It was relatively quiet in the de la Vega household and Alejandro had just sat down to read his favorite book. Victoria was taking her turn keeping watch over Felipe and Diego was "resting" as Victoria said, after his nightly vigil. So far Felipe seemed to be stabilized for the moment. Diego had given him the quinine that Dr. Hernandez had prescribed and it seemed to be helping with the fever. Victoria occasionally gave him some of the herbal tea she had prepared that Dr. Hernandez also prescribed for Felipe's congestion. With the medication and infusions that they were giving him, he seemed to be on his way to recovery.
Alejandro sighed and opened his book and had just started reading when there came a knock at the door. He shook his head and sighed and closed his book and answered the door. I'll be glad when things get back to normal, thought Alejandro wearily. As he opened the door, Dr. Hernandez quickly stepped inside. Alejandro looked at him somewhat surprised as he closed the door.
"Buenos tardes Don Alejandro. Excuse me for being so abrupt, but I cannot stay long. I came by to check on Felipe. I borrowed a horse from Roberto and immediately rode out here." Replied Hernandez somewhat hastily.
"Is everything all right with Roberto's family?" Alejandro inquired earnestly.
Dr. Hernandez shook his head anxiously. "Roberto's two boys are very ill. By the time he came for me and we arrived at his house, their fevers had become very high. His wife's coughing and headache had become worse. I gave them the quinine and the herbs that I had given you for Felipe, so I'm hoping that will work. Roberto just told me that there was another outbreak near the pueblo so I only have just a moment to stay. I just hope it doesn't reach the pueblo, otherwise we will be trouble!" Replied Hernandez resolutely.
Alejandro shook his head sympathetically and sighed. "Is there anything we can do to help doctor?" Alejandro inquired sincerely.
Hernandez shook his head. "If this gets any worse, we may have to convert the tavern into an infirmary. So far there are just scattered cases. But where there is one there are others! I need to see Felipe!" Hernandez responded urgently.
Alejandro nodded and proceeded to take the doctor to Felipe's room. As they walked down the hall, Diego was just coming out of his room. His eyes somewhat widened as he was momentarily surprised to see Dr. Hernandez.
"Dr. Hernandez, is everything all right? I thought you were still at Roberto's." Diego inquired earnestly.
"I've been at Roberto's for several hours. His two boys had very high fevers and his wife was much worse. I gave them the same medicine and herbs that I gave you, but it will take longer for them to recover. I wish he had come for me sooner. The sooner you treat this condition, the quicker you'll recover. I've stopped by to see how Felipe is. I can't stay long, I just found out there is another outbreak near the pueblo!" He replied guardedly.
"Madre de Dios! This sounds like it's getting serious!" Diego responded earnestly.
"I told Alejandro that if it gets worse, we may have to turn the tavern into an infirmary! So far there are just scattered cases, but this seems to be spreading fast!" Hernandez replied seriously.
Diego and Alejandro ushered the doctor into Felipe's room. As they entered, Victoria was just giving Felipe some of the infusion that she had made up for his congestion.
"Buenos tardes Dr. Hernandez. Is everything all right?" Victoria inquired anxiously.
"I just came by to check on Felipe. I wanted to make sure that quinine was working all right!" He replied earnestly.
He stepped over to Felipe's bed and set his bag down and took out his stethoscope. He unbuttoned Felipe's nightshirt and began to check his breathing. He moved his stethoscope to different parts of his chest and back checking for signs of congestion. Felipe breathed a few deep breaths as Dr. Hernandez continued listening with his stethoscope. Hernandez checked his throat and eyes and then checked his pulse. When he was finished, he covered up Felipe and put away his stethoscope and other instruments.
"How is his appetite? Is he eating all right?" Asked Dr. Hernandez earnestly.
"I think his appetite is improving doctor. We have been feeding him the broth and plenty of juice. He seems to be getting better." Victoria stated smiling.
"I still hear some slight congestion, and his throat is still a bit red. Not as much as before, but still red. However, his fever seems to be going down. Continue with the quinine and the herbal infusion I gave you. I think that should do it! Are you still giving him the willow bark tea?" He inquired.
"Of course doctor! We have been giving him the infusions you gave us. So far they are working." Victoria replied earnestly.
