The meaning of being selfish
The next morning, Moyri and I had a headache which needs to be felt to believe in… And we both nearly puked in our bed, but we managed to reach the privy in the back of the yard in time, and, hand in hand, puked out our gullets, guts and everything else. Whew! And dizzy! Our apprentices had toasted old bread for us and soothing tea, and were in general very nice, and quiet, and we were properly thankful.
Still, it doesn’t do to lie in and not do what you’d agreed to do, and it was time for Maile to visit her mother, and from there to the lepers’ village is only an hour or two. So we climbed the cliff to the white house, where we collected our escort — captain Fian and a soldier — and went to Maile’s mother’s, she’s called Arni, farm.
The rainy season had started, and after an hour’s walk in the rain, we weren’t just soaked through, but Moyri and I had shed our headaches and queasiness — in actual fact, we were as right as rain!
Arni was just a tiny bit surprised to see Moryn, and she later asked me whether there was anything between her daughter and this nice young fellow, but I had to disillusion her. Other than very close friends, nothing doing! I got a tour of my garden, which was wonderfully kept and so full of gorgeous herbs, vegetables and fruit that I felt very sorry for myself that I hadn’t been there to grow all of this myself.
We also discussed my Lemons for the Army idea: the Army would sail past pretty soon on their way to the City (Aldan and Aldan had boarded the ship that had brought us to Selday so they could be in the City before the army came), and I had reasoned that lemons are much more expensive in Essle than in Selday, and how about we sell each soldier ten lemons in a leather bag? Leather aplenty, lemons aplenty, and we could make a nice price, the soldiers would have lemons so they wouldn’t get scurvy… And the Valdyan Army would have teeth to show when they arrived in Kushesh!
And from there we went on to the lepers’ village. I was suddenly getting all afraid of myself, feeling like I would never be able to help them. I’m not a real doctor, I’ve just hung around Doctor Cora for so long that I think I know what needs to be done. And I started praying, and soon I felt my hand taken! Moyri and I were walking hand in hand, and now my other hand was taken! By Anshen!
And I knew he would be with me, and not leave me to try and do this work on my own.
Then we arrived in the village. Maile had told me that the headwoman was called Halla. The village itself was neat, clean and looked quite prosperous. Halla only had large white spots on her limbs, she wasn’t missing any body parts already. There were nineteen adults and five sick children in the village; and about a dozen people who weren’t sick, but had come with their parents or partners or children.
We explained what we came to do, and that in the morning, we wanted to start with the children.
We had brought a big army tent where the six of us could sleep. We had also brought our own food, and the next day, the soldiers would go back to Maile’s mum’s place and bring more food. Handy, that the village was so close. In Three Hills, the lepers’ village is two days travel away, and near Nalenay, even more!
The next day, I did the children. Maile and Moryn were busy cleaning up the houses — everything that can house the sickness needs to be burnt or boiled — and Moyri was busy setting fire to the sickness that comes out from the people I was treating.
It was hard, it was difficult, I felt like I was like King Athal, nearly blind and not able to see what I was doing at all. But it worked! Just like described in Doctor Cora’s communication to the Doctor’s Guild from Trynfarin, I made a cut in the subject’s armpit, sealed it, pushed the blood past, pushed out the sickness and with a seal, kept in the blood.
With five children done, I was so tired. I hadn’t eaten that day, and it’s a good thing the rain in Idanyas is kind of warm, because when I tried to work on my first child, I felt strange, and then I realized that was because I was wearing clothes. Doctor Cora always works naked… And so did I, afterwards. It didn’t matter much for my patients, except that those adults who like to look at pretty girls, they were quite docile!
In the afternoon, Maile and I went upstream — there was a small stream coming down from the pine and oak forests — and found a nice hidden dell where Moyri started rubbing my back and feeding me tid-bits, and then we started making love, very slowly. Just when we were about to become noisy, we noticed that two children were watching…
One of them was one of my patients from that morning, the other a hale girl, the step-daughter of an ex-fisherman with the silver sickness. I called them out, and gave them a piece of my mind, on the subject of spying on people making love. It turned out they were just surprised that two girls could do that sort of thing together, and wanted to know if they could do that, too?
I told them, later… For Dayati’s sake, these two were just nine or ten! The hale girl, she mused on how her step-dad and her mom didn’t dare make love anymore, though her step-dad’s penis hadn’t fallen off, like it had with old Arin and old Jeran. Well, I wish I could take a sample of sperm from a sick and a hale man and compare them to see whether the sickness is indwelling in sperm, but it would not have been very ethical to ask two men to let me pump them. I guess.
But the moment was gone, so Moyri and I washed each other in the rain (it really came down in torrents now, warm, fat drops that left a bit of white chalky stuff on our skin), and we went back to the tent, for dinner and sleep.
