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 The Profit Prophet

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Anthony van
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PostSubject: The Profit Prophet   Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:23 pm

Chapter 12

 

The morning found them both again at Ahmed’s. For the first time they noticed that the sign stated in large letters ‘Ahmed’s Restaurant’. They were served tea and a pancake type of bread with sugar sprinkled on it. Neither wanted the goat stew or soup he offered but relented to his enthusiastic pitch for fruit. Ahmed’s preparation and care with the presentation of fresh mango and banana delighted the two Americans. 

Having extricated themselves from his effusive hospitality, Daniel and Naomi headed off hurriedly to the medical centre. The cooler morning air made the exercise enjoyable. They were becoming accustomed to dry, dusty atmosphere, crowded streets and the constant stares of passers-by. And, even the jumbled amalgam of shanty town structures contrasting with quite modern buildings were starting to become a familiar feature.

Little was said between them as they both absorbed the almost convivial atmosphere of locals enjoying the recent, new found security of life in Somaliland.

Daniel ruminated on his spiritual awakening. It was like excising the cancerous growth of pride. He didn’t know it but it would become an oft repeated procedure. More and more he felt unworthy and grateful at the same time.

Naomi also harked back to the previous night. She had covered Daniel with a blanket before she left and noticed he had fallen asleep while reading ‘Mere Christianity’. She warmed at the thought. He was genuinely searching. Although curious about what his stance was, Naomi restrained herself from forcing the issue. She wondered whether it was wishful thinking on her part that he already seemed somehow humbler, gentler.

Glancing at him, it was clear his mind was elsewhere. She decided then that maybe her growing affection was causing her to draw conclusions that were unwarranted.

The two travellers were both shaken from their private musings by the growing clamour. A dusty haze hovered about them, the air redolent with the strong, musty odour of animals.

The camel market was a hectic hubbub of bleating, groaning and bellowing creatures. Billowing clouds of powdery grit surrounded touting sellers and wary prospective buyers. Its transformation from the deserted scene of the previous day was remarkable. The spectacle slowed their progress as both were fascinated by the sounds, sights and smells of this exotic phenomenon.

When Daniel and Naomi entered the medical centre, having replicated their arrival of the previous day with the bell again tinkling their arrival, they found the reception area deserted.

They wandered past the first ward and found Ellen in a treatment room bandaging a young boy’s injured arm.

“Oh, you’re here. Sorry, I couldn’t come,” remarked the nurse after a momentary glance. “I won’t be a minute.” She turned to her young patient.

“Now Hakim, you stay off the football field for a few days, okay?”

“Yes, Miss Ellen,” came the dejected reply.

“Why don’t they go to the local hospital?” Daniel queried after the boy left.

“Most refugees are distrustful of the locals so they come here. Many of the orphans from the children’s refuge come here too; especially for minor conditions. Doctor Rick goes to the central hospital with patients who need critical care. Actually, that’s where Joel has gone this morning. That infection has gotten worse.”

“So the hospital is quite good?” inserted Naomi.

“Not good, but much better than it was. With foreign aid it’s being improved all the time.”

Ellen washed her hands and led them out the back. Under the cover of a metal roof was a four wheel drive. Next to it lounged a tall, wiry, teenage boy.

“This is Rashid. He will guide you to the camp. You can take my truck.”

“Thank you Ellen. I really appreciate this.”

She smiled briefly, flashing her white teeth before turning to the boy. “Rashid, this is Doctor Rick’s son. Remember, I told you about him. His name is Daniel.” The boy nodded.

“Hello Daneel,” Rashid said formally, giving a little bow.

“I want you to show him where the Wajale refugees have gone.”

The boy nodded. “I will show.” As he spoke his dark eyes danced.

Ellen turned to Daniel. “You must be discreet. If there are any cars about, just wait until they go. The authorities want to deport these Ethiopian asylum seekers. They escaped detention and have set up a small community in a town west of here, with some sympathetic expatriate Ethiopian landowners.”

Naomi looked at Daniel. “Do you think I should stay here and help Ellen?” she suggested.

Daniel looked a bit bewildered. He hadn’t been prepared to lose his partner. It suddenly struck him how reassuring her presence had been; how accustomed he had grown to her company.

“I guess,” he answered uncertainly. Then turning to the tall nurse he asked, “How long will it take?”

