Rabbit stick proving superfluous, Liz had to settle for simply fishing Einar out of the water barrel, flopping him over onto the floor and making sure he was still breathing, which he was, if so barely as to be hardly discernible. Didn’t look good at all, Liz wondering for a moment if she was going to have to start giving him rescue breaths, but he woke at the impact of his injured feet on the floor, coughing and sputtering and shaking the water from eyes and hair as he stared wildly up at Liz, looking terribly confused. Liz was confused also, having been sure at first that his encounter with the water barrel—strange choice, but he was a mighty strange fellow—had been intentional, but seeing him now she was not at all sure.
“What’s going on, Einar? Did you trip over something and fall in, or was that your idea of a bath?”
“Bath?” Voice came ragged, barely enough breath, and when he tried sit up the world went all dark and soft around him. Lay back down then, but not by choice. “Not taking a bath, just…think I wanted to come see you and didn’t quite...”
Something in his tone scared her, the grave, almost desperate sound of his voice. “I was over in the opposite direction. What’s going on here? Are you alright?”
“Not…so bad, just a little…legs a little wobbly when I…”
“Come to bed. Can you get to the bed?”
“Not time for bed. Still light.”
“Don’t argue, just move. I don’t want to have to carry you…”
He laughed a little at that, but did not move. Didn’t want her to see what “a little wobbly” looked like, and could tell nothing had changed since his last failed attempt at moving across the cabin. He’d stay right where he was, just give it a little more time, and it would pass. Would have to. Wasn’t of much use in his current state, and not only did he have a length of cordage to finish, but he needed to go retrieve those traps in a few days, as soon as his feet were doing a bit better. So, better be doing something, hadn’t you, even if it doesn’t involve the bed just yet. You stay here flat on your back on the floor like this, and you’re just gonna keep on sinking deeper and deeper into this thing, whatever it is. Not good. On your feet.
Did it, Liz trying all the while to keep him down, keep him still for she could see now the difficulty he appeared to be having in getting his breath, wanted him to stay right where he was until she could check his vitals and try to get some idea of what might be going on with him. Things weren’t appearing much better to Einar from his new upright position—Liz, despite all her trying was unable to keep him lying down, would literally have had to apply the rabbit stick had she wanted to prevent his rising, and the use of such force hardly seemed the wisest thing at the moment--legs trembling beneath him and threatening once more to give out and drop him to the ground, and he locked his knees, bracing arms against the walls to prevent himself losing ground and having to start all over again. Breathless but a bit steadier for the shock of pain that had gone through him as he put his full weight on the injured feet, he tried his best to reassure Liz.
“Better now. Just got…little dizzy before and had to try out the water barrel. Must have helped. Won’t happen again.”
“No, it certainly won’t, because you’re coming to bed right now and you’re going to stay there while I fix you some broth, and then I’m joining you. You’re freezing. I wish you’d told me you were getting in trouble, because I would have helped you sooner.”
No objecting, though he did want to, for already Liz was hurrying him off to the bed, one hand firmly beneath his shoulder as she pushed aside the bear hide and all but tossed him down beside Will, Einar turning his head and grinning at the little guy as she hurriedly got the furs pulled up over the two of them.
“Well, looks like we’ve been told what’s what, haven’t we Snorri? No two ways about it, and if we want to keep away from that rabbit stick, better not be trying to get around her, either.”
Only he did intend on getting around her, at least to some degree, waited until she turned to the stove and wasn’t looking—and he’d more or less caught his breath; it took an alarmingly long while—before rolling from the bed, creeping on hands and knees over to the open door where he’d left his cordage project and retrieving the material, very nearly making it back to the bed before being discovered by Liz. Wanting to scold him, she instead simply gave him a playful shake of the rabbit stick, watching to make sure he made it back beneath the furs.
Einar was nearly asleep by the time Liz finished making her hasty pot of broth, elk with honey and some bits of bear fat, partially completed string of cordage gripped so hard his knuckles had gone white, but little progress made on it. Seemed he couldn’t quite remember how the twists were supposed to go, nothing looking right to him, nothing making sense, but he dared not let it go, either. Liz took it from him, gently prying open his hands, helping him to sit up a bit straighter and replacing the cordage with the broth pot, warm but not hot, Einar staring into the steam and blinking slowly, hands shaking too hard to successfully raise the vessel to his lips. No matter. The steam was enough. Smelled wonderful, warming him, eyes drifting closed and head bowing until Liz, having stepped away to close the door and add wood to the stove, joined him in the bed. He was about to drop the pot, and she took it from him. Some dusty, distant corner of Eianr’s brain mourned the loss of the warmth and steam. They had been good, but good things seldom lasted, and he would go on. Not so bad being cold, he was used to being cold, and could still sleep…
Liz was shaking him, hand all wound up in his hair as she tried to lift him, get his attention. “Wake up, Einar. You have to drink this.”
Didn’t even open his eyes. “Steam’s good. Steam’s…enough.”
“No.” She sounded angry, and he did not understand. “You cannot live on steam. You’ve got to stop trying to live on steam and ice and little shreds of frozen muskrat every five or six days, or you’re just not going to make it. Now wake up and drink!”