Prologue (Edinburgh, 1817)
Davey Jaspar, 12, and Munroe are “resurrection men” — they steal bodies of the dead to be sold to doctors who need to use them for research. They work with a teenage girl named Jeanette who attends funerals so she can scope out the coffins (and ensure they’re going to be easy to open) beforehand.
The book opens with Davey and Munro, digging up a coffin and taking the corpse of someone named Penelope Marianne Harkness. As they are on their way out of the cemetery with the body in a wheelbarrow, they are ambushed by another group of men. Munro gets away, but the men grab Davey, cut him and put a drop of his blood into a vial containing some type of yellow liquid.
Chapter 1 (1817)
Hazel Sinnett, 17, is out for a stroll when she finds a dead frog and takes it with her back home to Hawthornden Castle. Hazel lives in the castle, which is located roughly an hour’s ride south of Edinburgh, with her mother Lady Lavinia Sinnett and her 7-year-old brother, Percy. Hazel had one other brother, George, but he died many years ago from a fever, and Lady Sinnett is still in mourning over it. Hazel’s father is in Saint Helena overseeing Napoleon’s imprisonment as captain of the Royal Navy.
(An excerpt from a medical text, Dr. Beecham’s Treatise on Anatomy, discusses the “Roman fever” which results in boils down the back that burst with blood, “hence the name ‘the Roman fever,’ for the resemblance of several stab wounds to the back like Julius Caesar’s”. It explains that there was outbreak of it centered in Edinburgh in the summer of 1815.)
At home, the cook (“Cook”) has an open cut, so Hazel helps to sew it up. Afterwards, Hazel goes out to her balcony to run and experiment using the frog she found and a metal fire poker.
Hazel is attempting to conduct electricity from the impending storm into the dead frog to make its legs move. In Switzerland, Hazel’s cousin Bernard saw a demonstration of the same experiment conducted by the son of the scientist Galvini using a human corpse. Hazel gets distracted briefly by Percy, but she gets her experiment to work using a metal key instead of the poker.
Hazel is on her way to Almont House where Bernard and her uncle and aunt Lord and Lady Almont live. Lord Almont has been helping to look after Hazel in her father’s absence. At the Almont House, Lord Almont has a beggar and a doctor with a black eyepatch there. The doctor, Dr. Edmund Straine, extracts a tooth from the beggar and implants it in Lord Almont’s mouth to replace a missing tooth. He then pays the beggar for his molar.
Hazel knows that it’s assumed that she will someday marry Bernard, who she has known since she was a child. However, Hazel wishes to become a surgeon. She spent the previous night studying Dr. Beecham’s Treatise on Anatomy, and she knows that Dr. Beecham is doing a free anatomy demonstration in Edinburgh next morning.
When she sees him, Hazel asks Bernard to please accompany her to the demonstration tomorrow since she knows they will not turn her away if she is with him. When he refuses, it turns into an argument. Hazel says that Bernard has always supported her dreams of being a surgeon, but Bernard says that it’s because they were children and that surgery is field meant for men with no money or status.
After their argument, Hazel takes a walk around, and notices a woman with red hair and a maid’s cap near the side gate of Almont House. She sees the maid give a boy (who she refers to as “Jack“) a piece of paper, and the boy hands the maid some coins in return.
As Hazel watched, Jeanette (the maid with the red hair) had been giving 17-year-old Jack Ellis Currer a tip about where to find a good body to be dug up and sold. Jack had seen Hazel, too, and noticed that she was pretty and wealthy.
(An excerpt from the Encyclopedia Britannica explains that William Beecham was a Scottish surgeon who founded the Royal Edinburgh Anatomists’ Society and wrote Dr. Beecham’s Treatise on Anatomy: or, The Prevention and Cure of Modern Diseases. His grandson, William Beecham III, continues to publish and revise the text currently.)
The next morning, Hazel decides to go to Dr. Beecham’s demonstration alone since Bernard will not accompany her. Over breakfast, Lady Sinnet talks about how they will be going to London for the season soon, and how it’ll be good given that fever rages on in Edinburgh.
