Reading Sundays: A SURPRISING CURE (Part 5) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Miriam exploded into a peal of laughter. “Robert!” She nudged him with her elbow, then turned to me. “We haven’t made plans yet.”

“We?” My eyebrows rose. But Miriam ignored me.

“I’m going to show Robert around. I want him to meet all of our friends and acquaintances.”

“Indeed,” I said again, wondering how I was going to explain this new enthusiasm of Miriam’s.

“You don’t mind, do you?” Miriam beamed at me. “Robert has a great future ahead of him, in politics. He is so concerned about the poor.”

“You have been to university, young man?”

“The University of Edinburgh. I was a medical student.”

A medical student. Was that how they had met? In a hospital? Surely he hadn’t been examining my wife. “Are you a qualified doctor?”

Mr. Nicol stared at me for a moment, as if trying to decide what further ways he could torment me. “No,” he said at last. “Not actually qualified.”

Miriam patted my hand. “He quit medicine after he fell in love with Socialism.”

“I see.” Through long practice, I kept my countenance under control.

“Edward,” said Miriam. “Don’t you remember how we collected all those boots and shoes to help the flood victims earlier this year? That’s the kind of thing Robert is passionate about—”

“So you do not actually have a degree.”

He exhaled so that smoke curled out from his mouth and nostrils. “Not actually. No.”

I gazed at him for a long moment expecting more. But he continued to give me his half-lidded stare as he sat there smoking. I turned to Miriam. “We need to talk.” [To be continued next week.]