by Louisa May Alcott
Nelly sat beside her mother picking lint; butwhile her fingers flew, her eyes often lookedwistfully out into the meadow, golden withbuttercups, and bright with sunshine. Presently shesaid, rather bashfully, but very earnestly, “Mamma,I want to tell you a little plan I’ve made, ifyou’ll please not laugh.”
I think I can safely promise that, my dear,”said her mother, putting down her work that shemight listen quite respectfully.
Nelly looked pleased, and went on confidingly,
“Since brother Will came home with his lamefoot, and I’ve helped you tend him, I’ve heard agreat deal about hospitals, and liked it very much.To-day I said I wanted to go and be a nurse, likeAunt Mercy; but Will laughed, and told me I’dbetter begin by nursing sick birds and butterfliesand pussies before I tried to take care of men. Idid not like to be made fun of, but I’ve beenthinking that it would be very pleasant to have alittle hospital all my own, and be a nurse in it,because, if I took pains, so many pretty creaturesmight be made well, perhaps. Could I, mamma?”
Her mother wanted to smile at the idea, butdid not, for Nelly looked up with her heart andeyes so full of tender compassion, both for theunknown men for whom her little hands had donetheir best, and for the smaller sufferers nearerhome, that she stroked the shining head, and answeredreadily: “Yes, Nelly, it will be a propercharity for such a young Samaritan, and you maylearn much if you are in earnest. You must studyhow to feed and nurse your little patients, elseyour pity will do no good, and your hospital becomea prison. I will help you, and Tony shallbe your surgeon.”
“O mamma, how good you always are to me!Indeed, I am in truly earnest; I will learn,I will be kind, and may I go now and begin?”
“You may, but tell me first where will youhave your hospital?”
“In my room, mamma; it is so snug and sunny,and I never should forget it there,” said Nelly.
“You must not forget it anywhere. I thinkthat plan will not do. How would you like tofind caterpillars walking in your bed, to hear sickpussies mewing in the night, to have beetles clingingto your clothes, or see mice, bugs, and birdstumbling downstairs whenever the door wasopen?” said her mother.
Nelly laughed at that thought a minute, thenclapped her hands, and cried: “Let us have theold summer-house! My doves only use the upperpart, and it would be so like Frank in the storybook.Please say yes again, mamma.”
Her mother did say yes, and, snatching up herhat, Nelly ran to find Tony, the gardener’s son,a pleasant lad of twelve, who was Nelly’s favoriteplaymate. Tony pronounced the plan a “jolly” one, and,leaving his work, followed his young mistress to thesummer-house, for she could not wait one minute.
“What must we do first?” she asked, as theystood looking in at the dusty room, full ofgarden tools, bags of seeds, old flower-pots, andwatering-cans.
“Clear out the rubbish, miss,” answered Tony.
“Here it goes, then,” and Nelly began bundlingeverything out in such haste that she broketwo flower-pots, scattered all the squash-seeds,and brought a pile of rakes and hoes clatteringdown about her ears.
“Just wait a bit, and let me take the lead,miss. You hand me things, I’ll pile ’em in thebarrow and wheel ’em off to the barn; then itwill save time, and be finished up tidy.”
Nelly did as he advised, and very soon nothingbut dust remained.
“What next?” she asked, not knowing in theleast.
“I’ll sweep up while you see if Polly cancome and scrub the room out. It ought tobe done before you stay here, let alone thepatients.”
“So it had,” said Nelly, looking very wise allof a sudden. “Will says the wards–that meansthe rooms, Tony–are scrubbed every day ortwo, and kept very clean, and well venti-some-thing–I can’t say it; but it means having a plentyof air come in. I can clean windows while Pollymops, and then we shall soon be done.”Away she ran, feeling very busy and important.Polly came, and very soon the room lookedlike another place. The four latticed windowswere set wide open, so the sunshine came dancingthrough the vines that grew outside, and curiousroses peeped in to see what frolic was afoot. Thewalls shone white again, for not a spider daredto stay; the wide seat which encircled the roomwas dustless now,–the floor as nice as willinghands could make it; and the south wind blewaway all musty odors with its fragrant breath.” How fine it looks! ” cried Nelly, dancingon the doorstep, lest a foot-print should mar thestill damp floor.
“I’d almost like to fall sick for the sake ofstaying here,” said Tony, admiringly. “Now, whatsort of beds are you going to have, miss?
“I suppose it won’t do to put butterflies andtoads and worms into beds like the real soldierswhere Will was?” answered Nelly, lookinganxious.