“Shouldn’t be longer than two hours. Just wait for a second.” Ellen disappeared inside and just as quickly reappeared. “Here’s water and some canjeero. You can put them on the back seat,” she indicated with her hand, at the same time handing him the keys. He looked in the basket and saw that she was referring to something like the pancake bread they had eaten earlier for breakfast. Next to it were some bottles of water.

 

After handing the basket to Rashid, Daniel moved to get in the vehicle. Naomi grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “Be careful,” she whispered huskily. He looked down at her as she forced a tight lipped smile. Naomi then turned and walked into the medical centre. Daniel was left gazing at Ellen who had an odd smile on her face.

“Godspeed,” she said and waved.

The engine rumbled to life and soon there was a trail of gritty sand and wispy dust behind them. Daniel quickly eased off the accelerator as they negotiated the back streets to the main sealed road. Rashid signalled that they should follow the main northwest route out of the city. Initially progress was slow. They wound past haphazard drivers, recalcitrant goats and homemade carts fabricated from recycled car parts.

Driving into the harsh, arid countryside, trucks were again in evidence in both directions. Rashid told Daniel that much of the produce came from this direction. Water scavenged from the broad river beds was abundant, by Rashid’s way of thinking; water enough to grow vegetables and fruit for the region.

Forty minutes into the journey was enough time to hear the boy’s story of despair and hope. His parents were victims of the fighting around Mogadishu and he had been rescued from the child soldier draft by white missionaries. He explained that only Christians could enjoy the hope of a certain promise… “Everyone else they try hard to get to paradise, but they never know,” he put it succinctly. Daniel couldn’t help admire the youth’s buoyant spirit.

“Mister Daneel, you must turn here,” he insisted. Initially, Daniel could barely make out the dirt road veering to the right. The rough track sloped down to the wide sandy course of the river bed and then deviated left to follow the mostly dry water course up stream. Winding past houses of farmers with their rectangular plots. He was amazed that people could eke out an existence in such a desolate environment. Surprisingly some crops seemed to be thriving. Farmers were pumping water from holes dug in the river bed and even from large cisterns constructed in the ground to pool the water.

About a mile up the road Rashid indicated to turn right again and they pulled into a farm with one large house and a number of smaller dwellings. ‘For the workers,’ explained Rashid.

A gaunt, elderly man emerged from one of the smaller buildings. He waved when he saw Rashid and Daniel walk from the four wheel drive.

“Negasi, where is Mr Ali?” began Rashid

“He is with the mangos, amare.” The old man pointed beyond the last row of buildings.

“Thank you Negasi.”

The skinny teenager led Daniel to the orchard. There, near the end of the field, a couple of men were picking fruit while another man, supervising, stood near a few crates already filled.

As they drew near the man called, “Rashid, what are you doing here?”

“Mr Daneel is here to find Doctor Rick,”

“Everyone is looking for Doctor Rick this morning,” he laughed. “You are too late. He has gone with some of our friends to the market.” His careful reference to the refugees did not escape Daniel.

The farmer walked over with a frown on his face. “Why do you seek him?” It appeared to Daniel as if there was an air of suspicion in his question. Daniel took a respectful tone, “Sir, he is my father. It is important I speak with him.”

A pained look crossed his face. His brow was furrowed. “There is trouble in the wind, I believe, Mr Daneel. Two men were here earlier. They said they had a message from his son. I did not think they spoke the truth. Now I am sure. You must go to the market quickly.”

 

Daniel and Rashid thanked him, with the latter saying something in Amharic and receiving a stream of excited vernacular. In the vehicle the boy declared, “Mr Ali is afraid we will be too late. He didn’t tell where your father was going, but unfortunately Negasi told them when they were leaving. He was not to know it was not good to tell.”

His concern now elevated, Daniel jogged to the truck with Rashid trailing close behind.

The return trip was tense and considerably quicker than outbound.  Daniel chafed at the congestion of Hargeisa’s streets. And it got progressively worse as he neared the main market precinct.

Rows of stalls surrounded the intersection of busy roads. In his haste, Daniel stalled the engine pulling into a parking space. He left the car protruding randomly, in a manner axiomatic of local parking customs. Rashid ran off with a wave of his arm and Daniel tried to keep up with the boy, who gave the impression that he knew where he was going.

They baulked and dodged the bargaining shoppers. It was an obstacle course of ducking awnings, sidestepping carts and nearly tripping over ruts in the road. Past hawkers selling shirts, trousers, shoes and a profusion of western fashion accessories; clattering past roadside food vendors and qat sellers, they surged purposefully on into one of the many food produce market areas.  Without warning Rashid stopped. He scanned the tables of fruit and vegetables and the many customers.

