A VERY SICK DOLL
"MADAM," declared Brother seriously, "your child is very ill, I fear!"
He was the "doctor" and had been called to attend Muriel Elsie, Sister's best and largest doll. The children had started this new game one day.
"Oh, Doctor!" fluttered Sister, much worried. "Can't you give her something?"
"Oh, doctor," fluttered Sister, "Can't you give her something?"
[Opposite pg. 112]
The doctor sat down on the window-seat and considered.
"You ate all the peppermints up," he told Muriel Elsie's "mother." Then he went on: "And Louise hid the box of chocolates. No, I don't believe I can give her any medicines."
"Yes, you can," urged the little mother, hurriedly. "Go to the drug store; that's where Doctor Yarrow gets all his pills and things."
"Where—where is the drugstore?" stammered the doctor.
He was used to having Sister tell him. She usually planned their games.
"Why, it's—it's—" Sister looked about her desperately. Where should she say the drugstore was? "I know," she cried. "Over to Grandma's—hurry!"
Grandmother Hastings glanced up from her sewing in surprise as Brother and Sister tumbled up the steps of the side porch where she sat.
"Oh, Grandma!" and Sister fell over the Boston fern in her eagerness to explain the play. "Grandma, Muriel Elsie is ever so sick, and Roddy is the doctor; and we have to go to the drugstore to get medicine for her. Have you any? You have, haven't you, Grandma?"
"Dear me," said Grandmother Hastings, adjusting her glasses. "Muriel Elsie is very ill, is she? Well, now, what kind of medicine do you think she needs?"
"Muriel Elsie likes medicine that tastes good," explained Sister.
"Well, I must put on my thinking-cap," said dear Grandmother Hastings. "I didn't know I was keeping a 'drug store' till this minute, you see."
The children were as quiet as two little mice, so that Grandmother might think better.
"I know!" she cried in a moment. "I think I have the very thing! Come on out in the kitchen with me."
They pattered after her and watched while she lifted down a large pasteboard box from a cupboard. From this box she took several tiny round boxes, such as druggists use for pills.
"I think Muriel Elsie needs two kinds of medicine," said Grandmother gravely. "Now if you want to watch me put it up, there's nothing to hinder you."
Grandmother Hastings could play "pretend" beautifully, as Brother and Sister often said. Now she opened her shining white bread box and took out a loaf of white bread and one of brown. She washed her hands carefully at the sink, tied on a big white apron and brought the sugar and cinnamon from the pantry.
"Oh, Grandma!" squeaked Brother in joyful excitement. "What are you going to do?"
"Why, get some medicine ready for Muriel Elsie," answered his grandmother, making believe to be surprised. "Didn't you want me to?"
"Of course—don't mind him, Grandma," said Sister scornfully. "I'd like to keep a drug store when I grow up."
Grandmother cut a slice of bread from the white loaf and buttered it lightly. Then she sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, broke off a little piece and rolled that into several tiny round balls. They looked for all the world like real pills.
Then she cut a slice of brown bread and rolled that into little pills, too. She filled four of the small boxes.
"There!" she said, giving the boxes to Brother. "See that your patient takes a white pill and a brown one every two minutes and she will soon be well."
"Thank you very much, Grandma," said Brother, standing up to go. 'Don't you want us to eat the trimmings?"
Grandmother laughed and said yes, they might eat the crusts, and she gave them each a slice of the brown bread spread with nice, sweet butter, too.
Brother and Sister hurried home and on the way over they changed to the Doctor and Muriel Elsie's worried mamma. They had been so interested in watching Grandmother Hastings make the pills that they had almost forgotten what they were playing.
They had left the patient in the porch swing —Sister said it was important to keep her in the fresh air—but when they went to take her up and give her a pill, she wasn't to be found.
"Perhaps Louise did something to her," decided Sister.
But Louise, questioned, declared she had not seen the doll.
"Is it Muriel Elsie you're looking for?" asked Molly, her head tied up in a sweep cap and a broom on her shoulder as she prepared to sweep the upstairs hall. "Why, I found her half an hour ago on the porch floor, her face all cracked into little chips."
"Muriel Elsie all chipped?" repeated Sister in wonder. "Why, she's my very best doll!"
" 'Twas that imp of a Brownie did it," related Molly. "I was coming out to sweep the porch off, and he raced on ahead and went to jerking the cushions out of the hammock. First thing I knew there was a crash, and the doll was smashed on the floor. I saved you the pieces, Sister."
Brownie had a trick, the children knew, of snatching the sofa and swing cushions and flinging them on the floor whenever he thought anyone was ready to sleep. They had always considered this rather a clever trick for a little dog, and Sister could not find it in her heart to scold him even now.
"I suppose he didn't know Muriel Elsie was there," she said sorrowfully. "I had a cushion over her so she couldn't take cold. Where did you put her, Molly?"
Molly brought out the box with the unfortunate Muriel Elsie in it. Only her pretty face was damaged and that was badly chipped. Besides her whole head wobbled on her body. Sister began to cry.
"Maybe Ralph can mend her," she sobbed. "My poor little Muriel Elsie! And we were playing she was sick, too."
"Yes, I guess Ralph can mend her," said Brother bravely. "He can mend lots of things. And you have all the pieces."
Sister took the box under her arm and went down to the gate to wait for Ralph, who was expected home on an early train.
"Well, I s'pose we might as well eat the pills," suggested Brother. "Muriel Elsie's certainly too sick for pills—she needs—operating on!"
So they ate the pills while they were waiting for Ralph, and they gave Brownie some, too. As Sister said he didn't mean to break the doll and he probably felt the way she did when she found she had knocked over Jimmie's case of butterflies.
On to chapter 20