I asked if help came. I want to hear his answer.
“A monk came down alone and plucked me and my sister out of the deathbed of our brothers and baby sister. He said he was with my father when his spirit too, was tugged and towed away by the angels. I know he meant he died and his bones would be in the plague pit outside the church walls. My brothers and the baby were all put into that grave my father dug for himself next to our mother. I was young and it were such a big hurt so I clung hard to the angel story believing surely my father was not really in that forbidden hole just beyond the church.
“The priest took us two who still lived off to the hag of healing. She said if we lived through the plague we would be safe from it forever. She was right. She told us only those with scars on our necks or legs from the lanced buboes could live after. And we would be the only ones who could care for the dying and dead ever to come. Others came to that old woman’s door again and again for remedies and herbs. There were more outbreaks of illness all around but my sister and I seemed safe, though I’ve a lame leg since.
“When I was mostly well another man came and took me to the place for lone boys where I was taught to work. I heard rumor that the hag of healing was taken with the pox and she was buried with the pagans. I asked for news of my sister. No one had any knowledge of any child staying with the hag and the keeper of lone boys told me not to think of it. It would only be sadness.
“But every time there is a sign of contagion I’m the one they summons for the dead. There is so little I can do for the sick, except tell them some do survive and maybe healing can come to them too.”
“It must be a comfort. You are surely a good man.”
He leaned back resting on the shovel handle, “We have dug enough so I can go to the village and gather the dead of them up here. When I return stay far away. This is not a task for one with no scars.”
“No. I’ve come to help you with this work.”