Daniel, just about out of breath, searched too. An exclamation of triumph prefaced a rapidly jerking, pointing motion. Following the direction the youth was pointing toward, Daniel could make out the tall form of his father.

Just toward the end of a row of tables with bananas, he was resisting the coercion of two men. One was tall and blond the other shorter, stockier and balding. They were hustling him toward the far end of the souk like marketplace.

“They’ve got Dad!” Daniel cried out involuntarily. He started pushing and stumbling through the milling crowd. Behind him he heard a high pitched shout. For a moment he lost sight of the retreating abductors. Where were they?

Turning about he could see that Rashid now stood on a cart and gabbled loudly in Amharic while pointing accusingly. There were responsive cries and a surge of bodies when the words ‘Doctor Rick’ were mentioned. Daniel saw the knot of people towards where the boy was gesticulating.

Soon a group of Somalis tightened around the three westerners and amidst the crush of bodies, the occasional brandishing of knives and one automatic rifle that appeared from nowhere, the two would be kidnappers were separated from their quarry.

 Daniel called out, “Grab them! Don’t let them get away!” But the summary justice of the locals didn’t extend to the prosecution of the wrongdoers. There was sufficient criminal history among the rescuers for them to resile from involving the local police.

The offenders scurried to their van and pulled away with vengeful sneers in the direction of the crowd and Daniel, who had gotten as far as the edge of the main concourse as they drove off.

A number of men, obviously acquainted with Doctor Treloar, were ensuring that he was uninjured. Others were curious about the cause of such an attack. ‘Had he offended the men? Was there a feud? Were they after money?” The doctor spent his time patiently explaining that he had no idea what it was all about; a story that was looked upon with considerable doubt by the Somalis around him.

Daniel made his way toward his father. Rashid had joined him by the time they were within a half a dozen yards of him.

When his eyes locked onto Daniel’s he froze mid-sentence. He tried to grapple with the absurd vision; an impossible reality. The novel concept of his son being present with him in an African market place gradually gained momentum in his mind.

“D..D…Dan?” he stuttered almost incoherently.

“Yes, it’s me, Dad.”

“What are you doing here?” His voice was breaking and his expression was incredulous. The moment he said it he realised how cold-hearted he sounded. The doctor took the remaining steps and hugged his son.

“It’s good to see you Dan.” He leaned back and gazed at the young man in front of him as if he were some apparition. Another hug soon followed, just to further establish the substance of his presence—he was really there!  

In a land renowned for hospitality it took a while for the idea to form to remind him of his manners; instead he still shook his head in disbelief. The words eventually came, “Let’s go and have a cup of coffee and you can tell me all about…” he paused reflectively, “why you’re here.”

He placed an arm over his son’s shoulder. Just then he noticed the youth.

“Rashid, did you bring my son?”

“Yes, Doctor Rick.”

“Well thank you very much. And I think I owe you a debt of thanks for your stirring up our friends to action.”

Rashid lowered his head coyly and breathed Amharic comments discounting his role. The older man scruffed his head and thanked him again in the boy’s native tongue. The high praise made him glow.

Bustling through the crowd, Daniel’s father was constantly diverted to greet friends and ex-patients. When at last they rounded a corner, there was a café with outdoor tables and chairs scattered between large tubs with shrubs. It was a cosmopolitan, treed, neater corner, away from the structural disarray of the city. The three of them sat down and were immediately addressed by a keen proprietor.

A sudden wide eyed expression change on the doctor’s face surprised the café owner. It was as if a light had switched on in a dark room. Richard Treloar made the mental leap.

“That’s why you are here isn’t it? You knew something was going to happen,” he blurted as their host waited for their orders. Daniel appeared shamefaced.

“I’m sorry Dad. Yeah… this whole thing’s my fault.” His father looked quizzical but turned and patiently communicated their orders, watched till the three of them were unattended, and then waited for Daniel to expand on his statement with the prompt, “Go on…”

Daniel ran his hands through his hair. “It’s a long story. I guess it’s simplest to say that certain people are after industrial processes my associates and I have developed; that the government have listed as restricted by the state secrets act.”

His dad looked nonplussed by the convoluted sentence. Daniel rephrased, “We developed a process and people want to steal it.”

He went on to explain that the easiest way for them to get the information was for Daniel to give it to them. And, from what had happened to them, it was fairly apparent that they had been trying to create a hostage situation.

