Ch. 50.3 – Janine waited patiently for her potion to work.
At last Mr. Dumfries opened his eyes. He tried to move and cried out in pain. “What happened?”
Bernie yelled and flung himself onto Mr. Dumfries. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
The old man groaned. His hands shook as he put his arms around Bernie. “There, there, my boy. It’s not your fault.”
He tried to move again and gasped in pain. “Bernie, you’ll be a better person now, won’t you?”
Bernie sat up and took his gnarled hand. “I promise.” He sobbed. “Please don’t die.”
The postman’s breaths were short as he spoke in a raspy voice. “Don’t think I have a choice here. Feels like almost every bone in my body is broken.”
Janine listened to the conversation, but she said nothing. The old man and the boy had things to work through.
Mr. Dumfries looked up at Bernie. “We had a wonderful time, didn’t we? Traveling along the routes through the mountains, delivering the mail to everyone.”
Bernie nodded through his tears. “It was a great adventure.”
Mr. Dumfries gave Bernie’s hand a gentle squeeze. “I love you like you were my own son. Live right, my boy. Find a purpose for your life. Defend the weak and serve others. Then you’ll be happy.”
“I want to be just like you — brave, and kind, and good.”
“Then you shall. I hereby adopt you and change your name to Bernard Josiah Dumfries. You are now a postman for the Royal Dumfries Mail Service.” With trembling hands, Mr. Dumfries took off his postman’s badge and handed it to Bernie.
Queen Natalie nodded. “I’ll make sure it happens officially.”
“I’ll make you proud of me,” Bernie said.
Mr. Dumfries smiled. “I know you will. And always remember the postman’s motto. Never let anything stand in the way of doing your duty.”
They all said the oft-repeated the words with him. “Not rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor snow shall stop the mail from being delivered.”
Mr. Dumfries closed his eyes. Bernie lay his head on Mr. Dumfries’s chest and sobbed.
When the queen began to cry too, Janine touched her arm. Queen Natalie looked at her, startled.
Janine winked. “Wait,” she mouthed. Mary watched Janine with round eyes.
Minutes passed. Then Mr. Dumfries opened his eyes. Mary gasped. Bernie shrieked.
He looked at them, puzzled. “Why aren’t I dead?”
Janine’s heart soured. The potion had worked again!
Mr. Dumfries sat up and looked around him, then scratched his head. He raised a bushy eyebrow at Janine and then nodded his thanks. “Well, Bernie, looks like we’ll be delivering the mail together a little bit longer.”
Bernie began to cry again.
Chuckling quietly, Janine slipped away to find her next patient.