“Promise you take care of my wee one; name him Willow Strong. And promise to try to get my body home to my people.” Those were the last words Jade heard from the tiny brown girl lying in the small cave Jade had found to spend a few days in.
On her trek out of San Francisco, Jade had started out strong, but within three months of walking the terrain she was tired and ready to stay in one spot for a week to rebuild her strength. This is when she came upon the girl under a tree, curled in a fetal position and crying. Walking over to the crying woman, Jade bent down and could tell the girl was with child because she had seen many women with large bellies in San Fran and Michael had told her this is where a baby grows. Michael is another story, so we won’t go there today.
Fifteen minutes later, Jade had carried the woman to the small cave she had planned to spend the night in. She opened her backpack and withdrew a water bottle. She wet a scrap of cloth and washed the woman's face. Even though she was inexperienced with many of the human behaviors, Jade recognized the urgency in the girl's voice. Drawing from her two years of study, Jade knew what she had to do.
"No, no," cried the woman, then she started saying words Jade did not understand. She knew it was some type of Indian language, but her Guardian had only trained for the more popular languages
"Ahhhhhh!" The girl screamed as she drew her legs up to her chest. The next thing Jade knew, she was holding a bloody lump that looked like a mini human. Fascinated, she washed off the baby's face and it started to cry. She wrapped the baby in a jacket she pulled from her backpack and handed the bundle it to the girl. Using a length of twine, she cut the babies umbilical cord and then cut him free from his mother.
The baby immediately began to root around on her mother’s chest until it found her right breast and began to suckle. The girl was still bleeding heavily and her breath was labored. Jade knew the girl was going to die, but she pulled some of her medicine pouches out of her backpack and found some powder to help with the fever, but she had nothing to stop the bleeding. Jade continued to rub on the girls belly to make it harden up and pack her with all the spare rags she had to stop the bleeding.
Jade closed the girl’s eyes, removed the tiny baby from her mother’s breast and wrapped him in the warmest blanket she had in her bags. After taking care of the baby, Jade went out of the tent to contemplate her situation. She had not been taught what to do with a dead body. She had been taught very little about babies, but not how to care for them.
First things first, Jade would need to wrap the cold dead body of the mother in something to try and get her back to her people somehow. She had passed an old barn about a mile back; maybe there was something she could use.
She took off running, but only got a few yards when she remembered the baby. She could not leave him alone – what if he started to crying? It could attract wildlife from all around the area. Although it was late fall, Jade had seen a few sprinklings of snow. Jade headed back to the tent and emptied her backpack, but soon realized it was too big to carry the baby in. Next she emptied her messenger bag and snuggled the baby in tight, leaving one end open for air.
Jade slung the strap over her head with the bag in the front to give her more support. “This should do it,” Jade murmured to herself. She realized there was nothing she could do about the little mother, but cover her body and leave her in the cave.
As soon as Jade began running toward the barn, she dropped her glamour to run faster. At the barn she kept her own body shape, because she felt sure the baby was too young to remember the tall, green lady with long strange hair.
The first thing Jade found was some old feed sacks; she could wrap the dead mother in these. Then she began to pull wood from the barn and with the tools found, Jade fashioned a crude sled. Not the kind of sled Michael had shown her in magazines, but it should be good enough to hold everything. She found a good size length of rope in the loft to make a handle for the sled.
The baby began to cry and Jade realized she was hungry, but how was she going to find mother’s milk to feed the child? Thinking more of hydration instead of nutrition, Jade ripped off a piece of clean muslin from inside the messenger bag. Making a little bag, she gently poured some water into it and placed it near the baby’s mouth. At first the baby wiggled and kept turning her head, but soon she had the muslin in her mouth and was sucking down the water.
When the baby had finished drinking the water, she quieted down and went back to sleep. Jade began to pack the sled with the baby and messenger bag, adding the feed sacks. She went out to walk around the barn to look for found. She found a hickory nut tree and began to gather nuts into her shirt as well as a few berries. She went and dumped them into the sled.
Now came the hard part – finding the girl’s family and trying to keep the baby alive while she did. What had she gotten herself into now?