Daniel, looking somewhat beleaguered, concluded, “After several incidents, we found out that they were going to target you as leverage to get me to cooperate. So Naomi and I jumped on a plane as quickly as possible to come and warn you.”

“No! You’re saying that these guys were going to kidnap me to pressure you?” His father looked unconvinced.

“Doesn’t sound real does it?” countered Daniel tiredly.

 

The doctor then went off on a tangent, latching on to the reference of a travelling companion. “Naomi?”

Daniel sighed, did a tight lipped squint and looked at his father. His father grinned, “Is that another long story?”

“You could say that,” the younger Treloar replied.

He then proceeded to relate the events of the previous few months as they sipped aromatic coffees and ate genuine imported Oreos. Even Rashid, who seemed by western standards to be quite young to be imbibing caffeine, enjoyed the rich brew while silently spectating.

When Daniel detailed the communications they had discovered revealing the extent of the plot, it drew an utterance of disbelief from the older man. He stared at his son.

Daniel stared back. His look, a half grimace, was enough to confirm to his father the seriousness of the situation. He went on to describe their travels to get to Somaliland.

                                                -------------------------------------

 

At the completion of his tale his father tilted his head and with an enigmatic expression asked, “So what induced er … Naomi is it?” Daniel nodded. “What induced her to join this rescue crusade of yours?”

“Mm… well, I guess two things. I needed someone with a genuine reason to come here to hasten my visa application, and also, she…well she actually wants to help out at the refugee centre. She’s a qualified nurse.” He added that as a sort of half-hearted justification that it was all reasonable.

Then he summed up. “So she went through your organisation and they’re taking her on for up to six months trial assignment. Aunt Marcie is sponsoring her.”

“We can certainly use the help,” commented the doctor reflectively as more cogent connections were forming in his mind.

Suddenly his tone became serious. “Dan, after all you’ve said this girl has gone through because she’s been associated with you, was it wise to bring her here?”

The stultifying realisation of the possible consequences invaded Daniel’s thoughts. What had he set in motion? Already two or three, or maybe more columns of dominoes were falling as a result of his precipitous decision making. He had intercepted one course, but other calamities may have been triggered.

“We have to get back,” he announced compulsively as he stood.

His father, hearing the anxiety in his voice, was already rising and Rashid, who had been a passive but engrossed listener, suddenly registered their urgency. The café owner rushed over concerned at his customers’ apparent distress.

The doctor quickly defused his consternation. He paid him immediately with a small pile of shillings and apologised in fluent Amharic that a situation had developed at the centre and they had to leave with unseemly haste.

The other patrons muttered and watched with lethargic disdain, considering the westerners’ behaviour as a lack of decorum for the ‘sacred ritual’ of coffee.

Once he’d seen where Daniel had parked, his father instructed him to wait there until he brought his car around. Then he would lead him out on the fastest route back to the medical centre.

A battered Land Rover soon appeared and both vehicles then fled the city hub as quickly as traffic would allow.

 

Thankfully, the early morning crowd and clamour of the camel market had died down. Remnants of herds of goats and the last of files of camels were trailing toward exits. Daniel barely spared a glance at the dispersing marketers, not averting his gaze from the route to the mission medical buildings. In minutes they were fast approaching the entry.

Both vehicles shuddered to a stop almost simultaneously under the carport like shelter. All three leapt out and ran inside as if anticipating the worst.

Coming through the back the doctor just about bowled over one of the local nurse’s aides.

“Oh, sorry Gabra,” he panted, partly winded by the collision, and then grasping her barely in time before she lost her balance. “Have you seen Miss Ellen or the new visitor, Miss Naomi?”

“No, Doctor Rick, I have been cleaning bed sheets. The doctor trotted down the corridor, glancing into this room and that with Daniel and Rashid close on his heels.

Upon reaching the front entry and having seen no sign of either woman, the tension rose.

“Where could they be?” The younger man almost snapped.

“Ellen’s truck was still in the carport so they can’t be far,” The doctor was trying to convince himself that there was no need to panic.

They rushed across to the residences. Inside the first one, after a cursory glance around the kitchen and dining area Treloar senior called out “Ellen!”

“Naomi!” shouted Daniel almost immediately after his father’s cry.

They rounded the corner to see Ellen standing at the wire screen door at the back, with a cup in her hands. She moved in and was soon followed by Naomi also carrying a cup.

“What’s all the ruckus Richard? Is there something wrong?”

The charge of agitated Treloars slowed down like a toy with a flat battery. Rashid, having diverted to another area, cannoned into the back of Daniel as he raced around the corner trying to catch up.

