During the next few weeks, Elizabeth encouraged Jacobi to help her around the house, and this did not make the outlaw happy. To his way of thinking, making his bed and doing dishes was woman's work. Wise in the ways of her patient, she did not insist. Instead, she smiled at his bad temper, and went on with her work.
When she smiled, he felt his heart constrict, and after one such day, he found that he wanted to lessen her burden. He went to her and asked, "What do you want me to do?" he said, his voice low.
"Help me make your bed," she replied.
"Like this." She bent and began to smooth the ruffled bedding.
He nodded his head. "I can do that. Hey," he called to her retreating back. "Where are you going?"
"Just into the kitchen," she replied softly. "You can come when you've finished your bed."
They worked side by side, sweeping, doing dishes and dusting. Small things each day, as he grew stronger and stronger. Soon, she taught him to cook simple things, then later still, she gave him the heavier chore of carrying wood.
Jacobi returned from the wood pile, laden with several logs. "This is all the wood in the pile. You need more cut."
"I know," she stated. "I'll take care of that presently."
"You!" he said, half grinning.
Seeing the dimple on his cheek made her heart skip a beat. "Who do you suppose cuts it?"
"Doesn't somebody help you?"
She laughed. "Of course not. I am capable of chopping my own wood."
Jacobi laid down the bundle, and went back outside.
"You're not to chop wood, Jacobi," Elizabeth called after him.
He grunted a reply and went on out the door. When he did not return after a few minutes, she went to look for him and found him chopping. "No! You must stop. It is too soon, and you will injure yourself."
Surprised at her stern tone, he stopped mid-swing.
"Give that to me. You are not to attempt this until I give you permission," she scolded, her face flushed with anger. "Do you understand what I am saying to you?"
Jacobi listened to her, opened mouth. Shocked at first that someone would dare to speak to him in that way, he then found himself enchanted.
Loathing to do so, he handed her the ax, and went to sit in his customary spot under the tree, grimacing a little from pain and exhaustion. He had to admit that she had been right, it was too soon.
He watched her chop, then began to doze before the sound of a child's voice woke him.
"Lizbeth... Lizbeth..." came the frantic cry.
Elizabeth ran towards the child and knelt beside her. "Now, calm down or I won't be able to understand you."
The little girl nodded and took several gulping breaths, trying to hold back tears. "Its Heather. She's in labor and the baby won't come out!
She's in terrible pain! You have to come. Now!"
"I'll come," Elizabeth assured her. "Let me get my things." Elizabeth ran in the house and grabbed her medicine basket. Before leaving, she towards to Jacobi, firing instructions as she walked.
"There is the left over stew on the stove, for your dinner. All you will need to do is heat it through. I will probably be gone all night if things don't go well. Make sure you drink your tea. It's set up for you – just add hot water and let it brew."
When she reached his side, she grabbed his chin and forced him to look her in the eyes, "You are to do nothing while I am gone. If I find out you have, I will thrash you."
Jacobi knew she wouldn't really do it , but nodded anyway.
"Good," she replied. "I'll see you later." She kissed his cheek, then walked quickly down the path after the girl.
Jacobi stared after her as she hurried away. He suspected Elizabeth didn't realized she had kissed him. His suspicion was confirmed when she stopped in mid-stride and turned back to look at him, eyes wide, and hand to her mouth. The child tugged on her dress, reminding Elizabeth of her duty. She gave Jacobi one last look over her shoulder before disappearing in the woods.
Jacobi had plenty of time to think while waiting for Elizabeth to return home. It was an uneasy wait. Her house, usually a happy, place, was empty without her there. He did not want her to come home to a cold and dark house, so he kept the fire burning and watched.
As the evening wore on, he began to worry. He worried that the men who had attacked her before had found her again. Several times, he had walked the path in the direction she had gone, hoping to catch her on her way home, but since he did not know where she had gone, it was a futile and frustrating search. He cursed himself for not going along to protect her, then, later, blamed her for going alone.
He went to bed and turned his back on the door, leaving her to her own fate - not caring what happened. His black temper lasted until he remembered the feel of her lips on his cheek, and the sound of her sweet voice in song. It was no good. He got up, stoked the fire and went out again to search, aching for her to return.
Near dawn, he dozed in his chair by the fire, only to wake again a short time later. Light was just beginning to filter through the trees, and Elizabeth still hadn't returned. He washed and put on fresh clothes. He wasn't hungry, but knew that Elizabeth wanted him to eat properly.
His fears fled with the darkness. He now stood calmly, making porridge and tea, the way she had taught him, and waited for her return. The tea was just ready when a very tired Elizabeth walked through the door. The pale oval of her face gray and drawn.
She put her basket on the table and sat down and he handed her a cup of tea. "Thank you," she said, then lapsed into silence.
Jacobi knelt beside her. She smiled at him, then began to cry.
All his fears of the previous night returned. "Elizabeth," he said quietly fighting a deadly terror, "please, tell me"
In a few moments, she began to speak. "The babe, was to big for her. I could not save her." A tear rolled down her cheek.
An overwhelming sense of relief flooded Jacobi. He took one large finger and wiped her cheek. "At least you saved one of them, Elizabeth, did you not?" he reasoned.
"I am grateful I could save the babe, but it was hard to loose Heather. I loved her very much."
"It is hard to loose a friend," he began, unsure how to comfort her.
Elizabeth shook her head. "Not a friend," she sobbed. "She was my sister."
"Oh, Elizabeth." Jacobi gathered her up in his arms, and held her close, rocking her gently back and forth. He stroked her hair and back while she cried her grief.
She buried her face in his neck, and finding some comfort in his arms, fell asleep.
Careful not to wake her, he carried her into her bed. He laid her down, and longed to join her there. She belonged in his arms, he knew that now. Understood why he had been so tormented when she was gone.
He sat beside her for a moment and briefly kissed her mouth. With a sigh of regret, he got to his then brushed her hair away from her face. Even with nose red and a tear streaked face, he thought her beautiful.
The desire to hold her close was strong. It took all of his strength to leave her lying there as he went out to eat his forgotten breakfast. Afterwards he went outside and started to weed the garden. A task he surpassingly liked doing.
He was so intent on his work, that he didn't notice the Amazon standing in front of him until she hit him, in his sore shoulder, with the butt of her staff. The contact with the staff, made him cry out and his arm go numb. He squeezed his eyes shut, until the pain subsided some then looked up. A tall and powerfully built Amazon stood there, watching him with a scowl on her face. "The Healer?"
"Her name is Elizabeth," he replied.
"That is immaterial. Where is she?"
"It's not immaterial to me." He watched the haughty warrior for a few moments, then added: "She's asleep."
"Good." she said, first looking at the cottage, then looking down at him.
" You are to present yourself to the Leader of the Amazons in five days. Failure to do this will result in your death. Do you understand?"
"Good. Elizabeth," she stumbled over the name, " will accompany you to the meeting. You will watch your manners with the Leader. Speak only when spoken to and do not argue with her. Is this understood?"
She waited only for Jacobi to nod them she turned and left. He turned and looked at the cottage to find Elizabeth standing in the doorway, watching his exchange with the Amazon. She gave him a questioning look as he walked over to her.
"I have been summoned to meet the Amazon Leader. Should I be worried?" he asked.
"I don't know, but I'll have to find you something proper to wear."
Elizabeth went into her bedroom, and opened the large trunk that sat at the foot of her bed. She pulled out new breeches, tunic and boots for him to wear. She even produced some extra clothing for him, and he wondered why?
End of Chapter Two