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by Nikolai Nosov
Translated by Margaret Wettlin
Illustrated by Boris Kalaushin
They went up to the door and Snowdrop rang a little bell that went "ding-a-ling-a-ling". The door was opened by a nurse in a white smock and cap, and with a row of golden curls bouncing up and down on her forehead.
Another patient!" she gasped when she saw them. "There's no place to put him, upon my word! Where in the world do they come from? For a whole year our hospital's been empty, and today we've taken in fourteen patients!"
"This isn't a patient," said Snowdrop. "He's come to see his friends."
"Oh, if that's the case, come in."
All three of them went into the doctor's office. They found Honeysuckle sitting at a desk. In front of her lay a heap of cards on which she was writing what was wrong with each patient. As soon as she caught sight of Snowdrop and Cornflower, she said:
"I suppose you've come to see the patients? I can't allow it. You forget that sick people need peace and quiet. What's that on your forehead, Cornflower — a plaster? Clever girl! I warned you it would come to that. Nobody knows better than I do how dangerous those boys are. Let one in the house, and you can expect nothing but kicks and bruises."
"We don't want to see the patients," said Snowdrop. "He does. They're his friends."
"Hm, I told that young fellow to stay in bed, and here he is, up and about in defiance of doctor's orders and picking a fight with everybody. I can't let him in here. The hospital is no place for fighting."
"I won't fight," said Dunno.
"Oh, you won't, won't you?" said Honeysuckle sternly, striking the table with her wooden trumpet. "Boys always say they won't fight, but they
Honeysuckle seemed to think the matter dismissed, for she turned to Cornflower, and said: "Show me your forehead, dear."
She pulled off the plaster and examined the sore spot.
"You don't need to wear this plaster any more," she said when the examination was over. "Come with me, dear. I'll treat your bump with ultra-violet rays so that it doesn't turn black and blue."
She and Cornflower went out of the room. As soon as they were gone Dunno caught sight of a white smock and cap hanging on a hook.
He instantly put them on, and he also put on a pair of spectacles Honeysuckle had left lying on the desk. Then he picked up her wooden trumpet and went out of the room. Snowdrop stood watching him in awe and admiration.
He went down the corridor and opened the door of the ward in which his friends lay. In the first bed he found Grumps who was looking more surly and sullen than ever.
"How are you feeling, my friend?" said Dunno, changing his voice.
"Wonderful!" said Grumps, making a face as if he were to die.
"Sit up, if you please," said Dunno.
Grumps sat up with a great effort and stared dully in front of him. Dunno put the wooden trumpet to his chest.
"Breathe deeply, if you please," he said.
"Can't you give a man any peace?" grumbled Grumps. " 'Situp!' 'Liedown!' 'Breathe deeply!' 'Stop breathing!'"
Dunno gave him a little whack on the head with the trumpet.
"You haven't changed in the least, Grumps," he said.
"Dunno!" he said, amazed at seeing him.
"Sh-sh!" warned Dunno.
"Listen, Dunno, help me get out of here," whispered Grumps. "I'm perfectly well, honestly I am. I just gave my knee a little bump. It doesn't even hurt any more, but they won't give me my clothes. I'll go mad here. I want to get up and go out."
Grumps seized Dunno by the sleeve and wouldn't let go.
"I'll do something," said Dunno. "Just be patient a little longer. Promise to do as I say, and if anybody asks you who made the balloon, tell them it was me, will you?"
"I'll say anything you like if you just get me out of here," said Grumps.
"Leave it to me," said Dunno with great self-assurance.
Then he went over to the next bed, where Dr. Pillman was lying.
"Save me!" whispered Dr. Pillman in despair. "Just think of it! All my life I've been making people well, and now they went to make me well!"
"Why shouldn't they?" asked Dunno.
"How can they!" said Dr. Pillman. "There's nothing wrong with me. You can't keep a person in the hospital just because he's got a scratch on his nose and a bruise on his shoulder!"
"Then what do they keep you here for?"
"Because they haven't any other patients and they want to take care of somebody. Girls! As if they knew anything! Bah! All they do is put plasters on the outside and honey inside. All wrong. What they want is to put iodine on the outside and castor oil inside. I heartily disapprove of their methods."
"I do too," chimed in P'raps from the next bed.
"No walking, no running, no hide-and-seek, no blind-man's-buff. Not even any singing. They've taken all our clothes away and given us nothing but handkerchiefs. All we can do is lie here and blow our noses."