Hazel rides a horse to town and makes her way to the Royal Edinburgh Anatomists’ Society. She spots Dr. Straine who she met yesterday in the crowd. She waits until everyone else is in and plans to slip inside 5 minutes later, but she realizes the door is locked when she tries to go in. Instead, the boy from yesterday, Jack, approaches her. He tells her that he knows a way inside. He takes her through the alleyway and through a dark passage to a door that leads to an area beneath the risers of the auditorium. She has a good view and can easily stay there undetected. He then leaves.
(An excerpt from a book explains that 18th-century physicians and surgeons are viewed very differently. Physicians are generally gentleman of social standing and considerable means while a surgeon is generally a man “of lower social status who understands that a genius in the study of anatomy may provide him a pathway to elevated rank.” The thought is that physicians work with their mind while surgeons work with their hand and “brute strength”.)
Meanwhile, Jack doesn’t know why he decided to help the pretty rich girl, but he did.
Earlier that day, he’d sold a body he’d dug up to Dr. Straine, who is the designated buyer for the Royal Edinburgh Anatomists’ Society. Now, Jack heads to Le Grand Leon, a theater where he works doing odd jobs like sweeping or helping to build sets. He plans to ask out one of the main actresses, Isabella Turner, tonight.
Under the rafters, Hazel watches as Dr. Beecham shows the audience a vial of milky blue liquid which he calls ethereum. He says it is an anesthetic that will help to make surgery painless. He also shows them another invention, a gas lamp, that brings considerable light into the previously dimly-lit room.
On the table lies a patient whose leg looks severely swollen and discolored. As two gentleman hold the patient down, Dr. Beecham applies the potion to a handkerchief, which he presses against the patient’s face. The patient then stops squirming. Dr. Beecham proceeds to remove the problem leg as the patient remains asleep. As soon as he completes his surgery, the room breaks out into applause, and the patient awakes drowsily.
Before the crowd departs, Dr. Beecham reminds them that his anatomy lectures for this term will begin soon. Hearing about this, Hazel is excited and is certain she has no intention of going to London with her mother this season. Once outside, Hazel is spotted by Dr. Straine, who comments on her lack of a chaperone and leaves.
The next morning, Hazel expects to be in trouble for being gone all day, but her mother doesn’t even bother to exit her room. A few days later, Lady Sinnett suggests that she and Hazel attend a theater performance together. Afterwards, she reminds Hazel that the entirety of their estate will be going to Percy, so Hazel needs to secure her marriage to Bernard to ensure her future.
That arrive at Le Grand Leon that night, and Hazel wears a red dress. There, they green Bernard and Lord Almont. When they take their seats, Hazel notices that Bernard and her uncle are seated next to Cecilia Hartwick-Ellis and her twin brother Gibbs. Hazel and her mother watch as Bernard and Cecilia flirt with one another.
The play starts and it’s about a woman whose husband goes off to war. The devil then comes to her dressed as her husband and seduces her. When she realizes what has happened, she kills herself. Her husband comes home to find her dead. As Hazel watches, she thinks about how the plot is similar to other plays they’ve done there and that it’s the same message she gets everywhere about women and girls needing to protect their virtue.
After the play, Hazel’s mother warns her that the world is unkind to women and that if she ends up married that she will be at the mercy of her relatives. She also reminds Hazel that most men would not be as accepting of Hazel’s quirks like reading and what not as Bernard has been.
At tonight’s performance, two stagehands were missing. Mr. Arthur, Jack’s boss, says he heard they came down with the fever and died.
Jack thinks back to his life before now. Jack ran away from home from his drunkard mother and spend years begging and performing card tricks for money. He’d eventually met Munro, who taught him how to be a resurrection man. Wealthier families used iron or concrete on the coffins to prevent the bodies from being stolen, and others had someone stand guard for a few days after the burial until it was no longer fresh enough to be sold. But some bodies were buried and uncared for.