Tony could hardly help shouting at the idea;but, rather than trouble his little mistress, he saidvery soberly: “I’m afraid they wouldn’t layeasy, not being used to it. Tucking up a butterflywould about kill him; the worms would be apt toget lost among the bed-clothes; and the toadswould tumble out the first thing.”
“I shall have to ask mamma about it. What willyou do while I’m gone?” said Nelly, unwillingthat a moment should be lost.
“I’ll make frames for nettings to the windows,else the doves will come in and eat up the sickpeople.
“I think they will know that it is a hospital,and be too kind to hurt or frighten their neighbors,”began Nelly; but as she spoke, a plump white dove walkedin, looked about with its red-ringed eyes, and quietlypecked up a tiny bug that had just ventured out fromthe crack where it had taken refuge when the deluge came.
“Yes, we must have the nettings. I’ll askmamma for some lace,” said Nelly, when she sawthat; and, taking her pet dove on her shoulder,told it about her hospital as she went toward thehouse; for, loving all little creatures as she did, itgrieved her to have any harm befall even the leastor plainest of them. She had a sweet child-fancythat her playmates understood her languageas she did theirs, and that birds, flowers, animals,and insects felt for her the same affection whichshe felt for them. Love always makes friends,and nothing seemed to fear the gentle child; butwelcomed her like a little sun who shone alike onall, and never suffered an eclipse.
She was gone some time, and when she cameback her mind was full of new plans, one handfull of rushes, the other of books, while over herhead floated the lace, and a bright green ribbonhung across her arm.
“Mamma says that the best beds will be littlebaskets, boxes, cages, and any sort of thing thatsuits the patients; for each will need different careand food and medicine. I have not basketsenough, so, as I cannot have pretty white beds, Iam going to braid pretty green nests for mypatients, and, while I do it, mamma thought you’dread to me the pages she has marked, so that wemay begin right.”
“Yes, miss; I like that. But what is the ribbonfor?” asked Tony.
“O, that’s for you. Will says that, if you areto be an army surgeon, you must have a greenband on your arm; so I got this to tie on when weplay hospital.”
Tony let her decorate the sleeve of his grayjacket, and when the nettings were done, thewelcome books were opened and enjoyed. Itwas a happy time, sitting in the sunshine, withleaves pleasantly astir all about them, doves cooingoverhead, and flowers sweetly gossiping togetherthrough the summer afternoon. Nelly wove hersmooth, green rushes. Tony pored over his pages,and both found something better than fairy legendsin the family histories of insects, birds, and beasts.All manner of wonders appeared, and were explainedto them, till Nelly felt as if a new worldhad been given her, so full of beauty, interest, andpleasure that she never could be tired of studyingit. Many of these things were not strange toTony, because, born among plants, he had grownup with them as if they were brothers and sisters,and the sturdy, brown-faced boy had learnedmany lessons which no poet or philosopher couldhave taught him, unless he had become as child-like as himself, and studied from the same great book.
When the baskets were done, the marked pagesall read, and the sun began to draw his rosycurtains round him before smiling “Good night,”Nelly ranged the green beds round the room, Tonyput in the screens, and the hospital was ready.The little nurse was so excited that she couldhardly eat her supper, and directly afterwardsran up to tell Will how well she had succeededwith the first part of her enterprise. Now brotherWill was a brave young officer, who had foughtstoutly and done his duty like a man. But whenlying weak and wounded at home, the cheerfulcourage which had led him safely through manydangers seemed to have deserted him, and he wasoften gloomy, sad, or fretful, because he longedto be at his post again, and time passed veryslowly. This troubled his mother, and madeNelly wonder why he found lying in a pleasantroom so much harder than fighting battles ormaking weary marches. Anything that interestedand amused him was very welcome, and whenNelly, climbing on the arm of his sofa, told herplans, mishaps, and successes, he laughed out moreheartily than he had done for many a day, and histhin face began to twinkle with fun as it used todo so long ago. That pleased Nelly, and shechatted like any affectionate little magpie, tillWill was really interested; for when one is ill,small things amuse.
“Do you expect your patients to come to you,Nelly?” he asked.
“No, I shall go and look for them. I oftensee poor things suffering in the garden, and thewood, and always feel as if they ought to be takencare of, as people are.”
“You won’t like to carry insane bugs, lametoads, and convulsive kittens in your hands, andthey would not stay on a stretcher if you hadone. You should have an ambulance and bea branch of the Sanitary Commission,” saidWill.
