Daughter of Benik [Chapter 2 - part 2]

            Douglas sat at the edge of the river with his line in the water. He usually did not fish, but his rilud instincts told him that Mrs. Cordelia Bobbid will be paying him a surprise visit sometime that day. Avoidance with a plausible excuse seemed like a good plan.
            He reeled his line and tossed a weed snagged in the hook. Returning the line in the water, he propped his fishing rod on a cluster of rocks. He felt a tug, more a prompting if another were to explain it. He got up and peered at his surroundings.
            This way, he turned right and walked upstream. He walked up for some time and came to beaver dam that collected river water, allowing it to feed into a tamed flow downriver. It was at this dam he saw something caught. He quickened his pace, thankful his thick soled boots gave him some footing on the mesh of branches and limbs. As he approached he saw that whatever it was too big for a woodland animal and had long black hair. A pale hand peeked from under the mass of ravenlocks.
            An elf? Elves of Atillia are of fair skin and hair, this one has black hair and ochre-toned skin. Douglas crouched and turned the limp figure. The being was a young woman with elf-like features, but the ears are not pointed. A half-breed? The woman whimpered.
            He shook her gently. “Lass–?” he stopped. Around the woman’s neck was a corded rope.
            Douglas stood. This is not good, he decided. He needed to remove her from harm. He crouched down again and carefully unwound the rope from her neck. Once he tossed the rope away, he lifted her into his arms and began to carry her away from the river.

            A few distances away from the river dam was a domed hill; at its southern side was a flat section with a round green door. This hill with the green door was the Burrows’ home. After some difficulty, Douglas opened his door and carried the drenched human woman to his cozy rilud home.
            “Mr. Burrows,” a female voice called from outside the door. Douglas inwardly groaned.
            “Mrs. Bobbid,” Douglas forced a smile on his face.
            “I see that you are not too pleased to see me,” elderly rilud busybody noted as she strode up his front steps. She stopped. “Oh my, who’s that?”
            “Uh, a guest... Yes, a very important guest.” As he said those words an idea came to his mind. “Which reminds me, I was wondering if you could do me the favour of dressing her and putting her to bed? She had a nasty fall in the river and I would like to get our healer to have a look at her.”
            “Well, I suppose –”
            “Splendid!” with a strength and speed that appeared to have doubled that moment, Douglas put the woman on the bed in his guest room.
            “Please use the clothes in the wardrobe. There should be something of my ma’s that should fit her. I will be right back!” With that he dashed through the door leaving Mrs. Bobbid in a momentary confusion.

             At the eastern part of the Shire, Merl had just finished bandaging a patient (a little rilud-lad who had a nasty scrape on his elbow that required stitches), Douglas burst through the door.
            “Merl, where’s Wisdom?” he asked.
            “Hello to you too, Douglas,” Merl smiled with humour. “Da’s in the middle of removing an appendix, if you don’t mind waiting –”
            “I need someone else other than Mrs. Bobbid to examine the girl.”
            “To examine a – did you just say ‘a girl’?”
            “Yes, a girl – a young human woman at my home with Mrs. Bobbid nursing her. Could we please hurry? It looks pretty bad.”
            “Will I do?” Merl asked as he washed his hands in a basin.
            “Do you know what to do with a girl who nearly drowned in the river?”
            “Douglas, I have helped my da with his practice. As long as it does not involve cutting people open I should be able to do something that.”
            “All right, please hurry!”

            Back at the Burrows’ residence, Mrs. Bobbid had the human girl washed, toweled and dressed in a nightgown that once belonged to Mrs. Burrows.
            About half an hour later, Douglas came home dragging his friend Merl with him through the front entrance. “I brought the healer,” he announced.
            “Ah, Mr. Burrows. About your guest, who is she? And –”
            “Thank you, Mrs. Bobbid. We will take over from here. Has our patient been showing consciousness?” Merl politely asked as he opened his bag.
            “Yes, well, just briefly, I gave her some water because she said she was thristy. I made sure she is kept warm.” Mrs. Bobbid explained, as the two riluds kindly showed her the door.
            “Thank you, you are wonderful. Now then, perhaps you should see yourself home. I am sure your family is waiting for their supper.”
            “Yes, of course,” she said as the door closed firmly shut after her.
            The two friends looked at each other and made their way to the guest room.
            “Boil some water, Douglas, she may need something to warm her when she wakes up.” Merl requested.
Immediately, Douglas made his way to the kitchen and put the kettle on. As the water boiled he got a tray ready for the guest. Some toast, a bit of summer berry preserves from Aunt April. He had another pot of tea ready for Merl and himself.
A while later, Merl entered the kitchen, “She’ll be fine. She is just recovering from shock. It appears she had hit her head when she fell into the river. Other than a nasty bump to the head, she will be right as rain once she wakes up from her rest.”
            “Were you able to speak to her?”
            “A little, she seemed a wee bit confused, but drifted back to sleep.”
            Douglas sat down with relief. “Thank goodness.”
            “So,” Merl pulled up a chair and faced his friend. “What made you so concerned about this particular lass?”
            Douglas began to look grim as he explained what he had found. “She was lying faced down draped over the beaver dam with a rope around her neck.” Douglas poured a cup of mint tea for his friend.
            “Was she conscious then?” Merl accepted the cup.
            “I think she said something, but I’m not sure. However, that rope gave me a bit of a scare so I tossed it back into the river.”
            Merl nodded in understanding.
            “Well, on a brighter note, there’s going to be a rumour throughout the Shire that bachelor Douglas Burrows has found a lady and brought her home with him.” Douglas smiled wryly.
            “Don’t mind that busybody. Leave that rumour for three months and it will be naught.” Merl took a sip.

            For Douglas, he was not sure about that. By nature riluds do not lie; and by nature riluds do not forget easily. In fact, they remember – sometimes too well for their own good.


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