MONTHS AN ARMY TWELVE

MONTHS AN ARMY TWELVE
TWELVE MONTHS
IN AN ARMY
HOSPITAL
BY A NURSE
WHO DIDNT GO
ACROSS
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See page 15.
TWELVE MONTHS IN AN
ARMY HOSPITAL
by
A NURSE WHO DIDN'T
GO ACROSS
m @
Press of
THE ABLE PRINTERS,
Washington, D,
1921.
C.
Inc.,
^^h
Copyright, 1921, by T. Lewis.
•
4r
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JUL 26 1221
CIA617765
CONTENTS
Foreword.
—Just a Plain Nurse,
Chapter —A Red Cross Nurse.
Chapter
— On the Road.
Chapter IV—A Pleasant Encounter.
Chapter
I
II
III
Chapter
V—A
Chapter VI
Chapter
Wet
Reception.
—Enthusiasm
VII— On
Aroused.
the "Field of Action."
—A
Chapter VIII
Remarkable Transfor-
mation.
—Reminiscences.
Chapter X— Christmas in the Ward.
Chapter XI—A Change of Surroundings.
Chapter IX
Chapter
XII— "Off
Duty."
FOREWORD
It is with no pretention to literarymerit, but simply a brief record of one
person's experiences combined with a few
quotations and remarks, during twelve
months spent among our sick boys, at an
Army hospital in the U. S. A., that I attempt, at the oft repeated request of a
few friends, to write these notes, taken
partly from letters written at that time,
but mostly from incidents which recur to
my mind after a period of two years and
over.
Some may
object to a tone of lightness
found in these notes, and to that I would
say that the desire to avoid making them
appear cheerless and gloomy, coming as
they do from the saddest of scenes, an
Army hospital, has to some extent, produced too much the opposite color, to those
who have never experienced the sharp
contrasts of the tragic and comic in such a
life.
With the desire to sow at least some
good seed along the way, even tho' hand
in
hand with what might appear
like lev-
ity as
book,
found in some portions of the little
hope may not argue the fact of a
I
proper reverence for holy things, either
a lack of appreciation of the comic wherever it appeared. A wise preacher has
said, that "A merry heart doeth good as a
medicine" and one found this proverb
amply verified by the beneficial effect upon
a ward of sick men which a good laugh
produced.
The boys took to a good joke like a duck
to water, so along with the pills, moral
lectures and general army orders, went
wherever possible a little merriment as a
variation from the other treatments. If
this little book should meet with any favor
whatever from the public I can only regret that it is not more worthy of such
a kind reception.
It has suited my fancy, to substitute
names of persons and places in these notes,
with the exception of a few of the towns.
T. E. L.
CHAPTER
I
Just a Plain Nurse
do not know that a sufficientlylarge number of persons will
care to read about the doings
of a nurse while trying to do
her bit to help along the success of the
World War,
to
make
it
worth
while writing about, but for some time, by
the urgent request of some friends, and
by the aid of the inconvenient little voice
which is always goading people to the performance of disagreeable duties, I have
decided to try to do my best toward setting down on paper, a few of the happenings which occurred during that time.
After a lapse of several months I suppose it will be somewhat difficult to recall
many interesting events, and had I but
jotted down a few notes, as they happened
all thru those months, it would be much
easier to write an interesting account of
the work there at this time.
I am of the opinion that one should have
a worthy object in view before attempt-
ing anything, and it is with a wish to
portray to the friends and relatives of our
soldier boys, a picture so clear that they
may see as we nurses saw, how their boys
felt, tho't, acted, and were treated, while
away in training, for I believe if there was
any one set of individuals who were permitted to see the inside workings of the
life of those boys while in the army hospital it was that humble, but necessary
adjunct to a Base Hospital, The Red Cross
Nurse.
I
wish
all
America could have seen how
bravely and patiently our boys bore the
hardships of camp life, for, tho they were
still in our own country, there were hardships, and plenty of them, and many and
varied were the occasions to call forth acts
of heroism, not all of which were enacted
upon battle-field or in the trenches.
fear no one but a nurse will appreciate
it means to find a whole ward, containing forty or fifty suffering men, first
night post operative patients, having had,
not even the minimum dose of an opiate,
but not a groan, a moan, or murmur, of
any sort, ^but that is part of my story
I
what
—
I
entered the
Red Cross nursing
in the early part of the year 1917,
8
service
which
saw me
in our Capital City doing private
nursing. I had gone there to take the
State Board examination, and finding so
many congenial spirits in the nursing
world there, I just stayed. I had a room
and boarded at the Central Registry which
was run by a nurse. Miss Raber, a lady of
very fine character and high aspirations,
I found it a great pleasure on many occasions, to listen to her talk as she was a
woman whose knowledge was far reaching
in all branches of nursing work, and having attended many of the National conventions, was up to the minute on all subjects pertaining to our work, as well as
being a woman of kindly nature, very
much interested in everything that was
uplifting, and would go to no end of trouble to help those who were in need, if she
could.
She was very highly thought of
by those who gathered around her, but
could on occasion be very severe should
any nurse happen to fall below the high
standard with which she expected all
"her nurses," as she called them, to conduct themselves.
I
went about with her a great deal that
summer when
"off duty" to church, on
shopping expeditions, to visit the Base
Hospital at Camp D
which was in
,
process of construction, a short distance
I found her a most concity.
genial, pleasant, and agreeable companion
upon these occasions, and I grew very
fond of her. Thp* she was at all times
jovial and merry, there was always a
certain reserve, which rare characters
possess, which recalls a paragraph of
Emerson's Essays, which says that we do
not get near enough to become thoroughly
acquainted, but seem to nod to one another from our respective peaks, (as it were)
from the
always had some such feeling about my
friend Miss R
and felt just a little in
I
,
awe
of her.
There were some two hundred nurses,
from various states, staying here at this
time. The Central Registry was indeed
the center of nursing activities of the city,
as well as I may say, also of the State.
For it was necessary for all nurses upon
graduation from their hospital anywhere
in the state, to come to the Capital City
to take the State examination, whereupon
passing successfully, they eventually
found their way to the Registry, and finding such a congenial wholesome atmosphere about the place, decided, if any
rooms were available, to make it their
permanent abode, for awhile at least, as I
10
Groups of nurses would be
parlor or on the verliving-room,
found in
anda, talking of current events, but more
often of the War, and happenings in conIt was inevitable that
nection with it.
had done.
nurses would be called too, and there were
some rumors afloat to the effect that
nurses were to be conscripted the same
as the soldiers.
We tho't, most of us, that it would be a
great disgrace to the nursing profession,
should the nurses neglect to voluntarily
offer their services, thereby incurring the
humiliating danger of being compelled to
There were many gatherings of a sogo.
cial nature among the nurses that summer, one I will mention in particular.
I had come in from a case in the country, one afternoon late in May, and found
the nurses who were "in" some dozen or
more, in a furor of excitement, in anticipation of a dinner, which was to be given
the nurses that evening, by the State
Nursing organization, at a tea room on
the 7th floor of one of the finest department stores in the city. It was to be in
honor of a nurse, who had been recalled
by the Red Cross Organization, from a
Base Hospital in the west, to prepare to
be sent overseas.
11
Miss Bois, the nurse in question, was at
that moment, right under our very roof.
All the nurses who happened to be "in"
that evening, were given a ticket and an
This was a very briUiant and
invitation.
enjoyable affair. There were about fifty
nurses present, all the bright and shining
lights in the nursing world of our particular State were there, and the speeches,
toasts and repartee, were very instructive
as well as entertaining. Out of the large
number of nurses who roomed at the Registry, comparatively few took their meals
there, and we who did, had a chance to become quite well acquainted. Miss Bois
stayed here while preparing to go to
France, and upon close acquaintance, she
appeared to be just the right sort of person to be sent over. Strong, physically
perfect, a woman of fine character, old
enough to be sensible, kind-hearted, sympathetic, her whole heart in the work, and
if many a mother's son does not bless the
day the A. E. F. sent such a nurse across,
then
ril
"miss
my
guess."
Of course, we who were staying behind,
were glad for her good luck, while we envied her early departure, but contented
ourselves with the thought that we would
But when the
join her there ere long.
12
Armistice was signed, I was still here, but
was so glad the horrible war was ended,
that I was only too willing to forego the
exciting experiences overseas. I was at
the Registry upon that memorable evening, while sitting with a group of nurses
upon the veranda, when the newsboy's cry
of "Extra War declared on Germany"
made our hearts stop beating and our lips
pale. Eagerly we scanned the sheet which
proved that it was no idle farce, that the
country was to call its brave sons ere long
to go forth to bleed and die, if necessary,
for the cause of right and justice. It
seemed a very sad day to have come to,
here in our own beautiful free America.
—
I resolved there and then, to go and
nurse the soldiers, little dreaming thru
what sloughs of despond, in the shape of
delays,^ hindrances, of one kind and another, and entanglements of "Government
Red Tape" one would have to wade, ere
the resolve came true.
First a letter to Washington for general
information as to the procedure of entering Red Cross work. While waiting word
from Washington, a letter to the "Alma
Mater" for indorsement, credentials, etc.
In the meantime examinations moral,
mental and physical, sundry dosages of
13
typhoid, para-typhoid, and smallpox antisomewhat lengthy
toxin and vaccine.
from
hospital, causmy
hearing
delay in
ing all sorts of vague speculations, as to
the cause.
Every thoughtless deed and action,
which our hapless natures had perpetrated throughout the three years hospital
A
was no doubt being reviewed by
that august facluty, and woe to that poor
training,
luckless damsel who could not present, if
not an entirely spotless career, one at
Never in all
least passably exemplary.
those
"uncertain-as-to-what-may-bef all-
you" years in training, had the Superintendent wielded such a weapon as was in
her power for influence at this time. Even
some of the doctors must add their approval or disapproval, as the case might
I wondered if in some reckless unbe.
guarded moment of vexation I had spoken
my mind too freely in an unflattering
manner
to some of the doctors, incurring
wrath and life-long prejudice perIf such be the case, then my "blood
was upon my own head." Retribution had
their
haps.
overtaken me at last.
