The diagnosis

Doc Willoughby sucked on his teeth for a little while, as he tended to do when he wanted people to think he was considering matters carefully. The small ‘fff’ noise did not confer the dignity he imagined, but this was of little consequence. If Doc Willoughby had really understood how little dignity he was afforded, he might never have dared to even venture outside his own doors. Thankfully, a lifetime dedicated to the science of distilling had protected him from such discomforts.

He took a swig from the cup on his desk, which still had something in it. After a briefly unpleasant sensation in his mouth. It occurred to Doc Willoughby that some of what was in it had been a spider, probably now deceased. He shrugged, and swallowed anyway.

“Ffffff,” he repeated, on the inbreath, shaking his head slightly. “Too much excitement of the nerves,” he pronounced. 

His patient sighed heavily at this.

“You’ve been overdoing things,” the Doc continued, nodding to himself as he warmed to his theme.

“I was worried I’d gone too far with the fasting this time,” Reverend Davies admitted, seeming relieved. “Miss Calder has been nagging me about it.”

“Fasting is good for you,” Doc Willoughby said. “It would be terrible for me, but it is clearly right for your nature and constitution.”

“I haven’t slept in about a week now,” Reverend Davies added, a statement supported by just how bruised his eyes appeared to be.

“That’s overstimulation for you,” Doc Willoughby said.

“What should I do?” Reverend Davies asked. “I was thinking about prostrating myself in prayer for an entire night, do you think that would help?”

“It might,” Doc Willoughby said. “But I think the most important thing is to try and have less fun.”


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