow very mundane. It was, after all, a simple drop of water, yet it seemed to be the very microcosm of a new world of discovery and hope.
That evening, Kensington took us to the Boar’s Head Tavern, where we drank some fine ale and ate a hearty stew. The food, while heavy and filling, was not the main attraction of the pub. The people who were in the place were a lively mixture of merchants, sailors, and even the occasional member of Parliament. Women who were looking for business seemed to know exactly which men to approach. There was no shortage of takers for what they were selling. Smoke filled the air, as that new fad seemed to be becoming widespread. At first, I choked on the smells in the air. Gradually, I became accustomed to it, and, eventually, enticed by it. Kensington pointed to this room and explained to us his desire to capitalize on the habit.
“These people are paying a lot of money for tobacco, and I see more and more converts to it,” he said. “I believe that we can dedicate a fleet of ships to its import from America. I would like you and Dr. Shepherd to help me in that venture.”
Shepherd answered Kensington quickly. “I see many better uses for shipping than to import tobacco,” he said. “There are some interesting food products which I believe will improve the health of the people of England. Tobacco is not one of them.”
Kensington replied, “Dr. Shepherd, I am not in the health business, I am in the business of making money.”
“Yes, that is true,” replied Shepherd, “but I am in the business of making people healthy. Therefore, you will need to find someone else for this venture.”
“So be it,” said Kensington. “If you do not wish to make money, you have no need of me, it seems. Making money is what I do best.”
“Is it what you live for?” asked Shepherd.
“I suppose it is,” said Kensington. It seemed that Kensington had never considered that there was any other reason to live, so he was puzzled by Shepherd’s question. I felt a bit awkward at this exchange. Lord Kensington was, after all, our host, and we were all faring quite nicely from his ability to make money. I was hoping that Kensington did not believe that Shepherd spoke for me also in his thinking. I was in need of a living, and if Lord Kensington saw fit to employ me in his business, I would not turn him down.
“I believe it is time to go home, gentlemen,” said Kensington. “Would you like to spend another night at my home?”
Harvey responded that he would be happy to have Shepherd and me stay with him in his quarters for the next few days until we had better plans. Shepherd agreed to stay with Harvey, but I felt that perhaps the time had come for me to be thinking about a future with Kensington’s offer.
“I would be most honored to take your offer,” I said to Kensington. Kensington seemed pleased. I believed that he wanted someone else to come home with him rather than to face Anne alone. I could be a good distraction for him.
As we got up to go, we heard a great commotion from the next room. Shouts and cursing filled the air, followed by the crash of a table and breaking glass. A scream pierced above all the din. At that moment, a bloody man came running out to the innkeeper.
“There’s a man been stabbed in the belly in there,” he said. At that, he fled the pub. He was followed quickly by several other men. Shepherd and I went to the next room to see if we could help the victim.
We came upon a scene of chaos. A man lay on the ground in a growing pool of blood. Blood was pouring from his stomach area, and he was moaning and writhing in pain. We approached him, and he looked at us wide-eyed and frightened. I quickly grabbed a cloth from a nearby table and held it to his stomach. He was not a very stout fellow, so I tied the cloth around him to try to staunch the blood flow. We had to put several layers of cloth on the wound as each layer became soaked with blood. It became clear that he would quickly bleed to death if we could not control his bleeding.
“Bring him to my office,” said Harvey. “I will try to save him by suturing the wound.”
We bound the cloths around the man as tightly as we dared, and there seemed to be some success in slowing the flow of blood. However, without treatment, I felt that he would be dead within the hour, if not sooner. We carried him in a large cloth, and began to take him out of the pub. Just then, Lord Kensington cried out, “Good God, that is Jacob Carr!”
Carr looked up at him and smiled weakly.
“I am at your service,” he said.
The trip to Harvey’s office took almost twenty minutes, and Carr was starting to lose consciousness. We carried him up to Harvey’s office and placed him on a table. Harvey seemed confident, even in this, by my estimation, hopeless situation.
“We need to tie him down to the table,” said Harvey.
