A Modern Cinderella and other stories
Nelly sat beside her mother picking lint; but while her fingers flew, her eyes often looked
wistfully out into the meadow, golden with buttercups, and bright with sunshine.
Presently she said, rather bashfully, but very earnestly, "Mamma, I want to tell you a little
plan I've made, if you'll please not laugh."
I think I can safely promise that, my dear," said her mother, putting down her work that
she might listen quite respectfully.
Nelly looked pleased, and went on confidingly,
"Since brother Will came home with his lame foot, and I've helped you tend him, I've
heard a great deal about hospitals, and liked it very much. To-day I said I wanted to go
and be a nurse, like Aunt Mercy; but Will laughed, and told me I'd better begin by
nursing sick birds and butterflies and pussies before I tried to take care of men. I did not
like to be made fun of, but I've been thinking that it would be very pleasant to have a
little hospital all my own, and be a nurse in it, because, if I took pains, so many pretty
creatures might be made well, perhaps. Could I, mamma?"
Her mother wanted to smile at the idea, but did not, for Nelly looked up with her heart
and eyes so full of tender compassion, both for the unknown men for whom her little
hands had done their best, and for the smaller sufferers nearer home, that she stroked the
shining head, and answered readily: "Yes, Nelly, it will be a proper charity for such a
young Samaritan, and you may learn much if you are in earnest. You must study how to
feed and nurse your little patients, else your pity will do no good, and your hospital
become a prison. I will help you, and Tony shall be 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 you have your hospital?"
"In my room, mamma; it is so snug and sunny, and I never should forget it there," said
"You must not forget it anywhere. I think that plan will not do. How would you like to
find caterpillars walking in your bed, to hear sick pussies mewing in the night, to have
beetles clinging to your clothes, or see mice, bugs, and birds tumbling downstairs
whenever the door was open?" said her mother.
Nelly laughed at that thought a minute, then clapped her hands, and cried: "Let us have
the old summer-house! My doves only use the upper part, and it would be so like Frank
in the storybook. Please say yes again, mamma."