The first was addressed to “The Board of Trustees of Saint Margaret’s Free Hospital for Children”; the second was addressed to “Miss Margaret MacLean.” They were both sealed and mailed that night.
What befell the other trustees does not matter, either from the standpoint of Fancy or of what happened afterward; moreover, it was nearly midnight, and what occurs after that on May Eve does not count.
All through the evening Saint Margaret’s had been frankly miserable. Nurses gathered in groups in the nurses’ annex and talked about the closing of the incurable ward and the going of Margaret MacLean. The passing of the incurables mattered little to them, one way or another, but they knew what it mattered to the nurse in charge, and they were just beginning to realize what she had meant to them all. The Superintendent felt so much concerned that she dropped her official manner when she chanced upon Margaret MacLean on her way from supper.
“Oh, my dear—my dear”—and the Superintendent’s voice had almost broken—“what shall we do without you? You have kept Saint Margaret’s human—and wholesome for the rest of us.”
The House Surgeon had been miserable unto the third degree. It had forced him into doing all those things he had left undone for months passed; and he bustled through the building—from pharmacy to laboratory and from operating-room to supply-closets—giving the impression of a very scientific man, while he was inwardly praying for a half-dozen minutes alone with Margaret MacLean. He had passed her more than once in the corridors, but she had eluded him each time, brushing by him with a tightening of the lips and a little shake of the head, half pleading, half commanding. At last, in grim despair, he gave up appearances and patrolled the second-floor hall until the night nurse fixed upon him such a greenly suspicious eye that he fled to his quarters—vowing unspeakable things.
Even old Cassie, the scrub-woman, shared in the general misery—Cassie, who had brewed the egg-shell charm against Trustee Days. She had stayed past her hours for a glimpse of “Miss Peggie,” with the best intention in the world of cheering her up. When the glimpse came, however, she stood mute—tears channeling the old wrinkled face—while the nurse patted her hands and made her laugh through the tears. In fact, Margaret MacLean had been kept so busy doling out cheer and consolation to others that she had had no time to remember her own trouble—not until Saint Margaret’s had gone to bed.
She was on her way for a final visit to her ward—the visit she had told Bridget she would make to see if the promise had been kept—when a line from Hauptman’s faery play flashed through her mind: “At dawn we are kings; at night we are only beggars.”
How true it was of her—this day. How beggared she felt! The fact that she was very nearly penniless troubled her very little; it was the homelessness—friendlessness—that frightened her. She had never had but two friends: the one who had gone so long ago was past helping her now; the other—