Dr. Hernandez nodded complaisantly. "That is good! I'm glad he is improving! I wish I could say the same for Roberto's family!" he replied shaking his head regretfully.
Alejandro put a reasurring hand on his shoulder and looked at him earnestly. "I'm sure you're doing everything possible to help them. Maybe that medicine you gave them will help them too. It seemed to help Felipe!" He replied earnestly.
"It will definitely take time for them to recover! They had a more serious case!" Hernandez replied. "Well, I need to be going. Oh yes, Victoria, I told Alejandro that if there are any more outbreaks, I might have to use your tavern for an infirmary! I'm hoping these are just scattered cases, but I fear it is getting worse!" he commented.
Victoria looked at him reassuringly. "I would be glad to offer any help you need doctor! If we need to use the tavern, then I will be happy to help out!" she replied amiably.
"Well, I guess since you have already been exposed, it won't make any difference! Have any of you been having any of the symptoms?" he inquired curiously.
"So far we have been all right! None of us have been sick." Replied Diego decidedly.
Dr. Hernandez nodded and sighed. "That sounds encouraging! I would still wait one or two more days just to make sure. By the way, if Felipe feels like it, try to get him to sit up a few times a day. If he wants to, get him to sit in the chair. Not too long at first, but just for a few minutes each day." Dr. Hernandez replied.
Diego nodded. "I'll make sure he does doctor." He replied smiling.
"Well, I guess I'd better be going. As I said, there is another outbreak near the pueblo and I need to check on it! I hope I have enough of this medicine to go around!" he exclaimed anxiously.
"Dr. Hernandez, if you need any help at all, don't hesitate to ask us! We will be more than happy to help you!" Replied Diego sincerely as he put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"Thank you Diego, I appreciate that!" replied Dr. Hernandez earnestly.
Dr. Hernandez wrote down some last minute instructions on the medication, and closed his bag and handed the instructions to Diego. He turned to Felipe and patted him on his arm and smiled.
"Get well Felipe! We can't have you lying in bed forever!" he teased warmly.
Felipe smiled and nodded.
When Alejandro and Dr. Hernandez left Felipe's room, Alejandro generously paid him for his services and walked him to the front door. Hernandez looked down at the silver coins in his hand and smiled and shook his head.
"Really Don Alejandro, this is too much! I don't think I can accept this!" He said modestly.
Alejandro patted him on the back and smiled. "You have earned it doctor! If it weren't for you, we may have lost Felipe! Besides, you can use that money to buy more medicine or new medical equipment. We are most grateful for your services!" Alejandro exclaimed smiling.
"Gracias Don Alejandro! You are most generous!" Hernandez responded smiling. He waved good-bye and promptly left.
As Diego sat on the side of Felipe's bed he cast a warm smile upon Felipe's face. "Well Felipe, it looks like you're going to make it! I'm glad I was able to get doctor Hernandez here in time. Well, actually it was Zorro who brought him" he chuckled.
Victoria looked at him somewhat surprised. "Zorro?" she inquired. "Diego, you mean Zorro brought the doctor here and you didn't tell me ... I mean us?" she inquired amazed as she momentarily corrected herself.
Diego quickly hid the smug look on his face and looked at Victoria somewhat disconcerted. "Well, I think I got lost trying to find Dr. Hernandez's place. By the time I got there, he was already gone! When I came back to the hacienda, there he was standing outside the door! When I asked him how he got here, he said Zorro had brought him! Thank goodness Zorro was around! I suppose he saved your life Felipe!" Diego concluded earnestly as he patted Felipe on the leg and smiled at him affectionately.
"Really Diego!" Victoria began somewhat scolding Diego. "You're father told you to wait until morning! But you're right, it was a good thing Zorro happened to be around, otherwise Dr. Hernandez never would have arrived!" She replied decisively. "I wish I could thank him personally." She added decisively.
Diego looked at Felipe smugly and winked. He looked at Victoria and cast an amiable smile at her. "Maybe you can ... one day!"
Victoria looked at him wistfully and sighed as she slightly shook her head.
Diego's smile faded as a look of concern reflected on his face as he noticed the look in her eyes. He walked over and put his arm around her reassuringly.