All at once they were sheepish, searching for a coherent explanation for their flustered entrance.

“Er… we were looking for you. We thought something might have happened to you both.” The excuse for their stampede sounded lame even to the doctor; so he just grinned and concluded, “It’s good to see that you’re all right. Um… is there more tea?”

Naomi twigged that there was more to this noisy intrusion and pointedly phrased the question.

“So, Daniel it sounds to me like you two have run into those nasty acquaintances of ours again.”

“Mm…” Daniel flopped down into a kitchen chair and exhaled tiredly, “Yeah… this time it was the blond guy Ellen mentioned and a short bald guy. We arrived at just the right time, and, thanks to Rashid, the market crowd rescued him.”

“What did you do Rashid?” Ellen asked excitedly.

The teenager was probably blushing but it was impossible to tell. “I just scream bad men are taking Doctor Rick away from us. Stop them. Doctor Rick has many friends. The men let him go.”

The nurse patted him on the head with admiration. “Well done. You were very brave.”

Rashid excused himself citing some errands he had to run. Though it was more likely the attention made him uncomfortable.

The nurse turned to the doctor, “What are we going to do Richard. It sounds like we are not safe anymore. Maybe you should take a furlough until it is safe again.”

“I don’t really want to leave the Children’s Refuge, but maybe you and Naomi should work in the hospital for a while.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose as if thinking were hurting his head.

“Dad, this is serious. I think all of you should leave with us now; until it’s safe to come back.”

“Leave for where?” His father hadn’t quite comprehended the implied meaning.

“I’m talking about going back to the States. They can keep us safe there.”

“No, no that’s out of the question. I’m sorry Dan. I can’t leave here just yet, there’s far too much to do.” His attitude changed as an idea struck him. “I have some friends who might help us though. They can be very handy in dangerous situations.”

Daniel looked perplexed, wondering what his father was getting at.

Naomi deposited cups of tea in front of both men even as the elder of the two was getting up to leave.

“Where are you going?” Daniel was a little baffled by his father’s eccentric behaviour.

“I was about to contact those friends I was telling you about.”

He motioned for him to sit down. “Have your tea first. I’m sure it can wait a few minutes.”

The doctor yielded to his suggestion and eased himself back into his chair.

A smile crept onto his face. He examined the young nurse who had seated herself at the end of the table. “Naomi is it?”

She nodded, biting her lip as she became aware of his scrutiny.

“So, I believe you’ll be staying with us a while.” He surveyed the others before continuing. “Has Ellen shown you around?”

“Yes thanks. And I’ve brought some forms ‘Mission HelpServe’ have given me; if you’d like to have a look at them.”

That triggered a giggle from Ellen. She turned toward Naomi. “I didn’t tell you. I found the email MHS sent. It seems the good doctor hasn’t got around to reading his emails that arrived last week.” She said the last with emphasis as she faced the medico.

Then she told the doctor, “We did rounds together this morning. Then we walked up to the children’s refuge and spoke with Sister.” Ellen beamed with the almost permanent smile that adorned her face.

“Ahh good, I’ll look at the papers tomorrow. So, what church did you go to back home?” His glance strayed across to Daniel as he said it.

“Carepoint, in Boston.” Her eyes tracked across to Daniel as well.

“And you Dan… still a sceptic?” It was clear that the subject had been contentious between them.

The younger man gave half a smile. “I think you’d be surprised. I mean, I’m always sceptical. I think it’s the nature of my job, but I’m slowly coming round. I’ve read lots… but no, I haven’t been to church.”

He avoided saying he had asked God to intervene in his life because it seemed too trite. He didn’t feel any different. How did he know that God had listened; that he’d been accepted?

The doctor ensured he had eye contact with his son when he spoke quietly, “Let me know if you want to talk about it.” His face then became quite animated as he directed his next words at Naomi. “Carepoint. That’s Marcie’s church isn’t it? We still keep in contact you know.”

The girl nodded and shook her head in sequence. “I live in Aunt Marcie’s house,” she announced as if the information was a necessary connection to the conversation.

“So, how do you fit in with Marcie?”

“It’s a long story, but in short; Marcie knew my dad. When both my parents died on the mission field Marcie became a sort of guardian.”

Both Ellen and the doctor appeared quite interested by the last statement.

“Who were your parents?” The senior Treloar pressed.

“John and Gayle Stockton; they served mainly in Kenya,” she added the latter as almost a disclaimer—as if to say you wouldn’t know them.