A long tedious day in any hospital
crowded with harassing duties, is not at
all times conductive to that evenness of
temperament and kindliness of
14
disposi-
the author had in mind who wrote
that ''Nurses are born, not made," "and
what impels a woman to become a nurse
is the eternal instinct of motherliness, the
compassion for suffering, and when that
grace is born very big in a woman, the
idea of caring for the sick, entices her irThis is all very beautiful,
resistably."
and it was with some such exalted
thoughts that I had entered upon my profession, and I thought then and do yet,
that the medical profession likewise when
followed in the proper spirit, is a continual source of moral satisfaction and happiness to the generous heart, for its aim is
to alleviate human suffering, and lengthen
out human existence. Its ambition is to
gladden as well as to prolong human life,
by warding off disease as the greatest of
mortal evils, and restoring health and at
times reason itself as the greatest of mortion,
tal blessings.
But during the toilsome days of trainamid the numerous cares and respon-
ing,
the rush to get on duty on time
causing one to neglect the most important of all duties, that of "buckling on the
whole armor," thru prayer soliciting our
Heavenly Father's aid to withstand the
wiles of the Devil, and keep that throughout the day which we have committed to
sibilities,
15
Him, without which preparation for each
day's battle, one is so apt to forget the
noble end in the trying means, and when
weary and overburdened with numerous
cares, it is so easy to get it into one's head
is being put upon, that the doctor was more exacting and tyranical than
necessary, that the head nurse was cross
and unjust, or the janitor too stupid, or
some one or a thousand of the grievances
that one
one can always hatch up if they do not
persistently rely upon that admonition of
our dear Lord and Master, to "let not the
heart be troubled."
I waited, patiently as I could, busy most
of the time, on cases either in town or in
the country for a word of commendation
from
my
school.
On
occasions off duty, I
would learn of meetings being held among
the nursing lights, disbanded again, and
still no word from my home hospital.
Spring faded and summer waned, and at
length just as I was about giving up all
hope of ever being accounted worthy of
having my name sent to Washington as a
candidate for the high honor and exalted
privilege of nursing "sick America," I encountered Miss Raber in the hall one day
early in the fall, which set my heart aflutter with anticipation and hope.
16
CHAPTER
A
©S
II
Red Cross Nurse
Miss Raber who on occasion
wears a very severe ''front"
outwardly, belying the kindliness of nature beneath, bore
down upon me, and brought
up directly in front of me with an air of
something of unusual importance in her
manner, my thoughts flew every way like
panic stricken rabbits. I knew that what-
my
was to be, I was at last to
had been so anxious to be a
Red Cross Nurse, to go and nurse the sick
ever
find out.
fate
I
soldiers back to health so they could go
and win the war, I had been working so
hard, and was so anxious to hear a commendable word from my "Alma Mater"
who no doubt had been so busy with the
multiplicity of demands upon an institution of that kind, had probably pigeonholed my request until some more convenient time, or perhaps were weighing me
in the balance and finding we wanting!
Oh Why had I let the golden days of op!
17
portunity slip, when I might have gone
out of my way, and been extra nice to
everybody connected ever so remotely
with that venerable seat of learning?
Why! Oh! Why? had
not frankly
spoken out words conveying the respect,
and admiration I secretly cherished for all
those high and mighty ones connected
with it, but foolishly keeping such talent
hid "under a bushel" when it might have
been proclaimed from the housetops, and
thereby have won a grain or two of charity with which I found myself in such dire
need at this momentous time!
I
Thoughts like these flew confusedly
my mind in less time that it takes to
thru
tell it.
They say a drowning person will see a
whole lifetime pass in review in a moment just at the last, and like one of these
was the
moment in which I was called upon to give
up, if not my life, a cherished scheme
which had taken quite an important place
tragic persons, I felt that this
my
my
hosplans.
I think the years of
in
pital life passed in that brief moment of
suspense, as I tried to recall the worst,
most ominous of deeds or misdeeds.
Before I could get my thoughts mobilized
into any kind of semblance to order. Miss
18
Raber spoke, and the words with which
she greeted me, showed me that I had
been courting misfortune needlessly, had
been pursuing disaster when it was trying its best to evade me. She said, "Your
hospital has been heard from, and your
—
I
very good!"
are good!
drew a long breath of relief as I gave myself a mental slap for my needless worries,
and resolved thenceforth to consider myself a care-free young woman with plain
sailing before her, for as I believed, the
credentials
worst of
my
difficulties
were over.
My
name had already been sent to the War
Department she said, as an eligible candidate for the R. C. Nursing Service, and in
little more than a week, I received a large
official looking envelope, containing sundry information, rules and regulations,
also a questionnaire which I was to fill out
and return, which I did in short order, and
awaited the consequences. Before hearing from the War Department again, I
was called upon a case about one hundred
miles from the city to a village in the
northern part of the state. I was here
about three weeks, when one day I received a message by phone, from the Red
Cross Secretary at D., saying my orders
had arrived from Washington, and that I
must be ready to leave the following day
19
for goodness knows where, away down
south in the "land of cotton."
Now I am usually a decorously behaved
young
and though I felt like doing
hornpipe" in the center of the
floor just then, need not argue to the contrary.
I kept my feelings, also my feet
under control however, and sedately
enough informed the family that I would
have to go. My patient was by this time
convalescent, and entered as did all the
members of the family into the spirit of
the affair, with as much ardor as if I had
been the favorite son preparing to go away
to war.
I had many lovely letters from
this home later, which comforted, cheered
and amused me, amid the busy scenes of
hospital life in the Army.
But here I was one-hundred miles from
the city, which having reached, would have
a hundred and one odds and ends of small
affairs to attend to, which would all take
time, like changing my transportation into a ticket, see to procuring a berth, get
dresses from laundry, telegraph my darling folks, and "proceed without delay"
upon the 3rd of December, and this was
the 2nd!
In making a prognosis of the whole affair, I decided that my venerable uncle
was decidedly unreasonable, and had asked
the
lady,
''fisher's
20
the impossible. And I forthwith resolved
that if the welfare of the southern portion
of the American Army depended upon my
movements, it would have to wait until I
could get a convenient start, and I proceeded to wire the powers at Washington
curt
I got a stern and
to that effect.
!"
order in reply, to ''proceed at once
With vague surmisings of what the outcome might be, should I begin my quarreling with my most respected Uncle at
the outset, but with resolutions undaunted
I firmly stuck to my resolve, that if the
Southern Base Hospital had gotten along
so far without my valuable assistance, it
would in all probability survive twentyfour hours longer, thus enabling me to get
my breath and my bearings, to say nothing about getting to town, cramming a
few things into trunk and bag, securing
my ticket and berth and reading over my
traveling orders, etc., etc. I found my
blessed sister awaiting me when I arrived
at the Registry. She had come like a dear
good angel with a pile of bran new white
uniforms to see me off before embarking
upon war work herself which was to take
her to the National Capital later. I had
not seen my dear sister for several
months, and it was a glad as well as a sad
meeting between us, for we knew not how
21
much
longer this dreadful
war might
sep-
arate us.
Taking a cab upon alighting from the
train at D., I flew thru the December slush
to the Registry as if the Huns were after
like many another recruit, I
burst in among the nurses, and my waiting sister with the announcement: "Fve
enlisted, and am off to the Army."
My
sister spent the night with me, and was
to accompany me all the way back toward
the town of Keokuk which seemed very
comforting. We spent the next day together, trotting about the city streets
until nine o'clock, shopping and doing all
those last errands which I fear no woman
would even go to Heaven without attempting if she could.
Even with the whole day I had pilfered
from "Uncle Sam" I hadn't time to pack
systematically, but threw things into my
trunk, sat on the lid to make it go down,
had the baggageman rope it, and we were
me, where,
off.
A
is
December twilight amid
falling
snow
not the most cheering time to embark
upon a somewhat perilous enterprise, and
but for the presence of Ruth I fear I
might have added a drop or two of the
"briny" to the native moisture of the
"town I left behind me."
22
CHAPTER
On
III
the Road
)F our departure from the Registry which had been my
home for the past eight
months, there remains in my
mind a blurred impression of
handshaking, embraces, wildly waving
handkerchiefs, and a comic picture of
Hepzabah the cook, "flapping" her arms
on the doorstep.
Ruth and I spent half the night waiting
an out-of-the-way station, somewhere
and B— for the thru train
between
to St. Louis, fully intending to keep awake
in
D—
-,
as a sort of vigil, appropriate to the occa-
toward midnight I fell
asleep in spite of myself and the uncomfortable chair and had propitious dreams,
until awakened by a loud masculine voice
sion,
but along
proclaiming that the train C B & Q f or
It
St. Louis was on the track outside.
was seven o'clock next morning when the
train pulled into B, and a bright day smiled upon my undertaking. Ruth and I en23
joyed our breakfast together on the train,
in spite of the fact that the next stop
would be the town of
where she
would leave me and we had but a few moments more together, they being taken up
with giving messages for the dear ones
whom I should not see ere leaving. So
K—
,
amid good-byes,
caresses, embraces and
admonitions to write soon and often, we
bade each other farewell.
How empty the train seemed after she
had gone. We waved as long as the slow
moving train permitted a glimpse of each
other, and at this juncture "I took the
veil" and what I did behind it was, as
Nurse Pemberton would say "Nobody's
business."
I contend that the soldier who cries
his mother says good-bye, is the boy
to fight best and die bravest, and when the
time comes, to go back to her better than
But
when
he went.
I
was spinning along southward
rate of sixty miles an
at the
would
have enjoyed every moment but for the
thought that every turn of the wheels was
taking me farther from those I loved.
