10 November, 2012

10 November 2012

Seeing no sense in putting the conversation off any longer and knowing that should the fever make another stand, he certainly wouldn’t be at his best for discussing such matters, Einar lowered himself back to the ground beside Liz.  “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that.  She sure can’t stick around here forever, nor will she probably want to, so we’ve got to have a plan worked out.  I figured…” he glanced in Juni’s direction, wanting to make certain she could not overhear, but she was some distance away, walking with Will, “figured our best bet might be to up and abandon camp real early one morning while she’s still asleep, wait until we’re camped someplace where the terrain’s real favorable to our making an exit without leaving much sign at all, someplace far from here in a convoluted little series of gullies or something, give her a real challenge as far as finding her way out and back to civilization…”

“Don’t you think she would just find her way back to the cabin?  I mean, if she wanted to…”

“Maybe, given enough time.  But we’d be long gone and out of there by then, and nothing she could do about it.”

“But what if she gets lost in there, wherever we leave her?”

“Lost?  And how often have you worried about getting ‘lost’ out here, Mother of a Mountain Tribe?  There is no ‘lost’ when you’re at home, and she’s earned herself the skills to be pretty much at home out here, maybe not to the extent that we are, but enough so she doesn’t have to worry too much about being turned around for a few days or a week or so.  She’d find her way out alright.  I don’t really see another way, do you?”

Liz was quiet for a minute, watching the young reporter where she stood showing Will a fir bough and, much to his delight, allowing him to grab a handful of its soft needles.  “We could let her stay for a while.”

“We have let her stay for a while.  Pretty long while, don’t you think?”

“Well, it certainly seems like a long time!  But hasn’t been that long, really.  I’d kind of like more time to get things wrapped up at the cabin, if we really are going to have to leave.  As long as she stays, we’re more or less safe to stay and keep getting things done, so I thought if you could stand the thought of having another person around for a bit…maybe a couple more weeks?”

“You like having her here?  Could have fooled me, those first few days at least.  Things seemed to be getting pretty dangerous around here.”

“Oh, I’ve come to see that…she’s more or less alright.  And if you think it can be done safely, I’d really like a little more time at the cabin before we part ways with her and have to go on the move again.  More time to dry meat, to cache things and…just to let Will grow and explore.  He’s changing so much each and every day, now.”

“Mighty crowded in there with three big folks and one little one…”

“Yes, I know.  But we do spend a lot of time outside, and the whole arrangement is only temporary.  Besides, you’d probably find it crowded in there if you were all by yourself, wouldn’t you?”


“Well, it’s only a few more weeks.  What do you say?”

“Figure we can probably make it work, if you really want the extra time.  Gonna have to be planning another trapping trip, or something, for the end of it so we can get rid of her.”

“Oh, don’t put it that way.”

“Well, that’s the way it is.  Sure can’t be staying around here on a permanent basis. Slightly larger tribes may hold an advantage when living a primitive life like ours, but that’s not our only reality, and the larger group you’ve got when you’re on the run, the more likely you are to eventually make a mistake and get seen--and destroyed or captured.  Even if everyone’s careful and doesn’t make any catastrophic mistakes, that’s one more person to leave tracks, sign, tear up the ground for the choppers and satellites and goodness only knows what else to see.  It’s not just about having one more set of hands to help pick berries and dig spring beauty roots, it’s about the signature left by that additional person, and the potential harm that can do to our long term survival out here.”

“What about Will?  And our…well, if we have more children?  Isn’t that increasing the numbers of the tribe?”

“Yeah, it is, but we’ll deal with that as it comes.  Way different when it comes to our own flesh and blood, and we’ll find ways to make it work with them.  With him.  With whoever happens to come along.  But if we’re gonna have additional member in this tribe, I’d sure like to save those spots for our own children instead of taking in strangers, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, of course.  I wasn’t really suggesting we let her stay on a permanent basis, anyway.  That would present its own problems sooner or later, search or no search.  Just asking for a few weeks.”

“You’ve got them.  Unless she has a problem with it, of course.  Then things get a little more complicated.”

“Oh, I highly doubt she’ll have any problem with it.  Especially if we let her work on tanning a few of these hides, making some jerky, things like that.  You’ve seen how serious she is about adding to her knowledge of things like that.”

“Yes.  Yes, I have.”

Something strange in his voice, and when Liz glanced up--she had found, over the course of their time together, that conversations such as the current one nearly almost went more smoothly and productively if she didn’t look at him for too long a time as they spoke nor require him to do the same, a strange thing to her but one which she had come to accept, if not entirely to understand--it was to the realization that the fever must be returning, his eyes bright and face pale, pinched, looking as though the conversation had thoroughly worn him out.  Looked like he needed something to eat, too, but she doubted he’d be feeling very hungry, until his temperature began coming down again.  Time for more of the berberine, and probably time to start a second batch, too.  Fortunately the sun had gone down, and as they would soon be able to have a fire, the making of that second batch would be a far easier and quicker proposition than the first.  As would be the heating of broth and tea to warm chilled human-critters, a good thing, for Einar had solved the problem of his rising temperature by hastily slipping out of his parka and into the snow, where he lay appearing at rest and almost content.

Well, Liz rose, left him where he was for the moment, guess there really is a solution for everything, if only you know where to look…

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