Medicine Woman 2
Posted by Barbanne on October 03, 2002 at 23:36:25:
PART TWO HUNG!
The next few days were really busy.
I collected bark from the willow and from a cinchona tree I found in the deep forests and herbs and funghi from the forest floor and carried them all back to our hut where I had turned part of the small kitchen into my medicine chest. I bundled herbs into sprigs and hung them to dry. I steeped bark in boiling water to make the infusions I needed for treatment of wounds. I made up poultices from the leftovers and started growing mould in an old dish as I had been shown by a schwartz hakim how this could sometimes be used to stop the spread of the hated infections even after they had gotten a hold of a person's flesh. I also made up cream lotions using a mixture of the lye soap and the sap from selected trees and added my healing brew to these so that I had something with which to coat open cuts and abrasions.
Soon I had enough of the healing emoluments and mixtures that I felt it safe to invite the villagers to bring their ailments to me.
They came in droves.
I think some came just to look at this mad woman and others like Jorg came to openly mock me but most came to have some minor ill treated. I washed every open cut or scratch and impressed on everyone the importance of cleaning wounds to the skin. I lanced boils and dressed cuts and rubbed my creams into abrasions. I treated childrens' rashes and scrapes with either an infusion or a dressing and used heaps of old cotton material which I had boiled clean as bandages. To these people who had never used even the most basic hygiene in their treatment of themselves my cures worked like magic and soon even the original doubters had come to see what could be done for them. I found a lot of my time taken up helping and comforting women with child and I found I was being called in to every birth and the other women listened to me and helped as I used different herbs and funghi and bark concoctions to ease pain and assist in delivery.
As well as my healing times which I had had to limit to two hours morning and evening I worked steadily to improve the little hut and it's comforts and to establish my fruit and vegetable plants and to keep my husband happy. I was given two chickens by a grateful patient and that led me to wonder if I had fresh eggs could I not have milk and meat. I waited until Shawn had eaten well one evening and then, without looking up from the dress I was darning, I said, "Am I a good wife to my husband?"
"You are very organised wife and your cooking is good."
I waited still peering intently at my stitching.
"You're love making is quite acceptable."
"Bum!!!! husband," I said, "I am quite the little firecracker in your bed and the chilli in your sex."
"I make good meals."
"I haven't starved since I took you."
"Well beloved husband think how much better your table would be if we had our own cows.........and pigs."
He made a strangling sound.
"Gods woman is it not enough you endlessly sweep and clean and hang things at the windows and place flowers all around, now you want to make a farmer of me."
"Just cows and pigs.............to go with the chickens."
"I am a warrior not some dirt grubbing farmer."
I sank to my knees in front of him and my hand stroked his knees and slid up his thigh and caressed his manhood.
"Don't think that you'll get what you want by using yourself that way."
"Oh," I said, "and my fingers unlaced his breeches and my head bobbed down, my wet lips leading his maleness into my opened mouth."
"Hah you think to weaken me with your woman's tricks."
Who me husband?"
The next morning we went out to search for livestock such as I wanted.
Shawn came to me while I was milking the cow and said, "I have to leave you for a few days Hannah."
I looked at him knowing better than to ask. He would tell me.
"Hatch has asked me to take the warriors and scout the camp of the Kahkenya to the east."
The Kahkenya were another tribe of Lerouge warriors who often quarrelled over lands and game with our village. There were many of these tribes of Lerouge and all were fiercely independent and although they were all kin and often feasted together and allowed their children to intermarry, they also clashed frequently and bloodily over what were, it seemed to me, rather unimportant matters.
"Are you to fight with them?"
"Hatch only wants us to see what they are doing and where they are hunting."
"I will come with you to attend to your wounds."
"You will stay here. There will be no fighting and no wounds."
"I should come."
"You WILL stay."
"We will be gone perhaps three days."
"I will await your return and have your home ready."
Shawn gathered all of the warriors and they went away.
I went about my daily routines tending to my garden and my livestock and holding my clinic of a morning and evening and visiting those too sick to come to me. Jon, the son of Hatch and Mathilde had become a good friend and when I visited the village he often accompanied me on my rounds. Hatch and Mathilde approved of his friendship although Hatch warned him not to neglect his warrior's training to become too involved in woman things.
When I returned at midday on the third day it was with the thought that today I hoped my husband, my Shawn, would return.
That pleased me and, I have to admit, excited me.
So involved in my own thoughts was I that I was taken completely aback when I stepped out into my garden and was siezed by three of Jorg's henchmen.
