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Reluctant Press Novelette Cover

In 1902, Bartholomew Curtis Wingate is sailing on an unsinkable ocean liner named the Titanius when it begins to founder in a storm. concerned only for himself, he finds the choice between “women and children first” or honor, to be a simple one. Later at the end of the his subsequent trial, the judge says, “From this day forward, you are Miss Wingate. You donned skirts and took on the guise and privilege of a woman in peril. Therefore, because the appearance of womanhood has saved your worthless life,you will hereafter honor the condition you elected to use to your own ends.”

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    The burning subsided to a pleasant warmth. Ferguson released his nose and each breath Bartholomew took in made his head fuzzy, his body lighter.

    “You may release her, gentlemen,” Ferguson advised.

    The stable hands left.

    Bartholomew wanted to take some action, wasn’t sure what, but couldn’t. His body was relaxed, tingling and seemed to be almost floating; his head was filled with clouds. His mind was peaceful, placid, like a pleasant dream. He smiled unconsciously.

    “That’s remarkable,” Mary said.

    Handing her the bottle, Ferguson told her, “Gerhardt’s Specific. It is guaranteed to cure females of shrewishness, disagreeable habits and a sharp tongue, restoring them in no time to a sweet, gentle disposition.”

    Mary accepted the bottle.

    “Give him a tablespoon every four hours during the day and one first thing every morning. If you run low, just call me. It has been a pleasure serving you, Madam.”

    Mary saw Doctor Ferguson to the door, thanking him again. When she returned to Bartholomew’s rooms, the boy was still sitting on his bed, a thin smile the only expression on his face.