Meanwhile the head beneath the purple
be-tasseled hat, fermented with all sorts
of heroic thoughts and high purposes to
24
hour, and
do or die, perhaps both, and the heart
under the big checked coat was very tender with thoughts of the loved ones I was
leaving behind and had no way of telling
when I would ever see them again.
I have made it a habit throughout life,
upon setting out upon any new undertaking, to invoke the Divine guidance and
blessing upon my endeavors, and I believe,
as one of our famous writers have said,
that one should never have one's heart so
set upon any one scheme, to the extent
that one would not as readily do something
else if it were the Lord's will, else it becomes a wrong. Many times I fail miser-
ably in being the blessing I long to be in
whatever corner of this old world I find
myself, and at times I find it necessary to
upbraid myself most severely on self examination, at the little done towards the
great end proposed at the beginning of
each New Year. For I resolve upon reading a portion of the Bible each night and
morning, as well as offering up prayer
each morn and at eve, also many times
thru the day, for that Divine guidance and
help without which it is impossible to
please God. I reason that if Christ, our
elder brother, who was sinless and without guile, found it imperative to spend the
25
whole nights in prayer, how presumptuous
for weak human mortals to claim to be
His followers, without that humble dependence for help from Him, which He
showed toward His Father. In spite of
the urgent prayer of my heart continually
to God to keep me from a vain and overbearing spirit, I fear I do many vain, foolish and selfish things, but with the hope
and faith in Him to yet rid me entirely, of
all ignorance, weakness and sin for His
Name's Sake, I trust that He will do it.
Settling myself in my seat, I read my
traveling orders and my assignment to
duty, which read something like this:
"With the approval of the Secretary of
War, Tola Ellen Lee, of the town of
D, in the State of Iowa, Reserve Nurse,
Army Nurses Corps, is hereby assigned to
active service in the Military establishment, and will enter upon her duties after
taking the oath prescribed by Section 1757
of the Revised Statutes of the United
States," which was duly signed by Bert
W. Caldwell, Major M. R. C, U. S. Army.
read another paper also signed by
that, Reherewas
Lee,
Ellen
Nurse,
Tola
serve
by authorized to proceed without delay to
Base Hospital,
United States
I
Major Caldwell, which stated
Army
26
Camp
B—
A—
without
much
-.
—
L
near the
Well here I was proceeding
delay, I thought as I collect-
in the state of
town of
my
various small articles together, preparatory to getting settled for a six hours
I inspected
ride before changing trains.
my ticket which my thoughtful, generous
Uncle Sam had considerately provided me
with, and for which I was very grateful,
relieving me of the necessity of wasting
my substance on railroad companies, when
perhaps the boys might need "even a spinster's mite," while thoughts of the scant
remuneration which was allotted to nurses
serving in the Army was conducive toward husbanding what resources I had in
hand, as far as it was possible.
ed
look much at my traveling orders, for
I have a feeling that if I keep that straight
in my mind I won't go far wrong.
"I sort
out my tickets, and put them in every conceivable place that they may be get-atable, and I finish by losing them entirely.
Suffer agonies until a compassionate
I
neighbor pokes them out from between
the seat and back with a toothpick, put
them in the innermost corner of my purse,
and that in the deepest recess of my
pocket, pile a collection of miscellaneous
articles on top and pin up the whole. Just
27
get composed, feeling that I had done my
best to keep them safely, when the conductor appears and I*m forced to rout
them all out again, exposing my precautions and getting into a flutter at keeping
the man waiting."
A whole company of soldier boys who
had boarded the train in a northern state,
and filled several coaches ahead (I heard
the porter tell a gentleman in the seat
next mine) and were bound for an Army
camp farther
south, kept the air lively
with patriotic songs. There were some
splendid voices among them, and their
music helped to make the hours fly past
quickly for all the passengers, as well as
themselves.
I
had sent a message by telegraph from
D—
before leaving, to a friend in St. L.,
and when the train pulled into the station
she greeted me with her usual cheery smile
and hearty embrace, took me out to her
lovely home and delightfully beguiled what
would have otherwise proven a long tedious wait at the station.
After a delicious dinner, my friends accompanied me
to the train, and with many good byes,
I once more take up my journey alone.
Circumstances are such in these days that
to travel very far in a sleeper, one does
28
not stay alone. There are always nice
persons sociably inclined, and having
heard "complaints of the absurd way in
which American women become images of
propriety if addressed by a
stranger when traveling alone, a sort of
inborn perversity of nature caused me to
assume an entirely opposite style of deportment, and finding a companion hails
from somewhere in Missouri where one of
my classmates was from, and was acquainted with several of the fifty-seven
cousins of Molly's, I put my bashfulness
into my pocket and plunge into a long discussion on the war, weather, music, Dickens, sleighing, skating, ouija-boards, and
the immortality of the soul."
petrified
Shortly after leaving St. L. I fell in with
a most delightful couple, a gentleman and
lady, somewhere in the sixties I should
judge, whose berth was directly opposite
mine across the aisle. The lady whose
name was Mrs. Stone had shared my seat
while the porter arranged hers for the
night.
As soon as she learned that I was
a nurse bound for a camp hospital, she
became very much interested in me seemingly, and at the first opportunity introduced her husband to me. It was evident
that they were people of culture and re29
finement, as well as persons of means.
She was dressed very plainly as well as
quietly, in the best of taste, as all really
genteel folks are prone to do when traveling.
Her dress of black silk was covered
by a black cloak—plain but of rich material.
She wore a neat small black hat which
was very becoming to her sweet face fram-
ed in soft gray hair.
In some way she made me think of my
own dear mother so long away, and it is
not strange that I enjoyed every moment
of their society. Mr. Stone, a man of large
stature, hair quite gray, a good strong
face, just the kind of man that has a way
of making everyone feel perfectly comfortable and at ease in his company. They
were returning to their home in the south,
from Battle Creek, Michigan, where they
had accompanied their daughter who had
remained as a patient in a sanitarium
Having become attached to the
there.
nurses there, they were more interested
in all nurses and their work than they
traveled
might otherwise have been.
together pleasantly, taking our meals together, and sitting together at other
times, Mr. Stone attending to all checking
of baggage, etc., until we separated in a
southern city, where they had to take a
We
30
home. It was while
eating our breakfast in a cafe adjoining
the station at this place that a portly, fine
looking gentleman came toward our table.
As he did so, Mr. Stone arose, greeted him
cordially and shook the extended hand of
the distinguished gentleman most heartily.
After the newcomer had gone thru
the same cordial greeting with Mrs. Stone
and exchanged a few words of kindly solicitation in regard to their health and welfare, as well as that of their daughter then
at Battle Creek, his eyes turned in my didifferent train to their
rection.
Mrs. Stone promptly gave an
Our
in-
distinguished friend
troduction.
proved to be no other than Governor B
In introducing me,
of the state of A
Mrs. Stone had explained my mission as
well as destination, adding that they had
taken me "under their wing," and were
only too sorry they could not accompany
me to the camp, as he knew a very much
loved stepson was then an officer at the
camp toward which I was going. The
Governor shook my hand heartily as he
expressed a very deep interest in the camp
in L
as he said the troops there were
made up largely of boys from his own
After bidding them good bye with
state.
many good wishes, and a word of God's
speed to me as he shook my hand again
—
—
.
,
31
was gone. It seemed the
Governor had been a most intimate friend
of Mr. Stone's family, and had at one time
cherished a particular regard for the
daughter who was then a patient in a sanitarium in Michigan, whom it seems had
been a classmate at college.
at parting, he
I
felt
very lonely after
from these genial
folks.
I
had parted
As they
told
me
good bye, they gave me a bit of pasteboard
which was to serve as a card of introduction to the stepson at
Camp B
—
,
who was
—
Rethen a Lieutenant Colonel in the A
serves, and whom they seemed most desirous that I should meet. I am sorry to
say that I never made myself known to
that honorable gentleman, though many
times later I heard him spoken of as a man
of sterling worth. Officers and men alike,
those who knew him well, held a very high
regard for him. Before I left the hospital I heard of his promotion to the rank
of a Colonelcy.
—
in a raging snow storm,
I had left D
had traveled but a couple of days and
nights, and here I found myself in a land
where flowers were in bloom outside in
gardens. The air was warm and balmy,
just like the first days of spring at home.
I had not expected to find such a notice-
32
able difference
soon.
in
the climate
quite
so
The country through which we were
passing did not seem so very unlike that I
had left, except that it was more level and
I suppose in summertime the
less wintry.
wide
would have shown me new
and the wayside hedges, blossomed
fields
sights,
with new flowers. Now everything was
sere and sodden, and a general air of
shiftlessness prevailed which would have
caused a northern farmer much disgust,
and a strong desire to "get a hustle on,"
and right up things.
Dingy little houses with chimneys built
outside, stood in barren looking fields, with
cow, mule or pig lounging near the door.
passed many colored people looking as
if they had come out of a picture book, or
off the stage, but not at all like the sort
of people I'd been accustomed to see at
the north.
We
33
CHAPTER IV
A
Pleasant Encounter
^HEN
I
entered the parlor car at
— R— upon the
L
last lap of
my
journey, I spied in one end
of the car a writing desk containing pen, ink, blotter, etc.
I hastily scribbled off a few postals to
friends and relatives, before the train
should start, paid a boy to mail them, then
settled myself in one of the comfortable
easy chairs, and gave myself up to
thoughts of what I should do when the
and I
train pulled into the station at A
found my journey at an end.
