Muriel's First Patient
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
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,
'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
'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,
'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
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,
Miss Fane put her arm round the child, and made room for her among the
'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
'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
'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
Muriel's First Patient.