CURABLES AND INCURABLES
No one who entered the board-room that late afternoon remembered that it was May Eve; and even had he remembered, it would have amounted to nothing more than the mental process of association. It would not have given him the faintest presentiment that at that very moment the Little People were busy pressing their cloth-o’-dream mantles and reblocking their wishing-caps; that the instant the sun went down the spell would be off the faery raths, setting them free all over the world, and that the gates of Tir-na-n’Og would be open wide for mortals to wander back again. No, not one of the board remembered; the trustees sat looking straight at the primroses and saw nothing, felt nothing, guessed nothing.
They were not unusual types of trustees who served on the board of Saint Margaret’s. You could find one or more of them duplicated in the directors’ book of nearly any charitable institution, if you hunted for them; the strange part was, perhaps, that they were gathered together in a single unit of power. Besides the Oldest and the Meanest Trustees, there were the Executive, the Social, the Disagreeable, the Busiest, the Dominating, the Calculating, the Petty, and the Youngest and Prettiest. She came fluttering in a minute late from her tea; and right after her came the little gray wisp of a woman, who sat down in a chair by the door so unpretentiously as to make it appear as though she did not belong among them. When the others saw her they nodded distantly: they had just been talking about her.
It seemed that she was the widow of the Richest Trustee. The board had elected her to fill her husband’s place lest the annual check of ten thousand—a necessary item on Saint Margaret’s books—might not be forthcoming; and this was her first meeting. It was, in fact, her first visit to the hospital. She could never bear to come during her husband’s trusteeship because, children having been denied her, she had wished to avoid them wherever and whenever she could, and spare herself the pain their suggestion always brought her. She would not have come now, but that her husband’s memory seemed to require it of her.
For years gossip had been busy with the wife of the Richest Trustee—as the widow she did not relax her hold. What the trustees said that day they only repeated from gossip: the little gray wisp of a woman was a nonentity—nothing more—with the spirit of a mouse. She held no position in society, and what she did with her time or her money no one knew. The trustees smiled inwardly and reckoned silently with themselves; at least they would never need to fear opposition from her on any matter of importance.
The last person of all to enter the boardroom was the Senior Surgeon. The President had evidently waited for him, for he nodded to the House Surgeon to close the doors the moment he came.