Clear Shining After Rain

When the first shock is over and the inevitable realize and accepted, those who tend a long illness are apt to fall into a routine of life which helps to make the days seer short. The apparatus of nursing is got together. Ever day the same things need to be done at the same hour and in the same way. Each little appliance is kept at hand and, sad and tired as the watchers may be, the very monotony and regularity of their proceedings give certain stay for their thoughts to rest upon.

But there was little of this monotony to help Mrs Ash and Katy through with Amy's illness. Small chance was there for regularity or exact system, for something unexpected was always turning up, and needful things were often lacking. The most ordinary comforts of the sic room, or what are considered so in America, were hard to come by, and much of Katy's time was spent in devising substitutes to take their places.

Was ice needed? A pailful of dirty snow would be brought in, full of straws, sticks, and other refuse, which had apparently been scraped from the surface of the street after a frosty night. Not a particle of it could be put into milk or water; all that could be done was to make the pail serve the purpose of a refrigerator, and set bowls and tumblers in it to chill.

Was a feeding cup wanted? It came of a cumbrous and antiquated pattern, which the infant Hercules may have enjoyed, but which the modern Amy abominated and rejected. Such a thing as a glass tube could not be found in all Rome. Bed rests were unknown. Katy searched in vain for an india-rubber hot- water bottle.

But the greatest trial of all was the beef tea. It was Amy's sole food, and ast her only medicine, for Dr Hilary believed in leaving nature pretty much to herself in cases of fever. The kitchen of the hotel sent up, under that name, a mixture of grease and hot water, which could not be given to Amy at all. In vain Katy remonstrated and explained the process. In vain did she go to the kitchen herself to translate a carefully written recipe to the cook, and to slip a shining five-franc piece in his hand, which, it was hoped, would quicken his energies and soften his heart. In vain did she order private supplies of the best of beef from a separate market. The cooks stole the beef and ignored the recipe, and day after day the same bottle of greasy liquid came upstairs, which Amy would not touch, and which would have done her no good had she swallowed it all. At last, driven to desperation, Katy procured a couple of stout bottles, and every morning slowly and carefully cut up two pounds of meat into small pieces, sealed the bottle with her own seal ring, and sent it down to be boiled for a specified time. This proved better, for the thieving cook dared not tamper with her seal; but it was a long and toilsome process, and consumed more time than she well knew how to spare - for there were continual errands to be done which no one could attend to but herself, and the interminable flights of stairs taxed her strength painfully, and seemed to grow longer and harder every day.

At last a Good Samaritan turned up in the shape of an American lady with a house of her own who, hearing of their plight from Mrs Sands, undertook to send each day a supply of strong, perfectly-made beef tea from her own kitchen for Amy's use. It was an inexpressible relief, and the lightening of this one particular care made all the rest seem easier of endurance.

Another great relief came, when, after some delay, Dr Hilary succeeded in getting an English nurse to take the places of the unsatisfactory Sister Ambrogia and her substitute, Sister Agatha, whom Amy, in her half-comprehending condition, persisted in calling `Sister Nutmeg-Grater'. Mrs Swift was a tall, wiry, angular person, who seemed made of equal parts of iron and whalebone. She was never tired; she could lift anybody, and anything, and for sleep she seemed to have a sort of antipathy, preferring to sit in an easy chair and drop off into little dozes, whenever it was convenient, to going regularly to bed for a night's rest.

Amy took to her from the first, and the new nurse managed her beautifully. No one else could soothe he half so well during the delirious period, when the little shrill voice seemed never to be still, and went on all day and all night in alternate raving or screaming, or, what was saddest of all to hear, low pitiful

  By PanEris using Melati.

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