We quickly secured some straps and began to tie him down. By now, Carr offered little resistance, being only barely conscious.
“We must open the wound further, find the vessels which are severed, and tie them off. I pray that there is not too much internal damage,” said Harvey. As we took off layers of bandages, we saw that he was still bleeding, but with much less force. “Indeed,” said Harvey, “his blood volume is so depleted that there is evidently little pressure left.”
Harvey opened the wound so that he could reach inside to the bleeding vessels. We had threaded a needle with catgut, and Harvey proceeded to tie off the bleeding vessels. He closed the wound quickly to minimize the suffering of the awakening Carr.
“I believe that he will survive if he can avoid the fevers which often accompany such wounds,” said Harvey. Shepherd and I concurred that he could survive the wound, but perhaps not the complications that often presented in these situations.
“We must take him to a hospital,” I suggested. “The Franciscans care for the poor and the sick in a small hospital next to the monastery.”
We allowed Carr to rest for a while as we discussed our plans. Lord Kensington had gone to the constable to gather townspeople to pursue the assailants of Jacob Carr. We had no illusion that the assailants would be brought to justice. Indeed, Jacob Carr had so many connections with violent men, it would be hard to track them down.
Kensington returned as we were loading Carr on to the wagon.
“What are you doing with Jacob Carr?” he asked. Kensington seemed surprised that Carr had survived.
“We are taking him to the Franciscans so that they can provide medical care while he recovers,” I said.
Kensington said, “They may be too full with street people, beggars, and lunatics. However, I will see if I can arrange transport to the Franciscan mission,” Kensington said.
Carr was a frightful sight indeed. Matted blood covered his hairy chest and stomach. His trousers were soaked with blood. Bandages covered the ends of catgut sutures, which protruded from his closed wound. Carr was moaning now and asking for a drink. He looked like one of the casualties of the battlefield that I had seen in years past.
Kensington had secured a hearse from the mortuary for the trip to his manor. What irony that a hearse afforded the softest ride for a man in distress!
Shepherd was curious about the Franciscans and the work at the mission. Shepherd asked if I would show him the monastery, so I agreed to take him there. It had been some years since I had ventured to that part of London, or seen the monastery, so I too had some curiosity about the place.
We arrived at the monastery just before dawn. Some of the friars were beginning to make breakfast for those who were in their care. As we walked through the piles of clothing slumped on the floor, we came to realize that some of these “piles” were children, curled up in a little ball to stay warm. An early autumn chill added to the misery of the damp, dark surroundings. The friars were coaxing a fire back to life in the hearth, and a large kettle was taking its place on the rack above the fire. Some of the figures on the floor started to rouse, and it was only then that we saw eyes staring out from under the rags.
Many of the men had been there for some time. There were those who were sick and had come there to die. Some were just those who had no other shelter, and had begged the friars to provide for them. In all, it was a sad and miserable lot, and were it not for the Franciscans’ charity they would be under bridges, on the street, or dead already.
I noticed that Joseph Shepherd was very silent. He took in these sights without comment, but his sadness and displeasure were evident. He seemed indignant that these people were relegated to such a state.
After a long silence, Shepherd said, “Dr. Greene, I believe that I will stay here and offer my services for a while.”
“You cannot be serious!” I said. “Lord Kensington has offered us a position with the East India Company. That is an opportunity that we can hardly ignore.”
Shepherd looked at me as if I had not heard him.
“Dr. Greene,” he said, “this too is an opportunity.”
People seemed to be naturally attracted to Joseph Shepherd. His compassion was evident in his exchanges with people who were hurting, diseased, or broken in some way. Yet he had the capacity, and the tendency, to be ferociously honest. With someone like Kensington or the notorious seaman North, Shepherd would not fail to point out the error of their ways, and he did not much care about the consequences of it. I was not sure if he were simply fearless, or perhaps a bit of a lunatic. His wisdom and insight of knowing how to read people were uncanny. I knew that I needed to be around him to learn more of such things. I was always a cynic, seeing the worst in people, or perhaps just expecting the worst. Nonetheless, people never let me down in my expectations – they always seemed to live down to them.
