I pushed aside the curtain and ducked into Mother’s tiny room. The scent of herbs had faded, and the room was growing chill.
“Addy,” I ordered my little sister, who was huddled next to Mother, holding her pale, thin hand. “Take that pot and heat it over the fire until it's boiling again.”
Addy gave me a frightened, pleading look, “Is Mother going to get well again?”
“Yes, but she needs that water boiling. Quick!”
Addy heaved on the pot handles and with a grunt lifted the black iron pot. The water sloshed on her a little as she carried it out of the room.
I knelt close to mother, keeping Brother Amos’ diary cracked open in my fingers.
“Poor woman,” said his voice in my mind. “She’s very ill. It’s so good of you to care for her.”
“This is my mother,” I said. Brother Amos should know that. What was wrong with him?
“Ah, I see,” he said slowly, as if confused.
I touched Mother’s forehead, watched her struggle to breathe. Brother Amos had to know something that would help her. “Do you know how to cure her?” I asked in a whisper.
“There is a root,” the voice came haltingly.
“A root? Yarrow? Snapdragon?” My mind combed through the ones he had taught me last summer.
“No, none of those. I can’t recall its name.”
“Try,” I said. “Please!”
There was a long silence.
“I am trying,” Mother whispered, opening her eyes and giving me a weary smile.
She thought I was talking to her.
“I know,” I smiled back, with all my love and strength, wishing I could make her well just by loving her enough.
“It’s rare,” Brother Amos said, “We did not see it all last summer. But I have some stored in my hut.”
I ran past Addy, tying my shawl over my head and tucking Brother Amos' diary in my apron pocket. “I’m going out to get mother some medicine,” I told her. “Keep that water steaming, put the pot near her where she can get some good from it. Watch over her until I get back.”
“Lyssa?” Addy protested. Her eyes begged me not to leave her here alone.
I hugged her tight, “I have to go.”
Outside the world was white, the sky as white as the snow-covered ground. Only a few dark smudges marked the landscape. The low stone wall at the end of the sheepcote, the trees by the river down in the valley, the distant smear of gray and smoke that was the village. I turned my face up into the hills, into the icy wind that scraped at my cheeks. Up there, in the hills somewhere, was the abandoned hut where I had found Brother Amos’ diary last spring. I hoped we could, somehow, between the two of us, remember where that hut was.