09 November, 2012

9 November 2012

Through the remainder of the day Einar went on working to advance the tanning process with three of the nicest beaver hides they had taken, creating a tanning solution with mashed brains and the slightly warm water he was able to obtain by carrying bottles beneath his parka until they had absorbed enough of his meager body heat to begin showing an appreciable difference.  Would have preferred to heat water over a fire for the sake of time and efficiency if nothing else, but did not want to wait until dark to begin making some progress on the project.  Liz wished he would have waited, did not like to see him freezing himself with those bottles of icy water, but decided that, if nothing else, the effort was helping to keep the fever down and therefore serving some useful purpose.  As he worked she kept urging him to take sips of the berberine water Juni had prepared, its yellow color and bitterness both having grown stronger by that time and Einar dutifully partaking of the noxious-tasting substance whenever asked to do so.  He had not, much to Liz’s dismay, allowed her to further inspect and treat the wounds on his back which seemed to be the source of most of his troubles that day, finding one excuse or another to move away from her and go on with his work whenever she tried, and finally she’d had enough, insisted that he sit down and allow her to tend to the injuries.

“This is ridiculous, Einar.  Why are you trying to make things worse for yourself?  You know this isn’t likely to start getting any better until we take care of the problem, and I can’t imagine you like losing so much time wandering around all confused with this fever.  Now sit down, and let me take care of your back for you.”

Einar had his reasons for clinging so stubbornly to the work before him, keeping himself moving without pause and avoiding the inevitable but she wouldn’t understand--couldn’t possibly, unless he was to tell her, which somehow did not seem like an option--and had clearly decided not to leave him alone until he consented to her assistance, so he figured he might as well just grit his teeth and get it over with.  After one last attempt to avert it. Always got to make one last attempt, and perhaps he could find a solution which would work for both of them.

“I’ll do it.  Can do it myself.  Just let me have what’s left of that berberine, and whatever bandages you happened to bring down here…”

“Oh, come on.  You can’t very well reach, and certainly can’t see what’s going on back there.  Let me.  It won’t take long.  What’s the problem?  You’re afraid it’s going to hurt?  I’d be glad to knock you out with the rabbit stick first, if it would make things easier… ”

A lopsided grin, “nah, that’s kinda the least of my worries at this point.  Go for it.  Just let…maybe you could let Will crawl around for a minute or something, while you do it.  Don’t really want him on your back for it.”

Ah.  So that was it.  Now she understood--should have guessed before, but thought he was simply being stubborn, as tended to be his way--slid Will from his place on her back and handed him to Juni, who took him on a walk around the camp, stopping to let him look at and grab the branches of spruce, fir and the bent, twisty little aspens which surrounded the camp and seemed to so fascinate him of late.  Her wish, being a take-charge sort of person, was to leave the youngest Asmundson to his own devices as his father had first suggested, and go help Liz tend to a problem which, though she had been something of an unwilling participant at that point, she had herself partially caused during her ride over the river and up the hill.  She knew better, though.  Liz had given her charge of the little one, a trust which she could hardly believe she had managed to gain and certainly did not want to do anything to destroy, and besides, no one was better suited than Liz to handle the present situation, anyway.  Best thing she could do was to keep Will quiet, happy and at a distance, and she did it, wandering away along the cliff face.

Einar kept himself painstakingly still as Liz tended to the raw, inflamed areas on his back, hardly feeling the hurt of it for the strength of his concentration as he fought to remain in the present, prevent the shadows of the night from rising to seize him again.  Despite the strength of his misgivings he found the task a surprisingly easy one, something inside him very still, quiet and several minutes later Liz was finished, easing his parka back in place against the cold which had crept in while she worked and helping him to his feet.


“Better.  Yeah.  Ready to finish making you and Will your beaverskin hats.”

“Is that what you’re planning to do with these first few furs?  Sure does sound warm.”

“His is gonna have ear flaps that tie under his chin so he can’t lose it.  Will help keep him warm once he’s too big to keep his head tucked under your hood all the time.  I’ve been noticing lately that he tries to squirm out sometimes where he can get a better look as you walk, and I don’t blame him, but it’d be a little rough for him to ride like that in a snowstorm without some sort of protection.  Want ear flaps on your hat, too?”

“Yes, if there’s enough fur, I think that would be a good idea.  I don’t tend to lose hats as I’m walking, or snatch them off and throw them like your son is starting to do, but I think the flaps would just make for a warmer hat, all around.”

“Ok then, flaps it will be.  Need to let these things soak for a day or so in the solution I’ve got rubbed on them right now, then I’ll see how they’re doing, stretch and soften them a little, and get started.  Guess we may be back up at the cabin by then.  Or up and out again, depending on how our plans turn out, but if we leave immediately, the hats can be an evening project around the campfire on the road…”

“Yes.”  She case a glance in Juni’s direction, “we do need to settle some things, so we know what we’re doing after leaving the river…”

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