Sometimes it takes a crisis to make people realize what is truly important in their lives as Diego and Victoria were soon to find out. As the young man lay his fevered child upon the bed and covered her, he pressed the damp cloth to her forehead and looked up into the wise doctor's eyes and searched his face for the answer to his ever present question of WHY! His wife was already feeling the ill effects of the disease as she lay in the next bed near her eight year old daughter shivering under the covers and moaning from the intense pain in her head.
Dr. Hernandez listened intently with his stethoscope to the labored breathing in her daughter's chest and looked at the young man and shook his head.
"Keep her warm." He said eyeing the man earnestly as he put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He opened his bag and pulled out a packet containing the quinine and emptied part of the powder into a cup and poured in some water. He stirred the mixture, making sure the powder was dissolved and handed it to the man.
"Give her half of this now and in two hours give her the other half. I will make up another cup for your wife. Your wife must drink all of hers every two hours as well. Your daughter is very ill, but I will do whatever I can to help. Her lungs are very congested, but I can give her an herbal infusion for that. I think with the tea and the quinine, she may have a chance." He replied resolutely.
The man nodded and lifted his daughter up and raised the cup to her lips and gently prompted her to drink the medicine. The little girl took one sip and turned her head.
"Cassandra, the doctor said you have to drink at least half of the cup!" urged Andre. "It will make you better." He stated somewhat firmly.
"Papa, I'm tired!" Cassandra whimpered as she wrapped her small arms around her father's neck and coughed.
"I know pequena una. After you drink this medicine, you can sleep." He said as he gently hugged her and kissed her cheek. "Be a good chica and take this for your papa so you can be well!" he said as he cuddled her in his arms.
Cassandra slightly coughed and drank the rest of her medicine. Andre lay her back in the bed and pulled the covers around her and kissed her cheek. Cassandra sighed and closed her eyes. Andre gently wiped her face with the damp cloth and sighed. He turned to his wife Rosa and pulled the covers up around her and picked up the cup of medicine that the doctor had mixed for her and supported her head and brought the cup to her lips as she began drinking the medicine. Rosa slightly grimaced and turned her head.
"Please Rosa, you have to drink it all! The doctor said so!" he commented as he cast a concerned look upon her face. As Rosa finished her medicine, Andre gently lay her back on the pillow and smiled. He dipped the cloth in the basin of water and wrung out the excess water. As he sat on the side of the bed beside Rosa, he lightly shook out the cloth and folded it and gently wiped the sweat of the fever from her face. He bent over and kissed her cheek and lay the cloth across her forehead.
"The doctor said this medicine will help your headache." He stated as he cast a reassuring look upon her face.
Rosa reached up and touched his cheek with her hand and managed a smile. Andre kissed her palm and held her hand in his. She glanced over at Cassandra's frail body as she lay sleeping in the next bed. A small tear rolled down her cheek as she heard the grated breathing of her daughter as she lay sleeping in the next bed. She turned and looked at Andre and quietly sobbed as the tears streamed down her face.
"Oh Andre, don't let our Cassandra die!" she pleaded as her tear-laden eyes met his.
Andre kissed her hand and shook his head as the tears swelled in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.
"Rosa, mi querida, Cassandra will not die! Doctor Hernandez said he will do everything he could to help her, and I believe him!" he replied earnestly, as he wiped the tears from his face and kissed her hand once more.
"You must get some rest now querida. I will be right here if you need me." He replied as he gently caressed her cheek with his hand and managed a slight smile.
As he stood up, he glanced around and found a chair and brought it over and set it between the beds and sat down. He set back in the chair and sighed as he reached in his pocket and pulled out a rosary and began saying a silent prayer in hopes his wife and daughter made it through this terrible illness.
Victoria felt a sorrow in her heart as she gazed upon the young man praying for his family. She sighed and slowly shook her head as she glanced around and saw doctor Hernandez standing behind the bar mixing up another batch of the medicine and pouring it into some cups that he had set out. She walked over behind the bar and cast an attentive gaze upon him as she watched him preparing the medicine.
"Doctor Hernandez, I would be more than happy to help dispense the medicine. In fact I was talking to Angelina Reyes and she said she would be glad to help out as well." Victoria replied earnestly.
Doctor Hernandez looked over at Victoria and patted her hand and smiled. "Gracias! That would be most helpful Victoria!" he responded smiling. "You don't how much I appreciate you doing this! You have been so generous and kind from the very beginning! I don't know how I can ever thank you!" he responded modestly as he cast an admiring gaze upon her face.
Victoria slightly blushed and smiled. "I am just glad that I could be of help to you during this critical time doctor." She replied earnestly.
Doctor Hernandez glanced around the tavern and then cast mindful gaze on Victoria. "The way this influenza is spreading, I have a feeling that this young family will not be our only patients. I fear your tavern will soon become full!" he stated resolutely.
Victoria nodded in agreement and sighed. "It is not something that I will be looking forward to, but at least these people will have a place to come to for help!" she remarked compassionately.
