Buzzards, Hawks and Ravens

(Account of Six Friend's Life in the "Dark" Age)

by

Ruwen Rouhs

Chapter 4

The Making of a Healer

 

I

His back hurts, his still short legs were tired. Ruwen was on his way back from the mountain pasture with a small backpack full of fragrant herbs, like flowering blood worth, white caraway, blue wolfs bane, like lamb's lettuce and sage, like flowering blue gentian and the roots of the yellow gentian. He was searching the sky for Buzzie. Five big birds were sailing the sky, two harriers easily recognized by the forked tails, and three buzzards, two light coloured and a darker small one. He was pretty sure the small one was Buzzie. Yes they were still friends. Nearly every morning Buzzie showed up in the orchard behind the house begging for a mouse. It still behaved like a fledgling, meowing and fluffing up its plumages. Sometimes however he showed up with fresh prey, mostly mice but once with a still twisting snake. He offered his fortune to Ruwen like an engagement present.

Both had learned to communicate. It was a very simple way of communication.

"Fine weather today! Just right for a new adventure!"

"Sorry, but I can't come with you, Aliah is waiting!" or

"Plenty mice in the fields, come on get your share!"

"Oh, I'm not hungry, I have had porridge for breakfast!" or

"Be careful, some strangers are out there!"

"Well, I know. Have you forgotten again? It's market day!"

Yes, Ruwen was sure his Buzzie grew up to his assignment as a guardian of the village.

Buzzie was Ruwen's third best friend. His best friend was sweet Bastian, his blood brother. The second best friends were the twins, Bendrich and Geroldt. He couldn't decide which of the ones he liked more; and then it was Buzzie. There was one more person he liked even more, but this was a different sort of liking, it was near to worship. This person was Aliah - the Wise Women.

In her barn he was born a second time after his near escape from the terror of war. When he came to his senses several days after his arrival in the village, he asked the parish priest.

"My mother died, she was bleeding to death. Was there a way I could have stopped her bleeding, a way I could have saved her live? I feel so guilty!"

The father's answer came without any hesitation. "Yes, my son, you should have asked our Lord for her life! You should have asked for his mercy! You should have asked him on your knees!"

But Ruwen had prayed, the whole way from his town of birth to the village he had asked God for help, the whole dreadful way through the frightening Dark Wood; but the lord hadn't answered his prayers!

He asked Aliah, "Was there a way I could have stopped the bleeding of my dear mother? Was there a way I could have saved her live?"

Aliah didn't answer for a long time, and then she took him into her arms. "Yes, there may have been a way. But I am not quite sure about it. There are some herbs, some minerals, and some ointments which could have been used to stop the bleeding."

Then after a while, "I tried to save your mother after you arrived in our village, but it was too late. I am so sorry my dear, so sorry!"

Ruwen tried to avoid crying. He looked at the old women "Can you teach me how to stop bleeding, how to save wounded people? Please teach me, I have to know!"

Now he was Aliah's little apprentice for more than two years. At first he was more of a drag shoe to her, but he learned quickly. In the mean time his sharp eye replaces Aliah's waning ones and his swift fingers her crippled ones. At first he had to get to know a lot of herbs, where they growing and when to collect them. She also taught him at what time of the year the herbs had the most healing power and how to preserve these powers. She taught him which parts of which animal was an essential ingredient of her medicines. She showed him the best way to extract the fat of marmots, of deer and wild goats. He had to learn how to preserve the balls of bulls and the rod of boars used by old man for rejuvenation and to increase virility. They even collected inner part of some animals, dried and pulverized these and preserved them in jars.

With minerals it was a different matter. In the aerie surrounding of the village they could get lime stone and other inferior minerals. Potent minerals like sulphur, blue vitriol, lead and quicksilver had to be bought from travellers coming from far away. They were quite expensive. Aliah had only small quantities of these precious substances and guarded them jealously.

After a short time Aliah was convinced of Ruwen's abilities. He was not only extremely bright, imaginative and skilful, but also trustworthy and kind to everyone. At that point she started to teach him how to mix beneficial potions and to prepare curative salves. Soon he was allowed to treat simple lesion and clean dirty wounds. He got more and more experienced every day. Soon the small children preferred him as a healer to Aliah. But some treatment and medications she refused to teach him to his great disappointment.

 

II

Aliah was a very renowned midwife. She had delivered nearly every child in this and the neighbouring villages. Now she was old, old beyond memory of most villagers. But still she was tough and strong, strong like an oak old tree. As Ruwen asked for the favour to take part at deliveries she bluntly told him, "That's nothing for boys. That's not even a job for a strong man. It's the duty of the women to assist each other at birth! Stay to treating wounds!"