—
By
,
instructions received before leaving,
had wired the camp hospital at my last
stop, so there would be someone to meet
me when I should arrive, so there was
nothing now to do but to sit and watch the
southern fields fly past, and as there was
yet a whole day on the train I had plenty
of time to think upon the work I was
about entering upon. I had been all thru
which was
the Base Hospital at Camp D
I
—
34
near my home, had talked with many of
the nurses on duty there, and in view of
this fact, it is rather funny that I should
seem to have a feeling that I was the only
nurse going to this camp hospital in the
south. I do not know if I had formed any
idea, as to how I was going to run it all by
myself or not, for just then my attention
was attracted by a most capable looking
young person carrying a suitcase in one
hand. Something in the way she managed
that suitcase, as tho' from much familiarity it had become as it were, a part of herself, proclaimed her, to my mental consciousness to be a traveling nurse.
She
was in the act of speaking to another
young lady who had a self-sufficient, worldwise air about her which seemed strangely familiar.
I had never laid eyes upon
either of them before, but my first convictions were right, for they were, both of
them nurses, I thought without a shade of
doubt and perhaps bound for the same
destination as myself. As I watched them
I noticed the younger of the two, who was
still standing, incline her head in my direction, and I overheard the remark, "If
I am not mistaken, that is another one
over there." Just then a third young
woman came from somewhere farther
down the car with a smiling face and out35
stretched hand, saying as she came nearer
the two first mentioned, "I believe I belong to this family
That she was one of
our sisterhood was plain for a Red Cross
Badge adorned her coat. This was too
much for me to stay in obscurity longer,
so with the words "and I too," I joined
V
the group and we had a hearty laugh together for introduction, from sheer gladness of spirit, at finding other members
of our fraternity in the same "boat" with
ourselves, and bound for the same hospital.
We became old acquaintances on the
spot, as all nurses wherever they meet,
seem to feel an understanding of each
other that makes it impossible to remain
strangers in each other's society. These
three were all from different states, one
coming from Minnesota, one from Pennsylvania, and the other from Michigan.
Only one out of the four eventually getting to France, Miss Rollins, the one from
Minnesota going over with the first unit
called from our Base.
Miss Keating was
too old, and Miss Yates, I have heard, went
back to her institutional work after the
war. For myself, I always found too
much to do here in the United States to
leave, until the war was over, and then it
was too late to go. To say that we four
enjoyed the remainder of the trip is put86
mildly. We felt what we were, a
family.
happy
We dined together, talked
together, sat together, and wherever the
train stopped long enough, we alighted
and took kodak pictures of the quaint
Not
scenes and objects along the way.
one of us had ever been so far south before, and the quaint and comical rural
scenes and sights along the route brought
forth bursts of merriment and laughter
many times.
ting
it
Miss Rollins observed that we need not
alarmed any more, if we should find
all our hair falling out, as she perceived
that hair switches grew on trees in the
south. And indeed the cypress trees with
the fine feathery, hair-like foliage, which
hanging from their branches, could be likened to nothing more appropriate than
feel
hair switches.
At a town near a lumber camp, a Red
Cross car was standing on the switch, and
as our engine had to take on water, we
had quite a long wait here. We alighted
to the ground and while walking about,
the Lieutenant in charge of the Red Cross
car, seeing by our badges that we were
nurses, tho't we might find an inspection
of his car interesting.
I
had not worn
my Red
37
Cross pin until
joining the other nurses, and, as we
laughingly said, having the weight of each
other's society to back us we had donned
the emblem of our trade, which the Government had forwarded us along with our
other official property.
This Lieutenant
who was an M. D. was in the Government
employ.
His field the whole country
wherever there were lumber camps, saw
mills and large crowds of working men.
His duties were to demonstrate and teach
first aid principles to the men.
The car was tastefully equipped with all
necessary articles pertaining to Red Cross
first aid work, and we found it very interesting. Besides his supplies, this young
doctor also carried a puppy dog, for he
was but a boy, but his talk and demonstration of the work he had in hand was
very entertaining. He was a pleasant, affable young person, and upon our leaving
his car he wished us much good luck and
hoped he would see us in France later, as
he hoped to go over himself as soon as he
had finished the work he was now doing.
A long hot afternoon on a train thru
the south is not the most exciting theme
for a story, but though it was December
and we were attired in woolen dresses, the
air was warm as though we might have
38
been transplanted into some tropical clime
We found it rather
in the middle of July.
amusing to watch the cotton bedecked
chim.neys, in fact everything seemed to be
decorated in cotton. I suppose the wind
had blown it from some of the numerous
bales we saw, and lodging on any projecting obstacle, looked as though the country
had gone to decorating thus early for
Christmas, and was bent on making Santa
Even the
Clauses out of everything.
but
escape
not
did
fences and fence posts
were resplendent in festoons of white
downy
cotton.
Miss Yates burst into laughter as she
pointed to an aged negro man, who being
hatless, showed his head to be covered
with the same mode of decoration, but in
this instance, it was wool instead of cotton.
As night came on, there was nothing to
be seen outside but darkness made visible,
and nothing inside but every variety of
bunch into which the human form could
be "rolled, twisted or massed."
Every man's legs sprawled drowsily,
every woman's head (but we four) nods
finally settles on somebody's shouldChildren fret, lovers whisper, old folks
snore, and somebody privately imbibes
till it
er.
39
brandy. The penetrating perfume rouses
the multitude causing some to start up
like war horses at the smell of powder.
When more lights are turned on everyone
sniffs wry-facedly, looks inquiringly at his
neighbor.
Everyone but a stout gentleman, who, with hands folded upon his
broadcloth rotundity, sleeps on impressive-
Had he been
ly.
waked
up, for to
innocent, he would have
slumber in that babe-like
manner, with a car full of giggling, staring, sniffing humanity, was simply preposterous.
Public suspicion was down on him at
once. I doubt if the appearance of a flask
with a label would have settled the matter
more effectively than did the over-dignified and profound repose of this shortsighted being.
His moral necktie, virtuous boots, and pious attitude availed
him nothing, and it was well he kept his
eyes shut, for "Humbug," twinkled at him
from every
man
light, window-pane, and hueye around him.
was long past midnight when our
train pulled into the town of A
and
It
—
,
even at that untoward hour one could feel
that it was a big dirty, shippy, shiftless
place, full of goats, geese and negroes to
judge from the depot. Upon inquiring we
4U
found that no one had come to meet us,
so we decided to call up the camp hospital
and find out what they wanted us to do.
Being a part of the Army now, we felt it
our duty to wait for further orders before
making any move. Miss Rollins emerged
from the telephone booth with the information that there was no place at the hospital for us, as an influx of nurses had
filled all the rooms, but that they would
have accommodations for us by the next
day; meanwhile there was a conveyance
on the way in to take us to the hotel,
where we were to stay until further orders
from the camp. In a short while our conveyance arrived a big lumbersome ambulance, one of the kind used in bringing the
sick boys from the camp, a distance of two
miles, to the hospital.
The boy driving
this vehicle was a New England chap from
Vermont, who had come with a unit of
;
hospital
months
corps
earlier.
men to the camp some
As it was somewhat of a
new
experience to ride in an Army ambulance truck, he helped us to get settled
with our bags under our
feet,
and upon
arriving at the hotel, he turned spokesman for the crowd, for which we were
duly grateful, as we were very tired after
our long journey on the train. We were
ushered into a large lobby filled with a
41
promiscuous gathering of
als,
The
officers,
corpor-
and
spittoons.
civilians
last mentioned articles deserve hon-
sergeants,
orable mention from the immensity of
their size! I had a vague uneasiness lest
in my sleepy condition I should fall head
They were of
first into one of them!
brass, highly polished, and were as large
as a small sized family washtub. By dint
of a long and forceful argument, by our
spokesman (we four in the meanwhile
fearing lest we were going to be compelled
to spend the night on the street) for the
hotel was so crowded, were finally given
four cots which were to be placed in the
Thanking the soldier
Italian Ballroom.
who had brought us hither, and so valiantly fought for our night^s lodging, we piled
into the elevator and were whisked up to
our very (slick underfoot) but much bedraped boudoir for our first night's repose
under southern skies. Tired as we were
and travel stained and weary, we each
treated ourselves to the luxury of a tub,
and though we may not say we were welcomed by drums beating, we slept with
the colors flying above us, and the stars
and stripes of Old Glory doing guard duty
over our couches.
42
CHAPTER V
A
Wet Reception
lEELING
ourselves
an Army
squad already, we were up at
reveille the next morning, and
making as elaborate a
toilet
as the place permitted, hastened to the lower floor, lest a reception
committee from the Base Hospital be
awaiting us there.
But no one having
been here, we made ourselves as comfortable as possible in the ladies waiting room,
until odors of bacon and coffee drew us to
the dining room in quest of some breakfast. Afterward a long wait in the parlor
upstairs writing letters and cards to folks
at home, watching the clock and occasion-
peeping over the mezzanine railing in
the direction of the office downstairs, or
watching the door leading to the hotel entrance, and otherwise on the alert for
signs of any promising looking individual
coming for us. But it was beginning to
look as though they had forgotten all
about us, until long past noon upon inquirally
4:^
we
learned that someone
nurses
in the morning,
had called for four
and we, having neglected to register as
nurses the night before, the clerk did not
know that we were the four nurses in
question, and consequently told them that
Now here
there was no such party here
was a quandary. And not being familiar
enough at that time with Army Hospital
Rules to know whether or not we should
all be shot at sunrise, we spent an uncomfortable hour following, nevertheless keeping our nerve, we bravely telephoned the
hospital again, therewith obtaining the
comforting information that there would
be a conveyance at the hotel for us about
four p. m. We amused ourselves by
watching delegates of a Bed Cross State
Convention, which was being held in our
bower of the night before, at this hotel.
ing at the
office
!
That it was an interesting sight to we
four who had never before had the opportunity of studying a congregation of
southern people, goes without saying.
The characteristic accent, the slow drawl
and peculiar inflection of the southern
voice, was altogether novel and fascinating. They all wore the little white button
with red cross in the center, emblem of
one of the most noble fraternities that
ever existed.