When he started working at the theater, Jack had planned to give up grave robbing, but seeing all the wealthy people at the theater made him want more, and he eventually went back to doing grave robbing as well.
Last week he’d seen a beautiful music box with a ballerina in it that cost him a month’s wages. He bought it to give to Isabella. Tonight, he goes looking for her after the show, but arrives at her dressing room in time to see her outside in the alleyway kissing Thomas Potter, the lead actor.
He drops the music box, chipping the ballerina inside. Angry and humiliated, Jack takes the broken music box and leaves.
(An excerpt from the newspaper discusses six new deaths that officials fear may indicate another outbreak of the Roman fever. One of the identified bodies was that of Penelope Marianne Harkness which was examined post-mortem and showed lesions consistent with Roman fever.)
With news about a possible new outbreak of the fever, Lady Sinnett is determined to keep Percy safe, and bags are quickly packed for them to leave for Bath prior to going to London.
Meanwhile, Hazel pretends to be feeling feverish so that they will abandon her at the house to do as she pleases. The rest of household leaves with Cook and Iona (the maid) staying behind with Hazel. With the rest of them gone, Hazel stops pretending to be sick and gossips with Iona about how Charles the footman has a crush on Iona.
Hazel then dresses up in George’s old clothes with the intention of pretending to be a man so she can attend Dr. Beechman’s lectures. She decides to go by the name “George Hazleton“.
In the classroom, Dr. Beecham does an overview of the course with the students and tells him that it will prepare them to take the Royal Physician’s Examination in a few months’ time, just before Christmas, which will permit them to practice medicine anywhere in the UK. He also warns them that his course will be arduous and dangerous since they will be at risk of cutting themselves, infection and disease.
He then brings out a live rabbit and slaughters it, telling them to leave if they don’t think they can handle it. Afterwards, each student receives a dead rabbit and they’re told to dissect it and to try to remove and identify its various organs.
A short while later, Hazel is the first one in the class to complete the assignment. Dr. Beecham is clearly impressed, though a boy named Thrupp calls her a “bootlicker” (which means she’s a suck-up/brown-noser).
As the weeks pass, Hazel continues attending the class and continues to be the best student by far, though Thrupp continues to bother her. One day, Dr. Beecham announces that a hanging has occurred and that they’ve secured the body for an autopsy the next day.
Hazel arrives early for the autopsy and sees the body laid out. The rest of the students filter in, but Dr. Beecham still isn’t there. Finally, Dr. Straine walks in to perform the autopsy and Hazel nervously hopes that he won’t recognize her.
Dr. Straine explains that Dr. Beecham likes to leave these aspects of teaching up to him because he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. He then brings Hazel forward and asks her to identify various organs in the body, but Hazel is unable to do. Dr. Straine then makes the point that book learning can only take you so far and that the parts will look very different in real life than they do in illustrations.
After the class, Dr. Straine asks Hazel to stay behind and makes it clear that he recognized who she was. Dr. Straine says that he has no objection to teaching a woman, but he does object to teaching “dilletantes” who won’t ever really practice medicine. He tells her that no one will ever hire her, so she should not come back again. Hazel goes home and cries.
The next day, Hazel is upset and frustrated that all her work and studies over the years have been a waste of time. She breaks a glass case in her room and angrily rips out the pages of various books and tosses them out of the balcony and into the ravine below. Iona finally stops her, horrified at the sight of Hazel stepping in class and being destructive.
Iona tells her that Bernard is asking for her and insists on seeing her. Hazel quickly cleans herself up and meets him downstairs. He invites her out to promenade, but Hazel claims she still has a bit of a chill and isn’t well enough to do so. Hazel then asks him to leave somewhat rudely, and Bernard seems offended. He leaves.
Afterwards, Iona tells Hazel that she was too harsh with Bernard. As Iona and Charles help Hazel clean up, Hazel suggests that the two of them take advantage of the nice weather and go promenading as she cleans up the rest. Once the room is clean, Hazel heads downstairs and has some food.
