Brad waited until after supper to tell Clark about his grandpa. He was definitely dismayed to hear that he was in the hospital in critical condition, but he was grateful that Brad was going to take him to see his Grandpa John, tomorrow.
Clark was excited but at the same time very worried and sleep just wouldn’t come. He spent most of the night playing the guitar his grandpa had given him and singing the songs he had taught him. He missed having Annie sleeping beside his bed where he could reach down and pat the top of her head. He would see Arf and Annie tomorrow, too.
Because he didn’t sleep much, Clark was ready and in the kitchen long before the time Brad said to meet him. Miss Bessie was already there sipping her first cup of coffee. “I figured you’d be up early. You didn’t sleep much did you?” Miss Bessie had gotten up and was bustling around getting everything ready to prepare breakfast. It was her mission in life for everyone to have a good breakfast before they started their day.
“I’m so happy you’re going to be seeing your Grandpa John, again,” Miss Bessie said. “He’ll know that you are there and I’m sure it will give him the strength he needs to get well, but you must prepare yourself for anything. It sounds like he’s having a difficult time of it.”
“Hang on Grandpa.” Clark continued to send prayers for strength and healing all the way to the hospital in the little town below the mountain where his grandpa lived.
Howard, the man who had found Arf and Rex, said Rex could stay at his place until Mark was ready to leave. With his horse taken care of, Mark decided to take the three dogs to the cabin that night. There was more room there than in the small sleeping space in the horse trailer and he could hall water from the well and heat it up for a bath in the big galvanized tub he had seen. The dogs would be more comfortable, too, especially Biff who was doing pretty well considering he had seen his master taken out on a stretcher. Mark guessed Biff trusted his new friends to do what was right by both of them.
“I just can’t leave you all up here all day by yourselves,” Mark said that first day he drove down the mountain to see how Mr. Sanders was doing. “It’s a long way down and a long way back up here and who knows what’s going on at the hospital. The day might be too long for you to be alone up here. You might have to spend some time in the back of the truck, but I’m taking you with me. Did you all finish your breakfast? We gotta get going.”
Mark parked under a shade tree near the hospital so the dogs could sit in the back of the truck and look around to pass the time. Not knowing what to expect, he walked into the hospital.
Biff: What are we doing? Are we here to pick up my human? Is he still sick? What are we doing? Woofta! What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?
Arf: I wish a cat would latch on to yours. I’ve never been around a dog who talked so much.
Annie: Really Arf? Have you met yourself?
“I’m looking for Mr. John Sanders,” Mark told the lady in charge of the nurse’s station. “He was admitted last night.”
The nurse looked through her charts and finally pulled one out. “Yes,” she said. “Are you a family member?”
“No, I’m a friend. His grandson lives with the family I work for. In fact, he’s on his way and should be here later today.” It would take the better part of two days to get all the way to the cabin, but if they got a real early start and came straight to the hospital, Brad and Clark could get there as early as eight pm.
“I really can’t give you any information,” the nurse said. “I’m only allowed to discuss a patient with a family member.”
“I’ll vouch for this fine young man.” Mark turned to see Doctor Murphy walking towards him. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t read the expression on the doctor’s face.
“Good morning Doctor Murphy. I hope Mr. Sanders did well last night. His grandson will be here late this evening.”
“I see,” the doctor said. “Let’s go to my office down the hall here and I’ll explain what has happened.”