Nelly had often heard the words, but did notquite understand what they meant. So Will toldher of that great never-failing charity, to whichthousands owe their lives; and the child listenedwith lips apart, eyes often full, and so much loveand admiration in her heart that she could find nowords in which to tell it. When her brotherpaused, she said earnestly: “Yes, I will be aSanitary. This little cart of mine shall be myamb’lance, and I’ll never let my water-barrels goempty, never drive too fast, or be rough with mypoor passengers, like some of the men you tellabout. Does this look like an ambulance, Will?”
“Not a bit, but it shall, if you and mammalike to help me. I want four long bits of cane, asquare of white cloth, some pieces of thin wood,and the gum-pot,” said Will, sitting up to examinethe little cart, feeling like a boy again ashe took out his knife and began to whittle.Upstairs and downstairs ran Nelly till allnecessary materials were collected, and almostbreathlessly she watched her brother arch thecanes over the cart, cover them with the cloth,and fit an upper shelf of small compartments, eachlined with cotton-wool to serve as beds forwounded insects, lest they should hurt one anotheror jostle out. The lower part was left free for anylarger creatures which Nelly might find. Amongher toys she bad a tiny cask which only needed apeg to be water-tight; this was filled and fittedin before, because, as the small sufferers neededno seats, there was no place for it behind, and, asNelly was both horse and driver, it was moreconvenient in front. On each side of it stood abox of stores. In one were minute rollers, asbandages are called, a few bottles not yet filled,and a wee doll’s jar of cold-cream, because Nellycould not feel that her outfit was complete withouta medicine-chest. The other box was full ofcrumbs, bits of sugar, bird-seed, and grains ofwheat and corn, lest any famished stranger shoulddie for want of food before she got it home. Thenmamma painted “U.S. San. Com.” in bright letters onthe cover, and Nelly received her charitableplaything with a long sigh of satisfaction.
“Nine o’clock already. Bless me, what ashort evening this has been,” exclaimed Will, asNelly came to give him her good-night kiss.
“And such a happy one,” she answered.
“Thank you very, very much, dear Will. I onlywish my little amb’lance was big enough foryou to go in,–I’d so like to give you the firstride.”
“Nothing I should like better, if it were possible,though I’ve a prejudice against ambulances ingeneral. But as I cannot ride, I’ll try and hop outto your hospital to-morrow, and see how you geton,”–which was a great deal for Captain Willto say, because he had been too listless to leavehis sofa for several days.
That promise sent Nelly happily away to bed,only stopping to pop her head out of the windowto see if it was likely to be a fair day to-morrow,and to tell Tony about the new plan as he passedbelow.
“Where shall you go to look for your first loadof sick folks, miss?” he asked.
“All round the garden first, then through thegrove, and home across the brook. Do you thinkI can find any patients so? ” said Nelly.
“I know you will. Good night, miss,” andTony walked away with a merry look on his face,that Nelly would not have understood if she hadseen it.
Up rose the sun bright and early, and up roseNurse Nelly almost as early and as bright. Breakfastwas taken in a great hurry, and before thedew was off the grass this branch of the S. C.was all astir. Papa, mamma, big brother andbaby sister, men and maids, all looked out to seethe funny little ambulance depart, and nowhere inall the summer fields was there a happier child thanNelly, as she went smiling down the garden path,where tall flowers kissed her as she passed andevery blithe bird seemed singing a “Good speed!”
“How I wonder what I shall find first,” shethought, looking sharply on all sides as she went.Crickets chirped, grasshoppers leaped, antsworked busily at their subterranean houses,spiders spun shining webs from twig to twig, beeswere coming for their bags of gold, and butterflieshad just begun their holiday. A large white onealighted on the top of the ambulance, walkedover the inscription as if spelling it letter by letter,then floated away from flower to flower, like onecarrying the good news far and wide.
“Now every one will know about the hospitaland be glad to see me coming,” thought Nelly.And indeed it seemed so, for just then a black-bird, sitting on a garden wall, burst out with asong full of musical joy, Nelly’s kitten camerunning after to stare at the wagon and rub her softside against it, a bright-eyed toad looked outfrom his cool bower among the lily-leaves, and atthat minute Nelly found her first patient. In oneof the dewy cobwebs hanging from a shrub nearby sat a fat black and yellow spider, watchinga fly whose delicate wings were just caught in thenet. The poor fly buzzed pitifully, and struggledso hard that the whole web shook: but the morehe struggled, the more he entangled himself, andthe fierce spider was preparing to descend that itmight weave a shroud about its prey, when alittle finger broke the threads and lifted the flysafely into the palm of a hand, where he layfaintly humming his thanks.
