Brother Bones

Rose accepted her uncle’s offer, as Aunt Myra discovered two or three days later. Coming in for an early call, and hearing voices in the study, she opened the door, gave a cry and shut it quickly, looking a good deal startled. The Doctor appeared in a moment, and begged to know what the matter was.

“How can you ask when that long box looks so like a coffin I thought it was one, and that dreadful thing stared me in the face as I opened the door,” answered Mrs. Myra, pointing to the skeleton that hung from the chandelier cheerfully grinning at all beholders.

“This is a medical college where women are freely admitted, so walk in, madam, and join the class if you’ll do me the honour,” said the Doctor, waving her forward with his politest bow.

“Do, auntie, it’s perfectly splendid,” cried Rose’s voice, and Rose’s blooming face was seen behind the ribs of the skeleton, smiling and nodding in the gayest possible manner.

“What are you doing, child?” demanded Aunt Myra, dropping into a chair and staring about her.

“Oh, I’m learning bones to-day, and I like it so much. There are twelve ribs, you know, and the two lower ones are called floating ribs, because they are not fastened to the breastbone. That’s why they go in so easily if you lace tight and squeeze the lungs and heart in the—let me see, what was that big word—oh, I know—thoracic cavity,” and Rose beamed with pride as she aired her little bit of knowledge.

“Do you think that is a good sort of thing for her to be poking over? She is a nervous child, and I’m afraid it will be bad for her,” said Aunt Myra, watching Rose as she counted vertebræ, and waggled a hip- joint in its socket with an inquiring expression.

“An excellent study, for she enjoys it, and I mean to teach her how to manage her nerves so that they won’t be a curse to her, as many a woman’s become through ignorance or want of thought. To make a mystery or terror of these things is a mistake, and I mean Rose shall understand and respect her body so well that she won’t dare to trifle with it as most women do.”

“And she really likes it?”

“Very much, auntie! It’s all so wonderful, and so nicely planned, you can hardly believe what you see. Just think, there are 600,000,000 air cells in one pair of lungs, and 2,000 pores to a square inch of surface; so you see what quantities of air we must have, and what care we should take of our skin so all the little doors will open and shut right. And brains, auntie, you’ve no idea how curious they are; I haven’t got to them yet, but I long to, and uncle is going to show me a manikin that you can take to pieces. Just think how nice it will be to see all the organs in their places; I only wish they could be made to work as ours do.”

It was funny to see Aunt Myra’s face as Rose stood before her talking rapidly with one hand laid in the friendliest manner on the skeleton’s shoulder. Every word both the Doctor and Rose uttered hit the good lady in her weakest spot, and as she looked and listened a long array of bottles and pill-boxes rose up before her, reproaching her with the “ignorance and want of thought” that made her what she was, a nervous, dyspeptic, unhappy old woman.

“Well, I don’t know but you may be right, Alec, only I wouldn’t carry it too far. Women don’t need much of this sort of knowledge, and are not fit for it. I couldn’t bear to touch that ugly thing, and it gives me the creeps to hear about ‘organs,’ ” said Aunt Myra, with a sigh and her hand on her side.

“Wouldn’t it be a comfort to know that your liver was on the right side, auntie, and not on the left!” asked Rose with a naughty laugh in her eyes, for she had lately learnt that Aunt Myra’s liver complaint was not in the proper place.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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