44
As a party of three ladies passed our
was attracted by one in the party
who stopped and unceremoniously gazed
chairs, I
at me, not looking at my face, but as it
appeared my person. I wondered if something was out of plumb, and questioned
my companions, to learn that as far as
they could see I was all right. After a
few moments
this
same woman coming
back thru the room, came toward my
chair.
She was dressed rather conspicuously in a loud toned silk, with many
decorations in the way of earrings and
jewelry of various pieces. Her color was
too vivid to be natural, and it was plain
to be seen that she was a woman of fashion.
She addressed me with these words:
"Pahdon me, but may I ask wheah you got
youh pin?" I am afraid I stared at her
rather impolitely for a second, not just
getting her meaning. Then motioning toward my Red Cross badge she resumed:
"Youah pin is so different from the otha's,
and I like it so much, I should like to get
one like it." "Oh! yes, my pin," I stammered. Then it dawned upon me that she
had taken me for a delegate also, and admiring the pin I wore decided she would
have one like it, learning where I had purchased it. I did not explain to her how it
had taken three of the longest years of
45
my
many and various examiand no end of waitings and relinquishments to obtain that small disc of
gold and enamel, but instead I laughingly remarked that I was only a nurse, and
life,
likewise
nations,
—
was my Red Cross pin.
"Oh! she said, I thought I had nevah
seen any just like that," and thereupon
this
she plunged into a long catechism of how
long had we been in the work, where were
we from, how long since we left home,
were there many sick soldiers, and ending
by asking how we liked the work.
From
appearances we never were going to have the opportunity of finding out
the answer to her last query for ourselves,
but I answered her in one breath by saying that we had just arrived the night before and were awaiting our conveyance to
the Base Hospital five miles away, which
would be here at four to take us out. She
wished us very good luck, was glad she
had met us, hoped we would meet again
and moved on toward the elevator to join
her companions at the convention upstairs
in the ballroom.
all
It was pouring rain when at four-thirty
the ambulance drove up to the front entrance of the hotel. We loaded ourselves
in, with suitcase and bags, and started for
46
the Base Hospital. There were some three
or four nurses inside, who, having a half
day off duty, had come in to the city to do
a little shopping, one of whom told us that
she had been at the camp a month, and
this was her first trip to the city in that
time.
I do not believe anyone present
upon that trip will ever forget it. The
distance from town to the Base was about
five miles over the worst roads imaginable.
They had been recently cut out of
pure clay since the camp had been erected
some few months previous, and the rain
which had been falling steadily for three
hours had loosened the mud to the extent
that the statement one of the boys driving made, was nearly correct, when he
said that "the road hadn't any bottom to
it."
We were '"stuck" for half an hour
in one place, and it begun to look like we
never would get out, when by the kindly
help of another driver and his engine, we
begun to "move" again, and finally reached the nurses quarters, a bedraggled, mud
covered, tired and hungry set of travelers,
just as the lights were being lighted.
The poor boys who drove the car were
drenched to the skin, and so covered with
mud that one could never have told whether they were white or black.
It
was about
six o'clock
4V
on Friday eve,
7th, when we arrived at our new
home, were greeted warmly by our Chief,
and ushered into a wide hall where some
dozen or more nurses in white uniforms
and jaunty little caps with a Red Cross
in the front, some had on the red lined
Army cape just as they had come off duty
for supper, were waltzing around the room
to the music of a small graphophone on a
table near the wall.
December
A
nurse was delegated to show us to
our particular part of this domain, that
we might remove our wraps, and traveling down a long corridor, with rooms on
both sides, we turned a corner, and going
half as far again, were ushered into what
proved to be our only refuge from the
world at large for the next three months.
This particular bower into which we retired in a somewhat ruinous condition outwardly, I will briefly describe for the benefit of any ardent damsel whose patriotic
fancy may have surrounded Army hospiIt was
tal life with a halo of charms.
more like the inside of a large new barn
than anything I can think of. It had been
hastily arranged to accomomdate the
nurses who were arriving now daily, in
fact faster than the hospital could furnish room and beds for them. The first
nurses on the scene had availed themselves
48
of the single and double rooms, until they
were all filled, so we who were arriving at
this time, would have to make ourselves
as comfortable as we could in the dormiThese
tories, of which there were two.
there
ventilated,
as
well
large rooms were
were twelve good-sized windows on each
Said windows v/ere innocently bare
side.
of shades, curtains, or any such useless
folderols as yet.
A few weeks later we
were given shades which relieved us of
the tiresome exercise of climbing up on
chairs and pinning blanket or sheet over
the window so that the pedestrians outside may not look in upon our night capped seclusion. As one girl aptly put it
"we had no more privacy than a gold
fish
r
Our beds were placed
in rows, head
against the wall, like in the wards, with
the space of about two feet between. To
each bed belonged a white iron frame for
holding mosquito netting in place forming
a sort of fly and mosquito proof cage round
about our bed. These frames were detachable, and one could use their own
Many and
pleasure about using them.
were
uses
we
varied
the
put them to.
Some held the weekly wash, sometimes it
was the weekly ironing which hung from
them until thoroughly dry, and some im49
provising damsels went so far as to create
a bathroom by pinning sheets around the
frames.
One enterprising miss from Wisconsin
stretched her trunk rope back and forth
from head to foot of the bed and had a
clothesline somewhat diminutive as to
area, but from which the skirts and petticoats dangled with as much dignity as if
they had hung from a real washline.
No male ever set foot into our sanctum,
except the Doctor whose duty it was to
look after us when ill, and the soldier boy
who started the fire in the big stoves early
in the morning. On such times everybody
was tucked securely in their little bed
without so much as a nose peeping out.
Our trunks not having arrived, we could
do nothing this first evening, but walk
about our new habitation and observe
what was going on about us.
Nurses seemed to be arriving on every
train, and it was very exciting to watch
the new faces come and go, throughoul;
the busy proceedings, of making room for
the fast-arriving females who were bent
upon securing shelter and a bed before
they were all taken.
I was standing under a large tree on our
back porch, (the porch having been built
50
around the tree, leaving it free to rear its
branches heavenward without let or hindrance) talking with a group as we watched the storm. The rain was coming down
in sheets, when up the path thru the
woods, from the railroad, emerged two
bedraggled objects. One with a rain soaked hat in her hand, the other carrying a
suitcase.
We had been able to discern
them by the vivid flashes of lightning.
When they had come upon the porch, it
proved to be a little nurse from Kentucky,
who, instead of getting off at the city, had
remained on, alighting at the junction
near the camp, and but for the soldier boy
who had come out on the same train, could
never have found her way to our hospitable
The
roof thru the rain and darkness.
ringing of the supper bell caused quite a
commotion, as we repaired to the dining
room to partake of our first meal under
Uncle Sam's roof in our new home. There
were no special places for each person
until later on, and it was sort of a snatch
and grab affair, until every one was seated. The three tables wer6 long enough to
seat about fifty persons at each. Our seats
were wooden benches. No cloth adorned
our festive board, but the supper that
evening, eaten from a table of bare boards,
from off quaint granite plates, tasted as
51
good to us as any meal I had ever eaten
before, or have eaten since.
had hot cornbread, butter, salmon
croquettes,
peas,
coffee,
and stewed
We
prunes.
Later we had white oil-cloth to cover
the boards of the table, but to the day we
left we drank from granite mugs, and ate
from granite plates, which was of course
all very well for an Army camp hospital.
Months later when eating from Haviland china spread upon a snowy linen
cloth, in the grand dining-room of the
Government hospital at Washington, I felt
a keen loss and wished for our little old
granite plates and cups and pioneer ways
of the camp hospital once more.
The
hours of this first evening at camp flew by
rapidly, with so many strange faces to
study, conversation with girls from every
nook and corner of our land it seemed, for
though there were only some forty nurses
here at this time,
I
believe as
many
states
were represented. In only one or two instances were there more than one from a
state.
In conversation with the Chief Nurse a
later, I learned that upon her
arrival here just one month previous to
this, there were no women foljfs, except
the six nurses who had accompanied her.
few days
52
Finding the hospital containing upwards
of six hundred patients, she had immediately wired to Washington, requesting
them to send more nurses down here at
once. She found it necessary to send wire
after wire before help came, but at last
the nurses began to pour in upon them, at
the rate of ten and twelve a day until the
housing proposition began to look alarm-
We
four nurses had landed upon the
scene among the first of this avalanche,
so had the unique and absorbing experience of seeing them "blow in" and be
tucked away somewhere.
When Miss Sheets from Kansas, Miss
Blessing from Iowa, and Miss Comfort
from Oklahoma, all came in a body, the
Chief laughingly greeted them with the
words "come right in, we are so badly in
need of all three of you!"
Each day saw our beds shoved closer together to make room for others, till at last
there was scarcely room enough to permit
our bodies to pass between them.
Our dressers, one for two persons,
sometimes had to do for three, were placed back to back, thru the center of the
room, with just enough room to squeeze
thru between them, as we passed from one
side of the room to a neighbor on the
other side.
ing.
53
The two by four planks sticking out
upon the walls disclosed wonderful possibilities in
the
way
of shelves for ink bot-
brush and comb, medicine bottles,
boxes of salve, shoe polish, and powder
and puff boxes. For girls are girls, be
they society belles or nursing spinsters,
and I suppose if relegated to some uninhabited island away where no one would
ever lay eyes upon them would still be
tles,
known to powder their noses.
It was very interesting to listen to the
girls who were here first, recount upon
their foregoing experiences.
