Struck with Fever
"Where’s Martha, Bell?” Doc Harris asked. He looked down at me and I looked at Jordan.
“She left to find a wandering horse that got out of the barn when the wind blew the doors open.” I lied and my stomach sunk.
“In this cold,” Doc Harris questioned, “Well, how is she looking Jordan?” Jordan came from the fire wiping her hands nervously on her apron. It was a sin to lie and we had committed two in a matter of seconds.
“Just fine, Doc. If I see any trouble I will send for you.” Jordan told and he hesitated before leaving out the door. With more pressing work ahead in bad weather he had no time to waste moving out into the cold to assist the Daniels.
“If you need me I’ll be in my office tomorrow. Tell your brother to come fetch me.” He left pausing once more looking at our wagon hitched out front while I stood at the door grabbing my sweater. I glanced passed him while the door was open. Doc knew we only had two horses and those were it hitched up right out front. He moved from the door anyway not questioning as I hurried putting on my sweater, covering my arms and pulling down my bonnet. I walked out behind him trying to get to the barn in the cold. I watched him as he jumped on the wagon when he called to me. I walked over to him blocking the cold as he lit his lantern. He pulled up my face with his fingers shining the lantern on me observing my healed black eye.
“Your Ma have at you?” Doc asked and I got uncomfortable. I was about to lie again asking God to forgive me in my head, but when the words came out, I told the truth teary eyed ashamed.
“Yes, Doctor.” I answered and he used his thumb to clear my frozen tear asking why?
“I dropped the eggs from the chicken cope,” I told. “She says no haste and no waste.” He let go of me and I stepped down from the wagon wheel folding my arms when it began to snow.
“Your mother says a lot of things, Bell, but never the less try to mind her and try not to drop anymore eggs, ok,” He smiled. “She’s been having an awful time raising you children and I reckon it ain’t easy.”
“Yes, Doc Harris,” I told promising. “I will.” He shook his head riding off down the dirt road. I frantically began to run towards the barn panicking closing the door behind me. I lit a lantern hearing Middle moaning above. I climbed the ladder in the back of the barn calling her name letting her know that I heard her.
“I’m coming sister. I am coming!” Moving around the hay I came to her in the corner tied up against the pillar with nothing on, but her night gown the way Ma left her. I took off my sweater rubbing her legs and her arms, pulling an old potato sack Ma got from the market covering her legs.
“Food, sister. I got food,” I told and she cried.
“Oh, my God, Bell. I’m gone die. Just leave me be.” She was so weak, her head clasped backwards and her eyes closed when she started to lean. I pulled the lantern up and the twine Ma tied her with cut into her wrist and she had lost a lot of blood. She had been bleeding down her arms and her hands appeared to be blue as I seen a rat kicking him over the edge to the main floor. I placed the lantern down trying to find something to cut the twine. Feeling on the floor amongst the hay, I found and old rusty nail and I went at it on the other side of the pillar as hard as I could until it broke. She flopped to the floor right into a bed of hay left in the corner, waking up with no strength.
“Is she there,” She sobbed to me. “Is she in the house?” I answered her yes and she started pushing me away.
“No! Go! No! Tie me back up before she catches you, Bell. Leave me,” She tried to push, but she had no push in her as the tears rolled down the side of her eyes pouring in pain. “Bell, I can’t feel my legs, Bell.” She stated.
“No! Let me untie this twine off your wrist.” I demanded firm. I told my sister to be still as I untied the twine and it was a painful sight to see. She had hog tied marks and would probably have them forever. She wailed from the soreness of them and after, her hands shook so curling them in front of her as I took the food out my pocket giving it to her. Martha told me her wrists throbbed. She couldn’t even hold the bread and pork meat I brought her. I had to feed her, and she barely could do that from her being so cold.
“I didn’t make Patrick sick.” She shivered.
“I know that, you know that and so does the Doc,” I told her. “But she is crazy.”
“But she thinks I did,” Middle cried. “What did I do to deserve this God?”
“You can’t bare it here. It’s time for you to come back inside. Doc has left and Patrick has the Chicken Pox and a slight cold.” I grabbed my sister to pull her up off the cold floor and she sat back down barring her weight.
“I’d rather die.” She said weakened.
“Sister, don’t say such things,” I shouted. “It is not your time to die! I won’t let you!” I pulled her up with all my might and this time she did not resist. Coming down the ladder first, I was frightened she would take a tumble from being so weak holding on with her whole armpit. I was one ladder step behind her as she tried to balance well enough to come down. She made it four steps from the barn floor before I cushioned her fall as Jordan came through the barn door pushing back out the cold. Jordan took one look at her saying she was frost bitten. If not, darn near.