“I told you she woke up and saw me. And that she followed me. But you had to go thinking I lost her. And that she would give up quickly,” said a young voice.
Tawney staggered around to look at the new people. There was a tall boy, a bit older than her, who held the sharp stick. Beside him stood the boy whom Tawney had seen before. As Tawney watched, a girl stepped out and gasped.
“Pierre, look at her. She has no weight at all, and she limps! Take her to mother now. She can do us no harm. And Austen, go now and do your chores. Pipi needs fed and milked, and here you are goggling at a poor, hurt girl.”
The girl looked to Tawney to be around ten, yet the boys snapped to attention. The smaller boy ran like a hornet was after him. And the older boy lowered his stick, grumbling, “But she’s one of the town’s people. They’re always up to mischief.”
The girl rolled her eyes and shouted after the smaller boy, “And don’t forget to groom Bernard. He’s shedding.” Then she jabbed the older boy and stalked off.
The boy, whom Tawney presumed to be Pierre, led her into the house. A woman stood over a pot, slicing potatoes. A door across the room had just closed, and Tawney guessed that the younger girl had gone in there.
The woman turned as they came in. “Pierre, go do something constructive. Help Austin with Bernard, or see if Addy needs anything for Jane. You, dear, go sit over there. I’ll tend to you as soon as I’m done with these.”
Pierre turned and left, and Tawney sat on a bench in the corner. After around five minutes, the woman left the room and came back with a basket. She knocked on the door that the girl had gone through and called, “Addy, come help me.”
Then the woman knelt and removed Tawney’s shoe. “My, I’m afraid it might be twisted, but nothing worse than that. Nothing we can’t fix in a week or so. A cool, wet cloth alone will do wonders for it.” The girl, whom Tawney had not seen reenter the room, grabbed a cloth from the basket and went back outside.
Tawney licked her lips and then whispered, “Why did Pierre seem so defensive against me?”
The woman sighed. “Yesterday, late, one of the people from your village thought Jane was a deer, or something, and tried to shoot her. He had a blow gun and darts, you see, and one of his darts hit her. Luckily, Pierre was there to drag her away, but there was something on the darts that made her sick.”
Tawney knew immediately who it was. Ali was well known for the speed with which she could craft wood. She was a genius at making furniture, wooden figurines, bows, and her personal specialty: dart shooters and darts.
Tawney frowned, “Oh. . . but you know, you’ve been kind to me, maybe I could help her. I think I know the remedy for the . . . herbs he used.” Poison wasn’t the right word, and Tawney didn’t want the woman to get the wrong idea if Tawney used it.
The woman looked at her and smiled, “That would be a wonderful idea, dear. And I really am sorry for the way Pierre acted, but he hates the town’s people. He doesn’t understand. I just hope one day he will.
“You can stay with us until you’re healed.”