I left Shepherd to return to the Kensington manor, and I told him that I would return to see him the next day. Shepherd nodded, but he seemed to be disappointed that I had chosen to go with Lord Kensington. Shepherd remained with the friars and planned to minister to those children who were sick and dying. I admired his compassion, but I questioned his decision. The opportunity to have a position with the East India Company seemed too good to turn down.
The ride to the Kensington Manor was uneventful. Upon arrival, I was met by Edwin Carr. Evidently, Kensington had seemed to relish giving him the news that his brother had been stabbed at the pub. Edwin pointed out that Kensington was a man of small compassion, and an even smaller sense of civility. Carr was not surprised.
“I cannot tell you how often that fool gets in fights!” he said.
“His injuries are very serious,” I noted. I continued, “We left him at the Franciscan monastery, and the friars are attending to him.”
“Well,” said Carr, “I hope that being around the good men of God will do him some good.”
Anne Kensington appeared as Carr was speaking. She was wearing a wine-stained gown, and had evidently consumed a good bit more than she had managed to spill on herself. Kensington turned to me and said, “To think that I married her and gave her a title! And Edwin Carr, a man who I loved and promoted, is no better than her. There is simply no one I can trust anymore.” Kensington had a strange sense of resignation in his voice. He had started his sentence in anger, and he finished it in a trailing and sad voice. “Let us leave these two together and go back to London.”
With that, he picked up his hat, grabbed me by the arm, and led me out of the Manor. I did not mind the decision. I had no interest in seeing the sad tale unfolding in front of me. I also did not like the prospect of seeing a future business partner like Edwin Carr treating Kensington in this way. For that matter, I was a bit worried that I may be out of the business before I even got into it. I had not even been officially hired by the East India Company yet, and I already began to have doubts about the sour side of the business. Kensington was rapidly changing his mood once again. He seemed invigorated with new ideas, and he wanted to share them with me at a pub. We proceeded to make the trip back to London, only this time Kensington was talking constantly about new business ideas. He would find another captain to sail for him, and he would concentrate upon trade with the New World. Tobacco would be his main import, and he would introduce it to Africa on a scale never before seen. Tobacco for slaves would be the plan. He would send a fleet of ships to the New World and begin the tobacco business there in earnest. When sufficient crops were established, he would export the tobacco to England, where he would have no shortage of customers in the pubs and markets. He would make huge profits, to be used to purchase African slaves for export to America, making another fortune in that. Those slaves would be sent to America to work the tobacco fields under the direction of colonists who would be tied to the East India Company. He was actually planning a huge enterprise as we rode to London. There seemed to be an eerie calm about him as he spoke. While I was not the canniest business man, even I could see the potential profits to be made in this venture.
We arrived in London just in time for supper. By now, Kensington was feeling very good about himself. He had launched into a creative business venture in order to cleanse his mind of the pain he had experienced in his own home. Indeed, business seemed to be this man’s salvation.
“Let me buy you a fine dinner to celebrate our new business plan!” he exclaimed.
“What part do I have in the plan?” I asked. I had heard nothing about my involvement in the plan, and I did not have anything particularly helpful to offer it in any case.
“My dear Dr. Greene, you may be the only man I can trust anymore,” he said loudly. “You may have any part in it that you choose. You are an educated man, a doctor, surely there is a place in this for you!”
I did not know whether to be excited about this or apprehensive. It could just be the ramblings of a vengeful man. It could have just been his creative mind bubbling with ideas to entertain himself (and perhaps me too). Or, this could be the chance of a lifetime to get in on a moneymaking plan for the ages.
