She couldn't believe the shape of the boy's body. He was terribly bruised and cut, and his right arm and wrist were broken badly.
"Who would do this? Why—?" her voice faltered as she gazed on the unconscious figure before her.
Nick came up behind her with rags and a basin of hot water. Taking a seat beside the bed, he began to gently clean the boy's wounds.
"I don't know Jo." He said, dabbing at a particularly ugly scrape. "Like I said, he was just laying out in the barn when I found him." A minute later he said, "Better send for the doc. I don't think I could set that arm proper."
Jo nodded. Taking a shaky breath, she left the room and went down to the kitchen where Asia, the cook, was preparing supper. "Asia, where's Dan?" she asked in a half-composed voice.
"Out with the rest of the children, having a snow fight I reckon." Asia replied, slicing carrots into the large soup pot. Jo stepped out to the porch. Sure enough, all the children, including Dan, were gathered on one side of the house, busily engaged in a snowball fight.
Jo cleared her throat, then called, "Dan, Dan, come here!" She had to call again before Dan heard her and ran to the edge of the porch.
"Yeah Mrs. Jo?" he asked, panting.
"Nick-Nick found a boy in the barn. He's badly hurt and needs a doctor. Please ride to town and get him."
"A new boy? Yeah, okay, Mrs. Jo. I'm on my way now." And with a flourish, Dan raced toward the barn. Jo saw him ride out a few minutes later, keeping Charlie to a brisk trot as he turned out the gate and down the road toward the barn.
With a sigh, Jo went back upstairs, where Nick had changed the still unconscious boy into a clean night shirt. He was a handsome boy, that could be told despite the bruises. Jo reached forward and brushed his longish light brown hair from his forehead, then pulled her shawl more tightly around her as she sat on the edge of the bed.
Nick looked at her. "You all right?" he asked gently. Jo nodded, her eyes fixed on the boy. "He'll pull through." Nick said confidently. "He's a tough kid, he can take it." Jo again nodded. Nick, seeing that he wasn't really helping very much, lapsed into silence. The two sat beside the bed as the shadows lengthened. Downstairs, Asia called the children to supper and told them what had happened. She refused, however, to let anyone up into the bedroom. An hour had passed since Dan had left, and still there was no sign of the doctor.