#37.4, Tues., Oct. 11, 2022

Historical setting: 589 C.E. The river crossing near Tours

         We all have secret fears of plague, and now the sumptuous accommodations of Bertigan Hall don’t soften worry that Tilp must be very near her time. There are worries. We learn that Thole is in a state of panic. The cooper crossed over with a boat this morning to find help for the birthing. So Ana and Colleen and I go with him crossing back through the turbulance in his little boat.

         It’s a hard row, The cooper and I are barely able to manage the oars.  We have a distance to row upstream because when he crossed alone, without weight in the boat, and without two of us on the oars the current took him ashore way downstream. Now it takes the full strength two men to steady the boat at the edge so the women can climb out.

         We go as quickly as the women can run drawing up their soaking long tunics; and breathless, we arrive at the village with two large sacks of supplies for birthing.

         Thole is in a state of complete, incoherent panic, and Largin is shouting in loud repetitions for Thole to calm down. Tilp is trying to take control of the frantic howling and whining of the men. “Listen to my father now, Thole!” She commands her husband with a firm, and steady strength. 

         And here are the old women of this village gathered also. They’ve witnessed birthing, but cattle births and human may not be the same. Yet here they wait to be of use. I see them as a crowd in the way. Ana calls them students. After all, if this goes well, Tilp may become a mother again on another day, and someone here will need to know this.

         Colleen prepares to examine Tilp, and Ana tells me to get Thole and Largin out of here, and so I do.  Now we are outside of the little thatched house, and there is quiet all around inside and out.

         Ana comes out only moments into the quiet and tells Thole that the Tilp is doing well, and there is likely time to prepare properly for this birth. She sends us for water – “the cleanest water we can harvest, strained through a linen cloth, then boiled over the fire and cooled again, before it can be brought in and used to wash a baby when it comes.”

         Thole shouts mindlessly, “Wash the baby! Wash the baby!”

         What could possibly go wrong?

(Continues tomorrow)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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