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June 19, 1566. Salon-de-Provence, France.
Nostradamus only had twelve more days to live. The gout was taking him. The gut
pain had gotten worse and worse every day. He had vomited blood in an iron bucket this
morning. Nostradamus grabbed for a shirt, but the crippling arthritis in his hands hurt
when he tried to fasten the clasps together. His doctors were all waiting for him in the
next room. He could have asked them for help, but he did not. He was a proud man and
hated to be in this pitiful state. If only his body were as fit as his mind, he thought. This
morning felt worse than before.
Nostradamus rolled out of the bed and struggled to dress himself, pulling his long,
black robe over his crisp white collar, and ran his hand through his long, sweaty gray
beard. He looked at himself quickly in the glass. What a mess. The disease had really
taken its toll. His eyes were bloodshot and the deep creases under his eyes showed the
weeks of sleep deprivation.
Nostradamus broke away from his reflection in the mirror. He had to get dressed. He
thought of just going into the study in his bed clothes, but then decided against it. He had
to get up to meet with the lawyer, who was coming this morning. It wouldn‘t do to meet
a lawyer in one‘s bedclothes. Nostradamus pulled his velvet cap off the wooden peg near
the nightstand and placed it on his head. God, he was hot in here. How hot was it in this
house? It felt like a furnace. He slid into his buckled brown shoes and stumbled down
the hall, grimacing at the stomach pain. Where was that idiot Chavigny?
―Chavigny! Where are you? Come here, you dunce! Have you summoned Joseph?
Where is he? Time is most pressing!‖
Jean-Aime de Chavigny, a lawyer and former magistrate in Burgundy, had been
Nostradamus‘ secretary and personal apprentice these last twelve years. Chavigny
certainly had a fine career ahead of him without the help of Nostradamus. He had
schooled with the great Greek scholar Jean Dorat at the Principal of the College de
Coqueret in Paris, and had earned his own reputation as a theologian and thinker. He had
also dabbled in the magical arts. However, as he had explained to his wife many times,
his career would have to wait. Clerking with Monsieur Nostradamus was simply too
great an opportunity to pass up. He was willing to withstand the petty slights and menial
work for the opportunity to work aside a real genius. He, Chavigny, had actually gotten
to assist the Master with Les Propheties! This morning, Chavigny had been asked to
summon Joseph Roche, the wills and trusts lawyer. It seemed that Nostradamus had
gotten into his mind to prepare a last-minute codicil to his will. Chavigny wondered if
there might be something of value for him in the new will. After all, Nostradamus had
amassed quite a fortune here in Salon after his successful canal project. And
Nostradamus‘ second wife, the old battle-axe, had come from money as well. Chavigny
had once seen a balance sheet lying on the Master‘s desk. He had well over 3,400
crowns! Even if Nostradamus left most of the fortune to his three boys and three girls,
surely there was something left over for loyal Chavigny for his dedicated decade of
service to Master Nostradamus? Well, he would know soon enough, judging from the
bucket of blood he cleaned up this morning.