The next morning, after we had eaten (and drunk) of England’s finest fare, I decided to go to the friary hospital to check on my friend Shepherd. The day dawned with an absolute glow. The mid-September morning was clear and crisp. The Inn we had secured for the night was of the highest quality, and its new straw mattresses and down pillows offered us a good night’s sleep. I decided to take an early morning walk through London to visit the friary. Once again I was struck by the squalor of the streets and the smells of the alleys. Beggars, thieves, and prostitutes had been out late the night before, working the neighborhoods for their livelihood. The early morning stirrings were led by the fishmongers and vegetable sellers. Fish were usually sold by late morning to the wise shoppers who grabbed them fresh before the sun worked its havoc on them. The smell of fresh bread from the bakeries stirred my hunger, even though I had eaten quite enough just hours before. Nonetheless, the smell of fresh bread can do wonders on the senses. I bought several loaves of bread, and I purchased a dozen fresh cod to take to the friary. I knew that food there was always welcome, and I wanted to celebrate what could be a new business life for me.
As I entered the mission, Joseph Shepherd was busy tending to several children who were coughing loudly.
“Joseph,” I called, “I bring you breakfast!”
“Dr. Greene!” he called. “We will be happy to eat that breakfast.”
Indeed, as soon as I came closer, I was surrounded by children, who all could walk. The smell of fresh bread had excited them as well, and I was set upon by the hungry patients. Joseph patiently waited until the bread had been parceled out, and he brought the fish to the kitchen area where he deftly filleted the cod, laid them on some glowing coals, and served up a breakfast feast to the patients, residents, and friars. I was struck that these dozen cod and the loaves of bread were able to serve the gathering of people. Yet, everyone seemed satisfied after the meal was consumed.
Just two days before, Harvey had persuaded the Franciscans to take in Jacob Carr for further care. Harvey had escorted Carr back into the care of the larger community that the Franciscans had to offer. He further wanted to remove himself from Anne Kensington and Edwin Carr.
I began to ask Joseph about his plans. He had alluded to the idea of staying at the mission to serve the poor and the sick who regularly populated the place.
“Joseph,” I said, “you are a very talented physician, an educated man. Do you plan to stay here and tend to these few sick people, or will you take on a larger task, worthy of your talent?”
Joseph mused at this statement.
“Is there a higher calling than caring for these people?” he asked.
“Well, yes, I believe so,” I replied. “You can stay here and serve dozens, or you can take Dr. Harvey’s offer to meet the King of England. Perhaps the King will give you a mission to serve people in the entire country!”
We had received the invitation from Dr. Harvey, but we had not yet been able to secure a time to meet King James. I felt that the least I could do would be to see to it that Shepherd got the opportunity to meet the King. I decided to encourage such a meeting again, and I would ask my new associate, Andrew Kensington, to arrange for Dr. Harvey and Joseph Shepherd to meet with the King. Adventures this large were now starting to seem like possibilities again to me.
William Bradford was busy making final arrangements to set sail on the Mayflower. He seemed to have a new resolve, and more confidence after having discussed his mission with Joseph Shepherd. He was aware that this mission was much larger than himself, and that all he could do was to prepare as best he knew how, and to pray as hard as he knew how. With that, he was ready.
Alvin Toll was encouraging Bradford to leave as soon as possible, because he was fearful that the people of Plymouth were getting restless with so many people of controversy still in his port. Toll was ever mindful of the mood of people, and the political implications of his every move. Having these religious zealots out of his port would certainly not hurt.
On September 16th, at 5:30 A.M., Bradford and the Mayflower pushed out of Plymouth and slipped into the ocean. It was at that exact moment that William Harvey was awakened out of a deep sleep, having experienced a dream of staggering proportions.
Harvey dreamt that a small sailing vessel was coursing through a labyrinth of tubes. The vessel went round and round in an endless journey, always arriving at the same place. It would pass through cliffs and canyons, valleys, narrow openings, sometimes quickly, and at other times slowed to a crawl, but always moving. Always the vessel returned to the same place after the journey, only to begin the trip once again. It was only when the liquid that the vessel sailed upon turned a bright red that Harvey woke with a start. He realized that the liquid was blood, and the vessel was flowing through the human body. The tubes were veins and arteries, and the landscape was the inner workings of the human organs.