 

Richard lurched to his feet and dashed out of the building and into the neighbouring structure. The others conjectured as to what set off his remarkable reaction. Half a minute later he reappeared waving a book in his hand and with a look of jubilation.

“Unbelievable! You’re John Stockton’s daughter. This is a record of some of his recollections; becoming a Christian, responding to the call, and some of the things they did in Kenya. You should read it.”

“Is there anything about me?” she asked excitedly.

He put the book down and looked sympathetically at Naomi. “Um I’m not sure… not that I specifically recall.” His voice was dull, realising the disappointment such news would be to an orphaned girl. “I think he just described the hardships of life on the mission station and how he felt a call to help Somali refugees.”

“I remember reading an outline of his normal day and was amazed at the things he had to do. There is a lot of anecdotal comment about his faith journey and the struggles he faced.” His face distorted with the effort of concentration, “I’m not sure if I actually finished reading it.”

Naomi picked up the notebook and thumbed through the pages. She masked her disappointment with a wide-eyed enquiry.

“Can I take this to read now?” She looked up hopefully.

“Sure, I mean it’s your dad’s. Read it anytime.” His eyes also opened wide as his brain clicked into gear. “You should keep it. It’s yours.”

“No, I couldn’t do that.” Even as she said it she looked at the notebook longingly—to have something of her father’s! It was like stumbling across a gold nugget in the barren waste that was her family history.

“I insist,” he firmly intoned. “And not another word,” he further contended with both hands held up in rebuttal as she made to reply.

The doctor stared for a second and then made a tangential observation, “Joel’s not here.”

 Ellen took it as a question and filled him in. “No, he had to go to the hospital. He took Abyan. Remember her. The infection on her leg is quite serious. Anyway, he rang before to say he was staying for the day to help them out a bit.”

“Oh, I was going to show Daniel around.”

“You can still do that.” Her face lit up with her gleaming smile. “It’s fairly quiet and I have Naomi to help.” Naomi added her support when Richard looked at her.

“We’ll be fine.”

The doctor didn’t raise his objections. He wanted to prevent an atmosphere of fear taking hold. But it was still all too clear in his memory what had happened to him, and what he dreaded was still a possibility for any of them. He would make certain that his capable friends were present before Daniel and he went anywhere.

With that settled in his mind the doctor rose from the table to make the contact, only to be cajoled into sitting for a meal before they left.

They had a strange mix of canjeero bread spread with marmalade and peanut butter followed by fresh fruit. It was all consumed with a hot tea. Daniel remarked how tasty the meal was. His father described how in recent years food production along the wadis had become far more efficient, though water supply was still a critical issue.

At the end of the meal, Richard made his phone call. Sauntering in from his office he fussed around and gave Daniel and Naomi random information about Somaliland, its seasons and the local economy. He even showed some maps and places of interest before an old four wheel drive turned in from the street and parked around the back.

It was an unspoken signal. He immediately stopped his delaying tactics and announced that they should leave.

Daniel shrugged, indicating he had no idea what had just happened. When he looked at Naomi and Ellen, they also both appeared baffled by the doctor’s sudden decision. Well, was he ready asked his father?

The doctor was a little too inscrutable for his son. It wasn’t until Daniel had established that his father had seen to the security of Naomi and Ellen that he comprehended what was going on. Only then did both Treloars depart.

Once they had gone, Ellen thought it appropriate to set about instructing Naomi on the routines and resources of the clinic, and get down to the really important business of finding out about the relationship between Naomi and Daniel.

While they sorted through dressings and medications, Naomi tried to explain the complexity of their friendship. Whether it was the shared disinterest in the quest, Aunt Marcie’s conniving or just an attraction based on the openness of their conversations, something drew her to him. Maybe it was a combination of those things with the life imperilling events that had befallen them.

Even as she shared the story it became apparent to Ellen that Naomi’s emotions had so entangled her that there was a touch of desperation in relation to Daniel’s faith journey.

“You’ve just got to step back a bit. Give him some space to make his own decision,” Ellen advised as they demonstrated setting up clean sheets on a bed to a new trainee.

“I’m not even sure if he’s still interested. He was pretty mad when I told him about my plans to serve on the mission field.”

“Oh, he’s interested all right.” Her dark eyes glittered with laughter. Ellen then confided, “I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”

Naomi smiled bashfully.  To her, at that moment, they still seemed so far apart in many ways, and yet they were now inextricably linked by the trust fund and by this venture into the Horn of Africa.
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