The next day was similar, but now I took the eldest villagers in hand. And I saw the two men without penises — at least, one had nothing any more, balls nor penis, the other still had balls and a little stump. They were quite nice though, and said “thank you”, whether for healing them or for letting them touch my tits, I’m not sure. They were meek as lambs, in any case. And Moyri got better and better at setting fire to the sickness before it could reach the ground, where it can spread and make voles sick, and the voles can make people sick. At least, that’s the currently accepted theory.
And in the afternoon, we went back to the dell, and made love again, after having eaten something and drunk something. There’s something magical about making love in the rain…
And the next day doctor Varyn from Veray arrived! With her apprentice, Jeran. I was so surprised…
She told us she’d left the other two in charge in Selday to help set up the hospital wing, that she had wanted to take the Great Hall for the hospital, but had been dissuaded by the steward we’d put in charge of the building overall, and had come out to help me!
This put me in a bit of a quandary, and the first day I only let her check up on my work, not work on her own, and I didn’t know why. She endorsed everything I had done, including dosing everyone with wormwood to make the very common worm infection go away, and the diagnosis of rheumatics I had decided upon for old Arin, and all my patients were certified clean. She was nice, and really wanted to help, and I didn’t know why I wanted to do all the work myself, but that’s what I wanted.
That afternoon, Moyri took me to task about it. I did feel ugly, selfish, in that I didn’t want to share these patients with the doctor… And I did confess all of that, but I just couldn’t figure out why I was being so selfish! And Moyri was right because the work just is too much for me alone! And I had to admit that, too. And then we made love, and went back to our tent, for some food and sleep.
(I don’t think I’ve worn clothes for three days running now… We work, we make love, we sleep… It’s not worth it to put on a damp shirt just for eating!
That night, I took doctor Varyn with me to our dell. Not to make love, but to have it out with her. And she understood that, she’s really understanding, it turns out. And after we’d talked about it for a long time, two things were clear to me — to us — the first that the reason I had wanted to heal everyone myself was that I had asked Anshen to help me with that, and that it has somehow become a task that I had asked Anshen to set me. But when we prayed together, he was fine with me sharing the work!
The second is that it really, really hurts if someone tells me I’m not a real “something”. No matter what that something is… We were sent from school before the final exams, before our master’s trial. I left the hospital known almost enough, but without being enrolled in the doctor’s guild. I’ve been made sheriff almost on a whim, I’m a sweet maker, but that’s no guild either. And I’m smart enough to make everything I do work — I don’t have to be modest about that — but what I lack is wisdom.
At that point, when I was explaining that I really, really didn’t mind getting filthy and that I had done pretty much everything, up to and including removing an inflamed appendix, that doctor Varyn told me to join her in the hospital for a week, when it would have been set up, and if she were satisfied with my work and my knowledge, she would ask to get me inscribed in the rolls of the doctor’s guild in Veray!
Having had this out with Varyn is such a relief! Also, she’s very good at cuddling confused girls. And she’s got a very robust sense of fun, as I learned the next day.
The next day, her farmer’s background came back to her… And she went on a rampage about why there weren’t any pigs in these oak forests! About how good those pigs would taste, if they would’ve been fed on all those acorns!
I guess everybody has their preoccupation, and I told her I would take her at her word, and have a gross of piglets imported from Ryshas! I also told her I probably had tasted cock more often than pork, and that while pork might overtake cock, for sure pork would never nose past pussy, at the rate Moyri and I were making love to each other.
That got her laughing at any rate!
That morning, we healed the rest of the village, together, and after that, it was time to prepare for a party. It was a really nice party, partly because there was lots of food from my garden, partly because we had given two nice goats to the village to roast, partly because — well, like Varyn said when she saw me and Moyri cuddle, before she knew Moyri was the baroness, we’re pretty cute. And I think that this is going to help a lot in establishing ourselves in Idanyas, which used to be reigned by the Hand of Anshen — who was not cute.
We’re cute, and not ashamed to let it show!
And that morning, just before daybreak, I danced the prayer for Anshen, for the people in the village, and half-way through… Anshen danced with me. He even did the high gate pass, where the partners lift one of their legs above their head and touch footsole to footsole. It was amazing… And also strange, because I could see that Anshen was naked as well, but couldn’t make out a single detail! But it was amazing.
On our way home, to Maile’s mom’s farm, I set Varyn, who thought that ten lemons for fifteen hundred soldiers would be more lemons than Idanyas could supply, the task of calculating how many boxes of one by one ell would be needed for so many lemons. And I let Maile and Moryn help her. Varyn made a bit of a wry grin at that, but then smiled and got into the spirit of the thing.
Oh… And her apprentice, Jeran, has asked me permission to court Maile…