He too was there.
"Now witch," he said, "I told you there would come a day when you would not have Shawn to protect you. You may have besotted that poor fool with your evil charms but I recognise you as a witch with your evil tricks."
They hustled me along towards the village.
"Why are you not with the other warriors, too much the coward Jorg?"
That earned me a stinging slap across the face.
In the village square a scaffold had been erected and a noosed rope hung down.
"Today we hang the witch," said Jorg.
Frightened villagers scurried away.
Hatch appeared and shouted, "Jorg let her go. Let the woman Hannah free, she does only good."
"She is a witch."
"Let her free, as leadman I command it."
"Out of the way old man your time is over," and with that Jorg struck at Hatch with his blade slicing through the older man's arm. Hatch fell to the ground.
Some villagers watched in fear from their huts but only women and children remained in the village and Jorg's thugs had shown themselves capable of great violence.
"Let Hannah go," screamed Jon running forward, "and what have you done to my father. Traitors, villains!!!"
A blow from a gloved fist sent the child sprawling.
A small group of strangers had started to assemble. Jorg's cronies.
I was surrounded by Jorg's co-conspirators and they held me fast while he bound my arms behind me with twine around my elbows and then, dragging my lower arms forward, bound my hands in front of me at the wrists so that I was trussed like a bird about to be sacrificed. He shoved me forward onto the platform and the stench of the unwashed bodies of his henchmen assailed my nostrils and the knowledge that I was about to die made me faint and sick and my knees buckled but I could not fall as the men held me up and I pleaded with them to be let free and allowed to live. Tears filled my eyes and one of the men covered them with a dirty rag of a blindfold so that my weeping soon saturated the cloth. Unable to see, in darkness and despair, I pleaded with them from the prison of my darkness.
"Please, please, I am no witch. I want only to help. I have helped so many of you, will no-one now help me? The charges are false. I am sure most of you know they are false. Spare me until the warriors come back, let me then be judged properly. I am no witch, I am a healer, I want to help you all, to heal you when you are sick to............................"
Another rag was shoved into my mouth, a stinking filthy rag that effectively gagged me and stopped my pleading. The hempen noose was placed around my neck and I struggled against my bonds and mmmphed futiley behind my gag.
"Make the frow show her bubbies," someone shouted.
"Yes, yes show us her bubbies."
"You want to see the witch's bubbies?"
A hand ripped open the bodice of my dress and my breasts spilled out.
"Crossbred bitch today you die!" The voice was Jorg's and I had never in all my life heard such hatred and loathing in a human utterance. His hand grasped my bared breast and his fingers tore at my flesh in a parody of caressing.
In the darkness of my blindfold I knew I was about to enter the darkness of death, defiled and despoiled and humiliated, and I stopped fighting against them and stopped trying to talk and prepared my mind for oblivion.
Someone tightened the noose and then I was shoved viciously from behind and my feet kicked out into open space and I started to drop and the rope jerked tight and choked my breath and then I was plunging downward and landed with a thump on the ground below the scaffold, still trussed and blindfolded and gagged but not yet dead.
I heard cries and the sound of scuffling and heavy blows and screams from mortally wounded men and then the blindfold was torn from my eyes and I looked up into Shawn's face and he and the other warriors were there and someone had cut the rope just as I stepped into eternity and Jorg's men lay about bleeding, dying and already dead, huge sword cuts slicing arms and legs and splitting open bellies and cleaving heads.
The gag was ripped away and I whispered "Oh Shawn," from a throat made hoarse and rasping by the horrid noose that now lay slack around my shoulders.
Jorg and three others had gone, fleeing as soon as the warriors appeared.
"I must see to Hatch," I said, pulling the remnants of my dress up.
Hatch's cut looked worse than it actually was. It was deep and had bled a lot but I washed it thoroughly and, having sent one of the slaves from his household for my medications, I rinsed the wound with willow bark liquid before stitching the loose flaps of skin together and binding it with a healing poultice over the wound site.
Jon's head wound where he had been hit was sporting a fierce looking bruise and some lacerations but having cleaned it up I applied some balm and hoped that it would heal naturally.
I turned my attention to the fallen warriors, Jorg's henchmen, and despite the fact that only moments before they had been trying to hang me I knew I must do my best to aid them. As I stopped over the first, a lad of barely twenty summers, my arm was grasped and Shawn pulled me to my feet, "What do you think you are doing Hannah?"
"I must aid the wounded my husband," I said, eyes downcast.
"Are you mad?, they would have killed you, murdered you."
