The Senior Surgeon cleared his throat, preparatory to making some comment, but the nurse raised a silencing finger.
“Wait! there is one thing more. What you have taken from me is the smallest part. The children pay double—treble as much. I pay only with my heart and faith; they pay with their whole lives. Remember that when you install your new surgical ward—and don’t reckon it too cheap.”
She left him still clearing his throat; and when she came out of the board-room a few seconds later with the green Devonshire bowl in her arms he had disappeared.
Margaret MacLean found Ward C as she had left it. As she was putting down the primroses, on the table in the center of the room she caught Bridget’s white face beckoning to her eagerly. Softly she went over to her cot.
“What is it, dear?”
“Miss Peggie darlin’, if ye’d only give me leave to talk quiet I’d have the childher cheered up in no time.”
“Would you promise not to make any noise?”
“Promise on m’ heart! I’ll have ’em all asleep quicker ‘n nothin’. Ye see, just.”
“Very well. I’ll be back after supper to see if the promise has been kept.” She stooped, brushed away the curls, and kissed the little white forehead. “Oh, Bridget! Bridget! no matter what happens, always remember to keep happy!”
“Sure an’ I will,” agreed Bridget; and she watched the nurse go out, much puzzled.
THE PRIMROSE RING
Bridget, oldest of the ward, general caretaker and best beloved, hunched herself up on her pillows until she was sitting reasonably straight, and clapped her hands. “Whist!” she called, softly. “Whist there, all o’ ye! What’s ailin’?”
Eight woebegone pairs of eyes turned in her direction.
“Ye needn’t be afeared o’ speakin’. Miss Peggie give us leave to talk quiet.”
“It’s them trusters,” wailed Peter. “They come a-peekin’ round to see we don’t get well.”
“They alters calls us ‘uncurables,’” moaned Susan.
“Pig of water-drinking Americans!” came from the last cot.
“Ye shut up, Michael! Who did ye ever hear say that?”
“Mine fader.” And Michael spat in a perfect imitation thereof.
“Well, don’t ye ever say it ag’in—do ye hear? Miss Peggie’s American, and so’s the House Surgeon, an’ it’s the next best thing to bein’ Irish—which every one can’t be, the Lord knows. Now them trusters is heathen, an’ they don’t know nothin’ more’n heathen, an’ we ought to be easy on ’em for bein’ so ignorant.”
“They ken us ‘ll nae mair be gettin’ weel,” said Sandy, mournfully.
“Aw, ye’re talkin’ foolish entirely. What do ye think that C on the door means?”
A silence, significant of much brain-racking, followed.
“C stands for children,” announced Susan, triumphantly.