Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Twenty Seven

They found Robert asleep, beads of sweat dotting his forehead. Diana sat in a chair by his bed reading from a book, taking special care with the longer words, since she was not in the habit of reading anything more complex than maps, messages, or notes from Will.

“In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn't much improved my opinion of them. . .”

She looked up as Libby and Amalia walked in. "Is it time to leave?"

“Soon,” Amalia said, placing a finger against the vein in Robert's wrist. "What's that you're reading?"

"Just a book I found. It seemed easier than having a conversation. Talking was making him tired."

"Everything makes him tired," Libby said. She dabbed his forehead with a rag. "Should we wake him up for his medicine?" she asked Amalia.

"Unless you've got penicillin or sulfa in one of those bottles, rest is more important than anything we can dose him with. Try to give him as little of the opium as possible. It'll only stress his liver. If he can bear the pain, that would be best."

Diana set the book aside and stood up. "I guess we'll come back tomorrow?"

"We'll see." Amalia smoothed the quilts while Libby turned off the bright light and replaced it with a smaller lamp that cast a faint blue glow. After making sure water and a bell were in reach, the two women moved toward the door.

"Are you coming, Diana?"

"I'll be right there." She leaned over the bed and kissed Robert's forehead. His eyes opened. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I didn't mean to wake you up."

"If you're leaving, then I'm glad you did. How else would I say good bye?"

"You don't need to say good bye. I'll be back, and then you'll be saying hello again."

"Too many hellos and good byes would make for a dull conversation," he agreed.

She squeezed his hand. "Auntie will get you well."

"I'm getting better already, having you here."

"Don't talk like that."

Robert scanned her face, but seeing only kindness, he sighed. "The fever makes me sentimental."

"Then go back to sleep. You'll get better faster that way. When you're well, you'll come to camp and we'll ride horses together."

"Yes, of course. Go on, now. I'm tired."

She hurried out of the room and found Amalia waiting at the end of the hall.

"What took you so long?"

"I was just telling him I'd be back soon."

"We'll see about that. He doesn't need you coming around tiring him out."

"I just want to sit with him, is all."

"He's very sick."

"I noticed. That's why he needs his friends."

"You let me decide what he needs, Diana." Amalia put an arm around the girl's shoulders. "Come on. Libby is getting a guard for us so we can go home."

Previous Entry
Next Entry

1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

Seems like Amalia is being a little unkind here. Sure, too many visitors will tire him out, but too few isn't good either.