CHAPTER 46 - AUGUST, 30 CE – THE PHYSICIAN’S DIAGNOSIS
Sarah hadn’t much more than put away the day’s purchases and begun the mid-day meal than Dorcas walked into the cooking area. “I wanted to tell you thank you for recommending Benoni. Hamath is well pleased with him. The boy hastens to help whenever asked, looks for work when he might otherwise remain idle, and is conscientious and honest—he even found a silver coin behind a chest of clothing and handed it to Hamath.”
“Yes, he does appear to be eager to help." She smiled. "Martha told me yesterday that when he finished eating the scraps left from lunch—and yes, he ate all of them—he cleaned up the room, and then asked one of the stable boys if he wanted some help.”
Paul strode up to the two women, carrying a wan-looking Tamara. “Good morning, ladies.”
“Good morning Paul and Tamara. My goodness, little one, you look so pale. Did you have a fever last night?” Dorcas raised her hand and brushed back little girl’s hair.
The usually perky Tamara just nodded, laying her head on Paul’s shoulder, one thumb in her mouth. Sarah glanced at Paul, and reached up to stroke Tamara’s cheek. “Would you like a bit of cheese, Tammy?” she asked.
Tamara shook her head and closed her eyes. Dorcas spoke up, “I’m sending for Nicolas.” Her tone brooked no objection. She turned and left the room.
Paul gazed into Sarah’s eyes and shrugged. “What can we do? There’s no hospital. And even if there were, I don’t think they could help.”
Sarah could only nod. She didn’t trust herself to speak. She cleared her throat. “Tammy, would you drink some juice if I made some for you?”
Tamara opened her eyes slightly. “‘K,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Sarah picked up a cluster of grapes from the table, wrapping them in a thin cloth. She placed the grapes into a bowl, mashed them with a pestle, and poured the juice into a cup. With trembling fingers, she held the cup to Tamara’s mouth.
Tammy drank all of it and licked her lips. “Thank you, Mama. It tasted good.” She laid her head back on Paul’s shoulder.
“I’ll bring you some lunch over at our house as soon as I’ve fed the family,” she said to Paul. “Maybe I’ll make Tammy some more juice, too. How does that sound?”
“I’m not thirsty, Mama. I want to sleep some more.”
“Stay awake for a while, Tammy,” Paul said. “Nicolas is coming to see you today. Then you may go back to sleep.”
Sarah stood watching her husband carry their child back through the gate. God, please…
Dorcas returned to the kitchen. “I sent Benoni because I knew he’d run, and they’re already back. Did Paul take Tamara to your house?”
Sarah nodded. “They just left.” She finished serving and cleaning up, then hurried to their home carrying food and drink for Nicolas, Paul, Tammy, and herself.
Nicolas stood talking to Paul who held Tamara on his lap. He glanced up at her. “This looks good, Sarah, thank you.”
The adults ate in silence, and Tamara ate a bite of lamb and drank the juice.
Nicolas finished first, then looked at Tammy. “Perhaps you’d like to take a nap now?” he asked.
“Yes. I’m tired.”
Paul took her in the next room, and the child snuggled under her lamb’s wool blanket, her eyes already drooping toward sleep.
As Paul reentered the main room, Nicolas looked down at his hands, then raised moist eyes to gaze at them. “Tamara is seriously ill. You know that. I wish I could give you good news, but I don’t want to tell you pleasant lies. I fear that Tamara won’t last much longer, perhaps a week, perhaps as much as two weeks. You must prepare yourselves. I don’t know how to help her. Her heart is weak.”
“Isn’t there anything more we can do?” Sarah searched his face for any hope.
He lowered his gaze back to his hands . “All I can tell you is to keep her warm when she is not fevered, and place cool wet cloths on her body and give her willow bark when she is fevered. Try to get her to eat meats and fruit, especially. Even so, though you might prolong the inevitable, I fear the end will be the same.”
Paul nodded. “We feared so.” Paul said. “We thank you for your efforts, Nicolas, even though you haven’t been able to find a cure.”
Nicolas opened his mouth as though to speak, but lifted his hand in farewell and left.
Paul looked at Sarah. “There is one more thing we can do that we—or at least I—haven’t done yet. We can pray.”