“Acquaint yourself with your own ignorance.”—Isaac Watts
Excerpt from Book Three of the Emily Alden Trilogy—
“Speaking of adventure,” she said, a lilt in her voice spilling excitement, “aren’t you just back from the Middle East, John, or was it Turkey? Wherever you were, I imagine you have some rich tales to tell of your travels. I’d love to see that part of the world someday. It’s just such a long trip and I have no performances to take me there. You men who enjoy the kind of work demanding continuous exciting travel are luckier than you can appreciate.”
“How so?” Emily’s eldest son William finally spoke up. He continued to look somewhat dissatisfied, although no one knew why. “I never want to go to Turkey, or experience any distant travel, for that matter.”
“That’s an unusual attitude for a young man of your age and means,” John Mackay said, not unkindly. “Why would you not want to see a part of the world where civilization was born?”
“Smallpox,” William answered. “I have no intention of exposing myself to that killer affliction or any of the side effects of avoiding it, like being quarantined on board ship for weeks on end before disembarking at one’s destination. I’ve read the accounts of those horrible trips. Not for me, no thank you.” He seemed intent on informing the older world-traveler of his personal opinion born of inexperience and prejudice.
His mother stared at him and shook her head slightly in disbelief that her eldest son could be equally as impolite as he was closed-minded. “You can get inoculated against smallpox, William. This is the 1800’s, remember. The vaccine has been in use successfully for over a century! I’m sure John wouldn’t have risked the trip himself without being inoculated.” She turned a questioning eye in John Mackay’s direction.
“Of course,” he assured her. “The worldwide effort to eradicate the sickness has been extremely successful, thanks to the efforts of your own countryman, Dr. Jenner. And many British noblewomen champion the cause, inoculating their own families very publicly to help reassure the populace.”
“Oh please, Mr. Mackay. British royalty is always game for some notoriety or advantage. I hardly think they’re self-sacrificing, and I won’t give them the satisfaction of killing me with their experiments.”
“Not so, young man.” The silver king was beginning to look flushed as his Irish skin gave away his emotions. “It’s clearly understood that trust is the key to vaccination, and the women and doctors of your mother’s homeland have been instrumental in gaining that trust for everyone in England and throughout the Middle East, so ultimately the entire world.”
“Trust! Why would anyone trust anything so dangerous, or the government, for that matter,” William scoffed under his breath.
“Because they trust the individuals championing it. And then others trust them, and they continue the messaging around the world about the importance of helping children and adults to be vaccinated.”