"What did you come to the hospital for?"
"When we fell out of the basket last night we lay down to sleep. Next morning some girls woke us up and asked us where we were from. We told them we had come in a balloon that had crashed. 'Crashed?!' they said. 'Hurt?!' they said. 'Then you must come to our hospital.' And that's how we got here."
"And nobody was hurt?"
"Nobody but Shot."
Dunno went over to Shot's bed.
"What's the matter with you?" he asked.
"Sprained my ankle. Can't walk at all. But that's not what troubles me. Dot's gone. Couldn't you find him for me? He must be somewhere about, but I can't look for him. Do look for him, that's a good chap."
"I will," said Dunno. "I'll find him for you. I will, that is, if you tell everybody I was the one who made the balloon."
Dunno went from bed to bed, warning all his friends to say that he was the one who had made the balloon. At last he went back to the doctor's office where Snowdrop was waiting for him impatiently.
"How are your sick friends?" she said.
"There's nothing wrong with them at all," said Dunno with a little laugh. "Shot's the only one who has anything the matter with him."
"So they'll soon be out of the hospital? How nice!" said Snowdrop. "Do you know what I've thought of? We'll give a ball to celebrate their getting well. Won't that be fun?"
"It doesn't look as if they were going to be let out very soon," said Dunno.
Just then Honeysuckle and Cornflower came back.
"Who told you you could put on that smock?" said Honeysuckle angrily. "I never saw such disobedience!"
"I wasn't disobedient," said Dunno. "I just went to see how my friends were."
"And how did you find them?" asked Honeysuckle mockingly.
"I found that all but one of them were well and could leave the hospital."
"What?" said Honeysuckle in fright. "Can you imagine what would happen if we let out fourteen boys all at once? They would turn the town upside down! Not a house would have a whole window left in it, and all of us would be covered with bumps and bruises. The boys must be kept in hospital to prevent an epidemic of bumps and bruises."
"Maybe we could let them out one at a time?" suggested Cornflower. "One a day, perhaps?"
"That's too slow," put in Snowdrop. "At least two a day. We'll never be able to give a ball at that rate."
"One a day," insisted Honeysuckle. "We'll draw up a list and begin letting them out tomorrow."
"Two a day, darling! Two!" cried Snowdrop, throwing her arms about Honeysuckle and kissing her on the cheek. "I want so badly to give a ball! And you ought to come, too, you dance so beautifully!"
"Very well, two a day," said Honeysuckle. "We'll begin with the best-be-haved. You must help us here," said she, turning to Dunno. "Who is the best-be-haved?"
"They're all well-behaved," said Dunno.
"You can't make me believe that. Boys are never well-behaved. One has always got to think of some sort of work to keep them out of mischief."
"Then we'd better let out Bendum and Twistum first. They can begin mending the car as soon as they're out," said Cornflower.
"An excellent idea," said Honeysuckle. "So Bendum and Twistum head the list."
The tinkers' names were written down.
"I'd like to let Grumps out next," said Honeysuckle. "He's such a nuisance, lying there grumbling all day long!"
"You mustn't," said Dunno. "Let him lie in hospital till he's cured of his grumbling."
"Then we'll let Dr. Pillman out next. He disapproves of our methods and criticizes everything we do. It's very hard to have to listen to him. I'd be very glad to get rid of him."
"You mustn't let him out either," said Dunno. "He's been treating others all his life, let him get a dose of it himself. Let out Blobs. He's a good artist and we'll find work for him straightaway. He's my pupil. I'm the one who taught him to paint."
"Oh, do!" implored Snowdrop. "Couldn't you let him out this very minute? I'll ask him to paint my portrait."
"And Trills," added Dunno. "He, too, is my pupil. I taught him to play the flute."
Snowdrop threw her arms about Honeysuckle's neck again.
"Do let out Blobs and Trills, darling," she cried. "Please, please do!"
"I suppose I might make an exception in their cases," she said. "But the others will have to wait their turn."
At last the list was drawn up. Honeysuckle gave orders to have the clothes of Blobs and Trills returned to them. A few minutes later both of them appeared in her office beaming with pleasure.
"We are letting you out," said Honeysuckle. "See that you behave yourselves, or we'll put you straight back in hospital."
Author: Nosov N.; illustrated by Kalaushin B.
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