The insight of fear




A mixture of Absinthe and Laudanum now was my only saviour, releasing me from pain all but completely.  The cold was running havoc upon my old injuries, and I was beginning to wonder if some wretched fever was folding me within its unwelcome wings.

My days in Fremantle Public Hospital were seemingly more difficult; exhaustion in body, mind and spirit was plaguing me.  On more than one occasion I found myself second guessing the accuracy of the procedures I had been undertaking at that time.  I very nearly removed a man’s testicle during an appendectomy, and I should thank my aid that I did not. In conjunction to the afore, it had become necessary for me to sit down mid procedure for a number of minutes to regain my strength.  Such behaviour is heavily frowned upon, and was not taken well by those around me. As would be concluded, such incidences eventually warranted a heavy reprimand from the senior residential surgeon, and the administrators of Fremantle Public Hospital.  All this when combined, added greatly to my much depressed demeanour.



Luck, whilst apparently a Lady, I believe she would be better portrayed as a coin.  Heads to you, tails to the devil.

Heads, for once, showed its face to me.

A personal tragedy landed four square upon one of the residential surgeons in his home one morning. The poor chap fell down a long flight of stairs within his dwelling whilst departing to Fremantle Public Hospital and begin his working day.  A later diagnosis of injuries sustained were – a break and dislocation of vertebrae, severing his spinal cord in the lower thoracic region of his back.

The horrid prognosis, being total and permanent incapacity, from the point of spinal cord separation, and all things below.  Thus, he will never to move nor feel beneath the injury site for the remainder of his life.

Feeling terribly sorry for the poor chap, and the effect it would have upon his family, I was elated to be offered the permanency of his position.  This was strictly on the proviso that for the month of October, whilst taking over his list, I was to be under the strictest scrutiny to confirm that my recent surgical indiscretions were no more than isolated occurrences.

His list and my employment now secure, I handed over my nocturnal duties to another Doctor.  One in a position similar to my own, up until this recent change in my fortune. He and I spent a week in Fremantle, introducing him to the path of my rounds, and people of importance within the area to ensure his safety.  We were blessed to encounter a singular gent, the President of the Fremantle Vigilance Committee. He was more than happy to make my replacements acquaintance, and ensured that all would be done in the safe passage and attentions of my confederate.

The anger I felt toward my love had slowly abated, and I sought him at every opportunity.  Sadly this was not as often as I would have liked as I no longer had any particular need to be out of a night.  When we did meet, we would talk for hour after hour; I would gaze with heart wrenching love into his beautiful golden face.  Such joy he brought me, nourishing me and my soul within. Such a brilliant mind and magnificent smile. How I loved him. Oh how I adored him!  My beau! My Jack! My love!

Oh the places we would meet.  Be it a restaurant or a coffee shop with me seated beside a window, saving us from the inky black night without, drinking him in.  How my mood did soar like the albatross high above the sea. Such happiness I had never felt.


We decided that after Christmas we would marry, and I would cast aside the facade of deception I had worn for so long.  I would be his wife!



My period of probation completed and my position secured, I was finally able to exhale a sigh of great relief.  I would now be able to properly settle for the first time since my discharge from the Army. Adding to that, the joyous prospect of our upcoming union.  Contentment as I had never known before.



Sleep now regular, and meals frequent and routine of time, I had slowly become slightly portly around my midsection.  This I did not like, concerning myself that Jack would not take a stout wife, to cast me aside for another. On the assumption I deemed it best that I take some little exercise. Each morning I would walk in a different direction to the Hospital for exactly half an hour, and then return the way I had come to begin my mornings work. With my belt line receding, I came to enjoy my morning walks. A second benefit , were the early black mornings, allowing me to catch up with my love in my travels.


One such morning, a Friday, possibly November, the date is of no consequence; I had been making my way along Henry St., when I ran into a lad whose mother I had aided through a particularly long and difficult labour in the early hours of the morning some few months earlier.  We conversed, and after finding that while his mother and bairn were in good health, his younger sister had died of a chill the week earlier. Matter of factly, he told me that with one less mouth to feed, there was a little more food on the table and he liked that. Such are the ways of the inhabitants in Fremantle.

The lad and I made our farewells, with the lad darting into the black morning like a ferret down a rabbit hole.  

A momentary loss of bearings led me just off Henry Street, and, although it was not until later that I was to realise, that I had indeed walked down Marine Terrace. My plan had been to turn down Collie Street, to then make my way down South Terrace, and on to work. However, it was on Marine terrace that I was, and I turned up Norfolk Street.

I proceeded along with a swagger in my step.  Life was finally moving in the direction I had sorely desired for so long.

Mentally ticking off the procedures that awaited me in the next few hours had removed my attention from the task at hand.  One should never blame another for one’s own actions, however in this instance I do lay a certain amount of the blame upon inky blackness of the predawn morning, tripping on some unidentifiable detritus on the pavement.  Gravity and poor balance became my enemy as I crashed to the ground in an untidy cloaked heap. My Doctors bag springing open on impact with the ground, dashing its contents near and far; I was momentarily stunned.

Gingerly I rose from the pavement, taking stock of any injury I may have sustained.  Once a clean enough bill of health was established, I began to replace those tinctures and bandages and surgical implements back from whence they came, albeit without their usual order.

