"Pleased to meet you," says Felicity with a smile. "I'm Felicity Hayward. I recognise your name. You're the fellow who found that poor injured man, aren't you? You did very well to save his life. Of course, when terrible things happen, it helps to talk to someone about it, and I'm a good listener."
Mandrin urges them not to tell Dr. Leroux about this meeting. He wants another job, but needs a good reference from this one. He lowers his voice and looks around nervously, before speaking. The nurse has fresh scratches on his face, from one of the patients.
“Well, mine is dangerous work,” he tells. “and will get worse.”
“A little time ago I found Guimart, a colleague, slumped in the basement, bleeding from a terrible wound one of the patients had dealt him. His right wrist was slashed badly. It is not known who attacked him, for when Guimart recovered, his mind was gone. He committed suicide a few days later.”
“Guimart was in charge of the seventh ward. Now that he can no longer work as a nurse, I have to deal with his former job. I am afraid of that place.”
He pauses. Then, he drains an entire glass of wine at once.
“The seventh ward is a special ward. The achievements of French psychiatry to be proud of. ”
He says that with a clear tone of tragicomic irony.
“The seventh ward is down in the cellars. It´s where the irrecoverable patients dwell. Irrecoverable not in terms of mental disease. Socially irrecoverable as well. They are penniless homeless bums with nor family nor relatives, so to speak. They are merely seen as a burden. Nobody cares about them, so they´d better stay away from visibility.”
His tone of voice is polemical, not cynical, leaving it clear that his talk is a social criticism.
“During the last five years, Jean Guimart was the nurse who´s taken care of those wretched people. Feeding them, cleaning them, giving them strong sedatives. In short, keeping them alive with the low resources the hospital has been setting aside for them. Everyone has been fine with that, including the doctors. Mostly the doctors I would say. This way they can just forget about these complicated cases.”
“However, while Guimart was in charge of the seventh ward some strange things happened. I would say that his demise was just the final act of this sad story. Some among the patients of the seventh ward eventually died, either from natural causes either from the progress of their diseases. Since those patients had no relationship outside the hospital, Guimart was responsible for burying the corpses in the hospital cemetery. I mean, in theory. I doubt he´s been doing that. I've never seen one single corpse from this ward being put inside a coffin, for example. Also, a couple of times I checked the seventh ward records unbeknownst to Guimart. Some patients, in addition to disappearing from the visibility of doctors, they also disappeared from the hospital records, as if they had never entered the hospital. They did not even have the dignity of existing as dead. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them died from causes not entirely natural. Needless to say, given the social position of those patients, Delplace never investigated. He believed everything Guimart reported to him. He´s never been aware of what was really going on in the seventh ward. Until the night he died.”
“Before that night, Guilmart had not return from the cellars for two days. Dr. Delplace asked me to go down there and see what happened. That was how I discovered a strange patient, whom Delplace, surprisingly, then took to his private wing.”
“Delplace had been preoccupied in studying the subject for a week. Something intrigued him. Then, Delplace dies, and the strange patient disappeared. End of the story. Delplace was probably killed by a fault in the electroshock machine, but no one knows for sure because Leroux removed the body the next morning, hoping to prevent scandal by withholding the details of Leroux’s Grand-Guignolstyle electroshock device. Perhaps the patient on whom Delplace worked was killed at the same time. We´ll never know.”
“I have no idea how Delplace died ... but he was certainly mentally troubled after meeting the strange patient. I recall the last thing Delplace said to me, as I left work the night of his death. Delplace passed me in the corridor and I said goodnight. Delplace answeared “It is within my grasp, Mandrin,” he said. “Each of us holds the key to our whole racial memory. In our dreams we speak languages we have never known. Soon, I shall have the proof.”
"That sounds similar to something Carl Jung might have said about the collective unconscious," says Felicity. "I suppose I am quite fortunate to be a toff. I can't be mad, merely...eccentric. I wonder if that mystery patient may be at large somewhere. If there was no record of his admission, then nobody would know if he had escaped. What did he look like?"
