A Slip of Wormwood [An Echelon Press Short Story]
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by Heather S. Ingemar
Description: Victorian era pharmacist, Edgar, has just inherited the family estate from his recently deceased brother, Hamilton. But Hamilton--though deceased--isn't done yet. Strange things happen when sibling rivalries go too far....
eBook Publisher: Echelon Press/Echelon, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: October 2007
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [23 KB]
Reading time: 10-15 min.
When Mr. Frog, as he liked to refer to himself (it was a nickname gone well past the limits of childhood), strode down the main walk of town with a wide grin on his face, people wondered. He was a pharmacist, and a dour, dismal sort of one, who pranced about in a dark pinstripe suit, with a narrow, saturnine face to match. Today, however, his creased and crinkled features were turned up in his version of a chipper attitude (but was really a slimy, creeping kind of smile). As he tottered down the street, he went out of his way to wave at the passersby. You see, he had just inherited the whole of his brother's estate the night before, and after he closed down the shop in the afternoon, he planned to travel to Westbury for the estate's inspection.
He rubbed his preternaturally long fingers together to think of it. A large, three-story manor house on twelve acres. Frog couldn't help but chortle to himself to think of all the things waiting for him when he got there. Priceless family heirlooms of numerous shapes and sizes; their (his, he corrected himself) great-great-grandpapa's oil portrait from the sixteenth century, and there would even be that particular hand-carved table from India that should have been his from the start.
Frog banished the thought from his mind. Why worry about things of the past? It was now as it should have been!
As it should have been, Frog thought, jaunting toward his pharmacy on crooked knees, whistling a bouncy tune. As it should have been, he thought, and wrapped his fingers on the curved iron doorknob and twisted. Brother Toad had only received it all because he was the favorite and for no other reason.
Mr. Frog set about lighting the lamps in the dark room, expertly weaving between spindle-thin shelves sporting medical concoctions too many to name. Frog, however, knew them all, and knew the exact number of each he possessed in his little village pharmacy. He was good with numbers, and had scraped and stashed away the funds to put himself through medical school when his parents wouldn't pay. Always doting on Toad, they were, without fail. And what had Toad done for their effort? Nothing. Frog sneered, remembering his robust and portly brother, the flesh so thick on his skull that his eyeballs seemed to shrink in his face, and fingers like the tiny Vienna sausages they served at the Ladies' Club Wednesday luncheons. Unproductive, that one was. Frog unconsciously straightened his long form to brush up his cracked fingernails on his coat-collar. He, at least, had made something of himself instead of lying about in the parlor, snacking on sugared cotlets to the tunes of a hired minstrel. He, at least, had the sense to save what he had instead of bandying the family fortune away to beggars and gypsies like dearest old Toad had.