Journal Entry: June Twenty-Second

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June Twenty-second
Can it be nearly dawn? I have been awake all night, yet excitement still keeps sleep from me. Rarely have I stayed up an entire night, and never has it seemed to pass so quickly. Sleep must be brief for me, as my patient may wake at any time.
My evening began ordinarily enough--another friendly revel at which Aunt paraded me about before a quantity of unattached young (some not even!) bachelors. Though I adore dancing, I hardly think that a revel is the best place to become acquainted with a young man. Certainly you may see whether he has a stately bearing and a shapely leg, but one can hardly converse on thought-provoking subjects, to see if he has any views on philosophy, art, or the natural world.
In any case, we did not depart until rather late--past midnight, certainly--and both Aunt and Uncle had partaken liberally of the wines, so following the short walk home I insisted that they both retire and leave me to put out the lanterns at the gate. After divesting myself of my gown, I wrapped a robe around myself and went out to the door.
I’d nearly put my hand on the latch when a knocking nearly frightened me to death. “Oh, dear lady, please help us,” spoke a voice--a young man, as far as I could tell through the lattice. I gathered my wits and peered more closely. “Who are you and what is the trouble?” “We’re sailors just come into port--our captain here has bee grievously wounded.” His earnest face looked at me in the lantern-light. I looked past him to the other two figures, one heavily supported by the other.
Their faces were foreign, but their clothes were like those of the sailors I’d seen before. Their clothes were also disheveled as with great exertion. A split lip on the one--his blood trickling down to drop onto his shirt, and a newly-forming bruise on the eye of the one before me. It was my duty to help these men, but what would my guardians think if I let strange men inside in the middle of the night? At once I thought of the unused shed behind the garden--my makeshift, but private, workroom. “Go around the lane on your right. There’s a gate about thirty paces down, and I’ll let you in there.” “Oh, thank you, dear lady.”
I watched as they turned away, then quietly fetched my work-basket and lit a small lantern. The house was entirely quiet as I went out past the kitchen to the rear garden gate. I fumbled open the latch. The men were there, two supporting their companion in the middle.
“Come quietly, this way.” I led them to the shed, opening the door and setting the lantern just inside. The room was small--mostly odd-placed shelves--but the table at the center was stout enough to support a prone man. The familiar scent of my hand-picked herbs drying all ‘round enveloped me as I bent over the wounded man.
Unconscious, certainly, and his head veritably bathed in blood. But his breath came unstrained, and his hand was warm to touch. I indicated to the fair-haired sailor to fill the buckets with water and the other to remove the captain’s coat. I quickly rolled my sleeves up and threw a handy apron over my robe.
With a wet cloth I cleaned the blood away from the man’s face, noting as I did a groan as I moved the jaw, and a cut over his eye. Another cut on the scalp bled freely--but was not large. Any wound to the head bleeds profusely, and often looks much worse than it is. I said as much to the apprehensive sailors. “So he’ll be all right?” they asked as once. I was fair certain that he would.
“Marcos,” said the one who had barely spoken, “return to the ship and let Mordechai know we’ve been delayed. I’ll be along when I may.” Marcos did as he was bid, and I employed the other in holding dressings to the scalp wounds while I checked the rest of my patient. A scrape and bruise here and there, but nothing to worry about. I drew forth needle and silk thread, and set to stitching up the scalp. [Editor's note]
“We were lucky to find such a healer. Your husband perhaps is a doctor?” No, I was not yet married, but had been studying physicing by myself, with the aid of a few learned teachers. I handed him a cloth and bottle of tonic. “Here, to bathe your cuts. How did you come by such injuries?” “Outside the tavern.” (There was, I recalled, a public house up the road.) “We met with some half-dozen men who wanted a brawl. Three of them went for the captain here, armed with daggers. I was busy with two of them myself, so I know not how he came to fall, only that they were all on the ground when I looked.”
“To take on three armed men? Your captain must be very brave.”
“Well, we do what we must.”
“As you see, it was the head cuts that bled so much, but they are not deep. I think it was a blow to the jaw that felled him--sometimes those can knock a man senseless. But he breathes well, and the pulse is good, so I expect that he will come around.” I finished my bandaging under the careful eye of the sailor. The captain’s color was fine--I believed that he slept easily. “He may sleep for a time. Let me have a look at you.” This man had fared better--no major wounds. As I finished I noticed the first lightening of the sky. So did he--”We’ve kept you from your sleep. If he will be all right, I’ll keep watch here.” I didn’t like to leave, my by eyelids were so heavy, my knees very weak. “I will come back soon. Try to stay out of sight--I don’t want you discovered if at all possible. No one comes back here, though, but if anything happens, however, come at once to the house and ask for Magdalene.”
I stole away to my room. Now, with my bed so near, sleep eluded me long enough to put down the events of this night. Saints be praised that Aunt and Uncle will sleep late; I hope my subterfuge will not go discovered.