Hazel thinks about how she’ll someday have to get married and leave all her studies behind, but she also thinks she should try to learn what she can before that. She decides to go back to Edinburgh to catch another lecture while she’s able to.
At Le Gran Leon, Mr. Arthur announces that they’ll be closing for the rest of the season due to the Roman fever. Jack thinks about how he’ll be needing to steal another body soon if he wants to eat.
Dressed as herself, Hazel goes to Anatomists’ Society and into the lounge where she finds Dr. Beecham. Hazel explains who she is and why she pretended to by George Hazelwood. Hazel also asks Dr. Beecham to please let her continue her studies. Dr. Beecham tells her that he thinks women wanting to study the natural sciences is a “novelty” and he enjoys novelties. However, he doesn’t wish to undermine Dr. Straine. He also warns her that the courses get harder from here on out.
Hazel then asks if she could take the Physician’s Exam without completing the course. She tells him that she’ll find a way to pass and if she does, they they should let women into their courses. Dr. Beecham likes the idea of a wager and agrees to her proposal. He also offers her an apprenticeship with him if she passes. He also gives her an updated version of her worn out textbook.
(An excerpt from a textbook discusses the four humours which are said to govern people’s personalities and cause ailments if they are out of balance: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile.)
As Hazel exits the Anatomists’ Society, she runs into Jack. They finally exchange names, and Hazel deduces that he’s a grave robber. She asks Jack if he could procure her a body. Meanwhile, Hazel gets a letter from her mother saying that Percy has come down with a cold.
Shortly after, Jack shows up at the hidden door to Hawthornden Castle that leads into the castle basement dungeon. He places a body on the table situated in the middle, and she pays him for it. Before he leaves, Hazel asks Jack to bring her a body of someone who died of the fever. She says she wants to try to find a cure.
Hazel has been working non-stop when she’s interrupted by Iona, who reminds her that the Almont Ball is tonight.
After much washing, Hazel arrives at the Almont house late, but not rudely so. As she and Bernard dance, she finds his grip a little too tight. He brings up how she’s been missing social functions lately and he accuses her of possibly seeing another suitor since he saw boots in her entry hall the other day. However, Hazel reassures him that the boots were George’s and she merely wore them because it was muddy in the garden.
Bernard then suggests a stroll in the garden, and when they’re alone he aggressively tries to kiss her. When they return to the party, Bernard publicly proposes and announces their engagement.
Hazel feels faint and someone brings her to her carriage to go home.
The morning Jack is supposed to drop by with another body, Hazel is eagerly awaiting his arrival. However, Jack reports that there’s no body and his partner, Munro, is missing so there’s unlikely to be another body for the foreseeable future. He says that Munro went on a dig a few nights ago and never returned.
Jack says it’s too risky to go without Munro since he wouldn’t have a lookout, but Hazel offers to go with him and act as a lookout instead. Jack protests, but Hazel insists. They agree to meet back here at midnight.
Hazel shows up in her manly getup, and Jack finds the costume surprisingly convincing. They make their way to the cemetery behind Saint Dwynwen, around an hour’s walk away. Hazel suggests that they ride instead, and she attaches his wheelbarrow to her own horse. She brings over a horse for Jack to ride as well, but it quickly becomes clear that Jack has no idea how to do so. Instead, Jack rides with Hazel on her horse. Hazel finds the experience of riding with him to be “intimate and strange”.
They locate the grave and dig for nearly an hour. Jack breaks the coffin lid, exposing the body. He instructs Hazel to help him remove the clothing (“Stealing a body was against the law, but if they actually took any property from the grave, that would make it a felony.”) As the sky begins to lighten, they make their way back to Hawthornden.
A few days later, Jack shows up asking if Hazel would consider teaching him how to ride. Hazel agrees. She teaches him some basics and instructs him to return the next day for another lesson. They go riding the next day as well. They ride out near the edge of the property and walk along the stream. Jack points out some wort flowers that his mother used to use medicinally.
