"Here Rosa, let's see if you can eat some of this broth. It will help you get your strength back." She remarked decidedly.
Rosa looked at Victoria and then over at Andre somewhat hesitantly. Andre cast a reassuring nod at Rosa. "Rosa, you must eat too! You must get your strength back as well." He replied earnestly.
Rosa turned to Victoria and slightly smiled. "Gracias Señorita Escalante. You are most kind." She responded weakly.
Victoria momentarily sat the broth on the beside table and helped Rosa sit up. She lay the napkin across Rosa's lap and began feeding her the both. When she and Andre had finished feeding Rosa and Cassandra, Victoria picked up two glasses containing juice and handed one to Andre. Cassandra and Rosa managed to drink most of their juice and then they lay back in their beds while Andre ate his soup and drank his juice. When everyone had finished, Victoria collected the dishes and started walking back to the kitchen.
Diego and Alejandro had just finished stocking some shelves with much needed food and other supplies and were folding extra sheets and blankets that had been donated, when they momentarily turned their heads toward the front of the tavern in time to hear the loud rattle of a wagon as it pulled up outside the tavern and stopped. They pitched the sheets upon the beds and hurriedly walked to the door in anxious anticipation of what was to come.
As they stepped outside, their eyes fell upon a haggard-looking middle aged man sitting in the driver's seat of the wagon somewhat stooped over still gripping the reins of the horse that he had driven into town. The man released a weary sighed as he sat up. He gathered the reins in his hands and wrapped them around the handle of the break and proceeded to slowly get down.
As he stepped off the last step he slightly stumbled backward as his feet touched the ground. Diego quickly ran up and grabbed the man before he fell and held onto him until he regained his balance. As the man leaned against Diego, he held onto his arm and slightly shook his head and straightened himself. He turned his face toward Diego's and managed a slightly embarrassed smile.
"Muchos gracias señor. I am sorry...I am not feeling too well." He said as he cast a weary look into Diego's eyes. He released Diego's arm and reached into his pocket and pulled out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his face.
Alejandro stepped up beside the man and put a reassuring hand upon his shoulder and cast a benevolent gaze upon the man's face.
"Do not worry señor, we will help you." Replied Alejandro earnestly.
As Diego and Alejandro looked upon the man's face, they were surprised that the man was able to make the trip into town considering his fevered and somewhat weakened condition.
Alejandro was about to usher the man into the tavern when the he quickly turned and began staggering toward the back of the wagon. Alejandro and Diego immediately followed as the man walked up behind the wagon and managed to unhook the tail gate, letting it loosely swing back and forth. As he reached inside the back and pulled back the covers, Alejandro and Diego's eyes slightly widened as they saw a young woman and a young boy about ten or twelve, laying in the wagon with their heads resting on feed sacks, writhing in pain as they shielded their eyes from the light.
Diego momentarily turned and cast an earnest look at the man. "Wait here and I will get some help señor." He responded resolutely.
He quickly ran into the tavern and returned with Felipe and Roberto and the three of them climbed into the back of the wagon and carefully lifted out the woman and the boy from the back. Diego carried the woman, while Roberto carried the young boy and they immediately took them inside the tavern. Alejandro and Felipe wrapped their arms around the man and carefully assisted him into the tavern.
As the four of them entered the tavern with their ailing victims, doctor Hernandez looked up from mixing his medicine and grabbed his medical bag and immediately hurried over to help the group to some nearby beds. After the man and his family were gently deposited in their beds and warm blankets were placed over them, doctor Hernandez immediately took out his stethoscope and began examining his patients. When he had finished he walked over and picked up some cups that he had dissolved some of his medicine in and carried it over on a tray. He handed Diego, Alejandro each a cup and instructed them to give the woman and the boy the medicine as he administered to the man. After they had taken their medicine, doctor Hernandez sighed and took out his handkerchief and wiped his brow. He cast a somewhat guarded look at the woman and the boy and shook his head.
As the man looked up and saw doctor Hernandez's expression, he called out to him and motioned for him to come to his bedside.
"Doctor Hernandez, will my wife and boy be all right?" the man said looking intently at doctor Hernandez through tired and tear stained eyes.
Doctor Hernandez cast a steady gaze into the man's eyes and slowly sat down on the side of his bed. He placed a gentle hand on the man's shoulder and cast a concerned look at the man.
"I will not lie to you señor. Their condition is very serious, but I promise you I will do everything possible to help them. And I will do everything possible to help you as well. Right now it is too early to tell, but we have given you some medicine, and it will take time for it to work. In the meantime, you and your family must get some rest. That is best thing right now!" he replied earnestly.
The man looked at doctor Hernandez resolutely and nodded. "Do whatever you can doctor! My wife and son are all I have. Please don't let them die!" he pleaded as he wiped a tear that was running down his cheek.
As doctor Hernandez looked into the man's eyes, he suddenly felt his throat slightly tighten as he slightly blinked trying to suppress the tears that were threatening his eyes. He slightly shook his head and cast a solemn gaze upon the man's face.