It seemed
that before their arrival the sick men had
been attended by men alone. Boys in the
hospital corps. Young, some not over sixteen, inexperienced, having had no pretraining before coming into the
Army. We could only conjecture the state
of affairs they must have found. After a
whole month, there was still one nurse attending two wards containing thirty and
forty sick men, in many cases. And on
night duty one nurse was expected to look
after four or five wards, each of which
contained not less than thirty patients.
vious
54
CHAPTER VI
Enthusiasm Aroused
HESE
overworked nurses were
very glad indeed that we had
come to help them out, and
upon listening to their account of the pathetic condition in some of the wards, created in us
such enthusiasm and anxious desire to begin to do what we could for them, that we
could hardly wait for the morrow to dawn,
that we might go on duty and lend our
hands at relieving the tired nurses, as well
as to bring what comfort and cheer we
may to the sick soldiers.
I am free to confess that about ten p. m.
that same evening, I began to have a realizing sense of the fact that my hospital
bed was not going to be a bed of roses.
For tired out and sleepy tho I was from
being up late the night before, in fact I
doubt if any girl there had had a comfortable night's repose since leaving home,
I must say that the prospect of sleep amid
that chaldron of buzzing tongues, wildly
55
rushing to and fro of female forms, and
as time passed on, regardless of the lateness of the hour, brightly burning lights
shining in one's face, looked discouraging.
If, in fact, one undertook to appropriate
one's own bed, would have to dislodge and
cast aside some three or four energetic
nurses who had turned one's couch into a
knitting fraternity, over which bright
hued balls of worsted were rolling helter
skelter, even to the bed next door.
Alas they were not busily engaged like
our faithful grandmothers at home, in
knitting socks and sweaters for the boys
in the trenches, but were weaving together bright strands of yarn into all sorts of
freakish sweaters to adorn their own persons, for it could never be said of those
light weight, sleeveless affairs that they
were things of comfort should the thermometer drop to a freezing point.
I soon got over any foibles I may have
entertained concerning a quiet room and
total darkness as being necessary to insure
sound sleep, and after routing the knitters
I piled myself down expecting the turmoil
to keep me awake half the night, but sleep
got the better of me to such an extent
that my stockings hanging at the foot of
my bed appeared to gape and my hat nodded on its peg before I gave in.
!
56
There were many new arrivals that
evening.
They seemed to be coming in
at all hours.
being awakened sometime along
of the morning, by
someone tiptoeing around the bed next to
mine, and imagining I am at home and
this a burglar, I raised on my elbow and
before clearly awake screamed "who goes
there and what do you want?" A tired
voice answered:
"Only a weary nurse
from California, who asks nothing more
of heaven or earth than to crawl into this
bed next you and fall asleep, whether to
wake again till the judgment day matters
I recall
in the early hours
:
little
just
now!"
found myself sleepily welcoming her
to our happy home, having preceded her
by a few hours, as I tho't, poor thing having traveled so far she must be dead tired,
before falling back to sleep. I have spoken
of it being so warm upon our arrival. Before twelve hours had elapsed, we nurses
almost perished with cold. The rain turned to sleet, and before the following morning there was a cold, raw, penetrating
wind, the like of which I never felt before,
and hope to never feel again.
Many of the nurses took to their beds
with colds, sore throat, grippe, tonsilitis,
and some with pneumonia, from the sudI
57
den change of temperature, change of
cli-
mate and exposure. There were about a
dozen down at once those first weeks at
the hospital. I kept as well as I ever was
in
my
life,
except for a frost-bitten toe
from walking thru snow to the wards and
from the extreme cold of the porches
where most of our worst patients were,
and only required plenty of letters from
home and friends to make me as happy as
I could be at such a distance from them all.
Morning after morning, the water pipes
were frozen and we would have to go on
duty without even washing our faces.
That first morning upon awaking, my
first sensation was of a peculiar shivery
feeling all over my frame. It seemed as
though the cold was being pumped up
from beneath our beds by a bellows, and
the breath which left our nostrils made a
I felt
white streak through the room.
somewhat like the contents of an ice cream
freezer must feel, (if it has any feeling
at all) when the crank first begins to turn.
chilliness seemed to grow more intense, and to penetrate even to the very
The
bones.
The building
at this place had been hastily erected for temporary use only, and
the floor being at least four feet from the
ground, gave ample room for the cold air
58
to rush under, and up
of the flooring. Next
through the boards
day I put the small
rug which I found at the end of my bed,
under my mattress, next the springs, and
wrote home for a wool blanket, which,
after having received, I suffered no more
with cold.
The house had the appearance of standing on stilts and being in the midst of a
pine forest, my dreams were frequently
disturbed by imagining all sorts of gigantic animals of phenomenal appearance,
strolling at leisure about under our abode.
Indeed a half dozen families of bear or porcupine could have had quite comfortable
quarters under there.
however, that
discovered anything more ferocious than a family of pigs, but of such
It is only just to relate,
we never
quadrupeds the woods were full. Later
these pigs possessed no end of attraction
for me, "never having had an opportunity
of observing their graces of mind and
—
till I came to Camp B
whose
porcine citizens appeared to enjoy a larger
liberty than many of its human ones.
Stout, sedate looking pigs hurried by each
morning to their places of business, with
a preoccupied air, and sonorous greeting
Genteel pigs, with an
to their friends.
extra curl to their tails, promenaded in
manner
59
,
pairs, lunching here
men of leisure.
and there,
like gentle-
Rowdy pigs pushed the passersby off
the sidewolk, tipsy pigs hiccoughed their
version of "we won't go home till morning," from the gutter; and delicate young
pigs tripped daintily through the mud, as
if they plumed themselves upon their ankles, and kept themselves particularly neat
in point of stockings. Material pigs, with
their interesting families, strolled by in
the sun; and often the pink, baby-like
spuealers lay down for a nap, with a trust
in Providence worthy of human imitation.
Upon this particular morning I called to
my neighbor whose diminutive form lay
huddled beneath the covers showing no
signs of life, to see if she had become,
(which required very little imagination to
believe,) a "snow man" or woman, during
the night, but a drowsy head poked out
from beneath the covers and a yawn and
very sleepy good morning showed me that
she was alive, so I fell to rubbing the slowly congealing blood vessels of arm and
limb energetically, with the hope perchance of saving some of my members
from the dire calamity of frostbite.
And, before many moments, I noticed
that almost everyone was busily engaged
in doing likewise. It would have present60
ed a most ludicrous sight to an onlooker
had there chanced to be one. Here were
some twenty or thirty females clad in outing pajamas or nighty, each standing on
top of her bed, one and all going through
some
violent physical exercise terribly in
earnest, and totally independent of any
rythm or unison of motion with her neighbor, but after a while each and all were
rewarded for their strenuous exertions by
a tingling sensation of warmth as the
blood began circulating once more with its
normal velocity through the veins.
By the time the last article of apparel
had been dawned the breakfast bell rang,
and we hustled around to the dining room,
swallowed a cup of a fearful beverage called coffee, a piece of cold toast, and repaired back to the sleeping apartment again,
don hats, coats and rubbers, for during
the night about an inch of the coldest snow
ever seen or heard of, had fallen over the
ground. The stove which resembled a silo,
and gave out about as much heat most of
the time, had by this time begun to throw
out hints of a warmth inside, but as we
must be off to the wards, we had no way
of finding out whether it was merely a hint
and nothing more or not.
We four nurses who had arrived together the evening before, sort of hung to61
gether in this vast army of strange wo-
men
folk, feeling
more
like old acquaint-
ances, for as one girl put it, upon seeing
so many white clad individuals in a body,
that "she didn't know there was so many
women, or white dresses in the world!"
We
walked together to the wards, a distance of about a quarter of a mile, over
the frozen ground and upon being shown
to the Chief Nurse's office, which was situated in the Officers building, were there
dispersed, each nurse being sent to her respective ward, as the Chief saw fit.
There were twenty-six wards here at
that time, each one of which contained all
the way from thirty to seventy patients.
One, the ward for mumps and measles,
had about eighty patients at that time.
Upon meeting a soldier in the corridors,
or anywhere, he would politely touch his
hat or most military-like would salute us,
which seemed a little odd at first, but we
soon got used to it as to all the army ways.
Officers, likewise, either lifted their hats
or saluted us in passing, sometimes both!
They were largely from the South, and
I have heard remarkable stories of Southern chivalry, and if graces in the demeanor, or courtliness of manner can be constituted chivalry, then the word is not a
misnomer as applied to the Southern gen62
tleman. There seemed to be an inborn
courteousness of nature, and protective
instinct toward women folk, that one does
not always find as a chief characteristic
of the gentleman of the North.
Perhaps after all it is the women's own
fault, for having so much of that independent, self-sufficient lack of the oak and
vine simile, predominating in so many of
our Northern sisters, which has caused
the lords of creation, to feel that their protection and chivalry is not solicited, needed or wanted, therefore they treat them
accordingly. However, I think most all
men prefer the clinging vine type of woman and do not as a rule think it necessary to waste too much gallantry upon the
other more sturdy variety.
Arriving at the Chief Nurse's office, it
took but a few moments to learn that I
was to go to ward twenty-four. This 1
was informed was a ward for pneumonia,
containing some thirty or forty patients,
and there was already one nurse on duty
there.
Now to find ward twenty-four was the
next problem. But like an energetic fly in
a very large cobweb, I struggled through
a maze of screened-in corridors, meanwhile
occupying my mind with frightened
thoughts of a nurse I had heard of at camp
63
—
D
of whom it was reported, that she
had gotten lost in the corridors and had
remained in total obscurity for the whole
of one hour. There was no time to spare
now, as it lacked but a few minutes of
seven, that being the hour I was to be on
,
duty.
little
I met many nurses in their jaunty
Red Cross caps and red lined capes.
I would not have the pleasure of wearing
mine until the box arrived from Washington, which Miss Alberts had sent for some
weeks before. Said box arrived on Christmas eve, and it was another joy added to
the general festive air, about the place, to
be handed our army regalia which the Red
Cross was to loan us until we left the service.
and wished me
and hurried by, sergeants, corporals and privates
hurried by saluting as they went, and
every one seemingly bent upon some assured destination, while I seemed to be
wandering aimlessly about or in circles
like "puss chasing her tail!"
