Dienstag, 20. Januar 2015

Chapter 2 Part 2
Hörstein 1632 in June

"I know you know your way, Martha, I need it, give me something."
"Ma'am, it's dangerous, you should not take too much."
"I know it, Grete of the herbs, may her sould rest in peace, has instructed me. I am a good student, believe me, bring it to me tomorrow morning, and just be yourself. "
Martha curtsies.
"Go now, Martha."
"Very well, madam."
Deep in thought, Martha goes back. The forest is so light, with all the fresh green, so peaceful it seems. Why does the lady need henbane? It is so dangerous. Grete always warned me, it engenders wonderful feelings, one wants to fly, but just a little too much, then you fly too far, never to return.

Quiet is the house as Martha enters the kitchen. Bastian is working in the field. She goes to the basement to look for the wine. There it is, the wonderful Blackthorne wine, well corked, lovingly prepared. The crock with lavender herbs sit on the shelf. Here she stores her medicinal herbs chamomile, sage, lard and others. Hidden behind the stack of coarse sacks, there are pots with henbane, rauwolfia, and datura, too. Not even Bastian knows of these treasures. Women know about her knowledge, she has helped so many in need. All at secret meetings in the woods. She takes two bottles of the wine, carries them to the kitchen, five times she goes up and down. How I wish I could help my mistress. She is a good lady, struck with this devil of a husband. How they found him for her is a riddle, and now he torments her so. She has no choice. She is at his mercy, as all women around here. He is insatiable with women, no one can stop him. Everyone knows and says nothing.

She plops down on the bench around the stove and puts her hand on her stomach. My child, how will he look like? Bastian is so much looking forward to it. He can hardly wait. Goose-skin covers her arms and her back. She gets up and puts the kettle on the fire. It's so cold still, it's not warm, although it is already June. Let the sheep cold go by and then it will definitely be better. Only the birth… I'm so scared. Maybe I have to die like my mother when I was born.
Since Grete of the herbs died, no trained midwife lives near us.
Only the old Hannah, who serves in the kitchen in the manor house, knows how to bring a child into the world. All other birth competent women they have put to death in Hörstein,  in the witches tower,  through torture, or burnt or drowned. So many suffered in that Hörstein Tower. She crosses herself and says a prayer for their souls. None has been safe, haunted by the Church Men and the powerful Paul Eyles, the Count, the money collector.
Martha shudders as she thinks of all the innocent women, smoldering on pyres in the country that she has seen. If you would even think, Grete was lucky that she died of natural causes in the icy winter, of pneumonia. And was not accused of witchery in these evil times. God has helped her as He will help me, too. No one must know what I know, and that I am familiar with the plants. Every time someone may accuse me and get me.
The water begins to boil. She gets up and throws a handful of raspberry leaf tea into the pitcher, pours on the hot water. That will do me good, hopefully the contractions will not torment me so. Outside she hears hoofbeats, Bastian is back. Quickly she arranges the snack for him, a piece of cheese on a wooden plate, a cut radish, and fresh brown bread she baked yesterday.

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