Read The Irish Healer Online

Authors: Nancy Herriman

The Irish Healer

Nancy Herriman’s vivid characters, tender romance, and enduring themes of hurt and healing make this richly woven story set in nineteenth-century England a perfect read.”


“The Irish Healer
is a wonderful debut novel. I enjoyed watching James and Rachel fall in love and heal their wounded hearts. I’ll be watching for more books from Herriman.”


First-time author Nancy Herriman knows how to engage readers and win their hearts! Set in 1830s London
, The Irish Healer
is the tale of Rachel Dunne, a simple Irish healer accused of murdering one of her patients, and James Edmunds, a wealthy, high-born physician in the process of closing down his London practice and retiring to the life of a gentleman farmer on his country estate. Though painful secrets, personal crises of faith, and differing social standings threaten to keep them apart, you can’t help but root for these strong yet vulnerable characters struggling for a new and better life. If you enjoy historical fiction, you won’t want to miss this engrossing, heartwarming story. Nancy Herriman has penned a winner with
The Irish Healer


“The Irish Healer
charms readers with rich historical details and endearing characters that capture the heart.”



The Irish Healer



Copyright © 2012 by Nancy Herriman

Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 134 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, Tennessee 37027.


eBook available at

Audio distributed through Oasis Audio; visit

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012931879

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version.

Published in association with Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

For foreign and subsidiary rights, contact Riggins International Rights Services, Inc.;

ISBN: 978-1-936034-78-9 (trade paper)

Cover Design: FaceOut Studio/Jeff Miller
Cover Photography: Dogleg Studios/Mike Houska
Interior Design and Typesetting: Cindy Kiple

Printed in the United States of America
12 13 14 15 16 17 18 SBI 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


At sea, 1832

My name is Rachel Dunne.
I am not a murderer.”

Rachel tightened her grip on the ship’s wooden rail, as if she might choke into silence the echo of her own voice. Better to focus on the receding sight of Ireland’s blue-green hills, seek to memorize every bounding stream, every wisp of misty fog, every rubble-walled farmer’s field, than to remember. For who knew how long—if ever—it would be before she saw her beloved homeland again.

“Oh, Mother,” she murmured over the slap of the paddle wheels and the hiss of the steam, the scree of persistent seagulls skimming the boat’s wake. “How did it come to this?”

This parting, this going.
. This exile.

Mother was not there to answer Rachel’s question; they could only afford ship’s passage for one, and Rachel was the one who had to leave. Mother and the rest had stayed behind in Carlow to mend the damage Rachel had never meant
to cause. Restore the honor of the Dunne name in a town already prone to dislike them for their English ways. Once Rachel had been a healer, but she could not heal the scar upon her family No more than she’d been able to heal poor Mary Ferguson, who had died so quickly and so quietly even Rachel had been at a loss to explain the how and the why.

I would never harm the ill. I am a
banaltradh . . .

A healer. If the thought didn’t hurt so much, Rachel might laugh. She had vowed never to let herself be a healer again.

Against the cool spray of the sea, Rachel knotted her fringed shawl around her neck, the charcoal wool warming her skin while her thoughts chilled her soul, and wrapped her arms about her waist. Cove of Cork dwindled, its pale stucco and limestone homes that snaked along the hillside becoming indistinct, its proud fleet of yachts bobbing at anchorage transformed into specks of white upon the cerulean blue waters. Two islands, bristling with storehouses, obliterated the last of the view The paddle-steamer chugged past the looming stone forts that guarded the mouth of the bay, Forts Camden and Carlisle, names Mrs. O’Rourke had helpfully supplied when they’d set out. Next, according to Rachel’s traveling companion, would be the lighthouse guarding the shoals, white-splashed with waves, and then the Irish Sea.

And England.

Mother’s birthplace, but an alien land to Rachel.

She reached into the pocket hidden deep within the folds of her brown kersey skirts. Her fingers closed around the muslin bag tied with a grosgrain ribbon to keep the contents intact—dried leaves of mint, pennyroyal, and gentian. Mother had pressed the sachet into Rachel’s hand when
they’d parted in Carlow, a final gift as Rachel had readied to climb onto the post chaise bound for Cork Harbor. Her mother’s soft green eyes had brimmed with tears, tears she’d kept at bay to stop the twins, clinging to Mother’s skirts, from crying. Poor Sarah and Ruth. Too young to understand what was happening. And Nathaniel, trying hard to be the man of the family, straight-backed and sober, but at fourteen not truly ready for the role.

Rachel clutched the bag. The mixture of herbs was meant to help Rachel should she feel faint or dizzy. If she had not fainted in a stifling Carlow courtroom with her fate in jeopardy, however, she would not faint now. Lifting it to her nostrils, she inhaled, the aroma pungent and sweet. Right then, she would rather the herbs had been dried heather from the knoll beyond their house, or the lavender her mother used to scent the linens. Or maybe snippings from the peppery scarlet nasturtiums that grew by the kitchen door. The aromatic bits of her life.

“Ho! Stop now!” A proper English gentleman, coat collar turned up to graze his whiskers, shouted at a scrum of boys quick to turn the quarter-deck into a play field. They shouted back a string of Gaelic curses and chased each other along the length of the planking.

“Don’t let those hooligans bother you, miss,” the man said.

“They do not bother me, sir. I have a brother who is just as high-spirited.”

His gaze made a quick assessment of Rachel’s status as a lady. He could not fail to note her serviceable dress, well-worn shawl, and Irish-red hair—and find her lacking. “Heading for England for work, I presume?”

“I have a situation with a physician in London.” She shuddered anew at the thought. At the irony After all she had been through, to find herself in service to a medical man.

“You do?” The gentleman’s tone curled upward with a cynical lift.

Rachel lifted her chin. “I do.”

“Hm.” He cocked a disbelieving eyebrow and shook his head. “What next.”

The man tapped the brim of his hat and hastened off, his attitude a foretaste of the reception Rachel expected she would receive in London.

The boys taunted him as they tossed the bundled rags they were using as a ball over his head. They brushed past Rachel, boisterous, laughing. Seemingly untroubled that the sliver of earth they had called home probably all their lives was inching out of reach.

Rachel faced the dwindling shoreline.
Then I should be untroubled like they are. For what good does it do me to mourn what I have lost?

Rachel looked down at the bag she clutched and felt hope for the first time in weeks. Months, actually Slowly she unwound the ribbon and tucked it in her pocket. Turning the bag upside down, she released the dried leaves, flecks of slategreen caught by the wind. She dropped the bag after them.

“I have your strength, Mother. I do not need herbal remedies when your love bolsters my spine.” Rachel watched the speck of cream fabric until it was dragged underwater by the churn of the float-boards. “I shall do very well in London, and someday we shall be reunited. I promise you that.”

Because to do anything less was to fail, and she never wanted to fail again.


London, three days later

Well, Edmunds?” asked Hathaway, leaning across the bed to prop up his patient, too weak, too faint to sit up on her own.

Resting his ear against the circular ivory ear plate, James Edmunds moved the stethoscope down the woman’s hunched back. Her breathing was shallow, rapid, and he could hear the thickness in her lungs. No sound in the low portion of the left lung at all, the tissue hepatized into a useless mass. Or much of the right lung, for that matter. She wheezed as she struggled to drag in air and expelled a shuddering cough. Acute pneumonia.

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