Doctor Hernandez smiled and nodded. "And I am forever grateful to you for that señorita!" he replied as his warm experienced eyes peered into hers.
Victoria slightly blushed and cast a modest gaze upon the doctor and smiled. "Well...I should go get Andre and his family something to eat." She flashed a warm smile at the kind doctor and turned and walked back to the kitchen.
As doctor Hernandez watched her walk away, he sighed and shook his head. 'God has truly given us an angel.' He thought to himself as he watched Victoria disappear behind the curtain. He inwardly cleared his mind from his reverie and set the cups on a tray and carried them to a table nearby and set them down. He picked up two of the cups and walked over to Andre and handed him the cups and reminded him it was time for the next dose. Andre nodded and set the cups on a table and turned to his wife gave her slight nudge to wake her. He dipped his rag into the cool water and wrung it out and gently wiped her face. Rosa turned her weary head toward him and cast a somewhat faded gaze at him.
Andre looked into her tired eyes and sighed. "I'm sorry to wake you Rosa, but it's time for your medicine." He replied earnestly.
As she nodded and propped herself up on her elbows, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and supported her as she took the cup and drank the bitter tasting medicine. When she had finished, she slightly shook and coughed as Andre slowly he lowered her back onto the bed. Rosa momentarily glanced over and listened to the rattled breathing in Cassandra's chest, as a harsh cough racked her small frame. She looked back at Andre with fearful eyes and began to cry.
"Oh Andre!" she replied tearfully. She made a motion to try to get up, but suddenly became unsteady as Andre grabbed her and lay her back on the bed.
"It's all right Rosa! I'm going to give her the medicine! You're too weak! Don't even try to get up!" he responded as he flashed a firm but concerned look at his ailing wife.
"I'm sorry Andre!" she responded remorsefully. Andre sighed and brushed a lock of hair from her face and bent down and kissed her forehead. He sat up and cast a compassionate gaze upon her face. "I'm sorry too querida! I just want you to get well!" he replied anxiously.
He moved over to Cassandra's bed and sat down and gently pressed his hand to her forehead and shook is head.
"Cassandra, wake up. It's time for your medicine." He stated softly. Cassandra slowly opened her eyes and coughed again.
"Papa, my throat hurts!" she moaned hoarsely.
He picked her up and held her in his arms and kissed her fevered cheek. "I know my querida, that's why it's important to take this medicine." He picked up the cup and handed it to her. As she took the cup she lay back against his chest and drank the other half of the medicine. She handed him the cup and scrunched her face and shuddered.
Andre pulled a blanket around her and cradled her in his arms. Cassandra looked up at him and smiled.
"Papa would you sing me a song?" she asked in a husky tone. Andre's eyes slightly widened as he looked at Rosa and smiled. Rosa nodded and smiled.
"Sing for her Andre." Replied Rosa softly. "She loves it when you sing to her."
"All right. What would you like to hear?" he asked as he looked down upon Cassandra's weary face.
"That song you always sing when you push me in the swing. I like that song!" She stated as she snuggled up against him.
"All right !" said Andre as he kissed the top of her fevered head. He wrapped his arms around her and began slowly rocking her and softly singing her song.
As Victoria walked through the curtains carrying a tray of soup, broth, and juice for the young family her eyes fell upon the young man singing softly to his daughter. She smiled warmly as she walked up to them and set the tray on a table near the beds. Victoria paused and listened as she was somewhat captivated by the song that Andre was singing to Cassandra. As Andre finished the last verse of the song, Victoria's mind momentarily drifted back to when she was about Cassandra's age and her mother used to sing to her before she would tuck her into bed at night. She gazed warmly at Cassandra wrapped in her father's arms and suddenly felt a tear come to her eye. She quickly brushed the tear away and inwardly sighed. As Andre finished, he looked up at Victoria and cast a concerned look at her.
"Are you all right Señorita Escalante?" Andre inquired earnestly.
Victoria nodded and cast an amiable gaze at Andre and smiled. "Sí, I am fine. I was just remembering when I was Cassandra's age, my mother used to sing to me when she would tuck me into bed. That's a very pretty song. I don't think I have ever heard it before." She replied resolutely.
Andre gently lay his daughter back on the bed and fixed the covers around her. He turned to Victoria and smiled. "It was a song that my mother taught me when I was young. It's just a childhood song, but Cassie has always liked it." He said as he gazed warmly at his daughter and smiled.
Victoria smiled and picked up a bowl of broth and a spoon and handed it to Andre. "I made some broth for your wife and daughter and some soup for you! You need to keep up your strength too señor! We can't have you getting sick also!" She looked at him earnestly and smiled.
"I will take care of your wife while you feed your daughter." She said decidedly. She turned and picked up the other bowl of broth and a spoon and napkin and walked over to Rosa's bed. She carefully sat down on the side of the bed and smiled at Rosa.