Historical setting: 588 C.E. Forest Primeval
Night is already down on us, but here in the thatched house we finally have light and warmth. The tea was set outside in a steaming bowl.
“Your sisters brought you this tea and a biscuit too; they are offering non-stop chants and incantations – they are doing everything they know for your strength to return. Druid Largin wants them to stay away so they don’t catch this sickness. But like the fellow you helped that night, you’ll be strong again soon.”
She answers, “I have to go now and help my sisters prepare for the Yule.”
This woman has been fighting for life alone here in the cold and the dark, and now she is worried about helping prepare for some pagan feast that comes around every year.
“You’ll have plenty of time when your strength returns.”
“No, please help me get up now. I have to go to them. We have so much to do to prepare.”
“For the Yule season? It’s still two weeks before the sun stops and turns again? Surely you have plenty of time to rest.”
There is so little reason to worry over her so I’ve hardly stayed awake for my watch; only when I wake to add wood to the fire do I notice it is nearly dawn and the woman I am tending is well and sleeping without fever.
At first light I hear the voices of her sisters and she awakens and gets herself up and goes out to greet them. In this early morning light they are chattering their happy reunion, like birds in the springtime.
Druid Largin is standing aside, grime faced, arms folded, taking in this chatter over petty concerns that seem to occupy these women amid their own threats of plague.
“I guess getting the Yuletide properly celebrated is essential.” I surmise.
Their priest answers, “They’ve completely lost the meaning of the story. All they do is worry over repeating meaningless tradition, the same as it was forever and ever, all over again this year.”
“I didn’t even know there was a story of the Yuletide.”
Maybe I am being insensitive to this other religion. I mean to change the topic, “Have you seen anything of the man Thole I was with? If he is still waiting for me at the camp I should probably return.”
He offers, “In my opinion, that fellow Thole is a bit of a useless sort. Never-the-less you should take some of the healing tea leaves with you.”
(Continues Tuesday, December 14, 2021)