At last I
grew desperate. Having tried all other
The nurses each
a good morning.
smiled,
Officers saluted
available passages without success, I made
a bold dash down a long corridor I had not
seen before, dashed around a corner almost
colliding with a fat colonel who smiled on
top of his salute, as he dodged out of my
64
way, and brought up before three wards
side-by-side bearing the numbers 23, 24
and 25 over the doors.
goal was reached at last and just in
the nick of time for the short hand of my
watch pointed at seven. My heart beat
faster than usual as I walked with dignity
toward the ward in the center, wondering
My
should be held up for a countersign,
forced
and
to spend the rest of the day in
the corridor. But marching boldly up to
the door I found that no form was necessary. Two or three soldiers standing by
fell back, a guard touched his cap, a soldier a little bolder than the rest opened
the door for me, and, as I closed it behind
me I felt that I was fairly started, and as
an Army Nurse my mission was begun.
if I
65
CHAPTER
On
VII
the Field of Action
FOUND
myself in a small corsome four or six
rooms opening off the side.
Through a door in the far
end, I could see into a large
room and from the number of beds it contained I judged this to be the ward proper,
where my future immediate endeavors lay.
The doors opening into this hall from the
side, led into various small rooms, one of
which was a kitchen where the meals were
ridor with
dished up into individual trays, after being brought from the main large kitchen.
Another was bath and wash room for corps
men and convalescent patients, another a
linen room where sheets, pillow cases,
towels, blankets and pa jama suits for the
patients were kept. Another room where
the ward master slept when off duty, and
another from which issued the sound of
voices which proved upon walking to the
door from which the sounds came, to be
an office. Upon entering this door my
66
gaze took in the occupants at a glance.
Several soldiers sat about upon chairs having gone through the slight preliminary
examination necessary (before being given
a bed) of having temperature, pulse and
respiration recorded upon the chart.
A
nurse was standing near a table or desk,
in front of which sat a stoutly-built officer.
Nobody present looked as though
they would have been any worse off had I
been doomed to wander indefinitely in the
corridor outside and had failed to put in
niy appearance at that particular moment,
unless perchance it may be the dejected
looking objects sitting about on chairs,
might have been better off had some one
gotten them put to bed quite a bit earlier.
Those at the desk seemed to be chatting
and laughing, as though sickness was a
thing unheard of, the war was a myth,
and there never had existed any such a
being as the Kaiser, and the gentleman at
the desk had the air and appearance of
having no heavier burden upon his shoulders than the inspection of the nurses'
pretty, well manicured hands.
The
office into
which
made my entrance was
I
had so bluntly
small, being about
eight by ten feet square.
There was a window at one side through
67
which could be seen ward 23 about twenty
feet away.
A
small coal stove stood in the center
of the room, while a small table made from
a box by some improvising individual,
adorned one corner, above which hung a
small mirror. A chair or two and the officers desk, which was strewn with various
charts and sheets of paper, with which
he evidently had some intention of occupying his mind some time, and an electric globe directly over the desk, was all
in the way of furniture or fixtures the
room contained.
Upon thirty or forty
pegs on the wall back of the desk hung
loose sheets which later proved to be the
individual charts of the sick men inside
the ward, and as I became more immersed
in army hospital affairs, I came to feel that
said charts to all appearances were of vastly more importance than the man himself.
Let one page get misplaced and directly
the whole ward, if not the entire hospital
at large, became a seething bedlam of
pandemonium until such page was safely
restored once more to its proper peg upon
the wall.
One could, by glancing through these
precious documents, find out at a moment's notice, patient's name, where bom,
age, color and nationality, religion,
68
if
he
had any, married or
anything
know, even, I
suspect to how many freckles he had on
his face, or as to what kind of a dog he
else
one
single, or
felt at all curious to
liked best
This wonderful record was there to show
whomsoever it may concern, that John
Jones had gone through all those juvenile
ailments like whooping cough, chickenpox,
and croup, and a list of all the other maladies by which John Jones had been assailed throughout his whole life, from the day
he was born up until now, were likewise
down in black and white, that all who "ran
might read."
Upon
my
entrance the Lieutenant arose,
the nurse came toward me smiling, with
extended hands, and the words, "Fm so
glad youVe come for we sure do need more
nurses here," and asking my name introduced me to Lieutenant Roberts, who was
the doctor in charge of this ward.
The
nurse, Miss Sailor, had arrived on duty
only the day before, as she explained to
me in our walk through the ward, which
was to say the least, a somewhat embarrassing experience, with some forty odd
pairs of eyes turned in our direction, while
one mischievous fellow begun singing, "I
don't want to get well."
I thought as we passed along, especially
69
the porches, where the most critically ill
boys were, that it presented a most sorry
looking sight, for two women with the aid
of perhaps two or three assistants to make
much headway toward the recovery of so
many
sick
men.
was supposed to be a ward for pneumonia only, but for some cause in sorting
them out, there had leaked in among the
It
others, cases of tonsilitis, bronchitis, nephjaundice, osteomelitis, and a few patients isolated upon the back porch, who
were diagnosed as "meningitis suspects."
These last, however, proved to be nothing
worse than a mild case of grippe, or billiousness, and after a few judiciously administered doses of physic, by the nurse,
ritis,
"upon her own hook," which saved the
lucky fellow a visit to that place of horrors, "the meningitis ward," brought them
about all right, so that after a few days
they were able to be sent back to camp.
By the time we had made the round of
the ward, I had arrived at the conclusion
that had some ten or a dozen nurses arrived upon this scene a month before,
everything would now have a far different
appearance. At it was, the one nurse upon
the field being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the job before her, had simply not
been able to do anything. I was glad, how70
ever, that someone had preceded me here,
for had I been called upon to be the head
and executive body, to preside over such a
motely collection of sick humanity, I fear I
should have been considerably more nonplussed than this woman seemed to be.
She was a little "roly poly" fat nurse
from somewhere in the middle West, who
took all things in a philosophical manner,
rather inclined to make merry over the
most woeful circumstances, rather given
to make believe that she herself was lacking in ability and knowledge of running a
hospital ward, in fact she had the air of
believing everything a joke, from the
shock headed boy known as Alphonse in
the kitchen, to the grouchy much-dislikedby-all, hard-hearted Major who made the
rounds of weekly inspection of the wards
and scared everybody out of a year's nor-
mal growth.
In reality she was a sweet, cheery woman, a splendid nurse, and a good manager, and we got on famously caring for
our big family of sick boys, until sickness
took her from our ward for several weeks,
and the somewhat abrupt plunge into the
superintendence of a ward containing
forty beds, kept the shining hours filled
with washing faces, serving rations, giving medicine, sitting in a very hard chair,
71
with pneumonia on one side, diphtheria on
the other, two typhoids opposite and a
dozen dilapidated patriots limping, lying,
and lounging about, all staring more or
less at the new *'Nuss," who suffered untold agonies but concealed them under as
matronly an aspect as a spinster could assume, and blundered through her trying
labors with a Spartan firmness, which I
hope they appreciated, but am afraid they
didn't.
Having a taste for surgical work, I had
rather wished to have been placed in a
ward of that kind, for rheumatism wasn't
heroic or exciting, neither liver complaint
or dropsy, even fever had lost its charms
since "bathing burning brows" had been
used up in romances, real and ideal. But
later my experiences in surgical wards, especially one exclusively for empyema,
where the air was permeated with the disagreeable odor accompanying a large number of cases of this kind if thrown together, caused me to wish I were back
again with my various assortment of diseases, be they ever so uninteresting.
I found that things the dullest and most
repulsive, steadily pursued, gradually in
spite of one's self become interesting, in a
certain way, chiefly from the satisfaction
which follows the effort to bring comfort
72
For in seeking others good, we find our own!
The daily contact with weakness and
suffering, and saddening scenes of death,
gave ample opportunity of studying huand cheer to others.
man
nature in all its various phases. But
withal the strangeness of this new life, I
liked it, and found many things to amuse,
instruct and interest me.
As we ended our rounds Miss Sailor remarked that she guessed we had better
commence washing the men's faces as
some of them she didn't suppose had been
treated to such a luxury for weeks. And
the regiment of vile odors which always
accompany sickness where there is fever,
if not properly bathed and cared for, which
assaulted our noses and took them by
storm, while passing thro' 'the ward,
made her words seem very credible.
The beds were all filled with sick men,
some of whom were in a critical condition.
And, as yet, nothing was being done for
their comfort or cleanliness except what
the few corps boys could do, who up to
this time had done the best they knew
how, in caring for them, under the doctors
orders, gave their medicine, passed plates
of food, thrice daily, gathered them up
again, and if the contents of plate or cup
had not been touched, it was too busy a
73
time to notice a little thing like that. "I
can't be worried" or *"I can't be bothered"
were expressions one heard on all sides.
Another phrase popular among the attendants which came as near causing me
to lose my christian equilibrium as anything I had to contend with, was, "You're
in the army now."
When one felt it in their heart to act
with a bit of human principle, or lend their
weight of influence in untangling some
knotty problem for the betterment of all
concerned, or to straighten up or prevent
some unreasonable injustice, they were
apt to be set down as unmilitary and too
"chicken hearted," and be met with the
abominable expression, "you're in the
army now." And some individuals of the
same calibre, I fear found that phrase a
valuable rod to lean upon, and aid in shirking responsibility, as though to be in the
army, excused one from carrying on their
affairs with the same conscientious effort
one would apply to them anywhere else.
The very fact of our being here placed
added responsibility upon our shoulders,
and a duty to overcome in so far as we
could, the hardness, unreasonableness and
laxity of army life. For it is true that in
some of the wards the circumlocution
fashion prevailed, forms and fusses tor74
merited our souls and unnecessary strictness in one place was counterbalanced by
unpardonable laxity in another.