Nelly had heard much about contrabands, knew whothey were, and was very much interested in them;so, when she freed the poor blackfly she played he was her contraband, and feltglad that her first patient was one that neededhelp so much. Carefully brushing away as muchof the web as she could, she left small Pompey,as she named him, to free his own legs, lest herclumsy fingers should hurt him; then she laid himin one of the soft beds with a grain or two ofsugar if he needed refreshment, and bade him restand recover from his fright, remembering that hewas at liberty to fly away whenever he liked,because she had no wish to male a slave of him.
Feeling very happy over this new friend, Nellywent on singing softly as she walked, and presentlyshe found a pretty caterpillar dressed inbrown fur, although the day was warm. He layso still she thought him dead, till he rolled himselfinto a ball as she touched him.
“I think you are either faint from the heat ofthis thick coat of yours, or that you are going tomake a cocoon of yourself, Mr. Fuzz,” said Nelly.
“Now I want to see you turn into a butterfly, soI shall take you, and if get lively again I willlet you go. I shall play that you have given outon a march, as the soldiers sometimes do, andbeen left behind for the Sanitary people to see to.”
In went sulky Mr. Fuzz, and on trundled theambulance till a golden green rose-beetle wasdiscovered, lying on his back kicking as if in a fit.
“Dear me, what shall I do for him?” thoughtNelly. “He acts as baby did when she was soilll, and mamma put her in a warm bath. I haven’tgot my little tub here, or any hot water, and I’mafraid the beetle would not like it if I had. Perhapshe has pain in his stomach; I’ll turn him over,and pat his back, as nurse does baby’s when shecries for pain like that.”
She set the beetle on his legs, and did her bestto comfort him; but he was evidently in great distress,for he could not walk, and instead of liftinghis emerald overcoat, and spreading the wingsthat lay underneath, be turned over again, andkicked more violently than before. Not knowingwhat to do, Nelly put him into one of her softnests for Tony to cure if possible. She found nomore patients in the garden except a dead bee,which she wrapped in a leaf, and took home tobury. When she came to the grove, it was sogreen and cool she longed to sit and listen to thewhisper of the pines, and watch the larch-tasselswave in the wind. But, recollecting her charitableerrand, she went rustling along the pleasantpath till she came to another patient, over whichshe stood considering several minutes before shecould decide whether it was best to take it to herhospital, because it was a little gray snake, withbruised tail. She knew it would not hurt her,yet she was afraid of it; she thought it pretty,yet could not like it: she pitied its pain, yet shrunkfrom helping it, for it had a fiery eye, and a keepquivering tongue, that looked as if longing to bite.
“He is a rebel, I wonder if I ought to be goodto him,” thought Nelly, watching the reptilewrithe with pain. “Will said there were sickrebels in his hospital, and one was very kind tohim. It says, too, in my little book, ‘Love yourenemies.’ I think snakes are mine, but I guess I’lltry and love him because God made him. Some boywill kill him if I leave him here, and then perhapshis mother will be very sad about it. Come,poor worm, I wish to help you, so be patient, anddon’t frighten me.”
Then Nelly laid her little handkerchief on theground, and with a stick gently lifted the woundedsnake upon it, and, folding it together, laid it inthe ambulance. She was thoughtful after that,and so busy puzzling her young head about theduty of loving those who hate us, and being kindto those who are disagreeable or unkind, that shewent through the rest of the wood quite forgetfulof her work. A soft “Queek,queek!” made herlook up and listen. The sound came from thelong meadow-grass, and, bending it carefullyback, she found a half-fledged bird, with onewing trailing on the ground, and its eyes dim withpain or hunger.
“You darling thing, did you fall out of yournest and hurt your wing?” cried Nelly, lookingup into the single tree that stood near by. Nonest was to be seen, no parent birds hoveredoverhead, and little Robin could only tell its troublesin that mournful “Queek, queek, queek!”