"That is not mine to decide husband I only know I must aid those who need my help."
"You are mad woman." He stomped away.
I treated the lad cleaning and binding a nasty head wound. I straightened a broken arm and tied it between two sturdy sticks to allow it to mend straight. I washed treated and bound other wounds, nasty, vicious sword cuts. When I had done I rubbed some of my own balms into my throat. I had a ghastly looking blue, ring shaped bruise around my own neck and my throat was sore to swallow and my voice croaked but I felt sure I would be alright.
When I had finished Shawn came to me. He was surrounded by the warriors of our tribe and Hatch was with them.
"Are you finished your ministrations wife?"
"I have done what I can for them."
"You are a good woman Hannah."
I said nothing but felt pleasure that my husband would think this of me.
Then Hatch stepped forward.
"Bring the traitors here."
The five wounded and bandaged men who had helped Jorg and who had failed to escape were brought forth and stood in a straight line. Hatch studied each man in turn and then spoke to his warriors and the assembled villagers. I noticed that many of the villagers would not meet my eyes as their fear had betrayed them at my time of need and now shame plagued them. I realised I would have to build a lot of trust anew.
"For his attack on me and for his violation of the rights of the healer Hannah, Jorg is outlawed and he and any who help him may be killed without pause," said Hatch. He looked around and then turned to the prisoners. "Shawn, you other men, carry out my sentence now."
Shawn drew his sword and so did his fellows. I suddenly understood what Hatch had said. "No," I shouted, but Mathilde and the other women surrounded me as my husband and the other warriors moved in and slaughtered the men I had just treated. As their severed heads crashed onto the dirt I turned and ran from the village square back to my hut.
Shawn returned soon after.
He came to where I stood beside the window crying bitter tears and I stiffened as he placed his arms around me.
"It is the law Hannah."
"I will never, never, never condone killing."
"I know my darling."
"Oh Shawn," I turned and stroked his handsome face, "I want only to heal."
"I know my darling and so you shall."
"Shawn, the people of the village, they stood by, they hid and they would have let Jorg and his men kill me."
"They were frightened Hannah."
"I am frightened Shawn. Frightened that I will think ill of them and that that will affect my healing. Frightened of the cruel world in which we live and the killing which must be done, and my darling husband, I am frightened of you. The man whose children I would bear terrifies me."
"Hmmn, children," he said, "and you fear me?"
"Never fear me Hannah I will never hurt the woman I love."
I smiled from beneath lowered lashes.
"You will have plenty of chances to practice your healing for we attack the Kahkenya tomorrow and you are to come and attend the wounded."
My tummy flipped in fear but also in pride that my husband would take me where only warriors went.
"I will gladly come but I will attend ALL wounded Shawn."
"As you wish but our men first."
"Hmmn now as for children we might as well start right away........................................"
I gathered up my medicines and loaded them into two wicker baskets which, strapped together, would be able to be carried on a horse. I locked up my hut, I was thinking of it as mine, my hut and my home and then I arranged with Jon to have slaves from the big house come and tend my gardens while I was away.
The warriors were all mounted and ready to march with Hatch at their head and Shawn by his right side and when I saw their sleek stallions and then saw the hairy, cross eyed, little pony I had been given I decided that in order to have any chance of keeping up I would have to abandon lady like ways of riding. I strapped my medicine baskets across the pony's rump and then, hoicking my dress up, I threw my legs over the nag's back exposing and displaying my naked pins up to and including the very tops of my thighs.
Shawn rode over.
"Wife," he said, straight faced and trying hard to ignore the ribaldry that was coming from the assembled warriors, "I think it best you don breeches as I am not inclined to share your endearments and charms with my whole tribe."
I smiled that sweet smile that both submits myself and mocks others and slipping off of the pony I took the pair of breeks that Shawn had found and then, turning my back to the assembled fellers I pulled my skirt up onto my shoulders and wriggled into the leggings, giving all who cared to watch a ringside view of my bare bum. The catcalls were deafening and Shawn harrumphed and when I modestly turned back again he was crimson faced and looked furious. I was in for a thrashing that was a certainty.
"Now that Hannah has reminded us of what keeps you infatuated with her Shawn may we go?" Said Hatch.
"Move," shouted Shawn, now purple faced and I knew a thrashing would be the easy option.
I remounted and followed the men who were riding hard trying to catch Shawn who had galloped off hoping to put as much space between him and me as possible.
I would think of a way to make his anger and embarrasment disappear of that I was sure and in the meantime I was off on my first big adventure.