20 July, 2011

20 July 2011

By the time Einar got himself together and joined Liz out in the clearing--movement seemed to cause coughing, and the coughing left him doubled over in pain, pressing his ribs and wondering how Liz had managed to get that poultice on him without his noticing--she had finished gathering up the dried berries in one of the hides he intended to smoke and was heading to the cabin with them. At the sight of Einar, the raven swooped down and made a circuit around his head, settling boldly on a shoulder and picking a bit of solidified pitch from his hair when he stopped still to watch it, but taking off again as Liz approached.

“Looks like you’ve got a new friend there. Did you get some good sleep?”

Einar rubbed his eyes, glanced up at the raven as it returned to its post in the dead fir. “Wasn’t trying to get…what’d you do, anyway? Knock me in the head with your war club? Got to say I don’t remember how I got into the cabin, and I don’t much like that…”

“I dragged you. But no, there was no war club involved. I think you got a little short on oxygen, and you ended up face down in the melted pitch for a second, then didn’t seem very much inclined to wake up. So I let you sleep.”

Einar grunted, indicated the soft hide wrap around his middle. “You do this?” Asking the obvious…who else would have done it? Better not be anyone else around here who would do such a thing, and I sure don’t think I could do it in my sleep

“It’s hound’s tongue. You mentioned wanting to wrap you ribs with hound’s tongue a few days ago, so I hope you won’t mind my having done it for you while you were out.”

“I don’t…in my dream, I thought you were…thanks. Thank you. Did a real good thing for me, there.”

“What did you dream? I could tell you were dreaming, but it seemed you couldn’t wake up even though you seemed to be trying pretty hard, and then after the poultice you seemed to quiet down a little…”

Shook his head, blinking away the images that wanted to come crowding back at the mention of the thing; glad I plan to be up all night watching this fire; wouldn’t be a good one for sleeping, not much good at all. “Ah…never mind about all that. Gonna be dark before too long here, and we’ve got a smoking fire to get ready.”

“I hung some pieces of meat, just chose some of the larger ones we had left, but you’d better see if they’re what you had in mind.” Which they were, Einar pleased to see that she had not only chosen the pieces well but hung them securely, building a small pyramid of dry aspen sticks in the small pit beneath the tent, pile of green willow and cherry pieces placed within easy reach of the spot where he had left the tent coverings loose along the bottom for feeding the fire. Everything was ready to go, and Einar told her so, thanked her for tending to everything even as inwardly he growled at himself for sleeping through all of it. Just as well though, probably. If you’re capable of falling asleep or passing out or whatever you did right in the middle of pitch coating a basket, chances are you really needed the sleep and wouldn’t have been too likely to make it through the night without it, anyway. No good letting the fire go out halfway through the meat smoking, or falling asleep over a log full of hot coals while you’re trying to burn it out…that might have come out worse than the melted pitch! Might as well be grateful for the little nap, even if it wasn’t what you were aiming for. And he was, in his own way, grateful, though at the moment feeling terribly disoriented as well, lost and with the distinct and rather unsettling feeling that he might have missed something while he was out, slept through some important event, a faint and elusive shadow of memory telling him he’d better be finding out, and he stared at Liz until she looked away uncomfortably, wanting to ask her but deciding against it as he supposed she’d have to take any such inquiry as a sign of mistrust on his part, as his doubting that she would have informed him of any such occurrence. Which he didn’t, really--doubt, that is--but still he did not seem quite able to shake the feeling as he busied himself with his preparations for the night, hauling the future fat storage log outside with Liz’s help so he could work on burning it out without filling the cabin with smoke, and without leaving his post near the smoking fire, and by the time they got through, he found himself jumping at every whisper of the wind in the spruces and quite unable to concentrate on his work. Nothing for it. He had to ask.

“While I was asleep. Was there any…air activity? Anything unusual? Keep getting the feeling I might have missed something like that…”

“You didn’t miss much. Just me making a couple of baskets and wrapping your ribs, and afternoon turning to evening. There was one plane that came over an hour or so ago, but he didn’t circle or linger or anything like that, and the fires were both out by then, so I don’t think we have anything to worry about.”

“Must have been what I heard. Thanks. Couldn’t figure it out. You know, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bud Kilgore flying around up there one of these days, even though I told him real plainly not to do it. He never was one to heed instructions like that particularly well, a real independent sort of a critter, and the way he left things that last time…well, sounded like he didn’t think he’d made his last trip up here. I just hope he doesn’t bring the feds following along after him if he does try anything like that, because…aw, I’m probably worrying about nothing. Expect he’s long gone back to Arizona, by now.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that. It looked to me like he was probably going to be spending more and more time out this way, even if he was for some reason relieved of his official duties as wild goose chaser for the Task Force down there…”

“Well he’d better not be! I made it real clear that if I caught him following me around again I’d have to…”

“Not you, you big goof! Susan. I think he’s going to be out here calling on Susan--did you see them together, this last time?--and if so, I wouldn’t be too surprised if we saw some sign of him again. Maybe both of them. But don’t worry, I’d tell you if I saw that little green and white plane anywhere near here. The one while you were sleeping was white. Plain white.”

“Well, that’s a good thing I guess. Real good thing. Doggone mysterious human critters. Don’t figure I’ll even understand ‘em, not even real sensible ones like Kilgore. Now. Before it finishes getting dark I’m gonna get this fire started. You want to let it burn pretty hot at first to get the coals that’ll start the wet wood burning, only it’s a little tricky with aspen, since it doesn’t really produce many coals to speak of. Got to get the timing just right so your wet wood doesn’t just smother what’s left of the aspen and put the whole thing out. Would work better if we could use a little pine to get things started, and we can throw a couple little pieces of it on there to add some liveliness here at first, but don’t want to go overboard with it, unless we’re interested in eating pitch-coated meat…”


  1. 'lost and with the distinct and rather unsettling feeling that he might have missed something while he was out, slept through some important event,'

    I hate that feeling! thanks!

  2. Anonymous20 July, 2011

    Einar needs some them "psedo-pregnancy" things. you know, where the guy has sympathic symptoms or whatever they call it.

    he needs to get really hungry and bulk up for winter, I think. heh


  3. I love the Raven hanging out there with Einar ...some of the coolest birds even if they are scavengers. They are very smart and so fun to watch them play!
    Thank you for an upbeat and good chapter, looks like Einar's going to be able to accomplish a lot yet keep fairly still, 'cept for working that bear fat log - Sounds like a good plan.

  4. I'm sure if I knew more about Indina folk lore the raven's actions would be clearer. I very much like the raven touch.