Ruwen was disappointed. He already did know how the babies got into the belly of a woman at least he was pretty sure how this happened. He guessed in humans it took place like in dogs, pigs, cattle and horses.

Ruwen protested, "Aliah, you know I am already famous as a birth assistant since I have saved the live of Rosie, the pet pig of Bastian. It is just for sows, but I know how the babies get into the belly of the mother and how they slip out."

But Aliah retorted angrily "I never heard of a male midwife, especially not of a boy dealing with such a complicated matter."

"Oh, I bet you haven't heard the whole story how I saved Rosie's life and the life of her piglets. Do you know? Should I tell you? Everybody knows by now and I was asked at least four times to help farrowing sows."

Aliah was delighted with his eagerness to tell her, however she still was not convinced to teach Ruwen the craft of a midwife. On the other hand she was getting old, her eyes were failing, her hands were getting unsteady and there was no woman around to replace her as a midwife. "Go ahead, try to convince me Ruwen!"

"You remember Bastian adopted little Rosie just after her birth. She was doomed to death because she was the 15th piglet and her mother has only 14 tits. He wanted her to stay alive and therefore raised her by hand. He called the piglet Rosie, because it was not only the smallest but also the cutest he had ever seen. Rosie was pinkish with many small black dots, a black snout and a pitch-black patch around her left eye. I also liked Rosie-piggy." "Yes that true, I remember Rosie was really cute and she was clingy too and she was running after both of you the whole day!" "No, not the whole day, she had to sleep in the pigpen not in our bed even if she begged!"

"Next Spring Bastian wanted to know if she was in heat because he wanted to breed her."

"Did he? How did he do this?"

"The twins told him to check it, by humping Rosie. He did this every morning and as soon she didn't run away anymore but responded by pressing back we took her the nicest boar of the village."

"How on earth can you call a boar nice? They are fat and mean beasts." "Oh no! Not Evo! He is slim, has pink ears, a black back and three pink legs. He is friendly; he was just the perfect mate for Rosie."

Ruwen paused a little bit. He was reluctant to go into the details of the mating. It was his first time to witness the pairing off of pigs. Watching the mating, he got real excited and his trousers tented. Bastian noticed his trouble and started grinning, while Ruwen blushed. The big boy had a woody also! From behind, he put both of his arms around Ruwen, humped him mockingly and started imitating the grunting of the boar. Ruwen was not lazy. He kicked back and struggled to get free. The next moment both boys were scuffling around in the straw giggling like madmen. They stopped only when Evo had done his job properly.

Still grinning Ruwen continued. "About three month later milk started dropping from Rosie's tits one evening. The night through Bastian and I watched her alternately."

"I was dead beat when Bastian aroused me at early dawn. He was totally flustered. The first piglet had slipped out of Rosie's belly like a chicken from the egg; so did the second and third. But then something frightening happened, the fourth got stuck some in the birth channel. Rosie laboured like mad, again and again she tried to press out the baby, but it was stuck. After many futile contractions she started panting violently and then she became weak. Bastian was in despair. His dear Rosie was dying. Bastian's mother was not around to help poor Rosie. He raced to fetch me from my bed shouting desperately.

"Come on little Bro help! Please come and help Rosie, you like her too. You are a healer, you can help!" "But I have never helped to deliver babies before. I do not know how to do it!" "Please just try, try please, you can do it!"

"I had no choice but to help little Rosie. We raced back. I cleaned my hands and arms, greased them heavily and then started to feel my way into the birth channel of Rosie. Meanwhile Bastian soothed her. My right arm was buried in Rosie nearly to the shoulder. Then I touched a piglet and I shouted happily I got it, I got it. I got its hind legs. I'll turn it around! And I turned the piglet slowly and pulled it out of Rosie's belly with care."

Ruwen grinned happily "That piglet was a real big and fat one. No wonder it got stuck! Rosie gave birth to another six piglets in a hurry. Already in the evening she looked healthy again and proudly showed us her 10 piglets."

Aliah smiled. She was glad to have such an eager apprentice. But she had to stay stubborn for the moment.

"Well my little midwife, first you have to learn how to attend newborn human babies. That's a lot different from piglets. They need much more care than piglets, calves or foals. They are more like little naked cats or rabbits. We will talk about being a birth assistant again, if you have proven to be a good nurse."

 

III

But Aliah was also bull-headed in respect to two other important issues also. She had already refused to teach him how to prepare love potions.

"No woman would come to a small boy like you and ask him for help in such a delicate matter!"

She also wouldn't talk to him about means to prevent pregnancies or to induce an abortion. But both were very important problems in those times.

