‘I cannot go on doctoring’

p1040596‘How can I trust myself? How can I know who may die at these hands.’

‘Ephraim,’ Helena murmured, trying to banish his thought with soothing.

‘I am cursed, cursed. God has punished me. I cannot heal, I kill.’

‘It was not you! It was Mr Maxwell’s mistake.’

‘But my hand wrote the scrip!’ Ephraim roared as stood up, making the chair fall over, and he left the room.

In Chapter 28, God Forsaken, Ephraim shakily emerges from grief over the death of his four-year-old son. Instead of quinine, the chemist had accidentally used morphine in medicine for the ill child. Ephraim blames himself. He descends into black depression. Of course I had to recreate his mental breakdown using my imagination. In his own words Ephraim Epstein says, ‘It [his son’s death] came near to breaking my heart and ending my life. I could not practise medicine any more.’ This abstinence was to last nine years. Meanwhile he has to find a way to support his wife and remaining child, baby Frieda.

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