Better Off, Part 2

If you missed the first part, it’s here.

For two days Sammy lay burning with fever.  Once or twice he woke up and thought, “I need a doctor.”  But he was too sick to get out of bed, even to make a hot cup of tea.

On the night of the second day, Francesca was walking by Wallow Cove, when she met Reggie coming out of his burrow towards her.  He was frowning with worry.

“Francesca, have you seen Sammy lately?” he asked.

“No,” said she, “but that’s not unusual.”

“I know,” replied Reggie, “but there is no smoke coming up from his chimney.  And there hasn’t been since the day of the ice skating.  I’m afraid something’s wrong.”

Together they hurried down to Sammy’s door and rang the bell.  There was no reply.  They rang again, and Reggie knocked loudly.  But still no one answered.

“Should we try to go in?” asked Francesca.

Reggie paused.  Sammy had not wanted company lately, but then…he had never let his fire go out before.

“Let’s try,” he said finally.

They tried the handle and found the door open.  Cautiously creeping inside, they heard a strange sound.  Following it into the bedroom, they found Sammy tossing and turning as he slept.

“He’s sick!” cried Reggie, springing to the bedside.  “Run get Doctor Greatpaws before it’s too late.”

Francesca ran off, and Reggie started to work.  He covered up Sammy and built up the fire.  He brought a cool cloth for his forehead and boiled water for tea.  He was just bringing in an extra blanket, when Doctor Greatpaws the bear hurried into the room.  Francesca and Reggie waited anxiously in the kitchen for nearly an hour, and finally the kind Doctor came out with good news.

”You found him in time,” he announced with a grave smile.  “He will recover, but will need lots of care.”

“I’ll stay with him,” promised Reggie.  “Just tell me what to do.”

So for two long weeks, Reggie stayed with Sammy, nursing him and feeding him, and reading him stories.  Francesca and Wally and Joshua all stopped by to bring special treats and play games by the fire.

On the fourth day of Reggie’s stay, Sammy was able to sit up in bed.  While drinking his tea, he remembered the winterberries.  Where had he left the basket?

“Reggie,” he asked, “did you find a basket of winterberries?”

“No,” replied Reggie.

“I was out picking them the day I got sick.  Maybe I left the basket outside.”

“I’ll go look,” said Reggie, springing up instantly.  In a moment he was back with the basket of still-frozen berries.   “Would you like me to make you some winterberry tea?”

Sammy looked doubtful.  “Are you sure you know how to crush them right?  Maybe you should just bring them in here and I’ll…No.”  He stopped himself.  “Thank you.  I think we will be better off if you do it.”

And Reggie did.

Maybe he could have steeped the berries a little longer, but Francesca and Joshua dropped in bursting with neighborhood news; and looking around at his chattering friends over the rim of his mug, Sammy thought it was the best cup of tea he had tasted in all his life.

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