Zorro reined in Tornado and deposited Dr. Hernandez and his medical bag in front of the de la Vega Hacienda, graciously thanked him and with his traditional two finger salute, he and Tornado disappeared into the night. Dr. Hernandez shook his head in disbelief and chuckled to himself as he walked up to the entrance and knocked on the door. 'No one would ever believe this!' he thought to himself. As he stood waiting, suddenly he heard the sound of hoofbeats coming up behind him. He turned and saw Diego reining in his horse and hoping off. He walked up to Dr. Hernandez and looked at him somewhat curious.
"Dr. Hernandez, how did you get here so fast? I rode out to your place but you weren't there." Diego replied pretending to be surprised.
Dr. Hernandez looked at Diego somewhat oddly and then shook his head. "Zorro brought me here. He told me about the young boy. By the way, Zorro told me you were here at the hacienda." He stated curiously.
Diego eyed the doctor resolutely. "Victoria and my father stayed with Felipe while I rode to get you. It's fortunate that Zorro that brought you here. It took me a long time to find your place and by the time I arrived, you were already gone. That's why I came back. I must have just missed you!" Diego replied decisively.
Dr. Hernandez nodded and looked at Diego decisively. "Yes my place is rather hard to find at night. I suppose I should think about moving closer to the pueblo!" he surmised smiling.
Soon Alejandro came to the door and ushered Dr. Hernandez and Diego inside. "Thank God you're here doctor, Felipe is not well at all! We've been trying to keep him as comfortable as possible while we were waiting for you." Alejandro replied anxiously.
As the three men made their way upstairs, Diego grabbed his father's arm and looked at him earnestly. "Father how is he?" he inquired anxiously.
Alejandro looked at Diego and shook his head somewhat discouraged. "There's no change. He's about the same." He replied earnestly.
As they walked into the room, Victoria immediately stood up and stepped aside as Dr. Hernandez walked over to the bed. He set his bag on the side of the bed and took out his stethoscope and began examining Felipe. Victoria reached over and brightened the light so Dr. Hernandez could see more clearly. She informed him that the light seemed to hurt his eyes and they had dimmed the lamp. Dr. Hernandez nodded and methodically went about his business.
He gently pulled back the covers and unbuttoned his nightshirt and listened to his chest and lungs, checking for signs of congestion. Then took out his tongue depressor while Victoria held the light, and looked at his throat. He momentarily looked up at Victoria earnestly.
"Has he been coughing very much?" he asked soberly.
Victoria shook her head as she set the lamp back on the table. "Not all the time, but occasionally he starts coughing and I give him some water." She replied earnestly.
Hernandez nodded decidedly. "Yes, keep giving him as much fluids as possible, he can't get dehydrated." Replied Hernandez earnestly, as he continued his examination.
Dr. Hernandez gently pressed his fingers against his neck and under his chin as he checked for signs of swelling. Next he gently pressed on Felipe's sides and his stomach for any internal swelling. As he did, Felipe slightly winced and turned his head. Victoria reached over and gently caressed his face and looked at him warmly.
"Dr. Hernandez is almost finished Felipe." She reassured calmly. She looked over at Hernandez anxiously.
Finally Dr. Hernandez checked his eyes, ears, and nose and then walked over to his bag and took out a small bar of soap he had brought and quickly washed his hands in the basin. He dried his hands and put his soap back in his bag.
Victoria buttoned Felipe's nightshirt and pulled the covers back over him and carefully fixed his pillow. She gently caressed his face and lightly kissed his cheek. She reached over and slightly dimmed the lamp, but just enough to keep the brightness from his eyes.
Dr. Hernandez reached back into his bag and took out a few packets of some of the herbs he had brought and handed them to Alejandro. Alejandro looked at the packets and then at Dr. Hernandez.
Alejandro looked at Dr. Hernandez earnestly. "What's wrong with him Dr. Hernandez?" Alejandro inquired anxiously.
Dr. Hernandez looked at Alejandro resolutely. "It's a bit early to tell. Many of these illnesses start out with a fever, but as they progress, they begin to take on a 'personality' if you will, of their own. I've given you something for the fever and I noticed his throat was very red, which is probably from coughing. I've also given you something for his sore throat too. Has he had any appetite at all?" He asked earnestly.
Victoria spoke up. "He barely ate his soup tonight." She replied anxiously.
Hernandez looked at Victoria resolutely. "If his throat is sore, he'll have a hard time eating. Make sure he does eat! Just give him some broth and plenty of liquids. That will be easier on his throat." He said decisively.
Diego looked intently at the packets that Alejandro was holding and then looked at Dr. Hernandez.
"What kind of medicine is this doctor?" Diego inquired eyeing Hernandez attentively.
Dr. Hernandez looked at Diego resolutely. "I've ground up some bark from the willow bark tree for the fever and sore throat, and in case he becomes worse, I've given you some herbs that I have mixed such as yarrow, ginger root, elder, and boneset. These are also for fevers and any congestion that may arise. Make both of these packets into an infusion and make sure he drinks it three times a day. Hopefully these will halt the fever. If his illness was anything serious, maybe I've caught it early. As I said, it's rather early to tell. I have plenty of these herbs and willow bark, so if you run out, don't hesitate to come and get more. I think I have given you enough for several days, however it depends on his condition. Certain illnesses have an incubation period of two to three days, so we won't know until then what it is. I don't want to make any judgements until I know for sure what he has. The only thing I can treat him for now is the fever. I'm glad you sent for me! He's a very sick young man." Dr. Hernandez concluded, shaking his head.
Diego nodded in agreement. "Yes he is! Thank you Dr. Hernandez! I appreciate what you've done. Since it is so late, why not stay here at the hacienda, and I'll take you back to your place in the morning." Diego responded amiably.
Dr. Hernandez looked at Alejandro and Diego hesitantly. "Are you sure it won't be any trouble? Come to think of it, I'll be able to check on Felipe's condition while I'm here." Responded Hernandez resolutely.
Alejandro looked at Hernandez and smiled. "It will be no trouble at all. We have a couple of spare bedrooms for you and Victoria." He replied amiably. He glanced over at Victoria and smiled at her. "I wouldn't hear of you going back to the tavern this late at night." He added congenially.
Diego looked at Victoria warmly. "Neither would I!" he replied affectionately.
Victoria slightly blushed. "I don't want to be any trouble! Are you sure you don't mind?" She inquired hesitantly.
Diego walked up to her and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and looked at her thoughtfully. "Victoria, I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate you being here! I was so worried about Felipe and having you here, meant so much to me!" he took her hand and lightly kissed it. "Thank you so much!" he said looking warmly into her eyes.
Victoria tried not to become swept away by the way Diego looked at her and it was becoming more difficult as she gazed into his eyes. She slightly blinked and inwardly turned her thoughts to Felipe and managed to smile as she looked at Diego.
"I'm glad I could help. Felipe means so much to me and I would have been sick with worry, not being here to help. I suppose you inviting me here worked out for the best!" Victoria replied resolutely. She suddenly looked at Diego disconcertedly and slightly blushed.
Diego looked at her inquisitively. "What's the matter?" he inquired looking at her intently.