Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

and Eddy Graham went off towards the hospital at a much quicker rate than when he had first set out.

CHAPTER IX.

THE waggon which gave Mary Graham so much relief drew up at the door of the hospital itself. The friend she had so unexpectedly found made that his way; and as he undid the chain which held Eddy's truck, he put a few halfpence into the boy's hand. .

“ Thee never knows when these will be useful ;” and, so saying, he gave the cripple a shake of the hand, which was hearty, it is true, but withal so gentle, that, skin and bone as the poor child's hand was, it was not hurt. “I come this way,” said the coalheaver, “ aʼmost every day, and I'll step in and know how thee's getting on;" and with another crack of the whip the waggoner was gone.

The hospital to which Mary Graham had brought her brother required no letter of admittance in urgent cases, consequently Eddy was admitted without any delay. A glance at the child's emaciated appearance satisfied the house-surgeon that the case must be taken

in at once; and, after sundry questions, the answers to which Mary Graham saw entered in a large book, she had the satisfaction of seeing her brother taken into such good hands. She would have stayed with him, if allowed, and had she not the fear of her brother John before her eyes, who would, no doubt, soon want his truck; but as it was impossible, she left, after having given the poor boy many a kiss and promised to come and see him as soon as ever she could.

When Mary left, Eddy felt very sad; he was now, for the first time, entirely amongst strangers ; he did not know what kind of treatment he should receive; he half wished himself back in the garret, where, even when things were at the worst, he could see Mary every day. He was not long, however, without an earnest that he was about to be taken care of, for he had a good breakfast brought to him, and was told that his case would be examined about eleven o'clock. And at eleven he was brought into a room, where two elderly gentlemen, with three or four younger than themselves, were sitting. Poor Eddy shook all over; had Mary been with him he would not have minded so much, but he was alone; one thing, however, helped very much to dispel his alarm, and that was, the gentle voice in which one of the elderly gentlemen, with white hair, addressed him. Eddy had never heard that

[ocr errors]

voice before, still it comforted him, and he gradually became more composed; so much so, indeed, as to be able to answer the different questions put to him.

It was some time before he could make up his mind to tell how he came by the injury which had brought him to his present state; poor little fellow ! he had mingled so little with the world, that he thought everyone must know his brother John, and he could not bear to disgrace him, although he had been so unkind.

The old gentleman was very patient, but his time was valuable, and at last he said,

“ My little fellow, we want to do you all the good we can, but you must not hide anything from us; you must answer every question we ask.”

There was something in the surgeon's voice, which, kind though it was, seemed to say, “I must be obeyed;" and with many tears the little cripple told how he was first hurt.

“And what have you been living on?” asked the surgeon; "what have you had to eat for dinner every day? how often in the week have you had meat ?"

" I never had meat,” said Eddy.

“ Well, how often had you bread and milk?"

At this question, Eddy, who could not

bear to expose his brother,. burst out crying afresh, and threatened to exhaust the old gentleman's patience. Indeed, he went so far that one of the other surgeons threatened to send him home again, unless he spoke up.

“ Do send me, please,” said Eddy; - I'd rather go," and his tears rolled in great drops down his hollow cheeks.

“I think the poor little fellow has been starved," whispered the old man to the one next him ; “ there's something in his history that we must find out; he has a reason, I can see, for not answering; for he doesn't look a dogged, sulky child.”

" I think," said the surgeon, "you had better have him removed to No. 24; and I'll give further directions about him before I go." This was addressed to a man at the end of the room, who, without any further ceremony, although with great gentleness, laid hold of Eddy, and lifting him in his arms, carried him off.

As soon as the child had gone, a few remarks were made upon his emaciated appearance, and the next case was brought in, and no one seemed to think any more of Eddy and his tears.

As to the little fellow himself, when he arrived at the top of the staircase, he found himself in a long passage with several doors, and the porter having pulled a bell, an elderly

woman made her appearance. This was Mrs. Thompson, the head nurse, who had been for years at the hospital, and was beloved by every one that was connected with the place, and every patient who had passed through her ward."

Eddy Graham did not hear what the porter whispered to her, but he soon gathered the purport of it from what took place; for Mrs. Thompson called another nurse, and in about ten minutes Eddy found himself in a warm bath; there he was washed from head to foot, and in ten minutes more he was in bed. Very different was that bed from the one in which he had been accustomed for so many years to sleep. It was as clean as it well could be, and the whitewashed walls were scarce whiter than the sheets, and the new night-shirt he had on. When he was thus comfortably settled, Mrs. Thompson left him to his own reflections, promising to return in a couple of hours, and bring him some dinner. When left alone, Eddy Graham could not but think that he had been wrong in not answering the questions which had been put to him, and he wondered that he had been treated with so much forbearance, and not sent home at once; his only motive, however, had been love for his wicked brother, and he derived comfort from this thought. He determined, on thinking the matter over, to act differently

« IndietroContinua »