The hospital in Lenay
Poor little Donkey — she really could not be loaded up, really needed rest, and time to heal. So did I… Fortunately, there’s a hospital in Lenay, and it’s mostly safe, mostly Anshen, because it was founded from Valdis. And I thought they could use a Doctor Cora-trained nurse or assistant, especially if I asked only for food and a bed, and a stable for Donkey. I sometimes wonder why I didn’t go in for becoming a doctor, since I was already spending every minute I could in the hospital, helping out.
Maybe because it reminds me too much of home? I guess that I was already as competent a doctor or nurse, actually, as any of the big, expensive quacks in Valdis when I was eleven and went to School… Neither Grandmother nor Mother ever managed to keep me completely out of their Naigha Books, and anyway, they made me help them whenever it suited them. I had got all their recipes and notes copied in my own diary, and some of the things, Doctor Cora really approved of them.
So, I asked a big Sworn journeyman to help me carry my pack to the hospital, and he was perfectly sweet and willing. I guess he thought I was cute; most people think so. I’m about the same size as doctor Cora, and in places a samish shape — I won’t have trouble giving birth, and there’s plenty of breast, too. But as long as I wear knee-length skirts and a wide shirt, people still think I’m eleven or twelve. And they find me cute. Well, that’s fine with me.
Though it took a bit of convincing the head doctor, doctor Arin, that I’m old enough to be a competent nurse! But they don’t have any semte working there, not one! So once I had helped a woman with a bad fever, he was fine with giving me shelter until my shoulders and Donkey’s shoulders had healed.
There was plenty to do, I helped with operations and fevers, I helped scrubbing and cleaning, I helped stitching wounds and washing the bed-ridden. It being just after the feast of Anshen, there were plenty of people with food-poisoning or suffering from stupid-drunk accidents. We don’t see that many of those in Turenay, I wonder if that is because Doctor Cora’s lectures make people take more care, or because they don’t dare to come to the hospital for fear of getting a lecture about not being stupid. Her yearly “Address to the Stonecutters Guild” is a classic! Someone even took it down and put it in a book.
One case really interested me. There was this man, a farmer, he was stupid-drunk as well. And I mean really dumb stupid drunk. He and a neighbour of his were working together in his fields, because it’s not so boring when there’s the two of you keeping each other company. They were also drinking last year’s white wine, he told me, to keep cool in the warm sun. And they were handling scythes. Working next to each other, swish, swash, swish…
And then his neighbour made made a clumsy move — startled by a joke or an animal or whatever. And there he was, in our hospital, leg open from ankle to groin. The wound had started to fester in the hot water, and not even the maggots could keep up with it. (Maggots are very good to keep wounds clean, though disgusting little insects.)
Doctor Arin was already talking of taking the leg off, when I arrived. I asked him whether I could have a try at chasing away the infection, cleaning the wound and closing it. He said I could have until the morning, and I called Morin and asked him to bring a bunch of friends to give me strength.
You’d have thought that cleaning and closing a wound as long as a farmer’s leg would have made for a journeyman’s trial, but no! Even though I was completely succesful, and even managed to make the muscles start growing together, instead of being separated by scar tissue. Still, it impressed Doctor Arin — well, I have to admit, I impressed myself. This was definitely Doctor Cora-level work!
When I visited my patient in the morning, he was not as happy as I had expected! When I asked him about it, after giving him some simple excercises to get his leg working again, he told me that his neighbour had finished the work the day before and had asked for equal shares in the proceeds of the farm, on account that he would have to do most of the work on both farms until my patient had recovered.
That sounded wrong to me. I was even suspicious that his neighbour might have causes the accident intentionally, to grab half the harvest. My copy of Queen Raisse’s Rational and Abbreviated Laws of Valdyas wasn’t clear on whether, if the accident was an accident, the neighbour only had a right to a daysman’s pay, or whether he even might have to pay damages.
In any case, I know exactly where to go to get a ruling in a case like this. The sheriff is usually worse than useless, his job is rather to keep the militia up and running and bandits and cutpurses down. So I went to the Temple of Mizran and asked for a Priestess with knowledge of farm law. I explained the situation, and she ruled that the neighbour would have to work both farms; that the proceeds of both farms were to be pooled this year, and each family had a right to half. And if the accident would happen again, but the other way around, the same solution.
So, basically, no damages, no pay, but a firm verdict that neighbours have a duty to support each other. I wrote it down on the empty sheets at the end of my law book. That’s how case law comes to be!
The last week in the hospital was not as exciting, but I was really, really tired when it was time to sleep. There was one student, Ruyin, who was working on his exam paper, after which he would be allowed to go to Valdis and become a junior doctor with one of the great doctors there. And he asked me to help him with his paper, and since he was using books I hadn’t read yet, I was eager to help. We synchronized our shifts, and that meant we could spend all the time not working in the wards on his paper. We even forgot to sleep…
Until one evening I fell asleep in my soup and woke up in my bed, with Ruyin sitting next to me, finishing his paper. When he saw I was awake, he asked me whether I wanted to read his work! Of course I wanted to! It was a thorough work on causes, phenomena and cures for a sickness that was local to Veray. At least, I think so, but since every town, every village, every priestess has different names for what might very well be the same sickness, it’s really hard to be sure.
That’s why, in Turenay, we have started using Iss-Peranian names for the sicknesses, it’s a system figured out in the Doctor’s Guild, and they will send a copy to all hospitals and to the temples of Naigha in towns.
When I was rested again, and my donkey’s coat was glossy again, I loaded two baskets with all my stuff (it’s not that much! I only brought about a dozen books!) on his back, collected Dog from the kennels, and, laden with food from the refectory, and kisses and thanks from the doctors and nurses in the hospital, went for Tal-Nus. Tal-Nus is already in the north of Lenyas, so it falls in my remit, and I had heard that they have an eight-sided Tower.
There are eight-sided towers in quite a few places in Valdyas, and there’s a theory that every big Family, Hayan, Brun, Eraday, Rhydin, Velain, and the families that have disappeared, had a tower of their own, and that all these towers were dedicated to Anshen or the Nameless, according to the Family’s orientation. But there’s another theory, and that’s that all these towers were built when the kingdom was founded, and that they were someone all connected together with semsin, to bind the kingdom together. Others say that it was just a fashion five hundred years ago, though others say the towers are only three hundred years old. Most towers have no stairs and no stories.
All in all, it’s fascinating, and when I read about the towers in Turenay, I had decided to see every one of them, if I had the chance. There’s no tower at Turenay, but Turenay is really new; there’s no tower that we know of in Veray, the Baron’s Palace is much too new. There is one in Valdis, one in Tal-Crun, there may be one in Sarabal, there may be one in Essle, there is one in Ildis, but it might be a new fake. But everyone agrees that the one in Tal-Nus is real and really old.