Dewey climbed down from the wagon and pulled the needed tools from its bed. He swiped his forehead with his shirt sleeve and looked up at the sun. It was nearing one-o’-clock he figured. By the time this job was over he might need two baths: one to get the grit and grime off, the other to refresh him. Blast. Every time he’d tried to set up a date with Molly something came up. If he didn’t make it this time, she might give up on him altogether. Well, he’d better hurry up if he had any chance of making this one.
It had taken him two hours of driving to find the old well. There was a spring up the hill and an abandoned shed with the roof falling in. The door on the shed hung lopsided from the hinges. There were no houses nearby, only a square perimeter of rotting logs where a house or cabin had been.
The burial site was easy to find. The grass was too short to have been there very long, and it was sparse. The mound was only about eight inches high, Dewey guessed. He put his shovel at the edge of the mound, placed his foot on its rim next to the handle, and pushed. It sunk into the clay earth about four inches and hit rock.
Dewey swiped his brow with his shirt sleeve and moved the shovel another two inches inward and pushed again. The shovel sunk deeper this time without hitting rock. Now he was digging in earnest. The fourth plunge of the shovel snagged a piece of burlap. The deputy moved the shovel over, moving all the way around the mound.
Doc Henry took Fawn’s pulse and temperature. Then he listened to her heart and lungs. His smile was weak as he looked at Nana, Ellen, and Jason.
“She’ll be fine. She’s exhausted, dehydrated, and probably very hungry. When she comes to she’ll no doubt want to eat everything in sight. Let her rest until she wakes up on her own. When she does waken, give her plenty of water. She needs broth and liquids for one full day, then gradually let her eat soft foods like boiled potatoes and pudding, nothing too sweet. She may be nauseated for a day or two. If it lasts longer than that or if she throws up blood, send for me. I think she’s going to fine, though.”
He placed his instruments back in his bag and rose to leave. Ellen and Jason followed him down the hallway, Jason out of propriety, Ellen to pay for his services.
Nana stayed by Fawn’s side.
Joel arrived as the doctor was leaving. Jason walked with Doc Henry to his horse. “You’re sure she’s going to be alright?”
An understanding smile spread across the doctor’s unlined sixty-year-old face. His brown eyes twinkled, showing the only creases at their corners.
“Yes, Jason. I will be very surprised if she doesn’t make a full recovery within forty-eight hours.”
Jason shook the doctor’s hand. “Thanks, doc. I really appreciate. . .” He stopped when he saw Joel.
“What are you doing here?” Jason demanded.
Joel smirked, tilted his head to one side and said, “I should think that would be obvious. I came to see Fawn.”
“Well you can. . .”
Doc Henry interrupted. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. She needs complete bed rest for the next two days. No excitement.”
“Why? What’s wrong?” Joel’s stance turned rigid. He looked at the doctor and glared at Jason.
“Nothing you need to know about.” Jason’s tone was even. His lips barely moved.
Joel ignored Jason and continued to look at the doctor.
“Miss Jackson has been malnourished and dehydrated. The best thing you can do for her is let her rest.” He hung his doctor bag on the saddle horn and prepared to mount.
Joel turned on Jason. “Why is she malnourished and dehydrated?” His voice was tense.