Booth’s Revenge Chapter Forty-Eight

Previously in this book: John Wilkes Booth escaped death in the Virginia and took on the role of dark avenging angel punishing the people whom he considered responsible for the death of Mary Surratt. Here in the last chapter he has found his final victim, Edwin Stanton. If you have not read previous chapters. Go to February 2016 under Archives for chapter one.
Where’s the man that usually delivers my medicine?” Stanton asked in a huff.
“Oh, you must mean David Herold. He wasn’t available tonight. Your doctor sent a messenger to my boarding house to inform me I was needed to deliver your sulphate of quinine as quickly as possible.”
Stanton’s eyes narrowed. Zook was the last name of the janitor in the Executive Mansion basement. He always talked about a sister, though Stanton could not recall her name at the moment. David Herold was one of the conspirators hanged at Old Capitol Prison. And, he remembered, Herold was a pharmacy assistant sent to Seward’s house along with the big brute who was supposed to kill the Secretary of State. Why would this woman be throwing about these names?
“My dear Mrs. Stanton,” the woman said, staring into her face. “I can tell by looking at you that you are on the verge of collapsing from fatigue. You’ve probably exhausted every fiber in your being preparing for your Christmas festivities tomorrow and then caring for an ill husband.” She patted Ellen’s hand. “What we women are called upon to do.” She turned to smile at Stanton. “Don’t you agree with me, sir, that your wife should take to her bed immediately?”
His jaw slackened. “Why, of course. It is past our usual bedtime, isn’t it, my dear?”
“I would not think of such a thing,” Ellen said in protest, though her tone sounded rather tame. “In the amount of time we have spent discussing my fatigue, I could have taken the drops from you, Miss Zook, and administered them to my husband.”
The woman lifted her hand and cocked her head. “No more debate. You must retire to your bedroom. After I have applied the drops I shall let myself out.”
“Please, Ellen, do as she says.” Stanton wheezed. The tension made his asthma worse. “Let the woman do her job and be gone.”
“Very well.” She sighed and turned for the door.
Miss Zook followed her and carefully closed it behind Ellen. Next, she went to the window and shut it.
“Don’t do that,” he ordered in irritation. “I need the cold air to control my asthma.”
She ignored his request and removed the pillow, allowing his head to drop unceremoniously to the bed. Placing her hands on the sides of his cranium, she lifted on the neck and pulled back his skull so that the nasal passageways were now vertical. Stanton noticed her manner was very rough, quite a contrast to the usual touch of the doctor’s aide. He watched as she took a bottle from her bag and daubed the liquid on a cotton ball. With her finger, she thrust the ball into his nostrils. He stirred in apprehension.
“That’s too much,” he protested. “I’ve been given sulphate of quinine for years and that’s too much.”
“In discomfort are you?”
“You know very well I am.” Stanton felt his temper rise, which he knew, would exacerbate his condition.
“Don’t you recognize me, Mr. Stanton?” Suddenly the nurse’s voice deepened. “I’ve been around you for about two weeks now. Sometimes delivering groceries, sometimes as a telegraph messenger delivering your party invitations. I sat next to you at the function in the White House. The garrulous colonel from Indiana. Oh, I’m sure you don’t remember me. I could tell you were not interested in my story about the battle at Gettysburg. Another night I spilt a cup of hot coffee in your lap. I was dressed as a waiter that time, with red hair from Ohio. I do hope it burned your thighs sufficiently.”
By this time, the aide had returned the bottle to the bag. Clamping a firm, rough hand over Stanton’s mouth, the person drew a sharp knife from the bag. The blade glistened in the light from the fireplace. Stanton struggled to call out but soon realized his efforts were insufficient.
“All my disguises were very helpful. I learned quite a bit about your personal life. I learned the name of your doctor. He sends bottles of sulphate of quinine on a regular basis to your home. I learned—ironically through party conversation with your wife—that you two no longer share a bed because of your worsening asthma condition. With each of our encounters I deliberately made a point of irritating you, because each time your nasty temper grew, your asthma worsened.” Leaning down into Stanton’s face the nurse smiled, showing white straight teeth. “Don’t you recognize me now? I told you once I would return to kill you.” He nodded as he brought his knife up. “Yes, I am John Wilkes Booth.”
As he pulled the sharp edge across Stanton’s throat he added, “And you, sir, are no gentleman.”

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