A note about goals here. I had read that setting deadlines was a good way to keep you on track. I set a very simple goal of 500 words a day excepting weekends. But alas I am SUCH a procrastinator. Have I written 500 words a day? NO! However, I have a built in guilt monitor and I do end up keeping track of the days I have not written anything. When I do sit down to do my duty, I multiply the unproductive days by 500 and that is my new goal for that particular session. I’ve kept caught up with my schedule in that way so far. I write with diarrhea fingers, churning out 1,500 words or more anyway. Although I’m sure if I set a goal of 1,500 words every time I sat down I wouldn’t do it. In other words by setting my goal so low I’m actually able to cheat AND keep up. So I guess goals and deadlines are good…even if I have a strange way of keeping to them.
Late the next afternoon a message arrived for Vaughn where he had taken up bachelor quarters in London. It was a respectable address if not luxurious. But Vaughn was used to doing for himself with a minimum of help. He preferred it that way.
The missive was an invitation from Dr. Melton to meet with him at the Lloyd and Finch public rooms that same evening for supper. Vaughn new the place. It was frequented by business men and clerks. He’d taken a meal or two there himself since arriving in London. It was located conveniently to his bank.
Vaughn took his time piece from his waistcoat pocket. Curious by the invitation he made up his mind quickly to join the doctor. He had plenty of time to make the meeting by walking. Since he’d been in London he hadn’t had nearly enough exercise, used as he was to laboring at his estate in Cornwall. It would also give him time to sort his thoughts as to how he felt about the doctor.
The man made him uneasy and he wasn’t sure why. It didn’t help that Glorianna seemed to look at the doctor with a smile in her eyes that used to fall upon Vaughn himself once upon a time. Could his uneasiness be simple jealousy. Well he would find out soon enough he thought and this would also give him a chance to politely try and extract Glorianna’s direction from the man.
“I’m glad you were able to meet with me Lord DeWinn,” Dr. Melton said smoothly. Standing to greet Vaughn and indicating a chair across the table.
“I was certainly surprised to hear from you,” DeWinn said politely.
“Why the surprise Lord DeWinn? I think we have much in common that could be useful to us both.” Dr. Melton said as he signaled a serving maid.
“And what is that exactly Dr. Melton?” De Winn said in a low tone. He couldn’t mean Glorianna could he Vaughn wondered. No. Nobody knew of his connection to her unless she herself had said something.
“Come Lord DeWinn, I photograph the insane and you are interested in criminal photography.” Dr. Melton said in an oily chuckle. “Truly those endeavors share a certain type of thinking if you will.”
“If you mean often distasteful then I agree in full Doctor.” Vaughn said as a tankard of ale was set before him.
“Ah distasteful yes, but oh so enlightening.” Dr. Melton said taking as sip from his own mug. “I made a few enquiries and it seems you’ve been frequenting the east end of late. Particularly Whitechapel if I’m not mistaken?
Eyeing the doctor with a purposefully blank face Vaughn replied, “you are not mistaken.”
“Good, good,” said the doctor, “then you’ve surely had a bit of experience in what I deal with at the asylum.”
“How is that?” Vaughn questioned.
“Let’s just say that my expertise is dealing with a certain type of woman,” the doctor leaned forward across the table. “It is my hope that by photographing them in certain instances of extreme upset that it can later be shown that their treatments have been beneficial with quantifiable photographic evidence.” The doctor sat back with a satisfied look.
“What sort of woman is that Dr. Melton,” Vaughn eyed the doctor warily. He did not like where this was going.
“Light skirts.” The doctor said bluntly, stroking his goatee, a look of distaste on his face.
“In my journeys through Whitechapel I’ve found that “your women of a certain type” came to the profession because they had no other way of supporting themselves.” Vaughn said with censure.
The doctor smiled contritely “Oh you mistake me Lord DeWinn it is not simply that they are light skirts that makes them insane. It’s something entirely different. My focus just happens to be on this type of woman and what drives her from simply making a living on her back to needing institutionalization.”
Vaughn was growing impatient. He did not care for the way Dr. Melton thought about his patients. He had spent quite a bit of time of late in Whitechapel in particular and he had come to know some of the women Dr. Melton was referring to as “light skirts,” they were women to be pitied. There were very few ways for women to support themselves or a family if needs be even in this modern age. “I fail to see what help I can afford you Dr. Melton.”
“I have a proposition for you Lord DeWinn,” dr. Melton eyed him closely, “I need data to mark my progresses against.”Dr. Melton folded his hands across his middle, “ You see I only encounter these women once they have become a ward of the asylum. You’ve become chummy with some of the denizens and I’d like you to take me on a tour if you will.” Dr. Melton smiled cajolingly, “you also have perfected your photography in those locals as I have been confined souly to my studio at the hospital. I would greatly appreciate your expertise in photographing some of these women.”
Vaughn paused before answering considering, “and what do you offer in return?”
Dr. Melton put both hands palm down on the table leaning forward again. “A tour of the asylum and especially of my studio.”
This was indeed an interesting proposition Vaughn thought. As his interests mostly lie in the dark aspects of what photographing could do viewing dr. Melton’s invitation to tour the hospital opened up an aspect that was not previously open to Vaughn before. “I accept.” Vaughn said simply with a nod of his head.
“That is wonderful indeed.” Dr. Melton said with a wide smile. “I’ll be in touch and we can decide on a suitable time.” He rose to leave.
“Just one more thing,” Vaughn said before the Doctor could take his leave. “The woman you were with at the Royal Photographic society meeting, I believe her name is Mrs. Lockley. Might you have her direction?”
Dr. Melton frowned in return. “Now see here Lord DeWinn,” he said jealousy evident. “What business would you have with the widow?”
“Widow?” Vaughn said on an intake of breath. Could it be she was no longer encumbered with a spouse he thought hopefully.
Dr. Melton hadn’t seemed to here him. With a huff he said, “I myself do not know Mrs. Lockley all that well I had just made her acquaintance that evening. I intend to grow that acquaintance soon.”
Some instinct told Vaughn to fabricate, “We are old friends,” Vaughn said with an innocent smile. “Played together as children, she was like a sister to me,” he lied. “We lost touch in adulthood and she left the meeting before I could make my way over to her.”
“Hmm well, I have her direction in my office at home. I can bring it to you when we meet again.” With that the Doctor turned on his heal and left.