Meanwhile, Jack has been concerned about a string of unexplained disappearances that have been happening among the poor in Old Town. With the Roman fever going around, there seems to be few questions asked about these missing people.
On Sunday night, Hazel and Jack set out to procure another body. When they get to the coffin, Hazel sees that it’s marked with an R to indicate they died of Roman fever. but upon seeing the corpse it’s clear that’s not the case. Instead, it appears the man was subjected to some type of unnatural torture and its eyelids had been sewn open.
The hear someone coming and hide in a hole in the ground. When the footsteps retreat, Hazel find herself leaning over and kissing Jack. They fall asleep in each other’s arms. In the morning, they are awoken by a priest who thinks they are the undead come back alive, and they scare him off while using the opportunity to flee.
Hazel continues with her studies but finds herself still being haunted by the image of the man’s corpse with his eyelids sewn open. After spending so much time inside, Iona suggests to Hazel that she go out side to study.
Hazel makes her way to the Princes Street Gardens, which is buzzing with activity despite the disease going around. As she reads the textbook Dr. Beecham gave her, she finds a piece of parchment with a drawing of a human hand and wonder where it came from. She also runs into Hyacinth Caldwater as she’s studying, who asks Hazel about her engagement. Shortly after, her studies are interrupted again by the presence of Bernard, who finds her in the park reading.
Bernard apologizes for coming on so strong last time they saw each other and for the publish proposal. He asks her again if she wishes to marry him, and Hazel says yes, knowing it’s the answer she’s always meant to answer.
(An except from a book discusses how the first Dr. Beecham became recluse later in his life. He was rumored to have become obsessed with alchemy and a search for the Philosopher’s Stone.)
Jack has been staying at Le Gran Leon just to take care of things while it’s closed. This morning, he’s awoken by a knocking on the front door and finds Jeanette standing there. Jeanette says she needs a doctor but can’t afford one and didn’t know who to go to. Jack decides to take Jeanette to see Hazel.
Jeanette insists there’s no way she’s pregnant because she hasn’t been with a man before, but she also says that she hasn’t been getting her period. Jeanette also says that she’s been having strange dreams of being in a room surrounded by strangers with a man with one eye holding a knife above her. Hazel wonders if Dr. Straine is involved in this somehow.
As Hazel inspects Jeanette, Jeanette explains that she has an old appendix removal scar from when she was a child. Hazel sees that it’s been infected somehow despite being a very old scar. Hazel cleans up her wound, but she warns Jeanette that her missing her period probably has a different cause.
Hazel also tells Jack that if he knows of anyone else in need of medical care, she can help and that there’s space here for them if they need to stay. Before long, Hazel has plenty of patients in her home and is busily tending for them. She goes to sleep exhausted each night.
Soon, Isabella shows up who is in labor and in need of help. She explains that the father, Thomas, is away (he joined the military after the theater closed down). Jack is shocked to see her. Hazel helps her to a bench so she can give birth. Hazel frantically checks her textbook as she does this, and thankfully the birth happens smoothly. As Isabella is resting, Jack finally gives Isablla the music box he’d purchased for her, now repaired with some paste. Isabella decides to name the baby Hazel.
The next morning, Jack realizes that his infatuation for Isabella seems to have faded at some point. Instead, he feels attracted to Hazel and is impressed by what she’s done for all these people. Hazel admits that she’s scared of what would happen if she messed up. As she and Jack talk, they kiss again and Jack tells Hazel that she’s beautiful.
The next week, Hazel experiences her first patient mortality when a man under her care dies of Roman fever. Hazel has been testing out various remedies for patients with Roman fever, and she notices that the wortflower remedy seems to have some positive effect. Hazel soon writes to Dr. Beecham asking about whether attempts have been made to innoculate (vaccinate) people against it. She mentions her promising results using wortflower.
Shortly after, a boy with one arm knocks on her door. He identifies himself as Monroe and says that he’s looking for Jack.
Once they’re all sitting down, Munroe explains to Jack that he went to dig up a body a few weeks ago by himself. However, he came across some men, and he recognized one of them from the night that he and Davey had been intercepted by some men (the night described in the prologue).
