When Orlena didn’t appear for breakfast the following morning, Norman rose from his seat with a frown.
“Where are you going, Norman?” Jenelle asked, coming into the dining room at that moment.
“To get Orlena. I told her she was to eat breakfast with us now.”
Jenelle laid a restraining hand on her husband’s arm. “Let me go, Dear. She could be just late as she was Sunday morning.”
“I don’t want to push my responsibility on to your shoulders,” Norman began but Jenelle’s soft laugh cut him short.
“You aren’t. Didn’t you hear me volunteer to go?” Rising to her toes, Jenelle kissed him quickly and slipped from the room. She was feeling much better than she had the night before though when she stopped to notice it, there was still a faint throbbing in her head.
Knocking softly on Orlena’s door, Jenelle wasn’t surprised to hear no answer. Quietly she opened the door and looked in. Orlena still lay in bed.
“Orlena,” Jenelle called, as she gently shook the girl’s shoulder.
A moan was the only answer.
Placing her hand on her young sister’s forehead, Mrs. Mavrich’s face grew troubled. Slipping silently from the room, she returned to her waiting husband in the dining room.
“Well?” Norman asked as she entered. “Is she coming?”
Jenelle shook her head. “I think she’s sick. She feels warm and I only got a moan out of her when I tried to wake her.”
“Sick?” Norman turned towards the stairs. He couldn’t help but wonder if Orlena was pretending to be sick so as to get her own way. However, upon reaching her room, he no longer doubted. The pale face on the pillow, the hot hands and restless movement convinced him.
“I’ll have one of the men ride into town for Doctor French,” Norman spoke quietly, turning to his wife.
The doctor pronounced Orlena sick, but not seriously so. She was to remain in bed and he’d be back to check on her that evening.
Mr. and Mrs. Mavrich followed the doctor downstairs and to the front room.
“What is it, Doctor?” inquired Norman, his arm about Jenelle’s waist.
“Well, I’d say it could be a combination of many things. Tell me, has she eaten three meals a day regularly?”
“Has she had any fits of fright or anger?”
“Yep,” the doctor nodded his head. “Thought so. Temper, obstinacy and a rather delicate constitution can be a difficult combination. Now I’m not saying,” he hastened to add, noticing the looks on Norman and Jenelle’s faces. “I’m not saying that her every whim must be satisfied, for a city bred girl like her would sooner eat cake and drink coffee then wholesome bread and milk.”
Jenelle couldn’t hold back a smile at the doctor’s accurate picture of Orlena.
“Now I’ll give you a list of what she can and should eat and it’ll be up to you to see that she does. Her temper and obstinacy might cause some difficulty in that regard but the Mavrich’s aren’t known around here for giving up during hard times, eh?”
“I hope not, Doctor,” Norman returned the older man’s smile and held out his hand. “Thank you for coming by, sir.”
“Not at all, not at all, Mr. Mavrich. Now,” and he sat down at the desk and wrote rapidly for a minute on a piece of paper before handing it to Jenelle and standing up again. “The list of food for the child. I’ll call again this evening, but should she grow worse don’t hesitate to call me sooner.”
After he was gone, Norman sighed. “Well, I suppose I ought to go and tell Hardrich he’s in charge for the day.”
“Nonsense!” protested Jenelle. “What would you do if you remained at the house? You would be no help in the kitchen, and I have had more nursing experience than you. I’m afraid you would only worry Orlena by constantly tramping up and down the stairs.”
“All right,” Norman agreed, reluctantly. “You are right as usual. If you are sure you feel up to it.” And Norman looked closely into his wife’s face. He didn’t like the idea of leaving her at the house with his sister sick, but what she had said was true. “I’ll come back or send one of the hands to check on you during the day.”
Jenelle agreed to this and handed him his hat. “I’m going up to Orlena,” she told him with a smile, “Have a good day, Dear.”
The day wore slowly away. Orlena was fretful and cross. She didn’t want any chicken broth and the toast was too dry or too soft and all in all acted as the doctor had said. Jenelle kept her voice gentle and sweet and Orlena never guessed just how tired her sister was. The sun continued to blaze and there was no breeze to relieve the heat of summer. As Jenelle sat bathing her young sister’s face, she wished she could lie down for a bit for her own head ached.
Norman sent a message to his wife that afternoon telling her that St. John would cook their supper. That was a relief, for Jenelle had been dreading going back to the hot kitchen. As it was, she didn’t feel as though she wanted to eat again.
When the doctor came later, he said Orlena would come around all right he felt sure, but she should remain in bed for several more days at least. Then he looked sharply at Jenelle. “And what about you? You ought to be in bed yourself.”
“It’s just the heat, Doctor,” Jenelle insisted. “I’ll be all right once it cools off a bit.”
“Humph,” was all the answer the doctor gave before he climbed in his buggy and drove off.
“I wonder if it is just the heat,” Jenelle whispered to herself as she slowly mounted the stairs once more. “It has to be. I can’t get sick now.
Questions that I won't answer?