Pierre and Yveline were still asleep when the phone rang about 1000.
“Allo!” he said, not fully aware as to what country he was in.
“Mr. des Cieux?” the girl’s voice came back.
“Yes, it is.”
“It’s Carla. Madeleine is awake. Her fever has broken. She’s awake, soaking wet and hungry.” There was a long silence over the phone. “Are you OK?”
“I’m fine. I’ll be there soon. Thank you.” He placed the black handset back on the cradle.
“What is it?” Yveline asked him.
“Carla just informed me that Madeleine’s fever has broken and she’s awake.”
Yveline looked at Pierre in shock, then turned, bounded from the bed, and yelled, “Raymond! Raymond! Get up! Madeleine’s awake!”
“I’m awake, Maman,” Raymond answered from the other room. Yveline turned her efforts towards Pierre, but even in his state he needed little encouragement. It wasn’t long before the three got to the hospital and burst into Madeleine’s room.
“Papa, Maman,” Madeleine weakly whispered as she, then he enveloped her with their arms. Yveline was sobbing as she held her handkerchief in one hand and Madeleine’s hand in another.
“When did this happen?” Pierre asked Carla as he gained his wits about him.
“I’m not sure,” Carla said. “I woke up about nine thirty and heard her moaning. I got the nurses to check her out and her fever’s gone. They called the doctor but he’s not here yet, it may take a while since it’s Saturday.”
“Well it might,” Pierre mused. He looked over as Yveline pulled one of her famous croissants out of her bag for Madeleine. “She thinks of everything.” He looked back at Carla, who was eyeing it longingly. “I hope you followed your normal custom and brought enough for two young ladies.”
Yveline stopped and looked at Pierre and Carla. “Oh, yes,” she said, handing one to Carla.
“Thank you,” Carla said.
“She usually brings enough with her for our entire office when she comes to visit,” Pierre observed while she took care of her men as well. He then turned back to his wife. “Since Miss Stanley has sacrificed so much in watching over our daughter, perhaps our hospitality should extend beyond this.”
“This was very good,” Carla observed while finishing her croissant.
“I was thinking about that small café about two blocks from here, near the Theatre of the Muses,” Pierre said.
“My parents are supposed to come by here about eleven,” Carla said.
“Call then and ask them to join us,” Pierre replied. “I never miss an opportunity to ‘wine and dine’ my customers, as you say in English. For you and your parents, I must stick with the dining, which is a pity, since I do not know how else to repay you for what you have done for Madeleine.”
“She needed me,” Carla said flatly. “I couldn’t do anything else.” They all hugged Madeleine very gingerly, and left her with Yveline.
It wasn’t very long before the doctor on call that weekend came in. He put his best poker face on when he realised the unexpected turn of events and called the nurse in. Patiently alternating between checking her vital signs and looking at her chart, he finally turned to Yveline.
“Her recovery is quite remarkable, but she is still very weak. She must remain hospitalised until we can run the full battery of tests and ascertain that what we are seeing is her actual trend.”
“So why has her recovery been so rapid?” Yveline asked.
“It’s hard to say,” the doctor replied. “Encephalitis can take many different courses. Obviously she must have a very strong constitution.”
“She comes from strong people,” Yveline explained. “My father was gassed during la Grande Guerre; Pierre’s went through Verdun. He himself fought with Leclerc to take our country back from the Germans; that’s how we met. During the invasion, he found me in our farmhouse.”
“That’s very interesting,” the doctor opined. “But diseases such as this can bring down even the strongest among us.” He scribbled on her chart and, nurse in tow, left the room.
Pierre returned about 1200 with Raymond, Carla and her parents. The Stanleys had brought Yveline some food as well.
“I guess I need to get back home,” Carla said. “We’re supposed to be having relatives in from the mainland. And I’m supposed to be in my church’s Christmas program.”
“So what are you playing?” Raymond asked curiously.
“One of the angels that announces the birth of Jesus,”Carla replied.
“You’ve already been that,” Madeleine said weakly. “Thank you so much.” The girls hugged to the extent they could and cried for the rest, and Yveline did the same with Carla and her mother. The men shook hands and the Stanleys left for the other end of the country.