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Schatz came into the room while we were still in bed and I saw that he looked ill. His face was white and he walked slowly. “Dad, I’ve got a headache,” he said.
“You go to bed. I’ll see you when I’m dressed.”
But when I came downstairs he was dressed, sitting by the fire and feeling cold. When I put my hand on his forehead I knew he had a fever. When the doctor came, he took the boy’s temperature. “What is it?” I asked him. “One hundred and two,” the doctor said. Downstairs he left three different medicines with instructions for giving them. He said there was nothing to worry about and there was no danger.
Back in the room I asked the boy “Do you want me to read to you?”
“All right, if you want to,” said the boy. His face was very white and there were dark patches under his eyes. He lay still in bed and seemed not to pay attention to what was going on. “How do you feel, Schatz?” I asked him. “Just the same, so far,” he said.
After giving him the medicine at eleven o’clock, I went out for a while. It was a bright, cold day, so I took the dog for a walk up the road. When I returned home, they said the boy refused to let anyone come into the room.
“You can’t come in,” he said. “You mustn’t get what I have.”
He was sitting in exactly the same position as before. I took his temperature. “What is it?” he asked. “Your temperature seems all right,” I said. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
I sat down, opened the book and started to read. I could see he was not following, so I stopped. “About what time do you think they are going to take me to hospital?” he asked with tears in his eyes.
“You aren’t going to hospital. What’s the matter with you?”
“Oh yes, I am. I heard the doctor say a hundred and two,” he cried.
“People don’t go to hospital with a fever of one hundred and two,” I explained calmly. “You poor Schatz. That’s a different thermometer, a different scale. It’s like miles and kilometers. Do you remember when we were driving and I explained to you how many kilometers we were doing when you saw seventy miles on the speedometer?”
“Oh sure, I remember now,” he said and the look in his eyes relaxed slowly.
adapted from A Day’s Wait by Ernest Hemingway