To help assuage her nervousness, Miss Bessie had cooked all day. By the time Arf and Mark came in from getting the horses into the coral and barn, there was barely room on the counters or the table. Jamie was busy washing dishes.
The ground was white with hail, but the wind had calmed down and the downpour was now a gentle rain.
Grandma Helen, Brad, Dina, and Steve were still in the waiting room of the hospital where Katie was having her surgery. They still didn’t know if her appendix had burst and if that was the case, had infection set in.
“I finally got through to the ranch,” Brad said. “Arf and Mark were able to get all but two of the horses to safety. Miss Bessie had dinner ready, so they were going to eat before going in search of the two they missed. It sounds like Arf outdid himself again.”
Steve wasn’t listening. He was pacing. Dina was staring out a window.
“I can’t believe we haven’t heard anything about Katie. Have you checked with the nurses station, Steve?”
“None of has checked in the last thirty minutes,” Dina said.
“I’ll go now,” Grandma Helen offered. “Wait! is that the doctor coming?”
Dr. Simpson looked exhausted as he walked into the waiting room.
“Katie is a strong little girl,” he said. “I was more than a little worried about the outcome today, but it appears your prayers have been answered. I believe that with a lot of care, Katie will mend.”
Dina burst into tears. “Excuse me,” she said quietly. “I need to go to the chapel.”
“I’ll go with you.” Brad could sense that Dina really felt alone and afraid. “We’ll be back, soon, Steve. Helen would you like to come with us?”
“Thank you, Brad, but I think I’ll stay with Steve and listen to what the doctor has to say.”
“Doctor Simpson, when can I see my little girl?” Steve asked.
“She is going to be pretty groggy throughout the night. Why don’t you go home and get some rest? You’ve got some tough days ahead of you.”
Steve had some time to think while he and Helen waited for Dina and Brad to return from the hospital chapel. By the time they got back, he had made a decision. He would stay the night at the hospital in case Katie woke up. He hoped that Brad would agree that Dina should stay at the ranch tonight rather than take a bus to where she lived. He also hoped Dina wouldn’t object to him being the one to stay. She could drive Steve’s truck to the hospital the next day, so they would have a vehicle. By the time Katie was fully awake, both her mommy and daddy would be there with her. What happened beyond that, would remain to be seen.
***I decided I really like being a ranch dog. I like horses better than Miss Bessie’s chickens and I haven’t seen one skunk since I’ve been here. Mark and I found those other two horses in no time. Mark only told me to quit being bossy to them twice. They were getting spooked.
Brad, Grandma Helen, and that nice lady got home last night. Steve and Katie weren’t with them which kind of worries me, but on the other hand. Everyone seemed happy, so it couldn’t be too bad. They must have taken her to a place that doesn’t like dogs.
I miss my Katie like crazy, but I’ve been cleaning up around here. I get a good bone every time I turn around. Nobody seems to know who’s in charge of those really good bones so they all give them to me. I’m in dog heaven.
Come home, Katie. Come home Katie. Come home, Katie…
Miss Bessie showed Dina to one of the many empty bedrooms and gave her a fresh nightgown and robe to wear.
Never shy about involving herself in someone else’s business, Miss Bessie asked Dina if she and Helen had had a chance to talk things out.
“No,” Dina said. “I don’t expect forgiveness from her or anyone else. I only hope my baby can see how much I love her. I hope she’ll let me help her get well. I can live without being forgiven.”