Harvey had been up the night before, reading and checking through his latest papers, and talking about them late into the night with Joseph Shepherd. He realized that this revelation confirmed his beliefs about the circulation of the blood. He had reasoned that certain blood vessels had the job of carrying the blood away from the heart, which pumped the blood at the regular pace of its beat. Other vessels, which had tiny valves to direct the course of the flow only one way, carried the blood back to the heart for the return journey. His work with the magnification scope had revealed these little valves, but he could not understand the function until this moment. Harvey had conjectured over the years, as early as 1616, that his theory of the circulation of the blood in the body was a superior explanation of blood movement and function than the traditional theory by the ancient philosopher-physician Galen. Yet he had been somewhat circumspect about how he shared his beliefs, and the audiences who might receive the ideas. Now he was convinced that he had been given a definitive revelation about the theory.
Harvey immediately began to make notes on his dream, and to write out more of his beliefs on the circulation system. He couldn’t wait to share this information with Shepherd. Shepherd seemed to be much more willing than other men of learning to discuss this issue in such an open and creative manner. In fact, it was Shepherd who told Harvey to not restrain his thinking to the conventional medical thought of the day. Shepherd seemed to think that Harvey was on to something extraordinary, and he encouraged Harvey to be bold in his theories.
“Joseph,” Harvey called to a sleeping Shepherd. “I just had the most extraordinary dream!”
Shepherd turned over out of his sleep and said, “Is it about the circulation of the blood?”
“Well, yes,” Harvey stammered. “How could you possibly know that?”
“I simply made a guess,” Shepherd said. “You were up late last evening talking about it, and the fact that you woke me to share the dream just made sense. You have talked of little else for the past two days. Are you now convinced of your theory?”
“Yes, I am,” replied Harvey confidently.
“We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made by our heavenly Father,” said Shepherd.
“This is indeed a great day,” said Harvey. “Today we shall be honored to meet King James.”
Shepherd was glad to be able to meet King James, but not especially excited. Shepherd wanted to ask the King if he knew of the extent of the plight of the poor and sick who populated the streets of London.
“Dr. Greene, I trust that you have prepared to meet with the King,” said Harvey.
“Well, yes, I suppose I have,” I ventured. Actually, I did not know what I would say to the King. There was so much to say, and yet so little. I could talk for hours of our adventure on the Intrepid, but I did not know if he would really care to hear our tale of woe. It certainly affected the kingdom very little, I should think. Perhaps the damage to an expensive ship of the battle line would bother him, and perhaps he would have thought little about it. I was more interested in extending whatever business career I might have by aligning with Andrew Kensington, and discussing the burgeoning trade with the New World. I had not discussed the plan with Shepherd, because I was certain that he would not endorse it. Too bad, because there was money to be made in it, I was sure.
Upon our arrival at the Court of King James, we were met by Robert Carr, one of the King’s gentlemen. Robert, cousin of Edwin and Jacob Carr, was one of the King’s favorites, and often spent the night as his gentleman chamberlain. Robert was cordial and welcoming to us.
“Perhaps your visit is well-timed,” he told Harvey upon greeting him. “The King seems to have taken ill for the past few days, and he looks quite pale and weak.”
“Then we shall be glad to tend to him,” said Harvey. “In fact, the King will be graced with three physicians, for Dr. Greene and Dr. Shepherd are my new traveling companions.”
I noted that Harvey too had now recognized the medical talent of my friend Shepherd. Indeed, I was coming to believe that Shepherd had access to more healing power than both Harvey and me.
Upon coming into the King’s chambers, I was struck by the beauty of the palace. Simple in many ways, the halls were lined with portraits of James and his Scottish ancestors. Signs of the burgeoning trade of the Kingdom included tapestries from India, silks from China, and books from Persia. The smells of cloves and cardamom wafted from the kitchen, where various pies were cooling.
We were greeted by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who was attending to the King. The King was in his bed, weak from this unknown bout of illness that had caused him to quickly lose his strength and vigor.
“You may sit,” said the King.
We took seats around the walls of the spacious room. Light was streaming in from the windows on two sides of the room, brightening an otherwise gloomy setting. The Duke of Buckingham took the lead in asking Dr. Harvey to diagnose the King’s malady. Harvey went up to the King, asking permission to begin his examination. The King quickly assented, and Harvey began to feel the King’s head for fever, and to palpate under his arms and around his neck.
