The Chief Pt. 02 Ch. 07byamicus©
Sahjeed Deeda awoke to a cold lodge and an empty table. He hurried to his mother’s room, placed a hand on her forehead and ran to find Shaweena Deeda, Healer of the village.
“She is too warm, my Chief, her breathing is not quite right, I would guess she has some congestion in her chest. In other words she has a cold time sickness and is worn out. She needs to rest and be taken care of for a few suns.”
Shaweena used her long seasons of experience to ease Sahjeed from the room and about his own business. Ladies of the Guards came and went, taking over management of the Chief’s lodge.
Sahjeed Deeda found himself in Domohaas’s private room trying to comprehend the observations that would lead to the days and weeks and months that made up a year determined by the motion of the sun and the moon. His thoughts were not with the phases of the moon.
Shaweena, the Healer assured Sahjeed that his mother was resting well and left him alone with her as the night came on full.
Sahjeed Deeda, Chief of the People of his village, was speechless at first light when he looked in on this mother and he saw a feminine form curled up next to her on her sleeping pallet. He opened his mouth to speak then closed it and waited outside.
The girl ignored him as she came and went from his mother’s room with washing water and drinking water and food and fresh clothing. Without knowing why, Sahjeed Deeda waved away the Healer and other ladies of the Guards who came to help. They backed off blinking their eyes, looking at each other and at Sahjeed.
The girl finally stopped moving around and came before Sahjeed. She bowed, dropped to her knees and placed her hands on the floor before him.
He looked at her long dark hair, the width of her shoulders, her back, her waist, and her hips. She was not a child. She did not move.
“Please stand up, I want to talk to you. Who are you? Asked Sahjeed.
She did not move or answer.
After a moment, he leaned forward and touched her shoulder.
She sat up, squinting her eyes and moving slightly closer to him.
“Who are you?” asked Sahjeed.
“Ah…can…not…see…words…do…not…hear…only help…mother of Chief…she will be… better…in…ah…” she held up three fingers, “…this many suns…not woory…not bad sick…well….sooon….”
Sahjeed Deeda looked at the girl as she spoke. In trying to see him clearly, her face showed lines of intense concentration, her eyes seemed to come in and out of focus, she kept her mouth open and he could hear her with each breath she took.
Sahjeed Deeda did not know what to do or say. He sat watching her until she rose and went back into his mother’s room. She sat by the side of her sleeping pallet and rested her head next to his mother’s.
The Chief sat in a chair on the deck and resisted all efforts made by the Healer and the ladies of the Guards to see his mother. Rahseeta pushed past Duulaat, her mate and stood before Sahjeed.
“What are you doing? Your mother is sick; she needs care. She…”
Sahjeed did not look up, “She is being cared for, please, thank you, thank the ladies, I will ask if anything is needed.”
Three days and nights passed as Sahjeed made hurried rounds of the village and returned to his waiting place on the deck of the Chief’s lodge. He tried, but could not communicate with the girl; his mother was sleeping each time he looked in on her. The women of the Guard and the Healer came by several times each day with medicines and instructions.
At mid-sun on the fourth day, Sahjeed’s mother, taking halting steps and clinging to the girls arm, came out onto the deck and into a chair.
She gathered herself and sought Sahjeed’s eyes, “I live, my son. I am healed.”
Sahjeed sobbed and knelt before his mother, placing his head on her knees. “I thought you would not come back, my mother, I thought you were to going to join the Lights, I was so afraid…”
“Sahjeed, my son, I am here, but you must know that I will not be here forever. Where is the girl who healed me? I must see her.”
Sahjeed Deeda looked around the deck and inside the lodge. “She is not here, my mother, she is gone. I know not where.”
“She will come back, my son, she will come back.”
Shaweena, the Healer and Rahseeta, mate of Duulaat came to the Chief’s lodge as the sun slowly moved down the sky. Sahjeed remained sitting on the deck; his mother was resting.
He looked up and nodded as they hesitated at the steps leading up to the lodge.
“Please,” Sahjeed gestured as he rose, “Join me, I will bring drinks.”
