'Doctors don't know everything really. They understand matter, not spirit. And you and I live in spirit.'
- William Saroyan -
Extract from Chaper 6. Manolo the Healer
Barley alive and badly mutilated, Pierre has been discovered by the Gypsies who fetch Manola. Manola is a traditional natural healer, one who uses mostly herb and plant lore to perform her cures. As well as her herbal lore, like most natural healers, Manola also have an ancient healing method which are gifted to very few people. Despite the majority of the Gypsies misgivings about the chances of Pierre surviving, she uses her gift to save Pierre.
Datura is a highly dangerous, narcotic plant that has often been and still used as a deadly poison with the more common name 'Devils Weed.' Despite its reputation, when prepared correctly, it can also be a highly effective sedative and combined with its high hallucinogenic properties, it would ensure that over the next few days her patient would remain knocked out and in a deep trance. The thyme was to ensure that any hallucinations during his sedation would be peaceful ones. Knowing her potion would take effect almost immediately and he would unlikely disturb her again, she set about her healing again.
Turning to his shattered arm, she started to clear away the ragged remains of cloth, blood and other accumulated dirt and debris until finally, she was able to inspect the break in a lot more detail. Bad, she thought to herself, her sensitive fingers tracing fully the damage and feeling for the break pattern at both ends of the bone. The break may have been bad, but thankfully it was clean and had caused hardly any splintering of the bone. This is a stroke of luck, thought Manola.
Satisfied she had found the right locations where the break had taken place, she started delicately kneading and massaging the arm.
Slowly at first, she started moving the bones towards each other, her fingers caressing and applying pressure gently but firmly, feeling the shape and structure and attempting to untie the bones back into their rightful position. When she was certain she had joined them together correctly, she set the arm between two rigid wooden splints and bound them tightly. Next Manola went to his knees and started to inspect the damage there. As the right one looked the lesser of two evils, she decided to start with that one first. After some preliminary cleaning of the knee and its surrounding area, she reached for her sharpest knife and cut a circular flap of skin from around the knee. Peeling the skin back, she was pleased to note that the damage seemed to extend no further than the kneecap, which although broken in four places, it did seem to look as though it was repairable. Taking a set of wooden tweezers from her medicine box, she began removing small splinters of broken bone, cloth, dirt and other debris that were lodged into the tendons and muscles. When satisfied that she had cleaned the area satisfactorily, she then placed her hands on his knee, closed her eyes and resumed her strange incantation. For over an hour Manola massaged and kneaded the bone without pause, her busy fingers seemingly working in perfect harmony with the unusual chant she emitted. When she stopped, at last, to look at her work, she felt a small surge of pride. Admittedly, it was not perfect, but under the circumstances it the best that could be expected and at least he would be able to walk on it in the future if of course, he survived. Finally, to complete her work on this leg, she took a needle and some 'catgut' thread and started to stitch the flap she had created earlier back into position, being careful not to let any new dirt enter the wound.
Unfortunately, for the healer, the left knee of her patient presented a much bigger problem. Here the damage was more severe and not only had the kneecap been badly shattered, but there was severe damage to both the cartilage and surrounding ligaments. Still, she thought to herself, we can’t give up on it now. Repeating the same process as with the right, she set about trying to minimise the damage. This time it took her over three hours before she was finally satisfied with her work. Despite her efforts, she knew that the knee had been so badly shattered, it was very unlikely he would ever be able to stand unsupported on that leg again. At last, when she had finally finished with her administrations and knowing there was nothing more that could be done now, she stood and stumbled over to her bed both physically and mentally drained. Lying completely exhausted on her back, she whispered a quick prayer for the stranger, and satisfied she had performed her duty to the best of her ability using nothing but the gifts God had given her, she finally fell into a deep sleep.