But Wanda brought home more than just storybooks. She brought home measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, and mumps. One day she came home with a fever, and by the next afternoon she had a red rash over much of her body. Soon the rash disappeared and she seemed to have a cold and she coughed and sneezed and had nose bleeds. In a few days Charlotte had fever; her head hurt, her arms and legs ached, and the air chilled her. The only way Mama knew how to make the fever go down was to wrap the little girl in a blanket to make her sweat.
By morning a red rash covered Charlotte's tummy and neck; she could barely swallow because her throat hurt terribly. She stopped eating because of the pain and Mama told Daddy, "We've got to have a doctor for Charlotte. She's so frail and can't go on without eating." The doctor came the next morning and told them the girls had scarlet fever. He swabbed Charlotte's throat, the pain cutting through her throat like a knife.
Mama tried to cook the things she thought Charlotte would like, but still she wouldn't eat. She became so weak she couldn't walk across the floor. Charlotte knew Mama wanted her to eat, and she was hungry, and the sore throat was almost gone now. But she had gone without eating for so long that even the smell of food made her feel sick. Mama tried mixing vanilla and sugar into milk for her to drink, and added vitamins; Charlotte could smell the vitamins and refused the milk.
And then one morning Daddy went to town and brought home some bananas. Charlotte ate a couple of slices for supper, a half for breakfast, and she didn't get sick. By noon she felt like drinking a small amount of canned peach juice. Gradually she began to eat a few bites more, and gained enough strength to learn to walk again.