When Nora woke up to the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on the rocky road, her ear was aching. At first she tried to keep her mind off the pain by watching for falling stars. But the ache worsened, and Nora twisted and turned under the heavy quilts, forgetting the stars.
“Hold still, Nora! You’re kicking me,” muttered her brother, Emery. “Scoot over. You’re taking all the room.” Nora moved closer to her side of the wagon. It had been fun to spend a week with her cousins in Panguitch. But tonight, with her ear throbbing, Nora wished that she were home in Enterprise.
Trying to protect her ear from the cold air, Nora pulled the covers over her head. Try as she might, though, she couldn’t hold still.
“Your knee’s in my back, Nora,” Emery said, yanking at the covers. “What’s the matter?”
“I have an earache,” said Nora, holding her hand over her ear. “It’s been hurting for a long time. How soon will we be home?”
“Not for hours,” Emery said, sitting up and looking around. “We’re just now to the big stand of cottonwoods. Do you want me to call Papa?”
“No,” said Nora, trying not to cry. “If we stop, it’ll just take longer to get home. If only the wagon didn’t jolt so!”
Emery lay back down. Nora’s whole body stiffened in an effort to be still. The horses plodded on. The wagon jostled and bumped along. With every joggle, the pain got worse. It seemed to Nora that they had been traveling forever. Not wanting to wake Emery again, she gritted her teeth until finally the tears came.
Burying her head deeper under the covers to muffle the sound, Nora clenched her fists, and tried to cry quietly. She managed for a time. Then the wagon started up a rough hill. The wagon bobbled and shook until Nora thought her head would explode. She could no longer control the sobs.
Alarmed, Emery sat up. “Papa! Mama! You’d better see about Nora. She’s in a bad way.”
Papa stopped the horses. He climbed down from the wagon seat. With Mama following, he came around to where Nora was huddled against the side of the wagon.
“Land sakes!” Mama said. “She’s burning up with fever.”
Papa lifted Nora from the wagon. “There, little girl,” he said holding her head against his shoulder. “What’s the trouble?”
“Oh, Papa,” cried Nora, “I’ve had an earache for the longest time! The jolting wagon hurts it so.”
“There, now.” Papa patted her heaving shoulders. “You’ll be all right. We’ll give you a blessing and ask Heavenly Father to make you well. Mama, you hold her while I get the consecrated oil.”
Mama took Nora and sat on a big boulder surrounded by chaparral and sagebrush barely visible in the dim moonlight. Papa found the oil and put a drop on Nora’s head.
Nora was sobbing so hard that she didn’t hear the words of the blessing until Papa got to “in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Papa lifted her from Mama’s lap. She rested her head against his chest. He put his big, gentle hand over her ear and rubbed it ever so tenderly. Nora felt the pain go out of her head and ear.
“There, child, You’ll be all right,” Papa said.
Nora relaxed, exhausted from pain. Her tired eyes closed. Papa put her back into her warm place in the wagon. Mama rearranged the heavy quilts around her. It felt so good to have the hurt all gone.
The wagon seat squeaked as Mama and Papa settled onto it. Nora felt the wagon lurch, and heard the clop of hooves scattering loose rocks. Her mind felt fuzzy with sleepiness. The next thing she knew, Papa was lifting her into her own bed.