by Karen Gilleland © 2014
Inspired by Martin Clunes’ involvement with the “Time for Tea” campaign, I’ve written a FanFiction piece touching on the mystique around reading tea leaves. (“Time for Tea” article can be found below this story or on the front page at karengilleland.wordpress.com).
“I saw that Scottish woman who opened the tea shop around the corner from the Crab & Lobster. She calls herself Lady Drusilla, and she reads tea leaves, ‘Doc.’ She told me to have my heart checked. Am I having one of those hidden heart attacks you read about?”
“Lady Drusilla is the real deal, ‘Doc.’ She told Joe Penhale he’d be confronting a stranger. Not an hour later, he issued a parking citation to a bloke from Exeter.”
Putting both hands to his forehead, Martin said, “Penhale is a police officer, Bert. He issues citations to strangers every day.”
Bert stood up and headed to the door. “Scoff if you like, ‘Doc,’ but Lady Drusilla sees things that other people don’t.”
“Very probably,” said Martin.
Skippy Miller, wearing his yellow slicker, limped into the consulting room. “It’s my leg, ‘Doc.’”
“What’s the matter with it?”
“Nothing that I can tell, but Lady Drusilla warned me to be careful because a fall could cause chronic pain.”
“Yes, if you were to fall, you could injure your leg, which could cause chronic pain,” said Martin clenching his teeth. “But you haven’t fallen, have you?”
“No, but I thought you could tell me what part of my leg I’d be most likely to injure so that I could watch . . .”
Martin slapped the note card down on his desk. “Mr. Miller, when you actually injure your leg, come back.” Then he added sarcastically, “Until then, wrap your leg in cotton wool and stay in bed.”
“How can I do that?”
“Out, you moron! There is nothing wrong with your leg, but if you keep worrying about it, you will trip and fall.”
Martin walked to the waiting room, where people were milling about. “Morwenna, do all these people have appointments?”
“No, ‘Doc,’ but some have had their tea leaves read by Lady Drusilla.”
“That woman is a nuisance.” He turned to the patients, “Unless you have a genuine medical complaint — right now — please leave. I’ll see the next patient with an appointment.”
In the afternoon, Morwenna came to the consulting room door. “Mrs. Gillis wants to see you. She visited Lady Drusilla this morning.”
“No, I’m not seeing any more patients with imaginary illnesses.”
“You have to examine me, ‘Doc,’” said a stout woman, brown hair pulled into a severe bun. Pushing past Morwenna, she leaned over the desk to face Martin. “The tea leaves say I have a severe medical condition.” Mrs. Gillis took several deep breaths, her bosoms straining against her blouse.
Martin stood up. “Sit on the couch, please.” He put on a head mirror and took an otoscope out of the cabinet. He examined Mrs. Gillis’ nose and felt her face around her sinuses. “You have nasal polyps and a sinus infection. I’ll give you a prescription for the infection, but you’ll need to see a specialist in Truro about the polyps. I’ll write out a referral.”
“What will they do?”
Martin was filling out a form, but he answered her question. “The doctor will surgically remove the polyps. Easy procedure, done in the office.”
Mrs. Gillis took the sheet of paper. “So, Lady Drusilla was right.” She smiled at Martin and walked out.
Anyone hearing you breathe could spot your problem. You should have come in a week ago, you imbecile, he thought, jotting a note in the woman’s file.
He walked to the reception area. Morwenna was shutting down the computer. “Good night, ‘Doc.’ What do you think about Lady Drusilla?”
“A complete charlatan. I’m going down the village to talk to her.”
Lady Drusilla’s Tea Shop was closed when Martin arrived, but he could see her through the window. He rapped at the door and tried the handle. The door was unlocked, so he walked in. He glanced around at the four tables with red-and-white checkered tablecloths that filled the small space. The room was stuffy, and the air redolent with the fragrance of tea.
A woman in her sixties, steel gray hair hanging loose around her broad face, wearing a colorful, flowing caftan, was brewing tea on the counter. Although the room was dimly lit, she wore dark, tinted glasses.
“Lady Drusilla,” said Martin, walking up to her, “I’m Doctor Ellingham. I’d like to talk with you.”
“Please, join me for a cup of tea,” she said, pointing to the table next to the counter. The sound of her voice, low and sweet, poured into the air like warmed honey.
“I didn’t come for tea. I just –“ he started, but in the close atmosphere, he felt himself drawn to the table. He sat down and said, “I’d like you to stop handing out medical diagnoses. My office has been filled with patients worried about illnesses they might never get.”