Munroe describes how one of the men used something to put him to sleep. When he regained himself, it was hours later and he was being wheeled in a chair with a black veil over his head. He was brought into a building with a gold plaque on the door and taken to a room with a theater-like auditorium. There was a doctor there with a knife. He was put to sleep again, and when he awoke, his arm was gone.
Hazel recognizes that Munroe must’ve had etherum used on him and that he was brought to the Royal Anatomists’ Society. Hazel inspects Munroe’s missing arm and sees that the wound was stitched together neatly and professionally. When Munroe mentions needing work now that he can no longer dig, Hazel offers to let him work as a groundskeeper at the castle.
Hazel calls for a constable, but the constable dismisses Munroe’s story as some drunken escapade. He tells Hazel that she’s foolish for believing his story.
Hazel continues her wortflower treatments, which continues to be promising despite not curing the fevered patients completely. She also continues sending her notes to Dr. Beecham, though she receives no reply.
One day, one of the students she’d been friendly with in anatomy class with, Gilbert Burgess, shows up needing care since he has the Roman fever. He is shocked when Hazel tells him that she’s the doctor here and that she was George Hazelton. As they catch up, she tells Burgess about her arrangement with Dr. Beecham. Before long, Hazel is helping to treat Burgess while he also helps her to study for her examination.
When Hazel finally receives a reply from Dr. Beecham, he is staunchly against her using wortflower to treat patients, saying that “unfounded folk remedies” can be unsafe. Hazel feels foolish, reading the letter.
Soon after, Hazel gets a letter from her mother, congratulating her on the engagement and letting her know that Percy will be attending Eton next year.
Meanwhile, Jack finds himself feeling upset as he thinks about Hazel’s engagement and future marriage. He’s also in need money since the theater continues to be shut down. Jack had promised to Hazel he wouldn’t go back to graverobbing since she though it was too dangerous, but after being turned down at other jobs, Jack decides he has no other choice.
At a dinner party at the Almont House, one of the guests discusses the Paradox of the Ship of Theseus (about an old ship that has it’s planks removed over time until none are left, if the old planks are used to build a new ship, which one is actually the Ship of Theseus). When Hazel tries to offer up a comment, Bernard gets irritated, and Lord Almont hints to her that she should just listen to the men speak quietly.
Baron Walford also mentions that there’s a medical procedure that she’s undergoing soon that will give him his missing eye back, and Hazel tries to ask him about it, but he dismisses her questions, telling her to focus on planning her wedding instead.
After dinner, Hazel reaffirms her interest in becoming a physician to Bernard, to his dismay. She tells him about her physician’s test that’s taking place next week. He tells her that they should discuss it after the test, but if she fails it, then she promises not to discuss this further. Hazel is certain she will pass and readily agrees.
When the test day arrives, Hazel is excited and nervous. As she heads in, she sees a man being wheeled into the building with a black veil over his face. Hazel is reminded of Munro’s story about how he lost his arm. She also recalls how Baron Walford had mentioned that he was getting his surgery today.
She has a little time before her test, so she sneaks into the side door and into the spot under the rafters of the operating theater.
Hazel sees a doctor there along with Baron Walford and a blond boy. The doctor applies ethereum the Baron with his consent. He then does the same to the panicked-looking boy, who goes limp. Then tall man who wheeled the boy in, Jones, assists the doctor with the procedure.
Hazel watches with horror as the doctor swaps out Baron Walford’s false eye with one of the boy’s eyes. The doctor then instructs Jones to tell people that the boy died of Roman fever if he doesn’t survive.
The doctor, who turns out to be Dr. Beecham, then takes off his mask and looks directly at Hazel, acknowledging that he’d noticed her presence.
Jones then grabs Hazel from her hiding spot. Hazel expresses her horror at what she’s seen, but Dr. Beecham defends his work. Then, two more unconscious bodies are brought in, and she sees that one of them is Jack. Hazel pleads with Dr. Beecham to let Jack go, but Dr. Beecham says that he intends to use these two bodies to attempt a heart transplant.