After Felicity asked her question, he looked over at his fellow investigators. "I wonder if that strange patient Delplace was studying was Count Fenalik?"
Then, aside, "Garcon, another bottle, s'il vous plait."
“One can’t blame Guimart for cutting corners what a job to have to undertake! But if he didn’t bury any bodies, where did they go? A body’s a body, n’er-do-well or otherwise.”
“And Guimart’s wound- savaged at the wrist, that’s a strange one. Maybe he put his hand where he shouldn’t.
“I imagine the asylum has rigorous security measures to prevent the patients escaping. This stranger would have the same difficulty; perhaps he is still there, hiding in ward 7.”
'An atrocious story. It almost makes you wonder if Guimart was feeding something he shouldn't. And this patient's disappearance, somehow I can't imagine they would have escaped the asylum without us hearing more of their exploits. Could they still be inside, somewhere. I hesitate to suggest investigating from the inside but perhaps...perhaps they are short of a doctor?' he asks, looking at Dr McElhaney.
"We know for a fact they are," says Felicity. "I'm sure they can use more patients too, though that's riskier.'
He turns to Nurse Madrin,
“Are you working in ward 7 now?”
"I was unable to see this patient well. When I found him I ran after him and eventually locked him inside a room. Then I immediately called Delplace and since then he took care of him. I could see that his skin was strange, as if it were much drier than normal. his breath was heavy, like an animal's. He had no hair, but I couldn't see his face. He kept hiding his face in his arms. "
"Are you kidding? As far as I've heard this was a patient introduced centuries ago, dead and gone."
then talks aboutward 7
"Yes, unfortunately it is I who take care of that sad place. I am in charge of feeding the patients and reporting death or injuries. Nothing less nothing more. I enter, I do my job, and I leave as soon as possible. And believe me... I hope to find another job in the coming future. . As I told you ... ward 7 is a world apart and nobody cares what happens over there. I have no idea what happened to those bodies. Honestly... I don't really want to know. I doubt the strange patient has left the asylum. There is no way to pass the gates and the security without being seen, even during the night.He may be still hidden somewhere in ward 7. "
Madrin lowers his voice.
"The patients of ward 7 ... I occasionally a few words with them ..."
"Their words are delusions ... but every now and then I listen to them ... some of them say they have been visited by someone who terrifies them... they call him the man below. I don´t know what they meant by that."
"We know they're short a nurse too," says Felicity. "I could do that. I volunteered as a nurse in France during the war. Although I don't know if they let women work in Ward 7."
Archie looked from Mandrin to Felicity and then back over at Mandrin. "Do you think there is some way that Miss Heyward and I might pass ourselves off as staff?"
“Archie old chap, are you sure? It would mean you’ll be on your own exploring ward seven if Felicity can’t get access.”
He narrows his eyes,
“Unless you then get Andrew and me in as pretend undertakers to collect a body. Perhaps, hmm?”
"Admitted as a nurse? That´s impossible. The Asylum doctors choose their nurses from backgrounds and schools in Paris they know like the back of their hands. They can't afford to have new untrustworthy workers who might spread rumors about life inside the asylum. "
Madrin pauses, then examines all the investigators in the face, before asking, in a suspicious tone:
"Excuse me if I ask.. but it doesn't happen that every evening I meet four people who can't wait to get to know ward 7. You seem very interested in finding out who this strange patient is. I see that you are foreigners. Who do you work for? Are you journalists or what? Why do you want so much to discover the secrets of a place like that?"
"Those aren't the sorts of rumours I spread," says Felicity, "and I'm often the target of them myself - frequently by journalists, which we are not. We're doing a favour for a Professor back in England. It involves historical research, but there seems to be a connection with things happening now."
Andrew decides to stick with the lie he told the police. 'We're looking for a murderer. We have followed the trail to the asylum. That's all I can tell you.'
"Do you have alternate suggestions for getting us in?"
Also, we want to keep the whole investigation as hush hush as possible to avoid any difficulties for the asylum. Hmm.”
Clarence interjects at an opportune moment.
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