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Published by aravindpunna

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Published by: aravindpunna on Mar 21, 2011
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Nelly's Hospital
Top of FormNelly sat beside her mother picking lint; butwhile her fingers flew, her eyes often lookedwistfully out into the meadow, golden withbuttercups, and bright with sunshine. Presently shesaid, rather bashfully, but very earnestly, "Mamma,I want to tell you a little plan I've made, ifyou'll please not laugh."I think I can safely promise that, my dear,"said her mother, putting down her work that shemight listen quite respectfully.Nelly looked pleased, and went on confidingly,"Since brother Will came home with his lamefoot, and I've helped you tend him, I've heard agreat deal about hospitals, and liked it very much.To-day I said I wanted to go and be a nurse, likeAunt Mercy; but Will laughed, and told me I'dbetter begin by nursing sick birds and butterfliesand pussies before I tried to take care of men. Idid not like to be made fun of, but I've beenthinking that it would be very pleasant to have alittle hospital all my own, and be a nurse in it,because, if I took pains, so many pretty creaturesmight be made well, perhaps. Could I, mamma?"Her mother wanted to smile at the idea, butdid not, for Nelly looked up with her heart andeyes so full of tender compassion, both for theunknown men for whom her little hands had donetheir best, and for the smaller sufferers nearerhome, that she stroked the shining head, and answeredreadily: "Yes, Nelly, it will be a propercharity for such a young Samaritan, and you maylearn much if you are in earnest. You must studyhow to feed and nurse your little patients, elseyour pity will do no good, and your hospital becomea prison. I will help you, and Tony shallbe your surgeon.""O mamma, how good you always are to me!Indeed, I am in truly earnest; I will learn,I will be kind, and may I go now and begin?"
"You may, but tell me first where will youhave your hospital?""In my room, mamma; it is so snug and sunny,and I never should forget it there," said Nelly."You must not forget it anywhere. I thinkthat plan will not do. How would you like tofind caterpillars walking in your bed, to hear sickpussies mewing in the night, to have beetles clingingto your clothes, or see mice, bugs, and birdstumbling downstairs whenever the door wasopen?" said her mother.Nelly laughed at that thought a minute, thenclapped her hands, and cried: "Let us have theold summer-house! My doves only use the upperpart, and it would be so like Frank in the storybook.Please say yes again, mamma."Her mother did say yes, and, snatching up herhat, Nelly ran to find Tony, the gardener's son,a pleasant lad of twelve, who was Nelly's favoriteplaymate. Tony pronounced the plan a "jolly" one, and,leaving his work, followed his young mistress to thesummer-house, for she could not wait one minute."What must we do first?" she asked, as theystood looking in at the dusty room, full ofgarden tools, bags of seeds, old flower-pots, andwatering-cans."Clear out the rubbish, miss," answered Tony."Here it goes, then," and Nelly began bundlingeverything out in such haste that she broketwo flower-pots, scattered all the squash-seeds,and brought a pile of rakes and hoes clatteringdown about her ears."Just wait a bit, and let me take the lead,miss. You hand me things, I'll pile 'em in thebarrow and wheel 'em off to the barn; then itwill save time, and be finished up tidy."Nelly did as he advised, and very soon nothingbut dust remained."What next?" she asked, not knowing in the
least."I'll sweep up while you see if Polly cancome and scrub the room out. It ought tobe done before you stay here, let alone thepatients.""So it had," said Nelly, looking very wise allof a sudden. "Will says the wards--that meansthe rooms, Tony--are scrubbed every day ortwo, and kept very clean, and well venti-some-thing--I can't say it; but it means having a plentyof air come in. I can clean windows while Pollymops, and then we shall soon be done."Away she ran, feeling very busy and important.Polly came, and very soon the room lookedlike another place. The four latticed windowswere set wide open, so the sunshine came dancingthrough the vines that grew outside, and curiousroses peeped in to see what frolic was afoot. Thewalls shone white again, for not a spider daredto stay; the wide seat which encircled the roomwas dustless now,--the floor as nice as willinghands could make it; and the south wind blewaway all musty odors with its fragrant breath." How fine it looks! " cried Nelly, dancingon the doorstep, lest a foot-print should mar thestill damp floor."I'd almost like to fall sick for the sake ofstaying here," said Tony, admiringly. "Now, whatsort of beds are you going to have, miss?"I suppose it won't do to put butterflies andtoads and worms into beds like the real soldierswhere Will was?" answered Nelly, lookinganxious.Tony could hardly help shouting at the idea;but, rather than trouble his little mistress, he saidvery soberly: "I'm afraid they wouldn't layeasy, not being used to it. Tucking up a butterflywould about kill him; the worms would be apt toget lost among the bed-clothes; and the toadswould tumble out the first thing.""I shall have to ask mamma about it. What willyou do while I'm gone?" said Nelly, unwillingthat a moment should be lost.

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