“Sit, my Chief,” said Rahseeta, “Let me, I will look in on your mother.”
“And I,” offered Shaweena, “I would look upon her to see that she mends well.”
Sahjeed Deeda remained standing, “You are very kind, both of you, if she sleeps….”
“We will not awaken her, my Chief,” said the Healer, “It is good if she sleeps.”
The two women returned shortly, bearing cups and chattering.
“Your mother does well, my Chief,” said Shaweena, “Her eyes are bright, she is in fine spirits. She is thin from not eating during her sickness, I would prepare a broth and something light for her.”
Sahjeed nodded again and they all gathered around the table and took chairs.
They drank and talked lightly for several moments.
Shaweena Deeda put her hands together in her lap and raised her eyes to Sahjeed. “My Chief, your mother has entered a time of her life when she will need more rest. It is my feeling that she should not have the burden of the Chief’s lodge; it is too much work for her. I have spoken.”
Sahjeed Deeda recognized the formal closing to her words and bowed his head slightly, “Those are my thoughts also, Healer.” The Chief rearranged his body, sitting up straighter. “Shaweena, have you looked at this girl who cares for my mother? She speaks with difficulty, she does not hear and she cannot see very well. What do you know of her?”
Sahjeed knew the women did not approve of the girl caring for his mother. He felt the indignation when he had sent them away and permitted the girl to stay. He watched as the Healer struggled for words and Rahseeta moved uneasily in her chair.
Shaweena closed her eyes as she spoke, “She is not of this village. Her mother came when the child was young. It was not thought she would survive; she was thin and weak and when she cried she coughed and gagged.
“The mother left without notice when the child was perhaps a hand of seasons or a little more. The People took her in, she moved from lodge to lodge. She speaks very little, it is said that sometimes she can hear and other times she cannot.
“As the seasons passed, she returned to those lodges that had helped her and gave as she could to repay them. The People have a place in their hearts for her.
“I treated her only once, she was very young and very sick. It was an illness that many have during the cold and wet season; I did for her as I did for all. She is polite to me, but she does not ask for my help. That is what I know of her.”
“Thank you, Healer. Rahseeta, have you anything more than this?” Asked Sahjeed.
“No, my Chief, I do not. She has few clothes; she does not take care of herself as a young girl should. I have not been close to her.”
Sahjeed struggled to find words, “I would have you look her over as closely as you can, Healer. If there is something that can be done to help her, you are to do it; I will provide what is needed.
“Please thank the ladies of the Guards, and all who have offered to help my mother and both of you.” He hesitated again, squirming in his chair and glancing in several directions, away from the women.
“I can not answer the question you have not asked. For many seasons I have seen her in the shadows as I walk the village. I even look for her when I do not see her for a few suns. I do not understand why she watches.
“When I was wounded, she came to me. When my mother fell ill, she was there. I will not turn her away if she comes back. My mother has asked for her, I would do as my mother wishes. I too, have spoken.”
Shaweena and Rahseeta showed wide-open eyes as they heard his final words.
Shaweena blinked her eyes rapidly; “I would stay with the mother of the Chief until the girl returns. I will examine the girl and do what I can. I have family to care for and cannot be here always. With your permission, my Chief, I will arrange for a woman to be here at all times.”
“I have none to care for save Duulaat,“ said Rahseeta, “I would come whenever I am needed.”
The girl walked towards the lodge as the shadows lengthened. Her arms were filled with flowers and leaves and berries and white roots. She stopped suddenly when she saw Sahjeed and Shaweena.
She came slowly forward as Sahjeed beckoned to her. She emptied her arms onto the table and lowered herself to her knees and bowed her head.
Sahjeed touched her shoulder and smiled as she lifted her eyes. He gently took her hand and guided her to a chair. She sat nervously glancing from the Chief to the Healer.
“Can you hear me speak?” Asked the Chief.
The girl’s eyes blinked but she did not comprehend his words. She blushed and leaned forward and spoke haltingly and with difficulty, taking a breath after almost every word.
