PRISCILLA STANDISH was waiting at our big railroad station, on a warm Spring day, for a train to pull out, so that cross-track traffic could start again. It was just an ordinary train such as stop hourly at Branton Hills, but Priscilla saw that a group was hurrying toward a combination-car, way up forward. Now Priscilla was not a girl who found morbid curiosity in any such a public spot; but, still, an odd, uncanny sort of thrill,—almost a chill, in fact,—was urging, urging a slow walk toward that car. Just why, Priscilla didn’t know; but such things do occur in a human mind. So Priscilla soon was standing on a trunk truck, gazing down into that group which now was slowly moving back, forming room for taking out a young man in khaki uniform, on a hospital cot. With a gasp of horror, Priscilla was instantly down from that truck, pushing through that group, and crying out, wildly:-

“Arthur! Arthur Rankin! Oh! Oh! What is it, darling?” and looking up at a hospital assistant, “Is it bad?”

“Don’t know, right now, lady,” said that snowy clad official. “Unconscious. But our big hospital will do all it can for him.”

Arthur Rankin! Arthur, with whom Priscilla had had many a childhood spat! Arthur who had shown that “puppy stuff” for Priscilla, that his old aunt was always so disapprovingly sniffing at! And now, unconscious on a, —

With a murmuring of sympathy from that sorrowing public, now dissolving, as all crowds do, Priscilla had a quick, comforting thought: “Kathlyn is working at that hospital!”

Kathlyn had known Arthur as long as Priscilla had; and Kathlyn’s famous ability would —

So our panting and worrying girl was hurrying along through Broadway’s turning and inquiring crowds to that big hospital which our Organization of Youth had had built. And now Arthur was going, for not long, possibly, but, still possibly for —

* * *

It was midnight in that big still building. Old Doctor Wilkins stood by Arthur’s cot; Priscilla, sobbing pitifully, was waiting in a corridor, with Lady Standish giving what comfort a woman could. Lady Standish, who took in dogs, cats, rabbits or any living thing that was hurt, sick or lost; Lady Standish, donor of four thousand dollars for our big Zoo; Lady Standish, kindly savior of Clancy’s and Dowd’s “Big Four,” now waiting, without ability to aid a human animal. Finally, Doctor Wilkins, coming out, said:—

“Kathlyn says no sign of blood contamination, but vitality low; badly low; sinking, I think. Railroad trip almost too much for him. Looks bad.”

But, at this instant, an assistant, calling Wilkins, said Arthur was coming out of his coma; and was murmuring “about a woman known as Priscilla. Do you know anybody by—?”

With a racking sob, Priscilla shot through that door, Lady Standish quickly following. Arthur, picking up, a bit, from Priscilla’s soft, oh, so soft and loving crooning and patting, took that fond hand and—sank back! Doctor Wilkins, looking knowingly at Priscilla, said:—

“If it is as I think, you two had had thoughts of —”

A vigorous nod from Priscilla, and an approving look from Lady Standish, and Doctor Wilkins said:—

“Hm-m-m! It should occur right now! Or, —”

As quick as a flash that snowy-clad assistant was phoning; and, astonishingly soon, our good Pastor Brown stood by that cot; and, with Arthur in a most surprising pick-up, holding Priscilla’s hot, shaking hand, through that still hospital room was wafting Priscilla’s soft, low words:—

“ for my lawful husband, until...”

* * *

Doctor Wilkins, going out with Priscilla, now trying, oh, so hard for control; with grand, charming, loving Kathlyn, arm in arm, said:—

“That joy will pull him through. Boys, at war, so far away, will naturally droop, both in body and mind, from lack of a particular girl’s snuggling and cuddling. So just wait until Kathlyn finds out all about his condition; and good food, with this happy culmination of a childhood infatuation, will put him in first-class condition, if no complications show up.

Ah! What an important part of a city’s institutions a hospital is! What a comfort to all, to know that, should injury or any ailing condition of man, woman or child occur without warning, anybody can, simply through phoning find quick transportation at his door; and, with angrily clanging gongs, or high-pitch whistlings obtaining a “right of way” through all traffic, that institution’s doors will swing apart, assistants will quickly surround that cot, and an ability for doing anything that Man can do is at hand. You know, almost daily, of capitalists of philanthropic mold, donating vast sums to a town or an association; but, in your historian’s mind, no donation can do so much good as that which builds, or maintains hospitalization for all. A library, a school, a boys’ or girls’ club, a vacation facility, a “chair” of this or that in an institution of instruction,— all do much to build up a community. Both doctoring as a study for a young man, and nursing for a girl form most important parts of Mankind’s activity.

And so, just four months from that awful, but also happy day, Arthur Rankin sat in a hammock with Priscilla, on Lady Standish’s porch, with four small Rankins playing around; or was walking around that back yard full of cats, dogs, rabbits, and so on, with no thought of soap box orations in his mind.



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Books with no spinal columns.