Friday, April 16, 2010

EBENEZER FINDS A HOME! by Henriette Forester; April 1935; part 3

A starched white nurse opened to them. "The directress is busy," she chirped in her light empty voice. "Would you like to see the nursery while you wait?"

There were ten tiny babies in three different rooms, each separated from the other by a glass partition. Each room and bed looked mechanically perfect. The tiny bodies hardly showed under the white spreads. Why, those mites were no bigger than chicks in an incubator. Myrtle's heart grew heavier and heavier, as she passed from one spotless, mechanically perfect room to the next...Where was the husky boy she had dreamed of, who would be old enough to travel and big enough to wear the knitted shorts she had made him?

"Are these all?" she asked with a sinking heart.

"A few of our babies are having sun baths now before they go in the tub. Would you like to see how we bathe them?"

Eben sighed aloud. He was looking more wretched every minute, and crushing and smoothing his good hat between red, sweaty hands, until Myrtle just couldn't bear it. Seeing him so nervous made her more nervous still.

"Go along, Eben. Get some lunch and take a bus ride. You can meet me in that park we passed after lunch. There's no sense in two of us staying here all day."

You're right about that, agreed Eben promptly, and made for the door.

"The men take it hard," said the nurse with her silly laugh. Myrtle loathed her for laughing. But anyway the young thing wouldn't have said that unless you looked perfectly calm, she encouraged herself.

She watched two tiny babies whisked in and out of a rubber tub, rubbed with this ointment or that, powdered and dressed and returned to their cribs.

"This is our oldest baby," the young nurse said, as a sturdy boy in a blue bathrobe sailed in on his nurse's shoulder. Another nurse ran water into a small tub, just his size. And Myrtle, peering over the white starched shoulder, saw Ebenezer! His stocky legs, his laughing eyes, his dark crest of hair. He splashed in his tub and crowed like a baby rooster.

"Oh, you darling! cried Myrtle.

"He likes the ribbon in your hat," laughed the nurse.

Myrtle bent her head and he grabbed for her hat with small, strong fingers.

Only the ringing telephone bell saved Myrtle's hat.

"The directress will see Mrs. Paulson now," said the nurse who answered.

The directress didn't wear stiff white. She wore oyster colored pongee, cool and gentle as a soft gray cloud. Thought Myrtle, "I'll bet the babies are just crazy about her."

Looking at the directress Myrtle forgot her hat and her legs quivering under the blue serge skirt, forgot everything except Ebenezer waiting upstairs for her to take him home.

"I liked your letter, Mrs. Paulson," said the directress in her rich gentle voice. "And I wrote you to come because I thought the little boy upstairs might be the baby for you."

"That's my little boy, Ma'am. He's the one I've been getting ready for for two years."