Gladstone bag full once more, I stood and stretched, arms cast out either side of me, in the same manner as portrays the demise of Christ.  Stretching and turning my head to the left then right, and lastly left again. To my great surprise I spotted my love there in the window beside me.  We began to converse, and to my absolute shock and horror, I realised on closer examination that there in that room, that room that my Jack was in, lying on a bed in the scantest of undergarments, was a young and beautiful woman.  The happiness I had in my belly evaporated with immense speed, only to be replaced with diamond hard rage.

My Jack.  MY HUSBAND TO BE had been sitting in HER room all the while I had been talking to him!  The utter scoundrel! My total devotion to him had amounted to nil! The rogue! The completely devious snake!  How could I have given this hound my heart and thankfully not my body?!

But, was he really to blame?  Was he seduced by such a woman of beauty and shape? Something I so obviously possessed neither of?!

It was HER!

Looking past HIM, I sought entry to that room within seconds. The front door of the attached terrace house had a small panel of glass in its centre, which I swiftly stove in with the end of my stick. On fiery inspection whilst thrusting my hand through the hole in the window, I found the inner door handle to be within quite easy reach.  Without hesitation I opened the door to her lair, loudly as I did so. I strode directly into her room. A room that smelled of lavender and rose petals.

Her bed was located in beneath the window of the lavish bedroom, and I was screaming all the while for Jack to show himself, then at her for the harlot she was.  So loud did I scream that I, to this day, do not know if she made a sound, as I ranted and raged.

Jack, the yellow dog was nowhere to be found.


Quietening down, I looked down into her utterly horrified 18 year old face.


“What do you want Jolly Jack?” she said in the most terrified of voices.


Her words were the trigger to the carnage I laid about her.  I beat her. I beat her face, her breasts, her sex and anything else from her that would give anyone the slightest whiff of her gender and her beauty.  I beat the muscles of her legs; I beat her internal organs. I beat her and beat her because of my shattered heart SHE was responsible for. I could not stop. She was the defiler, yet HE was so EASILY LEAD!


After a few minutes I settled, and took in the blood and carnage I had made of the lasses room. My job completed I sat in the corner of that little room, utterly exhausted.  I cursed Jack for the puerile whelp he was, destroying him in my mind. Throwing his image away like midden to the heap. Never would I allow him to see me; talk to me! He would taunt me nevermore, the cur that he was.  DAMN HIS EYES!

Picking myself and my things up once more, I stood and walked out of Delilah’s den, pulling the door behind me as I did.  Into the darkness I plunged, aware of the list awaiting me at Fremantle Public Hospital. Two streets away I washed the vile remnants of the woman that destroyed the love, nay the union, of Jack and I from my hands and face.

Still managing to arrive slightly earlier than my list warranted, I was able to change my shirt for the spare I kept at the hospital for moments such as this.  Jolly Jack did so like to think ahead.

Early the following week, I bumped into an Inspector Strong from the Fremantle Police Station.  I was on my way through Fremantle, en route John St. We had met on a number of occasions prior specifically due to my nightly rounds.  However, where many people had believed Strong to be a “bumbling oaf”, I found him to be one of the most astute Policemen I was ever to meet.


Our conversation started with the pleasantries of familiarity.  On completion of such niceties, he went on to question me, not unkindly, as to what I knew of the man who had replaced me in my nocturnal rounds.  My response was that I hardly knew the Frenchman, Dr. Jacque Dubois, at all. Although, and I passed this on to the good Inspector, that I found he had a distinct dislike of women, particularly unfortunates, and moreso prostitutes.  All of which was true. I had asked the Doctor of the origins of his misogynistic attitude myself, he had replied briefly in saying something about a lover or a wife who had been a prostitute without his knowledge. Thereafter he bore a steady grudge against them.  When I questioned Dubois if he was the best person to undertake this round in this specific area, he informed me that whilst he abhorred women, we were all one in God’s eyes, and medicine treats all no differently.


Strong, questioning mind nourished, bid me good evening and went upon his way.

For the following six months Jack plagued me.  Wherever I went, night or day; from slums to the most salubrious restaurants; he would be there.  In any window he would gaze out upon me, almost as if he were my own reflection.

Not once thereafter did I acknowledge him.  He received complete and utter disdain from me.  Abruptly in the autumn of 1920, he finally gave up and I was never to see him again.

Finally, some years later, I was to leave John St., Fremantle Public Hospital, and Fremantle all behind me.  My practice would flourish, and I am settled and content. Sadly Moran, as I mentioned earlier has vanished. Mrs. Fox however visits regularly.  Life, for wanting of a more appropriate word, is good.

As for this window into those few months of my 1919 Fremantle and all I could think to include, I am going to place amongst my personal diaries.  With exception to my medical diaries, I am bequeathing these accounts and those accounts of my adventures to Mrs. Fox, for whom I have named as the executor of my Last Will and Testament. Upon her demise, they are to be donated to the Museum of Western Australia.

Jolly Jack retired forever more.

Dr. Jean (Jack) Peel – Surgeon Major (Ret.)

22 January 1931



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4 Comments Add yours

  1. S. Chersis says:

    Oh no! Is this last of the Jolly Jack entries to be posted here?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, well yes in the short term. I am still writing the back story to Mrs. Fox. When that is done, you will be the first to know. I am seriously chuffed you enjoyed it! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. S. Chersis says:

        Hooray! I’m super excited–Mrs. Fox is quite the intriguing character.

        Liked by 1 person

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