Again, they woke as dawn broke.

Ailis had tendered beautifully to Inanna throughout the night and had even managed to pop her in a new nightdress. She couldn’t bear to send her off in that soiled and bedraggled rag.

She had gently managed to wash the dried blood from Inanna’s face, arms and legs.

Ailis had wondered who this animal was that could inflict such harm on a defenceless young woman.

“Why she must be no older than nineteen”, she thought.

She had daughters of her own and was immediately drawn to Inanna’s mother. She would be heartbroken to see her little one in this much pain. Ailis would do everything a mother would do to care for this injured soul.

She could see in the lamp light she was a pretty young thing, even under the bruises and scars and prayed not only for a speedy recovery but that one day she would find a soul willing to love her and care for her as she deserved. She also prayed that Inanna’s thoughts of men wouldn’t be tainted by this one vicious encounter.

No woman deserved to be treated this way – ever.

Although Ailis had only spent a night in Inanna’s company she had already grown fond of her and wanted nothing but for her to heal and return to perfect health.

Fergus again had the duty of lifting Inanna to the cart. The villagers had managed to make it a little more comfortable and they had put a cover on it so that it would protect Inanna from the elements.

Ailis packed some food and tea for Micheál and they set out on the long ride to the next village.

The day seemed to drag on and on.

Low and thick, grey clouds covered the light and warmth of the sun and there was a bitter wind blowing head on. It was to be a long and arduous day, made more so by a problem with one of the cart’s wheels.

The road was full of pot-holes and was like thick sludge in some parts due to the heavy rain.

The cart had fallen into a ditch in the road and it seemed it would be impossible to free it.

He worked on it for what seemed like hours whilst also keeping an eye on Inanna. At least she looked stable. He thanked God for small mercies.

He sat by the road, defeated and fearing the two of them would be there all night if no one came along to help. Surely they would freeze to death.

It was now beginning to get darker and as the sun sank, so too did his hopes.

There was nothing else he could do but climb in alongside Inanna. He wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do but felt sure it was the only thing he could do.

His priority was her well-being and it was imperative he kept her warm.