“Ah! There you are Captain! What took you so long? Have you managed to find the three items I asked for?” Doc Crossley had obviously been dozing on his feet when I had rounded the stairs on the landing!!
“What about Anna Doc?” I knew my voice sounded menacing, “What about Anna?”
“Oh! Anna’s alright Captain! Well, as well as can be expected under the circumstances! I have managed to staunch the bleeding with a …(harrumph)….with a ….tampon fashioned with bed-linen and boiled to sterilise it! This will only staunch the flow, but it will not seal the lesion! I need the medication! Go to it! I have written down the proportions! Hurry!”
He gave me a slip of paper containing instructions for the mixing of the medications! I ran down the stairs and into the kitchen area. A large iron pot was hanging over the coals. (Doc must have lit the fire whilst I had been gone). I grabbed a table covering, and, folding it, unhooked the pot from its chain and hook, and took it outside to the water butt! Half filling it with water, I returned to the kitchen and re-hooked the pot. I threw some more wood onto the fire and riddled the ash with the metal poker lying on the side of the hearth! I took the piece of paper and read the instructions! Two pecks of Willow…..two pecks??? How could I measure two pecks…I recited the weights scale to myself! Was it Four pecks one bushel? Or four bushels one peck? I hunted around the kitchen for weighing equipment! Nothing! Was it four quarts one gallon? Therefore a bushel would be an eighth part of a gallon? Oh damnation! I ran back up the stairs and knocked upon the bedroom door! Doc Crossley was sitting beside the bed in a rattan chair holding Anna’s hand! Anna was asleep! Doc put his finger to his lips! “Shhhh!!”
I tiptoed to the bed, “Doc I have no weighing instruments!” I whispered!
“Neither have I Captain! Use your initiative! Hurry man!”
I ran back down to the kitchen and looked again at the list! Two pecks of Willow, three and a quarter pecks of Cattail. Half a peck of Plantain! How on earth could I do this? Then I thought! It could be divided easily! The mixture could be easily weighed….but how much to administer? I reached for a small tankard hanging above the fireplace…I measured two tankards of Willow! Three and a quarter tankards of Cattail and half a tankard of Plantain! There! That was the proportions mixed…now how much to administer? I ran back up the stairs and softly opened the door. Anna was still asleep, looking pale in the light.
“Doc? How much do we have to administer?” I asked, “How can we measure how much she has to drink?”
“She can have as much as she likes to drink Captain!!” He laughed softly, “We…ahem…we administer it as an internal poultice!” He laughed at my discomfort.
“Sorry Doc I didn’t know!” I replied.
“We make a poultice of the mixture once it’s boiled and drained, then apply to the tampon I have made and….ahem….err….we administer it via…..well you know Captain! Use your imagination!” He blushed scarlet!
“Oh!!!…Oh I see Doc! Oh well done! I will get it ready! Just boiled you say?”
“Boiled, drained and strained through muslin ok?”
I ran down the stairs and into the kitchen! The iron pot was slowly beginning to simmer, impatiently, I found a large wooden ladle to stir the potion with. I kept doing this for the next half hour! In time, the mixture came to the boil. I allowed it to boil and bubble for about ten minutes, then, carefully removed the big iron pot and carried it to the door. I struggled to hold the hot cauldron! I tipped it sideways to drain off some of the water onto the shingle outside of the front door! Steam rose searing my face! Damnation! I had nearly dropped it all in my clumsiness! I put the iron pot down on the path, ran back to the kitchen for another cloth. I placed the cloth over the top of the cauldron, then tipped the pot on its side. Success, the steam didn’t rush into my face, and the water was able to drain out slowly! Eventually, I had most of the water removed. I wound the cloth around the neck of the pot, tipping it further onto its side, until it was empty! Tying the cloth across the neck of the pot securely…I attempted to lift it by its base! It was red hot!!! After much struggling, and the acquirement of several scalds, I succeeded in completely draining the contents, which were now cool enough to take out of the cloth tied to the lid, and placed in the muslin bag I had found in the larders! I ladled the mixture into the bag and gently squeezed the remedy within it! A bright yellowish liquid dripped from the bag as I squeezed! I placed the strained medicinal potion into a wooden bowl, and ran hot foot through the front door across the hall and up the stairs!
“Doc?” I whispered softly as I opened the door, “I have the poultice!”
“Ah well done Captain! This should do the trick! We can only pray it will work! The Almanac says that a wife of Henry the Eighth had this poultice used successfully! Right…..ahem….err….Captain? You may leave us now! I will call if I need you!”
I was about to protest….then realised the Doc was right! No need for the both of us!
I pulled the bedroom door closed softly, and crossed the landing. I stopped suddenly and went into the guest bedroom on my right. I could see some of the harbour from the window in this room. However all I could see were the tops and trucks of the masts on the “Anna Baptiste”. I longed to be with my crew. We must sail very soon!! I couldn’t leave Anna! Could I truly ask Moses to take the ship once again into battle if we found the island? I cursed my luck! Damn Lasalle! I turned and went out onto the landing, then down the stairs! I stepped outside! It was looking like rain, and, the trees that had not been uprooted, were beginning to sway ominously in the wind! Another storm coming? I was walking across the grass towards the ruins of our summer-house, when I heard Doc Crossley clomping down the stairs! I ran to meet him!
”Captain!” He said, “Captain! I think maybe Anna will sleep for a while now! The Willow acts as a sedative too. It will calm her! When I…err…ahem…removed the…err…..(he was blushing furiously)…. tampon…the bleeding had stopped! The poultice is now in place! We can only wait! Do you pray Captain?”
“Err no Bones! No! I don’t pray! Do you?”
“I do Captain! I do indeed! And…I think you should too! Losing the baby may be one thing…losing Anna would be quite another! Praying might be an idea don’t you think??”
“Maybe Bones! Maybe!”