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In The Children’s Hospital
by [?]

The fact was printed the other day that the half-hundred children or more who are in the hospitals on North Brother Island had no playthings, not even a rattle, to make the long days skip by, which, set in smallpox, scarlet fever, and measles, must be longer there than anywhere else in the world. The toys that were brought over there with a consignment of nursery tots who had the typhus fever had been worn clean out, except some fish horns which the doctor frowned on, and which were therefore not allowed at large. Not as much as a red monkey on a yellow stick was there left on the island to make the youngsters happy.

That afternoon a big, hearty-looking man came into the office with the paper in his hand, and demanded to see the editor. He had come, he said, to see to it that those sick youngsters got the playthings they were entitled to; and a regular Santa Claus he proved to the friendless little colony on the lonely island; for he left a crisp fifty-dollar note behind when he went away without giving his name. The single condition was attached to the gift that it should be spent buying toys for the children on North Brother Island.

Accordingly, a strange invading army took the island by storm three or four nights ago. Under cover of the darkness it had itself ferried over from One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Street in the department yawl, and before morning it was in undisputed possession. It has come to stay. Not a doll or a sheep will ever leave the island again. They may riot upon it as they please, within certain well-defined limits, but none of them can ever cross the channel to the mainland again, unless it be the rubber dolls who can swim, so it is said. Here is the muster-roll:–

Six sheep (four with lambs), six fairies (big dolls in street dress), twelve rubber dolls (in woollen jackets), four railroad trains, twenty-eight base-balls, twenty rubber balls, six big painted (Scotch plaid) rubber balls, six still bigger ditto, seven boxes of blocks, half a dozen music-boxes, twenty-four rattles, six bubble (soap) toys, twelve small engines, six games of dominos, twelve rubber toys (old woman who lived in a shoe, etc.), five wooden toys (bad bear, etc.), thirty-six horse reins.

As there is only one horse on the island, and that one a very steady-going steed in no urgent need of restraint, this last item might seem superfluous, but only to the uninstructed mind. Within a brief week half the boys and girls on the island that are out of bed long enough to stand on their feet will be transformed into ponies and the other half into drivers, and flying teams will go cavorting around to the tune of “Johnny, Get your Gun,” and the “Jolly Brothers Gallop,” as they are ground out of the music-boxes by little fingers that but just now toyed feebly with the balusters on the golden stair.

That music! When I went over to the island it fell upon my ears in little drops of sweet melody, as soon as I came in sight of the nurses’ quarters. I listened, but couldn’t make out the tune. The drops seemed mixed. When I opened the door upon one of the nurses, Dr. Dixon, and the hospital matron, each grinding his or her music for all there was in it, and looking perfectly happy withal, I understood why.

They were all playing different tunes at the same time, the nurse “When the Robins Nest Again,” Dr. Dixon “Nancy Lee,” and the matron “Sweet Violets.” A little child stood by in open-mouthed admiration, that became ecstasy when I joined in with “The Babies on our Block.” It was all for the little one’s benefit, and she thought it beautiful without a doubt.