Love Stories by Mary Roberts Rinehart


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Page 3

He decided to confess about Mabel, but to hold fast to journalism.
Then he lay in bed and watched for the Probationer to come back.

However, here things began to go wrong. He did not see Jane Brown
again. There were day nurses and night nurses and reliefs, and
_internes_ and Staff and the Head Nurse and the First Assistant
and--everything but Jane Brown. And at last he inquired for her.

"The first day I was in here," he said to Miss Willoughby, "there
was a little girl here without a cap. I don't know her name. But I
haven't seen her since."

Miss Willoughby, who, if she had been disappointed in love, had
certainly had time to forget it, Miss Willoughby reflected.

"Without a cap? Then it was only one of the probationers."

"You don't remember which one?"

But she only observed that probationers were always coming and
going, and it wasn't worth while learning their names until they
were accepted. And that, anyhow, probationers should never be sent
to private patients, who are paying a lot and want the best.

"Really," she added, "I don't know what the school is coming to.
Since this war in Europe every girl wants to wear a uniform and be
ready to go to the front if we have trouble. All sorts of silly
children are applying. We have one now, on this very floor, not a
day over nineteen."

"Who is she?" asked Middleton. He felt that this was the one. She
was so exactly the sort Miss Willoughby would object to.

"Jane Brown," snapped Miss Willoughby. "A little, namby-pamby,
mush-and-milk creature, afraid of her own shadow."

Now, Jane Brown, at that particular moment, was sitting in her
little room in the dormitory, with the old watch ticking on the
stand so she would not over-stay her off duty. She was aching with
fatigue from her head, with its smooth and shiny hair, to her feet,
which were in a bowl of witch hazel and hot water. And she was
crying over a letter she was writing.

Jane Brown had just come from her first death. It had taken place in
H ward, where she daily washed window-sills, and disinfected stands,
and carried dishes in and out. And it had not been what she had
expected. In the first place, the man had died for hours. She had
never heard of this. She had thought of death as coming quickly--a
glance of farewell, closing eyes, and--rest. But for hours and hours
the struggle had gone on, a fight for breath that all the ward could
hear. And he had not closed his eyes at all. They were turned up,
and staring.

The Probationer had suffered horribly, and at last she had gone
behind the screen and folded her hands and closed her eyes, and said
very low:

"Dear God--please take him quickly."

He had stopped breathing almost immediately. But that may have been
a coincidence.

However, she was not writing that home. Between gasps she was
telling the humours of visiting day in the ward, and of how kind
every one was to her, which, if not entirely true, was not entirely
untrue. They were kind enough when they had time to be, or when they
remembered her. Only they did not always remember her.

She ended by saying that she was quite sure they meant to accept her
when her three months was up. It was frightfully necessary that she
be accepted.

She sent messages to all the little town, which had seen her off
almost _en masse_. And she added that the probationers received the
regular first-year allowance of eight dollars a month, and she could
make it do nicely--which was quite true, unless she kept on breaking
thermometers when she shook them down.

At the end she sent her love to everybody, including even worthless
Johnny Fraser, who cut the grass and scrubbed the porches; and, of
course, to Doctor Willie. He was called Doctor Willie because his
father, who had taken him into partnership long ago, was Doctor
Will. It never had seemed odd, although Doctor Willie was now
sixty-five, and a saintly soul.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 12:40