The Savior – Snippet 13
“He’ll be here in a moment, my dear,” said Benjamin to Mahaut. “I don’t know what he has got himself into this time, but he appears to be injured, at least that’s the reports I’ve heard.”
Benjamin sighed and handed his dust jacket, the covering he wore when inspecting the silos, to a servant. He went to sit down in a chair in the large common room of the compound. Another servant emerged from the alcoves and began to fan him with a reed frond.
Mahaut poured a cup of wine out of the clay decanter on a nearby table and brought it over to Benjamin. He accepted it gratefully and took a sip.
Mahaut hated to see her father-in-law like this. She was so used to him being in command, so used to his stern but usually fair judgment. To see him sad and at wit’s end pained her heart.
“Whatever it is we will get it tended to, Pater,” she replied. She poured herself a stiff cup of wine as well. She was going to need it.
Four servants brought Edgar in on a flat board. He was conscious, and he smiled weakly as he was brought before his father. “I seem to have had a small hunting accident,” he said.
Mahaut shook her head in exasperation. Edgar had probably practiced this line over and over again to tell to his father as a kind of joke. Knowing him, the thought of his father’s annoyed reaction to those lame words was probably what had sustained him on the long ride to Lilleheim.
“You don’t hunt,” said Benjamin.
“Yes, I do, and in this kind of hunting my prey fired back at me,” Edgar said. He attempted a chuckle, but it only came out as a gagging sound.
It seemed that the two facetious statements he’d managed to get out had exhausted all of the man’s reserves. He fell unconscious on the wooden plank that served as a stretcher.
“We found him out in the yard fallen off his animal,” said the stableman, Bronson, who looked after the family’s personal donts and oversaw a breeding program. “He was lying on his back with one foot still caught in a stirrup. He was holding that arm and moaning.”
Mahaut looked down at her husband. Someone had wrapped a linen bandage around the upper part of Edgar’s left arm. The bandage was now soaked through with blood and hung partially open. A portion of the arm just below the shoulder showed through. It was torn and bloody. The arm looked as if a large chunk of muscle had been blasted off. Mahaut had seen bullet wounds before, and that’s what this clearly was.
“Take him to our rooms,” Mahaut said. “Don’t touch the wound. I will gather some things and come to tend him in a moment.”
The servants carried Edgar away. Benjamin caught Mahaut’s eye. “You will take care of him, won’t you, my dear?”
“Of course, Pater,” she said.
“Will you use the new technique that the soldier taught to you? I was very skeptical of it at first, but it worked. I like anything that works. And since you’ve been treating the servants’ cuts and bruises, we have much fewer sick days.”
“I think whoever bound Edgar’s wound before knew nothing of infection, but we will clean the wound, sterilize what we can, and maybe that will be enough for him to keep the arm.”
Benjamin blanched at this statement from Mahaut. She didn’t fully understand why pain for Edgar caused pain in Benjamin, but she admired that in her father-in-law. It was too bad Edgar didn’t merit it.
She went to the room with boiled bandages, and her own hands thoroughly cleaned. She had the servants take off Edgar’s jacket and shirt, telling them to be careful not to touch the wound in the process. Then she knelt next to him and got to work.
Edgar had passed out exhausted, and even when she picked through the wound, searching for any stray fragments of lead or shattered bone, his only response was a grunt. She cleaned the surface around the wound as carefully as she could with lye soap. Then she took out her boiled needle and thread and began to stitch the wound back together. This did awaken Edgar, and he attempted to twist away, but Mahaut had beforehand instructed the servants to hold him down. They did so, and Edgar was too weak to resist. She continued with her stitches until she closed the wound as well as she could with what skin and muscle she could catch for an edge. She bandaged her work with sterilized cloth.
The servants let Edgar go. He sat up quickly and took a swing at Mahaut with his good hand. She had expected something like this and easily blocked it.
Never again, she thought. You lay a hand on me, you pay.
She reached down and put her fingers around his neck. She pressed. Hard.
For a moment. Edgar stared up at her in terror. Was she going to choke him to death now? Mahaut smiled and said, “Not yet, my husband.” She lowered her hands to his shoulders and pulled him up. “Get some pillows behind him,” she said to the servants. “Prop him up.”
He would be combating dehydration and the loss of a great deal of blood. She made him drink several cups of tea before she allowed him to lie back down. Within moments, he had passed out again.
“The fever will set in now,” she said. She turned to Wolfe, the senior-most of the servants in the room. “You’ll need to prepare some cloths to bathe him. We’ll soak them with cold water to keep the heat down, so we must use water from the deep well for that.” She considered. “And I’ll want a bathtub always standing by. He’ll also get chills. Have some blankets ready in case I need them. Boil more cloth for bandages. Lots of it. We’re going to keep this wound as clean as possible for several days.”
“What will you do, Land-heiress?” asked Wolfe.
“I’ll stay here with my husband, of course,” Mahaut replied.
Wolfe nodded and glanced away, but not before Mahaut saw the disapproval in his eyes.
“Please do not exhaust yourself on his account, your grace.”
“It will break Pater Benjamin’s heart if we lose him,” she said. “So I will consider it tending to the Pater as well as to my husband.”
“Very good, mistress. As will we.”