It was already dark and Ruwen was just locking the hen pen and saying good night to the goats, when there was a hesitant knock on the gate. Ruwen went to open it because Aliah was a little hard of hearing. When Ruwen opened the door a hooded girl fled back in to the dark.

"Who's out there?" Aliah demanded to know.

"It's a hooded girl, she's not gone; she is still at the gate hiding in the shadow."

"It's late enough Ruwen, rush home, that's my business!"

Ruwen left in pretence but returned after some moments to eavesdrop. "...I need help, please Aliah, please, do not turn me away!" a desperate voice pleaded.

"Now, show me your face first and then sit down!"

"I can't, I so ashamed!" a sobbing voice answered.

From his hiding place behind the window shutters Ruwen recognized the voice. It was Marci, the daughter of the blacksmith. He did know her well enough.

Marci started sobbing forlorn but enraged; "Please help, my father wants me to marry an old man. He is as old as my father! I do not love this worn out old blacksmith. I do not even like him. He has daughters my age, terrible girls, naughty daughters. I love someone else. And I have a baby in my womb!"

Ruwen got it. These were too many problems at once for a young girl. Thence a father could pledge his daughter to another man without her consent. That was common law. In this special case the marriage did even make sense to the bride's father and the groom, as both of them were blacksmiths and the marriage would increase the ties between the two. Also the marriage of an old man to a young girl was not uncommon. However, while the groom expected a virgin, at least not a bride pregnant with a kid of someone else, and the bride expected a tender young lover.

Ruwen started chuckling inside. He pitied the girl, but on the other hand he was pretty sure who the heartthrob of Marci was, or better who the two heartthrobs of Marci were - the twins.

Naturally that must be the twins. About two moths ago they came home burned out but joking.

Geroldt bragged "Marci didn't get our trick, our ring-a-ring-roses. At the farewell she told me: Never a boy did me six times in one night. Your little soldier really has a lot of stamina!"

Bendrich tried to outdo his brother "I had the harder job, you lazy bloke. At first Marci was a little reluctant and I had to do a lot of teasing, and stroking and flirting, but in the end she was real on heat, and I had to make out two times in a row."

"Thank you little brother. You did a real good warm up. She was so hot when I joined in for the third and fourth shags, that she even didn't object doing it doggy style. She asked me to take her real hard, fondle her soft butt and milk her little tits."

"Now I know why she asked me to do it the same way too, after I returned."

"In the dawn she was so spend, she just fell back into the hay and let me do all the work. Afterwards she smiled happily and asked me to marry her."

"Does she know whom of us she wants to marry, me or you?"

"I don't think so, but it must be one of us, because she told me I was the best of all the lads who did her before!"

Still grinning inside, Ruwen could catch the hushed voice of Aliah - "...no, no that impossible! You could die! Sure I could prepare a strong potion with White Ginger and Bryony in dark wine and mix it with celery, fennel and parsley. That mixture, taken at dawn for three days, would procure a bloody abortion. But before this you would get sick - terribly sick. At first you would get a bad dummy, then start puking like you never did before, then a rash would erupt all over your face and body and your heart would run wild. If I would not hit the right dose immediately, and you would drink too much of this potion, you would die."

Marci didn't stop pleading "Please Aliah, give it to me! I can't marry this old man! I love someone else! And, I know for sure, if I marry that old man and he finds out that I am no virgin anymore he will kill me! And if he doesn't do it, my father will do it! I am doomed!"

Aliah tried to calm her down "No and no and no! You are a young girl, you have to live!" -- and, after a while "The virginity problem? That's not much of a problem anyway. He wants to see bloody bed sheet in the wedding night? Stupid man! It must not be your blood! Take an air bladder of a fish, fill it with chicken blood, and tuck it in your pussy. And when he makes you, that stupid man is certain to believe he was the one to pick your flower first!"

Ruwen couldn't wait any longer and rushed home giggling. He had to tell the twins. Only two weeks later there was a big wedding at the blacksmith and next morning the husband proudly presented a blood stained sheet. About seven month later Marci had twins, two strong boys, a blond one and a dark haired one. The blond one looked like Geroldt or Bendrich, but the dark haired one? Maybe there was a miracle more!

 

 

AUTHOR NOTE

I would like to express a special thank to Anthony and Paul for doing a great job by correcting all the wrong expressions and the punctuation used by a non native English writer.

Comments, reviews, questions and complaints are welcomed. Please send them to ruwenrouhs@hotmail.de. And I would like to add, thanks for reading.

Copyright Notice - Copyright April 2007

The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form -- physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise -- without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.

Ruwen Rouhs