The bells chimed, more a tinkle than the rich gong of the church bells which called the village to mass on Sundays.
“Go down to the gate, Alanna. Let who ever is there in. We’ll see what we can do for them.”
“Is this how people ask for you help in healing their woes?”
“Sometimes, and other times my phone rings and it’s the Garda asking me to come to an accident to lay my hands on the injured. Our priest has learned to accept my strange ways as a miracle, even though I know he doesn’t approve privately. But go, I’m in the mood for a distraction from lessons and recipes.”
Alanna ran down from the workshop. The barn it was in had been remodeled, and they worked in what was the hayloft. Below, there were spots for two cars, and behind them an area for preparation of herbs for drying and other uses. She already loved the rich scent lavender and roses as they hung in bunches along the rafters.
Their herb garden had plots between paths of crushed seashells and shale, with low stone walls around each square. She passed it, making note of all the mint family herbs. Most of them were blooming and ready to harvest and dry. Thyme, marjoram, mint, spearmint, sage, as well as basil and oregano were ready to be snipped.
The end square held garlic and tiny pearl onions, and the second crop of Walla Walla onions were almost ready to harvest as well. Those were good for certain recipes which strengthened the heart. She wondered if she would be allowed to use these natural remedies for serious problems as a licensed doctor, and tucked the fleeting thought away. She would use them and prove their worth through research and testing. Sometimes mother nature had the answer.
Hurrying to the gate she pushed it open and stepped through to see who rang the bells. Glancing in both directions she didn’t see anyone, but a covered picnic basket rocked at her feet. The basket had a couple of holes in the side, and a paw poked through with claws extended.
“Poor thing, I wonder what happened to you. Someone thought you were worth saving, but you are so angry.” Alanna said as she considered the problem.
There was no way to pick up the decrepit wicker container without getting scratched. It shook violently, almost turning on its side, before she decided on a spell.
“Calm from me to all I see, sleep and rest would be best, as I will so mote it be.” Alanna whispered the spell as she concentrated on reaching the animal trapped inside the basket. The commotion settled as she picked it up and scanned the street once more. Not a soul in sight.
As she turned to push the gate open, she read the sign. Deep black strokes of a brush dipped in black ink on a stark white background declared her cousin’s calling.
Peel the bells
I will not tell
I will mend your ills
And tend your hurt
Come one and all
I will not judge
Alanna nodded. The words meshed with her calling to heal and she wondered how many Cardamon had helped over the years. Balancing the basket on her hip she disappeared through the gate and brushed her neck with her free hand. Her unseen observer must be the one who rang the bell and left this angry cat for her. The prickling touch of hidden eyes crawled down her back.
A lazy paw slipped through the splintered wicker lath its claws sheathed. She felt the curious touch and pondered the connection she felt.
I know, you’re trapped and stuck in a cage. I’ll help you, heal you. What happened to you? Now that you’re calm, you’re wondering about me. Why to I feel such deep contentment and love? Where did you come from? Never mind. It appears you are going to be mine now.
He observed her, the twin to his daughter. After all these centuries, would she be able to help him find his Muireanne? He retreated from the gate, to hide in the hedgerow. What would she do to calm the raging beast?
The punch of her spell had him crumpling to his knees. She was even more powerful than he thought. Best find a spot to rest, although he wasn’t going to sleep, he knew peace. And since it was rare, he crawled into the center of the bushes and found a spot to lay his long form down. Contemplating the leaves, still green except for a few which were bright red where frost turned them, he relaxed and remembered his one night of passion with the witch of Daes Mumham.
Loyalty to the MacCarthy had cost him. He fought long and true as they retreated westward, eventually holding a line and keeping a fragile piece with the invading Normans. His father’s stories of war with the Viking horde as he grew, made his vow to be a fighting knight the center of who he was.
Now, centuries later, he knew better. Love made fighting a war worthwhile. And he should have promised her he would be back. She never forgave him. And this was the last chance for them. Somehow, this time was the one that must work and get her to change her mind.
Would Alanna help him convince his love to give him another chance? The time was coming when he would be the one to visit in her dreams. Would she understand who he was? And as he pondered, his breathing slowed, and he drifted into sleep and dreams of his Muireanne.
“Well? Who did you bring me?” Cardamon had his back turned to the door.
“Not a who, a cat.” Alanna put the basket on the countertop.
“And who gave him to you?” Cardamon had already lifted the cover off.
“I don’t know who left him at our gate. I could feel them, and my neck still prickles, but he was hidden. I know it was a male, and older, but I never saw him. I had to do a spell to calm the cat. I hope I didn’t catch him with it as well. If he was close enough, I’m sure he’s sleeping it off.”
“This poor boy has been fighting. He’s a big cat. Larger than most.” Cardamon lifted the smoky gray cat out of the basket and laid him down.
The cat batted at him with a sleepy paw, as if to protest his forced nap. Alanna ran her hands over him, looking for injuries.
“He’s got some cuts, one just back of his neck, and his ear is torn. Look at these spots, like a checkerboard on his sides.”
“How strong is this spell?” Cardamon asked.
“It was spur of the moment, so I’m not sure how long he will sleep. He was struggling to get out, and he was trying to reach through those holes in the wicker to scratch me.”
“Then let’s get him cleaned up before he wakes.” Cardamon pulled a jar filled with cotton balls off the shelf above his head. Opening the cabinet to his left and pulled down a bottle of denatured alcohol.
“We’ll turn him over when we’ve got this gash cleaned up. Do you think you can heal it?” Alanna asked.
“I’ve never been able to do more than clean up and stitch the animals. What about you?”
“I already know his name Deataigh. Smoke, but old Irish for it. I’m going to try. As long as it’s surface and not too deep, I should be able to do it.”
Alanna took a moment to center herself and pull her blood stones out from under her sweater. They began to glow as she placed her hands over the deep grey Maine Coon cat. At least that was what she thought he was. The spots made her think of a Bengal, but she thought perhaps both. Maybe a genetic test might be in order to figure it out.
Her hand stroked from one cut to the next as she worked, anatomy of most mammals was similar enough, and there were no broken bones. Deataigh had been fighting, and not hit by a vehicle like she first thought. The torn flesh mended as she went, but when she got his ear, the missing piece was something she couldn’t replace. He would always bear a reminder of his misadventure.
Again, the affection and curiosity she’d felt before, pushed at her mind. This cat was special. He was hers, but much more importantly, she was his.