Nelly ran to get both her chests, and, sittingdown beside the bird, tried to feed it. To herjoy it ate crumb after crumb, as if it werehalf starved, and soon fluttered nearer aconfiding fearlessness that made her very proud.Soon baby Robin seemed quite comfortable, hiseye brightened, he “queeked” no more, and butfor the drooping wing would have been himselfagain. With one of her bandages Nelly boundboth wings closely to his sides for fear he shouldhurt himself by trying to fly; and though he seemedamazed at her proceedings, he behaved verywell, only staring at her, and ruffling up his fewfeathers in a funny way that made her laugh.Then she had to discover some way of accommodatingher two larger patients so that neither shouldhurt nor alarm the other. A bright thought cameto her after much pondering. Carefully liftingthe handkerchief, she pinned the two ends to theroof of the cart, and there swung little Forked-tongue, while Rob lay easily below.
By this time, Nelly began to wonder how ithappened that she found so many more injuredthings than ever before. But it never entered herinnocent head that Tony had searched the woodand meadow before she was up, and laid most ofthese creatures ready to her hands, that shemight not be disappointed. She had not yet losther faith in fairies, so she fancied they toobelonged to her small sisterhood, and presently itdid really seem impossible to doubt that the goodfolk had been at work.
Coming to the bridge that crossed the brook,she stopped a moment to watch the water rippleover the bright pebbles, the ferns bend down todrink, and the funny tadpoles frolic in quieternooks, where the sun shone, and the dragon-fliesswung among the rushes. When Nelly turned togo on, her blue eyes opened wide. and the handleof the ambulance dropped with a noise that causeda stout frog to skip into the water heels over head.Directly in the middle of the bridge was a prettygreen tent, made of two tall burdock leaves. Thestems were stuck into cracks between the boards,the tips were pinned together with a thorn, andone great buttercup nodded in the doorway like asleepy sentinel. Nelly stared and smiled, listened,and looked about on every side. Nothing wasseen but the quiet meadow and the shadygrove, nothing was heard but the babble ofthe brook and the cheery music of the bobolinks.
“Yes,” said Nelly softly to herself, “that is afairy tent, and in it I may find a baby elf sickwith whooping-cough or scarlet-fever. Howsplendid it would be! only I could never nurse
such a dainty thing.”
Stooping eagerly, she peeped over the buttercup’sdrowsy head, and saw what seemed a tinycock of hay. She had no time to feel disappointed,for the haycock began to stir, and, lookingnearer, she beheld two silvery gray mites, whowagged wee tails, and stretched themselves as ifthey had just waked up. Nelly knew that theywere young field-mice, and rejoiced over them,feeling rather relieved that no fairy had appeared,though she still believed them to have had a handin the matter.
“I shall call the mice my Babes in the Wood,because they are lost and covered up with leaves,”said Nelly, as she laid them in her snuggest bed,where they nestled close together, and fell fastasleep again.
Being very anxious to get home, that she mighttell her adventures, and show how great was theneed of a sanitary commission in that region,Nelly marched proudly up the avenue, and, havingdisplayed her load, hurried to the hospital,where another applicant was waiting for her. Onthe step of the door lay a large turtle, with oneclaw gone, and on his back was pasted a bit ofpaper, with his name,– Commodore Waddle,U.S.N.” Nelly knew this was a joke of Will’s,but welcomed the ancient mariner, and calledTony to help her get him in.
All that morning they were very busy settlingthe new-comers, for both people and books hadto be consulted before they could decide whatdiet and treatment was best for each. Thewinged contraband had taken Nelly at her word,and flown away on the journey home. LittleRob was put in a large cage, where he could usehis legs, yet not injure his lame wing. Forked-tonguelay under a wire cover, on sprigs of fennel,for the gardener said that snakes were fond of it.The Babes in the Wood were put to bed in oneof the rush baskets, under a cotton-wool coverlet.Greenback, the beetle, found ease for his unknownaches in the warm heart of a rose, where he sunnedhimself all day. The Commodore wasmade happy in a tub of water, grass, and stones,and Mr. Fuzz was put in a well-ventilated glassbox to decide whether he would be a cocoon or not.
Tony had not been idle while his mistress wasaway, and he showed her the hospital garden hehad made close by, in which were cabbage, nettle,and mignonette plants for the butterflies, floweringherbs for the bees, chick-weed and hemp forthe birds, catnip for the pussies, and plenty of roomleft for whatever other patients might need. Inthe afternoon, while Nelly did her task at lint-picking,talking busily to Will as she worked, andinteresting him in her affairs, Tony cleared apretty spot in the grove for the burying-ground,and made ready some small bits of slate on whichto write the names of those who died. He didnot have it ready an hour too soon, for at sunsettwo little graves were needed, and Nurse Nellyshed tender tears for her first losses as she laid themotherless mice in one smooth hollow, and thegray-coated rebel in the other. She had learnedto care for him already, and when she found himdead, was very glad she had been kind to him,hoping that he knew it, and died happier in herhospital than all alone in the shadowy wood.
