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The Primrose Ring   By: (1880-1970)

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E text prepared by Al Haines





Harper & Brothers Publishers New York & London



The Little Mother this book in memory of the Primrose Ring she wove for me once on a time


DEAR PEOPLE, Whoever you are and wherever you may be when you take up this book I beg of you not to feel disturbed because I have let Fancy and a faery or two slip in between the covers. You will find them quite harmless and friendly and very eager to become acquainted.

Furthermore, please do not search about for Saint Margaret's; it does not exist. I shamelessly confess to the building of it myself, using my right of authorship to bring a stone from this place, and a cornice from that, to cap the foundation I discovered long ago when I was a child. In a like manner have I furnished its board of trustees. Do not misjudge them; remember that when one is so careless as to let Fancy and faeries into a book she is forced to let the stepmothers be unkind and the giants cruel.

I should like to remind those who may be forgetting that Tir na n'Og is the land of eternal youth and joyousness the Celtic "Land of Heart's Desire." It is a country which belongs to us all by right of natural heritage; but we turned our backs to it and started journeying from it almost the instant we stepped out of our cradles.

As for the primrose ring reach across it to Bridget and let her give you back again the heart of a child which you may have lost somewhere along the road of Growing Old and Wise.

R. S.




Would it ever have happened at all if Trustee Day had not fallen on the 30th of April which is May Eve, as everybody knows?

This is something you must ask of those wiser than I, for I am only the story teller, sitting in the shadow of the market place, passing on the tale that comes to my ears. But I can remind you that May Eve is one of the most bewitched and bewitching times of the whole year reason enough to account for any number of strange happenings; and I can point out to your notice that Margaret MacLean, in charge of Ward C at Saint Margaret's, found the flower seller at the corner of the street that morning with his basket full of primroses. Now primroses are "gentle flowers," as everybody ought to know which means that the faeries have been using them for thousands of years to work magic; and Margaret MacLean bought the full of her hands that morning.

And this brings us back to Trustee Day at Saint Margaret's which fell on the 30th of April and to the beginning of the story.

Saint Margaret's Free Hospital for Children does not belong to the city. It was built by a rich man as a memorial to his son, a little crippled lad who stayed just long enough to leave behind as a legacy for his father a great crying hunger to minister to all little ailing and crippled bodies. There are golden tales concerning those first years of the hospital tales passed on by word of mouth alone and so old as to have gathered a bit of the misty glow of illusion that hangs over all myths and traditions. They made of Saint Margaret's an arcadian refuge, where the Founder wandered all day and every day like a patron saint. Tradition endowed him with all the attributes of all saints belonging to childhood: the protectiveness of Saint Christopher, the tenderness of Saint Anthony, the loving comradeship of Saint Valentine, and the joyfulness of Saint Nicholas.

But that was more than fifty years ago; and institutions can change marvelously in half a century. Time had buried more than the Founder.

The rich still support Saint Margaret's. Society gives bazars and costumed balls for it annually; great artists give benefit concerts; bankers, corporation presidents, and heiresses send liberal checks once a year and from this last group are chosen the trustees. They have made of Saint Margaret's the best appointed hospital in the city... Continue reading book >>

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