Broken Magnolias| Title/Subject
“What in the world!” I snap as I make my way towards the front of my little cottage. The pounding on my door was loud and urgent. I warily pulled my door open, and a man slumped through the opening straight into my arms. As if he had just been holding on long enough to find someone. He seemed older, and his hair was a fine gray that was dulled by the dirt that covered him. I barely kept him from sliding to the floor, and frantically looked around trying to figure out what to do. I felt something wet and sticky seeping out onto my hand, and I knew it was blood.
“You must have run afoul of farmer Warly’s dogs. Nasty creatures those. They are as cruel as their owners.” I spoke aloud mainly to tamp down my fear. Those hounds were bred to hunt. It was no small wonder the man got as far as my cottage. I took a shaky breath and struggled to keep him from falling onto the floor. I could not possibly bring this man into my home, but I also could not leave him out on my stoop to die.
I sigh and resolve to bring him in. “I guess you aren’t in any shape to accost me right now.” I huff and laboriously drag him to my bed. I had to get him down to see to his wounds, and it was the only flat surface that I could comfortably put him on. I could have thrown him onto the table like a sack of potatoes, but I would need that surface to work. I stood over him for a moment unsure of the decision I had made to let him into my home. However, he moaned in pain and the sound galvanized me into action. I began gathering hot water, bandages, and medicines to patch him up. If it was more serious than what I could handle, I would need to speak to my sister. Her hand with the healing arts was more adept than mine.
“If you’re a bandit, you better not try anything.” The man could not answer me because he was barely conscious, but I took it as his acquiescence that he would mind his manners. I began to clear his clothing. Pulling away his cloak from his shoulders, and cutting away his shirt. I could probably mend the material, but I doubted I could get rid of the blood that stained it. I gave him a mildly dirty look as I used the water I had set aside for my tea to clean him up. Once I got a look at the wound, I panicked. I had been right; he had been attacked by something. If not the Warly’s hounds then maybe a wolf. They were starting to get bolder, and winter promised to be a hard one this year.
I wrung my hands for a minute and spied my darning needles next to the yarn that had come from the packages. Snatching those up, I ran to the cupboard where Gwen kept her “medicinal” cordials. The ones that made her cheeks flush and her laughter freely flow at absolutely nothing. I did not partake myself, but if there was ever a time to be taken away now was going to be it. I bring all of my materials to the bed and tip him up long enough to get some of the cordial past his lips.
“If you are a praying man, now would be a good time to add your prayers to mine.” I pick up the needles sterilize them in the flame of the candles near my bed. The needle was not exceptionally sharp, so she knew the man was about to be in a lot of pain. Threading the needle with some of the white silk string that was meant for the tapestry. I would have to find a way to apologize, but I hoped whoever sent the packages would understand.
It was in the wee hours of the night that I finally dropped down into my chair. I had finished and even managed to feed him a bowl of broth. I spent the rest of the night, working through soft grunts of pain and blood. I did not want to hurt him, but the alternative was to let him die. I honestly was not sure if the man would last through the night, but that was another set of problems. In addition to what was already happening, I truly did not need to borrow more trouble than I already had. To that end, I had tied down his hands, so I would not be met with any more surprises this evening.
I glance over at the man who now occupied my bed, and a deep breath filled my lungs. “Guess I can get some sewing done.” I softly grumble as I pulled out my sewing, knowing there would be no sleep for me that night. The cordial must have finally kicked in because soon the man’s fitful sleep turned into serenity. I picked up the new packages and tried to think of what I could do with what was left of the material. In the end, I put it away and worked on creating something he could wear when he woke. The sun would rise all too soon.