Aquila:Rhine River Patrol - A Visit To the Hospital

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This article is from the Nova Roma publication "Aquila".
Rhine River Patrol - A Visit To the Hospital
Rhine River Patrol Story Index.

Summoning a passing litter, Marcus got the woman into it. The woman's arm was beginning to swell and he told her to hold it carefully, and then he turned to the Litter-Master, a tall muscular bald-headed man who had picked up the woman and laid her gently into the litter.

"Take the lady immediately to the dockyard surgeon, give him this message," he said digging into his belt pouch and bringing out a small tablet and scribbling hastily on it. "Wait for me there, here is half of your fee, the other half when you get there. I will make the wait worth your while. Do you understand?" The large man bobbed his head and bowed slightly, then turning he grasped one of the long handles and silently gave the signal to lift and then to move. As the litter moved off, Marcus wondered if the big man was not possibly an unfortunate man without speech.

Within just a half glass he found another litter and followed the lady to the dockyard. The first litter men were waiting for him and he paid his litter man, as well as the other leader the remaining half of the fee plus a large tip. As they moved off, he walked into the heavy timber hospital just behind and to one side of the Principia. He walked through the hospital and into the Main Surgery. The surgery was lamp lit and three braziers glowed warmly around the room, There were also several benches along the wall for those awaiting treatment. The surgery was a warm and comfortable place which belied the pain and discomfort often found there. As he entered the surgery, he noticed it's warmth with appreciation and he saw the lady was lying on one of the surgery tables. One of the "capsarii" (Medical Orderly) was measuring her arm for splints, while another washed her wounds from a basin of warm water that had been heating on a grill over one of the braziers. A jar of vinegar stood beside him for use as an antiseptic. At the head of the table was the senior surgeon of the hospital, Flavius Dinius. He looked up at Marcus as he came in, nodded and said sharply to a third man standing nearby," I want ephedon powder, a verdigris dressing and a half-dose of opium, I'm going to have to stitch this," He gestured toward a slightly seeping wound on the side of the woman's head that Marcus had not noticed before. That lady must have had a rough time of it, with that shopkeeper, he thought, as he sought one of the benches until the senior surgeon had time for him. Usually, junior officers were strict in their military courtesy, but with Flavius the patients came before protocol, and his skill allowed this small breech in mlitary manners. Marcus sat on the bench and let the tiredness seep out of his limbs, and watched carefully as they tended the lady. The third capsarii returned with a wooden tray holding the dressing, two glass vials and needles and catgut thread. They helped the woman drink the contents of one of the vials, and as soon as the woman relaxed, the team set to work.

As the medical team finished with the woman her arm was splinted securely and wrapped across her stomach in a comfortable position. She had a bandage on the stitched cut on the side of her head, and her scratches and bruises had been washed and gently swabbed with vinegar. She was asleep now with the opium and a blanket had been spread over her. "Take the women into room number three and put a brazier in there as well," said Flavius, "and have one of the house slaves sit with her. I want to know when she wakes up." The orderly nodded and left the room. The two carsarii lifted the bed carefully off the bench and carried it and the lady out of the surgery. Flavius washed his hands in the basin and walked over to Marcus and seated himself on the bench. "She'll be fine now, the break was a clean one and it will heal in time. I"ll have the room slave get some other clothes for her and wash those she arrived in, if you wish," he said gently to Marcus.

Marcus looked up from the floor. He was suddenly very tired and said, "no, burn the old clothes and I'll get some new ones. I guess that's my problem now." He grinned at Flavius.

"Well, tell me about it, unless you had rather not," said Flavius in a voice of concern. "You don't look all that good yourself. You look exhausted. You want to take a nap here.? Flavius asked, his tone assuming that of a senior surgeon again.

"Uhhhhh, no, but thanks for the offer. I'll get back to my quarters. I have to send someone out for some things for her and make some living arrangements," Marcus said with a tired voice. Flavius smiled, but said nothing.

Later, after sharing some of his adventures with the surgeon, he walked to his office and approached his Optio. "Paulinus, you have a wife here, right?" he asked.

"Uhhh, why yes sir. She followed me downriver from Vindonissa when I was transferred. Why? Is there a problem Sir," replied the Optio with a real concern in his eyes.

"Oh no, I just wondered if she could or would do some shopping for me," said Marcus in a tired voice.

"Sure, I'll tell her right away. What is it that you need?" The Optio looked at Marcus a little oddly. The Navarch generally did not make requests of his staff for personal reasons.

"Just some women's clothes, and whatever a woman, who has little of nothing, needs for the immediate future. And get someone to clean out the storeroom and put bed and lamp in there for the time being!!" ordered the Navarch. He was looking more tired by the moment. Marcus fumbled again in his pouch and found some coins. "Let me know when this runs out, and I'll get you some more." he said with resignation.

"Uh yes sir, Uhhhhhh when will the lady be coming, uhhh sir," asked the Optio. This was new stuff and he wanted to get as much of this information as possible. This was news to share of the best kind with his cronies in the other offices. There was little else to do besides work, here and as the office Optio he was expected to contribute. But up to now with the Navarch there hadn't been much to share.

Marcus turned on the Optio and said patiently, "go and see the senior surgeon and ask him when she can come over, He will know who your are speaking about. Then, deliver the clothes and other things to her and when she is ready bring her over to the storeroom. Have the Carpenter put a bar on the door from the inside!!!. Marcus turned to go, "I'll be laying down for a bit," he said in a low voice, and then turned again saying, "and do you think we can keep a lid on this for the moment, until I can straighten it out?"

The Optio nodded his head, with disappointment,"Uhhh Yes sir, consider it done."

Marcus thanked the Optio and went into his rooms to consider the events of the day. The Optio really liked his boss, but gossip was gossip. He shook his head in disappointment.

Meanwhile Marcus had lain down on his cot. He had never owned a slave in his life, and now he had one, a woman, wounded at that, and what the devil was he going to do with her??? As these thoughts ran through his head his exhaustion caught up with him and he drifted off to sleep.

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