Dr. Harvey made notes as he continued the examination. He asked the King and Mr. Villiers about how long the symptoms had been persisting, and they indicated that there had been a gradual weakening. The King’s appetite had been diminishing over the past few weeks, along with his energy. During the absence of Dr. Harvey, the King had been attended by a physician, a Dr. Jones from the Royal Society, Villiers noted casually.
“What treatment did he begin with His Majesty?” Harvey asked.
“I believe that he treated my lord with some herbs, and he bled him several times when the King suffered from fever,” replied Villiers.
“Herbs?” asked Harvey.
Villiers, somewhat proud of his memory and attentiveness, replied, “Yes, milk thistle made into a tea.”
“Nothing else?” queried Harvey.
“No,” said Villiers.
Harvey looked over at Shepherd and me – a look that asked us for our input without directly asking us. I started to defer to Shepherd as had become my new, albeit somewhat disconcerting habit, but Shepherd prodded me to answer. In truth, I had become good at recognizing possible side effects from herbal medicines, and I suggested that milk thistle could cause some problems with the bowels, possibly diarrhea, which could, over a period of time, weaken the patient. Harvey asked the delicate question about the King’s bowel habits, and Villiers did not flinch. He responded affirmatively, that the King had experienced diarrhea recently, actually a “bloody flux,” he called it. Feeling more confident, I then suggested that Dr. Jones may have been concerned about the King’s liver. I knew that milk thistle was used often to treat liver problems. Harvey and Shepherd concurred, and suggested that the treatment may have been appropriate, but that the bleeding concerned them. Why would Dr. Jones bleed him? Villiers picked up on our conversation and stated that the King had a fever, and that Dr. Jones felt that bleeding would help. Indeed, the King felt some relief after the bleedings, but he also then felt weaker.
Shepherd then spoke up. “Dr. Harvey, may I suggest that we use some of your new equipment?”
“Yes, what did you have in mind?” Harvey asked.
“I think that your magnifying scope may be of some help,” he replied. I certainly had no idea what Shepherd was talking about, but I had learned from being around him that it was usually a good idea to follow his lead. Harvey too seemed to respond without question to Shepherd’s idea, so we simply asked how he would like to proceed.
Shepherd said, “This will involve all of us.”
Now I was really very curious, but I also had a sense of excitement. All of us were involved in the medical care of the King of England. Selfishly, I was looking for some of the reflected glory that might come with helping the King in a medical problem. Shepherd laid out his plan for us as we left the room. He began to explain that we would require a sample of blood from all of us – Shepherd, Harvey, me, as well as the King. He would then look at the blood in the scope that Hans Jannsen had built for Harvey. Shepherd believed that we would be able to see differences in our blood and that of the King. He reasoned that there was a problem in the blood of the King. Indeed, Dr. Jones had determined that the King had a liver problem. Shepherd believed that if the liver were the problem, the blood would be affected. Indeed, perhaps the blood itself was the problem, causing the liver problems.
Harvey and I looked at one another with expressions that stated our disbelief, shock, and even the allowance that Shepherd could be a genius. Villiers, now a bit suspicious, took on his role of regal protector. He was following us as we left the room, and overheard some discussion about blood samples.
“Gentlemen,” he began, “I believe that the King cannot stand another bloodletting. You physicians are just short of charlatans, I do declare!”
Shepherd interrupted, “My dear Duke of Buckingham, I appreciate your concern and protection of your King. You are to be commended for your diligence and care of His Highness. I am not suggesting another bloodletting. In fact, that is the very last thing that should be done. We will only require a small amount of blood from him. Actually, if you would like to participate, all of us will be submitting a small amount of our blood for the procedure I want to try. You may help by giving some of your blood as well.”
Villiers was taken aback by such a suggestion, but he did not discount the idea immediately.
Shepherd had once again showed his ability to engage people to a higher cause. He continued to amaze me, but I was not prepared for what was soon going to happen.