Historical setting: 589 C.E. An inn on the road to Châlons
Men gather on their way at the board of this inn where ale is served. It seems it may be unusual here to bring one’s young wife to this place, but they also serve a fine dish of porridge and we are both hungry after a day riding. Two shepherds snarl and glance at one another to assure us they see Ana as an intruder. And she’s not one to go to a women’s table with her porridge just to suit the norms of gender, and besides, I’m here. She doesn’t fear men’s glances in this circumstance, so she makes it her intent to break the social rule by asking them more about their work than they offered.
“Were all of the lambs born this year without the need of a midwife?”
This elicits actual laughter; then one wipes the foamy drool from his lips, and notices she has a serious question.
“No, not this year.” Said that one. “Old Shlag had to come out to the pasture with his blade, and sliced the old ewe right in her belly and fetch out that twisted lamb.”
“Really?” Ana is incredulous.
“It were bloody.” announced the other shepherd.
“Really? More bloody than a normal birthing?” Ana asked in all seriousness.
Then the two shepherds argued among themselves about this comparison. They needed extra ale to figure this all out. One staggered back a bit to make the great pronouncement.
“The lamb and the ewe both walked away from it live!”
“Both the mother and the baby lived?” Ana asked.
“It were the miracle of Shlag’s blade!”
Now Ana’s questions have purpose. She wants to hear the details bloody or not.
“Shlag is an old shepherd” said one.
“Shepherd of shepherds” said the other.
“Like a master of shepherds,” encourages Ana.
“More like the king of shepherds,” says the first.
“Kings are born of kings. Shepherds are born of shepherds, and they have the knowledge of the ages – Just like kings know saving the rule, shepherds also only know one thing — saving the sheep.”
“So would you say this gift for surgery is something common that comes from ancient knowledge of shepherding?” asks Ana.
“Is it common? Or is this the first anyone has seen it?”
“It were a first for me, but Shlag says it happens.”
“How did he know where to put his blade for the cut?” asked Ana.