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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 45: Kondor 15
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 44: Hastings 16
Over the next few days, Kondor visited his patient regularly, and by the third day there was visible improvement. On the fifth day the man was up and around, and Kondor had to insist that he take his medicine for two more days to prevent a relapse. The women said it was miraculous, and even Friar Tuck admitted that it was remarkable, although he and Kondor both insisted there was nothing miraculous about it. "I was fortunate to recognize the sickness and have a treatment for it. I try to help when I can."
Kondor also began to take his future as local doctor seriously. Sure, he could help with the raids, and learn from them. But he could help these people much more by being their physician, and he already knew far more than they could ever teach him. He just needed some information about local plant life, the "herbalism" of the age, to fill in the gaps.
He pulled out his electronic medical text. The batteries must be failing, he thought, because it was becoming unreliable. Still, over this time he was able to access information about basic pharmacology, fermenting and distilling high-grade alcohol, extracting salicylates from plants, developing antibiotics from basic molds. He knew there were other things he could do with time to experiment, but these three medicines would put him centuries ahead of what these people had, and not deplete his medical kit unnecessarily. He could use the kit when the simple solutions failed. But there were so many ways he could help with just the simple solutions.
But the first thing he would need was a place to keep it all.
He spoke with Robin about it. He should be close enough to them that it would not be too difficult to get him to the sick or the sick to him; at the same time, his presence should not become a beacon for the sheriff to locate them all. Also, if he were closer to the road it would become possible for the villagers to visit with their ill as well--and after all, the villagers were the reason for everything here. After a few days they found a bit of a clearing sufficiently off the road as to be hidden but close enough to find if you knew where to look, and Kondor pulled out his camp shovel and began clearing the ground.
He wanted to build a one-room log cabin with a stone fireplace and chimney and a loft. His new friends were willing to help, but understood none of these concepts. But they knew a tinsmith, a blacksmith, and a mason who could help for a price, as well as a local cabinetmaker who could build doors and furnishings. The problem, of course, was that Kondor didn't have any money, and Robin didn't understand why it mattered.
But he set himself to the project quite on his own. He borrowed an ax from one of the men, and began chopping trees. He had never seen a real log cabin, but he had played with Lincoln Logs as a boy. Memories of the precut notches securing interlocking logs provided the basic construction concept, and he figured that you could secure the corners with posts and patch the cracks with leaves and clay. Rollers and ropes helped move things into place, and every couple of days he would get a bit of help from some of the merry men. Meanwhile, he tended to small problems among them, mostly what he would have called minor injuries but which faced a high risk of infection in this world. Those he helped returned the favor, bringing him fresh meat and gathered vegetables, and lending a hand here and there with the construction.
He finally got his fireplace. It wasn't quite what he wanted; the stonemason didn't believe that a chimney would stand up. But in exchange for half a keg of mead given him by that first man whose life he saved the mason was willing to build an open hearth against one wall. Kondor had left a gap there for the flue, but now patched it up to head height. Hiring the tinsmith, he soon had a hood and smokestack running out the side wall, and he began working on the loft.
In his mind, the loft needed planking; but that was something he didn't have. He was learning to split logs, and with much effort managed to produce the nearest equivalent. There were gaps in the ill-fit flooring, but with the addition of a crude ladder it provided him a second level.
Building up from there he soon had the framework of a roof. But enclosing that was going to prove tricky. Thatch was cheap and thick, but required regular maintenance. At home, it would have made sense to nail shingles to plywood, but board sheets were unknown around here, and although wooden shingles could be made, they were costly. His Lincoln Log experience suggested little; the one-piece plastic roofs were easy to add but not very instructive. He vaguely remembered his father talking about how when he was a boy you had to put the roof together from pieces, but that wasn't much help. Tin crossed his mind; but it had been difficult to get enough tin for his range hood, and covering a roof would require a lot more.
He found his answer in the simple shelters along the ridge. He cut many small trees and secured them to the roof framing. Then he covered the roof in dirt, rich with undergrowth holding it together. The house was complete.
He needed much more--a bed in the loft, a still for his alcohol, pots for cooking antibiotics, tables and equipment for making medicines from herbs, and an examination table. But he was now the proud owner and chief resident of a hospital.
And the patients continued to arrive.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #35: Quiet on the Novel Front. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: