On the first Trustee Day following her complete recovery she appeared, at her own request, before the meeting of the board. In a small, frightened voice she asked them to please send her away to school. She wanted to learn enough to come back to Saint Margaret’s and be a nurse.
The trustees consented. Having assumed the responsibility of her well-being for over fifteen years, they could not very easily shirk it now. Furthermore, was it not a praise-worthy tribute to Saint Margaret’s as a charitable institution, and to themselves as trustees, that this child whom they had sheltered and helped to cure should choose this way of showing her gratitude? Verily, the board pruned and plumed itself well that day.
All this Margaret MacLean lived over again as she climbed the stairs to Ward C on the 30th of April, her heart glowing warm with the memory of this man who had first understood; who had freed her mind from the abnormality of her body and the stigma of her heritage; who had made it possible for her to live wholesomely and deeply; and who had set her feet upon a joyous mission. For the thousandth time she blessed that memory.
It had been no disloyalty on her part that she had closed her lips and said nothing when the House Surgeon had questioned her about her fancy-making. She could never get away from the feeling that some of the sweetness and sacredness might be lost with the telling of the memory. One is so apt to cheapen a thing when one tries hastily to put it into words, and ever afterward it is never quite the same.
On the second floor she stopped; and by chance she looked over, between spiral banisters, to the patch of hallway below. It just happened that the House Surgeon was standing there, talking with one of the internes.
Margaret MacLean smiled whimsically. “If there is a soul in the wide world I could share it with, it is the House Surgeon.” And then she added, aloud, softly apostrophizing the top of his head, “I think some day you might grow to be very—very like the Old Senior Surgeon; that is, if you would only stop trying to be like the present one.”
[Illustration: “If there is a soul in the wide world I could share it with, it is the House Surgeon.”]
A welcoming shout went up from Ward C as Margaret MacLean entered. It was lusty enough to have come from the throats of healthy children, and it would have sounded happily to the most impartial ears; to the nurse in charge it was a very pagan of gladness.
“Wish you good morning, good meals, and good manners,” laughed Margaret MacLean; and then she went from crib to crib with a special greeting for each one. Oh, she firmly believed that a great deal depended on how the day began.
In the first crib lay Pancho, of South American parentage, partially paralyzed and wholly captivating. He had been in Saint Margaret’s since babyhood—he was six now—and had never worn anything but a little hospital shirt.