"Sí, I will do whatever I can señor! Now get some rest." He said slightly smiling as he gently patted the man's arm.
He rose from the bed and turned and walked over to where Rosa and her daughter were lying and proceeded to examine them. He managed a smile as he finished his examination and gently patted Cassandra on the arm. Andre cast an anxious look at doctor Hernandez as he grasped his arm and looked into his eyes.
"How are they doctor?" Andre questioned earnestly.
Doctor Hernandez glanced at Cassandra and Rosa and then cast a solemn look at Andre. "Cassandra still has some fluid on her lungs which causes her breathing to be labored and she is still running a fever. As far as Rosa, she is also still running a fever and has some congestion in her lungs. I will tell Victoria to bring you their medicine. It will take time for them to get over this. The more advanced it is, the longer it takes. I can assure you however, that they do have a chance of getting better." He replied as he put a reassuring hand on Andre's shoulder.
Andre released an anxious sigh and smiled as patted the doctor on the arm. "Gracias doctor Hernandez. As long as they have a chance, then that gives me hope! They are my whole life doctor! I would be lost without them!" Replied Andre sincerely. He stepped over to Cassandra's bed and sat beside her and gently caressed her face with his hand and smiled. Doctor Hernandez sighed and slightly shook his head. He glanced over and saw Victoria coming from the kitchen and walked over to her.
"Señorita Escalante, it is time for Rosa's and Cassandra's medicine. Would you mind taking it to them por favor?" He said somewhat wearily as he removed the stethoscope from around his neck.
Victoria put a reassuring hand on the tired doctor's shoulder and smiled. "Don't worry doctor, I will see that they get it! Can I get you something to eat or drink?" She inquired warmly.
Doctor Hernandez eyes slightly brightened as looked at Victoria and smiled. "Sí! That would be nice! Gracias! I suppose I am a bit hungry. I've been so busy, that I didn't realize it until now! Muchas Gracias señorita!" he replied warmly.
Victoria smiled compassionately at doctor Hernandez and walked back to the kitchen and prepared his food. While he waited, he stepped outside the tavern and sat down on one of the benches and lay back and closed his eyes.
As he slept, the visions of his patients drifted through his mind as he looked down upon their anxious stares as they looked up at him searching his face for a sign of hope that they would soon get well. The only thing he could hear himself saying to them was 'I will do everything possible to help you.' But as he looked upon their hopeful faces he wondered if he was saying the right thing.
A dark cloud suddenly drifted over them as doctor Hernandez felt himself stumbling through the darkness trying to find them. His dream was momentarily interrupted as felt a gentle hand upon his shoulder and heard the echo of his name as he was being called back to the present. His eyes slowly opened and he gently rubbed them as he raised up and looked upon the soft gentle features of the beautiful tavern owner as she gently woke him from his brief but restless sleep.
"Oh.....Victoria! I'm sorry, I must have drifted off." He replied wearily as he slightly shook his head and ran his fingers through silver white his hair.
Victoria smiled and shook her head and sighed. "I'm sorry to wake you doctor, but I just wanted to tell you that your dinner is ready. Oh yes, Angelina gave Rosa and Cassandra their medicine, so they are doing fine for now. Diego and Alejandro gave the man and his family their medicine also and fed them some broth and juice. For the moment, things are pretty quiet." She remarked as she gave a supporting hand to the doctor as he rose from his seat.
Doctor Hernandez looked into the warm eyes of Victoria and smiled. He gently patted her hand gazed upon her smiling face.
"Gracias Victoria! You are such an angel and you have the patience of a saint! I doubt that anyone else would be able to put up with an old fool such as me!" He slightly chuckled.
Victoria slightly blushed and smiled as they walked back into the tavern. "You are a good man doctor Hernandez and a good doctor as well. If it hadn't been for you, Felipe may have died! We will be forever in your debt for that!" she replied resolutely.
Doctor Hernandez smiled as he sat down to the table and looked up at Victoria. "I only did what I was trained to do! The rest was up to Felipe and of course you and the de la Vegas." He replied modestly.
Victoria set his food and drink before him and smiled. "But you had the knowledge to make him better!" she affirmed earnestly.
As doctor Hernandez ate, he momentarily paused and reflected upon what Victoria had said. He briefly cast a thoughtful gaze at her and nodded.
"That is true, but medicine and knowledge is only part of healing. It is my belief that the patient must have the will and desire to want to get well as well as the caregivers around them. I have seen cases where a patient on verge of getting well suddenly gives up and dies. It was as if they willed themselves to die!" he explained resolutely.
Victoria put her hand to her cheek in surprise. "Madre de Dios! That is most strange!" she responded shaking her head.
"Sí, it is true! I think a patient's mental outlook has much to do with them getting well!" he replied taking a drink and wiping his mouth.
Victoria gazed thoughtfully around her tavern and sighed. "I only hope these people will have to the will to want to get well! It will take a long time before they get better!"