“And nobody had anything wrong?” She continued her tea-making ritual.
“One patient had nasal polyps.”
“Mrs. Gillis, yes, obvious from her breathing.” Lady Drusilla carried the small teapot to the table, sat down and poured the tea into white cups. Martin watched the graceful way she touched the teacups. He relaxed under the soft, hypnotic quality of her voice. As they sipped tea, he found himself talking about medical research. She surprised him with insightful comments.
When they finished drinking, she said, “Please, let me read the tea leaves in your cup.”
Martin shook his head. “No, thank you,” he said, pushing his chair away from the table.
Reaching over, the woman touched his arm. “Please, no need for alarm. I can tell that something about your work is bothering you. Let us see what the tea leaves reveal.”
“Sorry, I’m not interested in advice from tea leaves.”
“I come from a long line of gifted seers — clairvoyants, if you will. I believe, ‘Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye,’” she said in a soft Scottish burr and explained, “What’s meant to happen to you will happen.”
Martin raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.
“You are skeptical. I understand. You are a man of science. You don’t believe the words of your bard: ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’”
He shook his head. “You have a compelling presence, Madam, and I understand why people are charmed by you. But as you say yourself, I am a man of science.”
“As a man of science, then, you will want to test the unknown. Please, allow me,” and she
picked up his cup and swirled it around three times. She turned the teacup over onto the saucer, pouring out the remaining drops of liquid. She righted the cup and peered into it for several minutes. “You face an important decision. You are torn between logic and your own intuition.”
“A good guess, nothing more.”
“Let me explain my gift of foresight to you, a man of science. When a person comes to me for a reading, I understand that that person is troubled. I have a conversation so I can relate the problem to the message revealed in the tea leaves. You are a person with strong convictions and deep passion. I have a sensitive nature. I felt the vibrations of your indecision. I know that people often must decide between logic and what they believe is right.”
Martin remained silent, hands folded. “The decision I must make is not trivial.”
“The tea leaves reveal that your intuition is based on knowledge, perhaps hidden in your subconscious. The message I read is, in this matter, you should trust your instincts.”
Leaning over, Martin picked up his teacup. He examined the tea leaves for several seconds. Lady Drusilla’s hands fumbled about for the cup. He watched her a moment, then pushed the cup over to her and asked, “Lady Drusilla, do you have a problem with your eyes?”
She shrugged and removed her glasses. “I’m going blind. It is the reason I left my large establishment in London.”
“Have you seen a doctor?”
“No, just as you are uncomfortable with seers, I am uncomfortable with doctors.”
Martin walked around the table and crouched down beside her chair. He touched her face and looked at her eyes. He stood up and said, “You have cataracts. A simple surgery will correct the condition. Come to my office tomorrow, and I’ll give you a referral to an Opthamologist.”
Lady Drusilla heaved a sigh and took his hands into hers. “Thank you, Doctor Ellingham. If what you say is true, I will be able to return to London.”
“I enjoyed our tea, Madam,” he said, “but I am glad to hear you will be reading tea leaves in London rather than Portwenn.”
She smiled, let go of his hands and stood. “And I am glad that I encountered you, a man of science.”
That evening, Martin was sitting at the table when Louisa returned from a school meeting. “I met Morwenna in the village,” she said. “I understand you visited Lady Drusilla.”
“I asked the Madam to stop diagnosing my patients.”
“What did you think of Lady Drusilla?”
“She is captivating, but I’m not convinced that messages from tea leaves have any bearing on reality.” Nevertheless, I have decided to trust my instincts on this occasion, he thought, but didn’t say the words aloud.
“I saw Lady Drusilla myself today,” Louisa said, looking about the room.
“Louisa, you would do well to take her advice with a grain of salt.”
“You might be surprised by what she told me,” said Louisa, turning to face Martin. “Lady Drusilla said I was strong and healthy and, despite my age, would produce many bairn.”
Martin opened his mouth, but he didn’t speak. Lady Drusilla’s words came flooding back: When a person comes to me for a reading, I understand that that person is troubled.
“Well, Louisa,” he said, “we’d better get after it, then.”
She laughed. “Martin, I didn’t think you believed in tea leaves.”
He took her hand and walked toward the stairs. “As a man of science, I’d be remiss in not testing such an intriguing hypothesis.”
– THE END –
“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.
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