Thursday, November 26, 2020 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Dinah Maria Mulock

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"Get out o' Mr. Fletcher's road, ye idle, lounging, little "
"Vagabond," I think the woman (Sally Walkins, once my nurse,) was going to say, but she changed her mind.
--
First lines.

 
Dinah Maria Mulock

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On the bus going home I heard a most fascinating conversation between an old man and woman. "What a thing, though," the old woman said. "You'd hardly credit it." "She's always made a fuss of the whole family, but never me," the old man said. "Does she have a fire when the young people go to see her?" "Fire?" "She won't get people seeing her without warmth." "I know why she's doing it. Don't think I don't," the old man said. "My sister she said to me, 'I wish I had your easy life.' Now that upset me. I was upset by the way she phrased herself. 'Don't talk to me like that,' I said. 'I've only got to get on the phone and ring a certain number,' I said, 'to have you stopped.'" "Yes," the old woman said, "And you can, can't you?" "Were they always the same?" she said. "When you was a child? Can you throw yourself back? How was they years ago?" "The same," the old man said. "Wicked, isn't it?" the old woman said. "Take care, now" she said, as the old man left her. He didn't say a word but got off the bus looking disgruntled.

 
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Frances Egan, the school nurse, left her nutrition charts long enough to tell me there was nothing that could have been done. "Evelyn had a rough time with her father," she said. "Once she came in beaten black and blue."
"What did you do for her?"
"I gave her a cup of tea."
"Tea? Why tea, for heaven's sake?"
"Why? Because I know all about it," she said, shaking with anger. "I know more than anyone here what goes on outside poverty, disease, dope, degeneracy yet I'm not supposed to give them even a band-aid. I used to plead, bang on my desk, talk myself hoarse arguing with kids, parents, welfare, administration, social agencies. Nobody really heard me. Now I give them tea. At least, that's something."
"But you're a nurse," I said helplessly.
She showed me the Directive from the Board posted on her wall: THE SCHOOL NURSE MAY NOT TOUCH WOUNDS, GIVE MEDICATION, REMOVE FOREIGN PARTICLES FROM THE EYE...
Are we, none of us, then, allowed to touch wounds? What is the teacher's responsibility? And if it begins at all, where does it end?

 
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"But she's too big!" the anguished man said, still glaring at Vivian. "This girl is not the right size!"
...
"She was six when she went away, Father," Jonathan said. He did not seem in the least alarmed. "That was nearly six years ago. Think how much I've changed since then."
"So you have," said this alarming man, turning his glare on Jonathan as if he did not think the change was for the better. "I see," he said. "She grew."

 
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"But she's too big!" the anguished man said, still glaring at Vivian. "This girl is not the right size!"
...
"She was six when she went away, Father," Jonathan said. He did not seem in the least alarmed. "That was nearly six years ago. Think how much I've changed since then."
"So you have," said this alarming man, turning his glare on Jonathan as if he did not think the change was for the better. "I see," he said. "She grew."

 
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