“My Chief…I see…you…speak…I hear…deep…noise…far away…I am…sorry.” She lowered her head.
Sahjeed and Shaweena sat still for a moment; the Healer moved slowly to the girl’s side, stroked her hair and placed her mouth to her ear. “Can…you…hear…my…words?”
The girl jerked away, her eyes wide open and filled with tears, “I hear! I hear…your…words!” She gasped.
Sahjeed and Shaweena smiled, the girl let a tiny smile curve her lips. The Healer moved close to her again, “I am…Healer, the Chief…has asked me…to help you, if I can.”
The girl smiled, wider this time “I know…you…can you…fix me?” She breathed heavily as if catching her breath.
“I will try;” Shaweena spoke in her ear and took her hand.
The girl stood but hesitated as the Healer started to move away, “I would…hear…Chief’s words…if I may…?” She blushed and lowered her eyes.
Sahjeed stepped close to her and leaned down, “Thank you for caring for my mother and for me.”
The girls’ eyes opened wide, “Your voice…is…different….” she put a hand to her chest. “I can…feel…your words…inside. I am…happy…to serve…” she breathed rapidly again.
The Healer took the girl inside the Chief’s lodge.
Shaweena came out after what seemed to Sahjeed a very long time. There was little light left in the sky and smoke rose from lodges throughout the village.
The Healer sat down heavily and drank before she spoke, “The girl is with your mother.” she shrugged, “She will stay and care for her; it is your mother’s wish.” Sadness filled her eyes as she spoke again. “I know of nothing that can help the girl. She is swollen beneath her ears and under her jaw down to her neck. She has great pain in her head that comes and goes.
“I had her open her mouth, deep in her throat she is very swollen and discolored, and there is hardly an opening at all. She can breathe only through her mouth and has trouble swallowing. She can only eat when the swelling goes down. She lives on soups and food that has been mashed. Sahjeed, I feel so helpless I could cry, there is nothing I know how to do except ease her pain. I am sorry.”
Sahjeed Deeda sat silently after she had spoken, “I wish…it is a terrible feeling not to be able to help; there is nothing you can do?”
“I have medicines for the heart, I have potions for the blood, I have things to unclog a stomach and ease a woman’s moon cycle pain. I can close wounds and help broken bones to mend, but for this I have nothing. I will try small amounts of other things; perhaps something will help. I do not know, but I will try.”
Shaweena Deeda left Sahjeed sitting alone on the deck. He stayed there in his chair until full dark came and the stars came out.
It was only when his nose pulled his head around that he rose and went inside.
His mother, wrapped in fur, sat at the table. There was a place set for him, the girl stood behind a chair and motioned with her head for him to sit.
“She pampers me, my son. I spoke into her ear and she hears me! She says she will stay and care for me and cook for you. It is my hope that you would allow this.”
Sahjeed sat and looked over the food before him, “She cooks well?”
His mother laughed lightly, “Better than me, my son. I never had the touch. Taste, you will discover for yourself.”
Sahjeed saw the girl watching him closely as he took a bite then another and nodded his head several times, smiling. He turned to the girl and nodded some more, pointing to his mouth. She grinned and bowed slightly.
“You must allow the women of the Guards, the women of the village to help, my mother. They do not understand why this girl is here. Has she told you her name? I have nothing to call her.”
“The other women may help, my son, but they are strangers in my home, they arrange things to suit themselves; they try too hard to please me. The girl seems to know what not to touch, what not to move, I would have her live with us. I think she does not have a home of her own.”
“I would have it as you wish, my mother, but she is not well and it is not proper for her to be in my lodge alone.”
“She will not be alone! She is with me; let the gossips of the village know that! The Healer says she will try to help to her.”
Sahjeed raised his hands as his mother showed color in her cheeks.
“It is done, then. She will stay here.” He glanced at the girl who could not hear them but sensed the tension. He motioned her to come closer to his mother. She spoke in her ear and the girl suddenly brightened and rushed to Sahjeed, throwing her arms around his waist.
Sahjeed held her briefly, immediately conscious of her body unknowingly pressing against his. He stepped back.