Story for the Day: Apple Picking P2
I was stung by a wasp last week. I hadn't been stung in almost twenty years. I had not remembered what a sting felt like, and I don't think I should ever like to endure that again.
She arrived at the line of trees to find the children filling their firkins with apples from the ground. “You realize that your father and uncle,” she said to the Little twins, “will insist on your washing these before any caramel apples are to be made,” but they could not hear her; they were laughing too much over the prospect of Soledhan parading about with a branch in his mouth. “Did you pull that down by your teeth, my love?”
Soledhan grinned and nodded.
“Continue to pick apples that way, and your teeth shall fall out attached to the branches,” said she, kneeling to pick up a few apples from the ground.
Her playful remonstrances, however, were soon shortened when a sharp pain suddenly shot through her finger, causing her to shout and throw the apple in her hand to the side. A wasp, now crushed and crumpled, flittered away from the discarded apple and toward a nearby tree, where it presently fell against the bark and tumbled down to its death.
“By the Gods!” the commander roared, looking down at her swelling hand. “Horrid little-.”
Watching his mother’s hand begin to distend to a darker hue, Soledhan instantly called for help and ran toward his father, who was already leaping toward his mate with a slice of chocolate tart hanging from his mouth.
“Show me where it has stung you,” Rautu demanded, kneeling to his mate. She offered her swollen hand, and instantly did the giant expectorate the tart onto the ground and begin sucking the venom from her welt.
“As pleasant as this is,” said she, wincing in an alloy of agony and delight, “I don’t think that a wasp sting can be cured like the sting of a gharontaa,” but the moment she mentioned the deadly island insect, she was taken up into her mate’s arms, she was being carried to the house, and was being placed inside where no other wasps might find her.
A cleric was called for, ice was brought and applied, and by the time various remedies were prepared, the cleric was arrived and began applying all his powers to decrease the swelling and counter the agonizing pain. Once the swelling was down, the cleric went to the kitchen table to make his remedies, leaving the commander to sigh in relief and marvel at the hand that only a few moments before could barely move.
“Are you all right, darlin'?” said Jaicobh, entering the front room of the farmhouse and sitting beside his daughter.
“Perfectly well, father,” she replied, displaying her mended hand.
“That was quite a holler you gave.”
“I simply wasn't expecting it. I didn't see it eating the other side of the apple. When I grabbed it, my hand must have crushed it. It was thoroughly battered when I threw the apple to the ground. Were Otenohi here, she should have smashed the apple into pulp and the wasp into a thin paste just to be certain of the creature's death.”
“ Lucky for us it's just an apple wasp and not one of those island hornets you’re tellin’ me about.” He sighed. “Let's have a look at it.”
She gave over her hand, and her father made a thorough inspection.
“Just a little swollen,” he decided. “It'll be gone by the morra. Can you move it all right?”
She wiggled her fingers, and Jaicobh was easy again.
“Aye, that’s a good sign,” he acknowledged.
“Certainly not as bad as when we gathered our harvest from the old apple tree,” she said, with a knowing smile.
Jaicobh shuddered at the recollection and looked horrified. “Aye, I remember that. You gave me such a fright. My heart near stopped when I saw those stings all over your hand.”
“I daresay you never ran so fast.”
“Never did,” shaking his head, “Ran as fast as my panic would carry me. My heart near gave out when the cleric told me you could've been in trouble if you had another sting on you.” He paused and shook his head. “A Da never forgets that. Your mother turned white when I brought you home.”
“And there was an end to the apple tree.”
“Aye, she made me cut it down, poor old fella.”
“I don't think she realized that they had moved on to the pear tree by then.”
Jaicobh chuckled, his eyes crinkling with broad smiles, and quietly thanked the Den Asaan, who was hovering close by with a new slice of chocolate tart in his hand, for securing his daughter’s wellbeing.
Presently, the cleric returned with a few sprigs of savory, and after tying them to the wound, he professed his patient healed and gave her a maple sloe from his pocket.
“Thank you, Aoife,” said the commander laughingly. “Regardless of my age, I should never spurn a cleric’s candy.”
“A little sweet now and again’s good for the young-uns,” the cleric asserted. “Much of pain is fright, and fright can be rid of with a candy or two. Now no more frownin’, little Bou,” in a plaintive accent, “don’t have time be frownin’ round here. Too much crop to get in the ground.”
The warning, playfully made, was one the commander easily remembered from the time long ago when she had been less inured to the pain of a sting. She smirked and said, “You old codger.”
“Never forgot that day, young-un,” said the old cleric. “That was the day your Da’s poor heart near broke. I seen that face on many a ma and da afore, but I ne’er seen a man turn so white when I told him one more sting it could’ve been the end of you.”
“You near killed me with that one,” Jaicobh huffed. “I thought my babe was in trouble.”
“Didn’t mean to give you a fright. She was right well after that.”
“Who wouldn’t be with a maple sloe for my sufferings?” said the commander.
She popped the soft candy into her mouth, thanked the cleric for his services, and said her farewells with a shake of the hand and a “You might be here again in an hour hence. Aiden and Adaoire are rather fond of tragedy building character. I daresay a few stings are included in their ideas of character development.”
The cleric laughed and took his leave, promising to remain close at hand in case there were any young boys about whose character required mending after the broken arms, mangled limbs, and missing teeth had done well to begin the process.