“And you’ve had this for four days now?”
“Yes, Doctor.” Andi stared at the doctor’s face and tried her hardest to figure out his thoughts. She couldn’t. She had to ask. “Will I be all right?”
Doc Weaver didn’t look at her. Instead, he released his hold on her arm and turned to Riley. “The dog? He was bitten as well?”
“Yes, sir. I have him tied up in the barn.” Riley stood at the door, hat in one hand, Jared in his other arm. His face was pale.
“There is nothing I can for Andrea at the moment.” Dr. Weaver said. He sighed. “It’s just one of those things we’ll have to wait out.” He faced Andi. “I do ask, young lady, that as soon as you get home, you climb into bed and stay there. The best thing for you right now is rest.”
Numbly, Andi shook her head. “I can’t do that, Doctor. There’s Jared and the housework—”
“You’ll do as Doc Weaver tells you,” Riley interrupted. His voice was firm. His hand clenched his hat, and his eyes sparked their anxiety and resolve. “We’ll stop by Melinda’s on the way home and see what your mother thinks. Either your mother or Ellie can stay and help out.”
“Surely there’s a treatment,” Andi persisted. “Isn’t there, Doctor?”
“Well…” Dr. Weaver sighed. “There is a vaccine out. Louis Pasteur invented it two years ago, and it appears to be working. However, I still haven’t accepted it into my office. I’m always wary about these things. And you’re a nursing mother, Andrea. I’m not sure…”
His voice trailed off. “You could try it, if you and Riley wanted to, but it’d be completely experimental. It healed a boy only nine years of age, but people doubt its capability. Some say it can only worsen situations and the boy’s recovery was an example of extreme luck.”
At the doctor’s words, Andi bit her lip. I wonder if they’ve ever experimented on a nursing mother? What if I were to take it and it hurt Jared?
“You may not have even been infected,” the doctor went on. “Who knows what this new vaccine might do to someone who doesn’t haver rabies?”
Andi gulped. Worse and worse! What if, like the doctor says, it only makes things worse? But then…what if I do get sick and…and die? Where would Jared be then? Oh, God, give me wisdom, please.
She looked at Riley. “What do you think?”
“I’m not sure.” Riley was clearly at a loss. “It’s up to you. However, the doctor seems to be against it, and he knows more about these kinds of thing than we do. Doctor?”
“Like I said, the choice is yours,” Dr. Weaver answered. “I have never used the vaccine series before. I also hear it’s quite painful—21 days of shots.”
Andi didn’t care about the pain. Uh-uh! Not if it meant she could be spared.
“I’ve gone along with those skeptics who say they’re unsure of its effectiveness.” He frowned. “I’m just an old country doctor, not ready to jump into all these new-fangled ideas.”
When neither Andi nor Riley said anything, he went on. “On the other hand, I don’t know if your situation could be much worse. You have a husband, and a baby who needs you. Tell you what. Why don’t I at least send for the vaccine? While I wait for it, I’ll conduct some more research. I’ll bring out to your ranch when it comes. Hopefully,” he added in an undertone, “it’ll arrive in time.”
“Fine.” Andi let out a resigned breath. “Until then, I’ll—”
“You’ll rest, eat plenty, and keep up your strength like a good girl.” Dr. Weaver clapped her shoulder. “You’re a strong young lady, and I’m sure you’ll beat this thing. You’ll soon be right as rain.”
But, despite the strong tone of Dr. Weaver’s voice, even Andi could read between the lines. He’s scared. She swallowed. He doesn’t know what to tell me.
Andi slid down from the exam table and joined Riley at the door. He’d plopped his hat on his head and his hand gripped hers as he asked the doctor, “How long…’til we know?”
Dr. Weaver let out a breath. “It’s too early to tell quite yet. That’s why I asked about the dog. Watch him. For a dog, it takes about ten days. Within that time, if he doesn’t act mad, there’s a good chance he hasn’t caught it, and there’s an even better chance that Andrea hasn’t.”
He released another whoosh of air and rubbed a hand against his forehead. “However, we won’t know for certain for a while yet. It takes three to eight weeks for a human to start showing symptoms.” He paused. “But if the dog shows signs, we don’t wait for any symptoms in you. For sure we’ll have to forge ahead with the vaccine.”
“But I can’t stay in bed that—”
“Rabies is fatal in humans once the symptoms appear.”
Andi closed her mouth.
Riley gave her hand a tight, almost painful, squeeze. Ge nodded at Dr. Weaver. “Thanks.”
“There. Now, you rest up, and don’t worry about a thing.”
Mother tucked the covers around her youngest daughter and smiled sorrowfully. “I’ll take care of the house and Riley, sweetheart. All you have to do is promise me you’ll follow Doc Weaver’s orders and stay in bed. That shouldn’t be so hard, should it? Just stay in bed and get waited on—”
“Mother,” Andi broke in. “Am I going to get sick?”
“I don’t know.” Mother rested her cool hand against Andi’s cheek. “Only God knows. And we’re going to pray hard that He keeps you safe.”
Andi’s lip trembled. “What if He doesn’t? Oh, Mother, I don’t want to leave Riley and Jared and—”
“Hush, Andrea.” Mother laid her finger across Andi’s lips. “Don’t go borrowing trouble. ‘With God, all things are possible.’ If it His will, you can be spared, Andrea. You can.” Mother’s voice shook, and it sounded as if she needed the reassurances as much as Andi did, if not more.
Placing a hand over her mouth and blinking back tears, Mother turned and left the room.
Andi rolled over in bed. Oh, God, please…