Suffering had refined the boy's features. His dark, heavily fringed eyes

looked at her from a pale face. But he smiled up at her cheerfully.

"I was in a private room; but it cost thirty plunks a week, so I moved.

Why pay rent?"

Sidney had not seen him since his accident. She had wished to go, but K.

had urged against it. She was not strong, and she had already suffered

much. And now the work of the ward pressed hard. She had only a moment.

She stood beside him and stroked his hand.

"I'm sorry, Johnny."

He pretended to think that her sympathy was for his fall from the estate of


a private patient to the free ward.

"Oh, I'm all right, Miss Sidney," he said. "Mr. Howe is paying six dollars

a week for me. The difference between me and the other fellows around here

is that I get a napkin on my tray and they don't."

Before his determined cheerfulness Sidney choked.

"Six dollars a week for a napkin is going some. I wish you'd tell Mr. Howe

to give ma the six dollars. She'll be needing it. I'm no bloated

aristocrat; I don't have to have a napkin."

"Have they told you what the trouble is?"

"Back's broke. But don't let that worry you. Dr. Max Wilson is going to

operate on me. I'll be doing the tango yet."

Sidney's eyes shone. Of course, Max could do it. What a thing it was to

be able to take this life-in-death of Johnny Rosenfeld's and make it life


All sorts of men made up Sidney's world: the derelicts who wandered through

the ward in flapping slippers, listlessly carrying trays; the unshaven men

in the beds, looking forward to another day of boredom, if not of pain;

Palmer Howe with his broken arm; K., tender and strong, but filling no

especial place in the world. Towering over them all was the younger

Wilson. He meant for her, that Christmas morning, all that the other men

were not--to their weakness strength, courage, daring, power.

Johnny Rosenfeld lay back on the pillows and watched her face.

"When I was a kid," he said, "and ran along the Street, calling Dr. Max a

dude, I never thought I'd lie here watching that door to see him come in.

You have had trouble, too. Ain't it the hell of a world, anyhow? It ain't

much of a Christmas to you, either."

Sidney fed him his morning beef tea, and, because her eyes filled up with

tears now and then at his helplessness, she was not so skillful as she

might have been. When one spoonful had gone down his neck, he smiled up at

her whimsically.

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