Historical setting: 589 near Poitiers
Ana is telling me of finding Lady Elise.
“She was neither blue nor gray. Her skin was pale but not dead. I thought she may actually only be unconscious but seemed not dead at all. Immediately I had to allow this dangerous man a story to save himself.
“I said, ‘she obviously had a terrible spill down the stairs. Oh, you poor man. It must have been a terrible shock for you to find her like this. And then, to carry her all the way up the tower stairs and place her so lovingly in this bed… you poor man.’
“He devoured my pity like a starving dog with a heap of spoiling meat.
“And just then Colleen delivered the child. At first Colleen was miffed at my kindness to the father, then she realized the purpose and she took on the same demeanor in handing him the baby and escorting them both from the room so I could work.
“My first task was to remove the sac, as one would do in a normal birth, something surely not done if a mother is dead. Then I set about to suture the incision. Even though I was prepared and practiced this seemed to take a very long time just to be sure I had completely mended every tear. I heard someone at the door as I was preparing to tend to the woman’s facial wounds. I realized she very certainly was living. Colleen came in and held the door closed.
“She told me to hurry, the earl was on a tirade giving orders to have the body removed immediately. The undertakers were already scrambling up the stairs. And immediately they were here at the door. They came bustling in with a board to remove the body. I realized then I had seen one of these men at the gate at Lady Elise’s family estate and that was a great relief. I asked if he worked for her family, and he affirmed they were taking her body on to her own family. But I begged him to take Colleen and Lady Elise to the Monastery of the Holy Cross where she can get the care she needs because she is yet living; and there, also, the earl’s guards won’t go looking for her. I told them I would ride to the parent’s estate to tell her parents what had happened and where to find her.”