Aquila:Rhine River Patrol - A Surprise!!
|This article is from the Nova Roma publication "Aquila".|
|Rhine River Patrol - A Surprise!!|
|Rhine River Patrol Story Index.|
"What did you say??!!" Marcus jerked his head around at this astounding news. He dismounted quickly and ran to the woman's side. The woman stood pointing toward the great tree standing beside the road and the heavy brush surrounding it. There in the brush just off the road but still hidden from casual eyes was a man lying face down, with just a part of his foot and ankle visible. The rawhide slipper had apparently fallen off his foot while he was trying to reach this place of concealment as another very similarly soiled and worn slipper was on the other foot just visible to the questing eye.
Marcus carefully stepped into the brush thicket, and pushing the stiff fronds to one side knelt beside the prone figure. He reached down to touch the man's throat to ascertain if he was still alive, when the man started, and half-turned tugging at a long knife thrust into his belt. With that beginning effort, he groaned, and then fell back senseless once again.
Marcus looked up at the woman, who stood in silence behind him with her hand covering her mouth, and a look of horror on her face. "Well, he's alive, but not much more. Help me get him up and out of this brush."
The woman stepped into the bushes on the other side of the fallen figure and knelt by him. She gently brushed away the shaggy black hair from his eyes, and carefully tugged at his arm. As his arm came free the man groaned again and the injured arm, now bleeding again, was exposed. The woman hastily shifted her grip from the wounded limb to the man's shoulder and helped Marcus lift him to a sitting position. "Put him on my horse commander ---- please," she said looking him in the eye with a distinct pleading in her voice. The former attitude and animosity was gone now and her entire form and face pleaded for his agreement. Again Marcus was caught off guard. Her mood swings were more than he could understand, however, request and compliance was always better than an argument and he hastily nodded his head in agreement as they lifted the man to his feet and maneuvered him out of the thicket and into the open road. Once there they lifted him onto the woman's horse not without hurting the man so severely that he groaned loudly twice more when the woman applied too much pressure on his wounds by accident.. Finally he was securely in the saddle slumped forward onto the neck of the horse still unconscious. Marcus let the man's arms dangle on either side of the horse's neck to steady him better in the saddle. The woman immediately tore long strips of cloth from the bottom of her ragged gown and Marcus tied the man's fee together to steady him and his hands together around the horse's neck. The woman had retrieved one of the water bottles and was washing the man's wounded arm, The bleeding had stopped.
The man's clothes were little better than rags. The mudpack that had been in placed over the inflamed wound had flaked away leaving a muddy ring tinged with black dried blood around the wound.
His appearance might suggest that he was a very poor itinerant worker or a slave. If he was a slave why was he here in this condition and wearing a weapon? If he was a worker he could have been set upon by thieves, but if so why had they not taken the knife? Marcus was thinking hard about this when he felt a touch on his arm. He turned to see the woman standing before him. "Please help me to get this man to my room Sir!!" There is was again. Sir!!!! Something he could expect from almost anyone except this woman. What was happening here?
"just what do you propose to do with him when he is in your room then," asked Marcus. He did not smile but kept a straight face although he could imagine the answer to the question among his navy crew.
Looking Marcus in the eye, she said firmly but in a polite tone, "I propose to take him back with us and tend his wounds. He needs help, he is hurt, and from his looks he is totally exhausted as well. If you will not help me then I will endeavor to do something for him by myself." Her determination was very evident in her voice.