When Dr. Beecham makes an incision into Jack, he twitches a little. Hazel then takes her quill and uses it stab the man restraining her. She screams at Jack to wake him up. Jack wakes, sees a handkerchief doused with ethereum, and uses it on Dr. Beecham.
Together, Hazel and a an injured Jack make their way out of the operating theater and onto the street. When Hazel spots Bernard, she asks him to please take Jack to Almont House so she can try to close up his wound. Bernard agrees.
At the house, Hazel spends the day tending to Jack until Bernard comes up with some dinner. She tells Bernard about what she discovered about the Royal Anatomists Society and Dr. Beecham. She pleads with Bernard to tell the constable about it so that it can be stopped. Bernard tells her he believes her, and he sends her home, though Hazel fails to notice how irritated he is.
Two days later, Jack is moved to Hawthornden Castle, and a week after that he’s finally well enough to walk again and head back to Le Gran Leon. Jack is surprised when there’s a knock on the theater doors, and he finds a police constable, two guards and the magistrate.
They immediately grab him and arrest him for a number of murders, including that of Penelope Harkness, Robert Paul, Mary McFadden, and Amelia Yarrow. They accuse him of murdering people in order to sell their bodies to the Royal Anatomists Society.
(An excerpt in a paper dated December 22, 1817 discusses how Jack Ellis Currer has been indicted for murder. Dr. Beecham testified against him, saying he’d seen him lurking around looking for buyers, and Bernard testified that Currer had made a full confession to him. Dr. Straine has also been arrested for illegally purchasing bodies.)
A week after Jack’s arrest, Hazel goes to the Royal Anatomists Society to see Dr. Beecham. She asks him to take off his gloves to see his hands, and he does so, revealing his mottled and grey hands. Hazel then confronts him with his theory that he is the only Dr. Beecham and that he somehow achieved immortality.
Dr. Beecham admits that it’s true, that’s he’s not the grandson of the original William Beecham, but rather he is William Beecham. He says he tried to get his wife Eloise to take the immortality tonic with him, but she refused.
Hazel then reminds Dr. Beecham that Jack is innocent of these crimes and that he’s going to die because of these accusations, but Dr. Beecham is dismissive of Jack’s possible death. Instead, he offers Hazel the tonic of immortality. He tells her that she’s the only person other than has wife that he has offered it to, and he thinks she can put it to good use. As for himself, he plans to go to America to start anew.
By now, Jack has been found guilty and is to be hanged. Hazel has been burning Bernard’s letters and no longer plans to marry him. She feels unafraid of living without a title or financial security.
Hazel pays off the guard to let her see him. She gives Jack the vial and tells him it will protect from death, even if he is hanged. Hazel begs him to take it, and Jack says that if he takes it then he will be on the run forever. Jack wants to live, but he says that if they’re together then Hazel will never be able to do the work she needs to do on the run.
The next morning, Jack is hanged. His body is then moved to the university teaching hospital, but “they didn’t say if it stayed there”. (Implying that he ended up taking the potion.)
The week after Jack is hanged, Hazel’s horse Betelgeuse disappears. (The implication is that Jack came by and took the horse to make his escape.)
In the spring, Charles and Iona are married, and they plan to move to the village now. Lady Sinnett and Percy have decided to stay on in London. Meanwhile, Hazel has continued to use the first floor of the castle as a hospital to treat patients. The wortflower has continued to prove effective in helping to keep her Roman fever patients alive. Hazel theories that Dr. Beecham must’ve known that wortflower was effective, but chose to dissuade her because the Roman fever was a useful cover for the deaths he caused.
Hazel still thinks about Jack sometimes and wonders what he’s doing or where he went.
In the Epilogue, Hazel receives a letter with a stamp indicating it was sent from New York City, saying that “My beating heart is still yours, and I’ll be waiting for you” (which one can assume is from Jack, indicating that she should come to New York City to find him).