Muriel's First Patient

by Unknown

Muriel clapped her hands and gave a little jump for joy when she saw Aunt Margaret coming up the garden path. Aunt Margaret was a hospital nurse, and Muriel had quite made up her mind to be one as well, when she was old enough. She liked nothing better than to listen to her aunt's stories about her patients, for it was Aunt Margaret's duty to visit the poor people who could not afford to pay for a doctor, and Muriel never tired of hearing about the different families her aunt went to see every day.

She could hardly wait for her aunt to come up to the schoolroom, and wondered impatiently whatever Mother and Aunt Margaret could be talking about downstairs for so long. At last she came, however, and Muriel rushed to meet her.

'Oh, Auntie! may I come with you this morning?' she begged at once. 'I have got a whole holiday, and you did promise you would take me with you some day to see all your poor people.'

But although Aunt Margaret kissed her little niece as warmly as ever, her face did not wear its usual bright smile.

'Why have you got a holiday, Muriel?' she asked. 'It isn't a birthday, is it?'

'Oh, Miss Fane has got a headache,' said Muriel, rather hastily.

'I wonder what brought it on?' said Aunt Margaret looking at Muriel earnestly. Muriel grew very red, and looked down at her shoes, but did not answer.

'Mother has been telling me something very sad,' went on Aunt Margaret, 'She is afraid that Miss Fane's headache was caused by the great trouble she had with a certain little pupil of hers yesterday. What do you think, Muriel?'

'They were such stupid exercises—no one could do such horrid things,' muttered Muriel without looking up.

'Perhaps, if some one tried,' suggested Aunt Margaret, gently, drawing Muriel to sit beside her. 'Now, Muriel, you want to be a nurse some day, don't you?'

Muriel nodded.

'Well, it is not a very good beginning to make people ill, is it? You know if you are going to study the things I had to learn, you will have to do a great many uninteresting things, so that perhaps you had better give up the idea, if you never want to do anything that is not very nice.'

Muriel shook her head. 'But I do want to be a nurse,' she said.

'Suppose I give you a lesson to-day?'

Muriel looked up suddenly, and her eyes sparkled at the thought.

'Please do, Auntie. I will try to do what you want.'

'Mother has asked me to do something for poor Miss Fane, to make her headache better. I want you to do it instead.'

Muriel's smile disappeared suddenly. 'She's—she's so cross, Auntie.'

'Perhaps she has a reason for feeling so,' said Aunt Margaret. 'Still, if you would rather not—'

'Oh, but I will do it,' answered Muriel quickly. 'Only the things I do never please her, and perhaps she would rather not.'

'Suppose you have another try to please her?' said Aunt Margaret. 'I will be the doctor, and I shall leave you in charge, and expect you to obey my orders exactly. What do you do when Mother has a headache?'

'She lets me bathe her forehead with eau-de-Cologne, and I try to keep everything very quiet.'

'That is a good beginning,' said Aunt Margaret. 'Now, Nurse, come and take charge of your patient. I shall look in this evening to see how the invalid is getting on.'

When Muriel stole quietly into her governess's room, the latter frowned a little at the sight of the child who was usually so noisy and tomboyish, but she said nothing when Muriel rather timidly explained her errand. The little nurse carried out the doctor's orders very carefully and thoroughly, and after a time she was delighted to see her patient fast asleep. All day she did her very best to do just what she thought Aunt Margaret would have done, and in the evening Miss Fane felt so much better that she came downstairs for a little while.

It was Muriel who fetched the cosiest armchair for Miss Fane, and who so carefully arranged a pile of soft cushions to make her more comfortable. The governess watched her in surprise, as she remembered the restless, mischief-loving Muriel of lesson hours, and noticed how quietly and gently she arranged everything now. Then the little girl stood timidly by her side, twisting her fingers nervously together behind her back.

'I am sorry I was so tiresome yesterday, Miss Fane,' she said, very quickly, and not looking up. 'I didn't mean to make your head ache, really.'

Miss Fane put her arm round the child, and made room for her among the cushions.

'Of course you didn't, dear,' she said. 'It was a hard exercise, I know, and I was not very patient, but we will have another try to-morrow, and perhaps it will be easier then.'

Muriel nestled closer to her.

'I did it this afternoon,' she confessed shyly. 'I—I didn't try properly yesterday.'

'But you tried to-day? Why, what a lot you have been doing all day! Suppose you tell me how you learnt to be such a splendid little nurse?'

Muriel was only too ready to answer this, and she told Miss Fane all about her longing to be a proper nurse, and of Aunt Margaret's lesson, trying all the time to talk softly and not too much.

But Miss Fane was quite as interested in listening as Muriel was in talking.

'I think the next time Aunt Margaret comes we must have a whole holiday,' she said. 'I think you have earned one to-day. I am sure you are going to be a capital nurse some day, for you have looked after me so splendidly to-day.'

And Aunt Margaret was quite satisfied, too, with the result of Muriel's first lesson.

Muriel's First Patient. Muriel's First Patient.