"What's wrong Victoria, was it something I said?" He asked compassionately.
Victoria slightly sighed and looked at Diego amiably. "Oh no Diego. I guess I was just feeling a little disappointed for not seeing Zorro." She replied feeling somewhat daunted.
She modestly stepped away from his amiable embrace and walked over and sat down in the chair beside Felipe's bed. She looked at Felipe affectionately and smiled.
Diego inwardly sighed as he managed a slight smile. "Who knows Victoria, maybe Zorro was just as disappointed as you were." He replied decisively.
"What do you mean Diego?" Victoria inquired, as she looked at Diego slightly curious.
Diego slightly shrugged and looked at her somewhat complaisantly. "Well, it's obvious that you and Zorro are ... well ... close! I mean the way you always talk about him! Every time we have a conversation it winds up being about Zorro! You know Victoria, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you were in love with the man!"
Suddenly Victoria's face flushed and she flashed an icy stare at Diego. "Diego de la Vega! I can't believe you said that! You can just get that foolish notion right out of your head! And what if I do talk about him all the time! What concern is that of yours?" She responded haughtily as she crossed her arms and looked at him sternly. Let's see you get out of this one, Diego! thought Victoria smugly.
Diego's eyes slightly widened as a puzzled look crossed his features. "You mean you're not in love with Zorro?" he responded somewhat hesitantly. He put his hand to his chin and cast an intense look at Victoria.
"Just because I talk about him about him, doesn't mean that I'm in love with him! Granted, I am quite fond of him! He's sensitive, caring, gentle, brave, dashing .... "
She trailed as she momentarily paused and looked at Diego reflectively.
"Zorro has done so much for our pueblo and helped so many people. He would not hesitate a moment to help someone in need or rescue someone from danger. Diego, with a man like Zorro, why wouldn't I have feelings for him?" She momentarily paused as she reflected on what she was going to say next.
"Whenever there is trouble in the pueblo, Zorro is always there! The moment he rides in and looks at me with those deep blue eyes of his, it's like he is looking into my very soul!" she slightly sighed and shook her head, as she gazed into the distance with a dreamy look in her eyes. She momentarily blinked and continued. "He has such a commanding presence about him, and yet he's so unassuming! He's not arrogant, or demanding. He's just ... well ... Zorro!" Concluded Victoria resolutely!
Diego glanced over at Felipe and noticed him signing to him. "She loves him!" Diego quickly suppressed a smile that was creeping across his lips and nodded in agreement somewhat earnestly to Felipe. Victoria cast a bewildered looked at Felipe and quickly turned her eyes on Diego with an inquisitive look on her face.
"What did Felipe just say Diego?" she inquired curiously.
Diego slightly blinked as he stood gazing at Victoria reflectively. "Oh, he said he was feeling a bit tired. I think he needs to get some rest!" Replied Diego earnestly.
He walked over to Felipe's bed and patted Felipe on the arm and smiled as he flashed a quick wink at him. "Get some rest Felipe! You need to get your strength back." Responded Diego resolutely.
Victoria nodded in agreement. "Diego is right Felipe! Rest is the best thing for you right now!" She rose from her chair and stepped up to Felipe's bed and bent down and placed a light kiss on his forehead as she pulled the covers up around him and smiled. She reached over and turned down the lamp by his bed and picked up his tea cup that he had drank his medicine from and she and Diego quietly walked out and closed the door.
As Felipe lay in his bed, he mused over what had just transpired between Diego and Victoria and smiled. He wasn't sure why Victoria said she didn't love Zorro when she really did. Maybe it was the fact that Diego had confronted her about it and she was suddenly embarrassed. Whatever the case, Felipe knew that the only thing that Diego had to worry about now was him getting better.
With all the horrible tasting concoctions that Dr. Hernandez was giving him, he could actually feel his strength slowly returning. He knew it was a matter of time before he would soon be out of bed and back helping Diego and taking care of Tornado whom he missed most of all. In many ways, Felipe felt that it was Tornado that was giving him the strength and will to overcome this sudden illness and the fact that Felipe and Tornado were alike in personality. They were both strong-willed and independent, and had an inexhaustible zest for life!