The rest of Nelly’s patients prospered, and ofthe many added afterward few died, because ofTony’s skilful treatment and her own faithful care.Every morning when the day proved fair the littleambulance went out upon its charitable errand;every afternoon Nelly worked for the humansufferers whom she loved; and every evening brotherWill read aloud to her from useful books, showedher wonders with his microscope, or prescribedremedies for the patients, whom he soon knew byname and took much interest in. It was Nelly’sholiday; but, though she studied no lessons, shelearned much, and unconsciously made her prettyplay both an example and a rebuke for others.
At first it seemed a childish pastime, and peoplelaughed. But there was something in the familiarwords “sanitary,” “hospital” and “ambulance”that made them pleasant sounds tomany ears. As reports of Nelly’s work wentthrough the neighborhood, other children came tosee and copy her design. Rough lads lookedashamed when in her wards they found harmlesscreatures hurt by them, and going out they saidamong themselves, “We won’t stone birds, chasebutterflies, and drown the girls’ little cats anymore, though we won’t tell them so.” And mostof the lads kept their word so well that peoplesaid there never had been so many birds beforeas all that summer haunted wood and field. Tender-hearted playmates brought their pets to becured; even busy farmers bad a friendly wordfor the small charity, which reminded them sosweetly of the great one which should never beforgotten; lonely mothers sometimes looked outwith wet eyes as the little ambulance went by,recalling thoughts or absent sons who might bejourneying painfully to some far-off hospital, wherebrave women waited to tend them with hands aswilling, hearts as tender, as those the gentle childgave to her self-appointed task.
At home the charm worked also. No more idledays for Nelly, or fretful ones for Will, becausethe little sister would not neglect the helplesscreatures so dependent upon her, and the bigbrother was ashamed to complain after watchingthe patience of these lesser sufferers, and merrilysaid he would try to bear his own wound asquietly and bravely as the “Commodore” borehis. Nelly never knew how much good she haddone Captain Will till he went away again in theearly autumn. Then he thanked her for it, andthough she cried for joy and sorrow she neverforgot it, because he left something behind himwhich always pleasantly reminded her of thedouble success her little hospital had won.
When Will was gone and she had prayedsoftly in her heart that God would keep him safeand bring him home again, she dried her tearsand went away to find comfort in the place wherehe had spent so many happy hours with her. Shehad not been there before that day, and when shereached the door she stood quite still and wantedvery much to cry again, far something beautifulhad happened. She had often asked Will for amotto for her hospital, and he had promised tofind her one. She thought he had forgotten it;but even in the hurry of that busy day he hadfound time to do more than keep his word, whileNelly sat indoors, lovingly brightening the tarnishedbuttons on the blue coat that had seen somany battles.
Above the roof, where the doves cooed in thesun, now rustled a white flag with the goldenS.C.” shining on it as the wind tossed it to andfro. Below, on the smooth panel of the door, askilful pencil had drawn two arching ferns, inwhose soft shadow, poised upon a mushroom,stood a little figure of Nurse Nelly, and undeneathit another of Dr. Tony bottling medicine, with spectaclesupon his nose. Both hands of the miniature Nelly wereoutstretched, as if beckoning to a train of insects,birds and beasts, which was so long that it not onlycircled round the lower rim of this fine sketch, butdwindled in the distance to mere dots and lines. Suchmerry conceits as one found there! A mouse bringing thetail it had lost in some cruel trap, a dor-bug witha shade over its eyes, an invalid butterfly carriedin a tiny litter by long-legged spiders, a fat frogwith gouty feet hopping upon crutches, JennyWren sobbing in a nice handkerchief, as shebrought dear dead Cock Robin to be restored tolife. Rabbits, lambs, cats, calves, and turtles, allcame trooping up to be healed by the benevolentlittle maid who welcomed them so heartily.
Nelly laughed at these comical mites till thetears ran down her cheeks, and thought she nevercould be tired of looking at them. But presentlyshe saw four lines clearly printed underneath herpicture, ahd her childish face grew sweetly seriousas she read the words of a great poet, whichWill had made both compliment and motto:-
“He prayeth best who loveth bestAll things, both great and small;For the dear God who loveth us,He made and loveth all.”