Round the great stove in the center of
the room, was gathered the dreariest
group I had ever seen. Some had just arrived in the ambulance from the camp, and
for these a bed had not as yet been arranged.
Others had convalesced to the
stage where they were permitted to sit up
and it being too cold near their beds were
hovering about the stove. Gaunt and pale,
hollow-eyed, showing in their faces partly
covered with beard, the ravages of weeks
of sickness, but trying to wear a cheerful
look.
I pitied
them so much I dared not speak
to them, though reading in their faces, all
they must have been through since leaving
their homes, and I yearned to serve the
dreariest of them all.
Presently Miss Sailor darted inside a
and emerged from it again bearing
a basin of water in her hands. Coming
toward me, put basin, towel, washcloth
and a block of soap in my hands with these
appalling directions. "Now we will begin
to wash the men's faces as fast as we can.
You take one side of the ward and I will
take the other."
And the sight of the many beds with
door,
75
their uncomfortable occupants also admonished me that I was there to work, not to
wonder or weep; so I corked up my feelings, and returned to the path of duty,
which was
rather
a
most bewildering
"road to travel" just then. Notwithstanding my four years of nursing experience,
I will admit that I was somewhat staggered at the prospect of having to scrub onehalf of the whole masculine population of
the South, as it appeared, in a body. If
she had requested me to shave them all,
or do a "highland fling" on the top of the
stovepipe, I doubt if I had been any more
flabbergasted.
To have to scrub some
twenty lords of creation, at a moment's
notice was, really ^really however there
was no time for nonsense, and having resolved when I came to do everything I
was bid, like Nurse Pemberton, "I drowned my scruples in my wash bowl, clutched
my soap manfully and assuming a business-like and professional air, I valiantly
fell to upon if not the whole Southern
army, what at that moment looked to me
to be a goodly portion of it.
In making a dab at the flrst dirty specimen, I saw I happened to light on a withered Frenchman from New Orleans, who
being too old to cross the water and join
his countrymen, had volunteered to enlist
—
—
76
with the boys here. The premature bursting of a hand grenade had removed most
of the fingers from his right hand and
placed several injuries about his head and
face, the bandages of which caused that
portion of his anatomy to be tastefully
laid out like a minature garden, said bandages being the walks and his beard the
shrubbery. He was so overpowered at the
honor of having a lady ''wash him" as he
expressed it, that he did nothing but roll
his eyes and call down blessings upon my
head in an irresistable style which was too
much
my
sense of the ludicrous, so we
laughed together and when I came to his
for
he stoutly remonstrated in both
French and English, but I understood
enough to appreciate the fact that he
would never stand it to have the petite
lady touch them dirty creatures. But in
spite of his remonstrances, I plunked both
feet into the bowl and scrubbed away like
any tidy parent on a Saturday night, until
I had him all done up "spick and span" as
a smiling infant. "Je voo remair see Mam
oi selle, and may the Saints guard round
ye for the day's work ye be doin" was Ms
parting sally, as I passed on to the next.
Some of them took the performance like
feet,
sleepy children, leaning their tired heads
against me as I worked, others looked
77
grimly scandalized, and some of the roughest looking, colored like bashful girls. One
wore a soiled little bag on a string about
his neck, and as I removed it to bathe his
neck, I said "Your talisman did not save
you from getting the grippe did it?"
"Well I reckon it helped mar'm foh mayhaps I might now be daid, if it hadn't been
foh old mammy's camphoh bag and I am
still livin as you see," answered this cheerful philosopher.
Another, with a boil on his cheek, asked
a looking-glass, and when I had
brought one, regarded his swollen face
with a dolorous expression as he muttered,
"I'll be blowd if that ain't
too bad! I
war'nt a bad lookin guy befoh, but that
blamed carbuncle is goin to leave a scah
that'll finish me."
"What on earth will Rose Pike say?"
He looked up at me with his one remaining eye so appealing, that I controlled my
rising mirth with difficulty, and assured
him that if Rose was a girl of sense, she
would not mind the scar, even if it was not
caused by shrapnel or gunshot, for it was
from affliction suffered while away doing
his duty like a man, and soldier, preparing
to go to scenes which might necessitate
his bringing back far worse scars. When
for
78
him that all women thought a wound
the best decoration a brave soldier can
wear, his trouble seemed allayed for the
time and I hope Miss Pike proved that the
good opinion I had rashly expressed of her,
was not over-estimated.
1 told
79
CHAPTER
A
VIII
Remarkable Transformation
lY next scrubbee, was a fairhaired, nice looking lad, with
honest blue eyes, and what I
judged when not drawn by
pain and illness, to be a merry
He was so young, not over six-
mouth.
teen, he lay on his bed so wan, and pale,
and emaciated, that when a drop or two
of salt water mingled with my suds at
sight of this mere babe in such a piteous
condition, the boy looked up with a brave
smile. He had just that morning come in
the ambulance, over the rough road from
the camp field hospital, and after a long
siege of fever, ague, and chills, had been
pronounced able to be moved in to the
Base Hospital, where it was hoped he
would receive better care than the men at
the camp were able to give him. The trip
had proved almost too much for his frail
strength, for he looked a total wreck.
There was a little quiver of the lips as he
said, "Now don't you fret youah self
80
about
me
Miss,
Fm
first
rate heah for its
to lie still on this bed aftah knockin'
about in that confounded ambulance that
shakes what there is left of a fellow to
jelly/' I nevah was in one of these places
befoh and I think this cleanin' up a jollygood thing foah us fellows, though
afraid it isn't foah you ladies."
*pie'
Fm
expect you ran away to join the
army," I said smiling as I contemplated
his youthful face while I washed his
hands.
He wore a sheepish look as he
answered. **That I did Miss and if I had
minded my Mamma I nevah would be
"I
heah now."
His mother a widow had three sons
older than he, all in the army, and this,
her baby, had four years before him ere
he would be old enough to enlist.
I asked him if he didn't think he could
go back to his mother when he was well
enough, and wait until he was old enough
to enroll in the army.
He said that "while
lying sick in the field hospital with so
much time to think, he had decided it was
his duty to stay at home and look after his
mother, while his brothers were away and
that if he ever got well, he was going to
try to get out of "this man's ahmy."
To hear one
so
81
young talking of
life
and
duty in such a sage and philosophical
manner would have appeared comical, had
it not been so pathetic, so I assured him
that I was very glad he had come to such
a decision, for I believed it to be a very
wise plan.
Some months
later I learned that his
uncle, being the Captain of his company,
had been able to procure his release from
the army and he had gone home to his
mother.
I say Mrs. called a voice half way down
the ward, and when I came within speaking distance, a rough fellow from Arkansas, with large blisters covering his lips,
testifying mutely to the intense fever he
must have passed through, motioned me
come closer and as I did so, to learn
what he wanted, he whispered ruefully
to
"That next fellow you'll be comin to,
that red-headed devil up yondah is a pro-
"Hang him!" "He'd nevah
he could a got out of it." "But
he had to, or go back to his own country
and fight." "And he held back as long as
he could, I know him the good f oh nothin
German!"
joined
if
whelp."
"He's
got the
chickenpox,
and
its
a
to fetch him in heah along
side of us fellows, and so Fll tell the chap
!"
that bosses this place, drat me if I don't
blasted shame
82
"Don't you wash him, noh feed him, but
just let him hollah till he's tiahed."
I regret to say that I did not deliver a
moral sermon upon the duty of forgiving
our enemies, and the sin of profanity, then
and there, but being an American to the
roots of my hair, stared fixedly at the fat
who
seemed was a copperhead in
every sense of the word, and I am afraid I
rebel,
it
privately resolved to put soap in his eyes,
rub his nose the wrong way, and excoriate his cuticle generally, had I the washMy unamiable intentions
ing of him.
were frustrated, however, for when I approached his bed with as christian an expression as my principles would allow, and
asked the question: ''Shall I try to make
you more comfortable sir?" he answered
"Here's
gruffy, ''No, I'll do it myself."
your Southern chivalry with a vengeance"
thought I, dumping the basin down before
him, thereby quenching a strong desire to
give him a summary baptism in return for
This fellow was a
his ungraciousness.
disappointment in all respects, for he was
neither pathetic, sick, sad, or savage, but
a big fat stolid Dutchman with a head like
a burning bush, and a perfectly expressionless face so I could ignore his existence,
without the slightest drawback. One redeeming trait he certainly did possess, as
83
the floor speedily testified; for his ablutions were so vigorously performed, that
his bed soon stood like an isolated island in
a sea of soap suds, and he resembled a
dripping merman, suffering the loss of a
If cleanliness is next to godliness,
fin.
then was the big German the godliest man
in our ward that day.
thin fellow declared he knew
the millenium had arrived, for the fellows
were getting their faces washed. *'Said
he had offered a fellow who was walking
around, a half dollar to get him a basin of
water a few days ago, and not being successful, had decided that when a fellah's
sick enough to die, it don't make much difference whether he dies clean or dirty."
One
tall,
"No, Baily,
I said,
it
makes
little differ-
ence to our Father in Heaven, what state
our bodies are in, so our hearts are clean
when we come to die. He looked thoughtful a moment, then said, "Well now, I
nevah thought of that befo, and I reckon
a fellah can keep his haht clean if he does
have to lay heah in a duhty bed
and covahed with scabs."
all
sweaty
Upon my recounting the story of Lazarus as I scrubbed away very gently, for his
body had been covered with large ulcers it
seemed, from the many scabs, he seemed
84
to take heart and a great deal of comfort
in the fact that he could at least keep his
heart clean, whatever befell his body hereafter.
Our human wash all done up and laid
out to dry, as it were, the second syllable
of our version of the word war-fare, was
enacted with much success. Great trays
containing soup, bread and meat, and cof-
and both nurses and attendants turned waiters, serving bountiful rations to all who could eat. I fear that in
the rush my dr^ss became a preambulating bill-of-fare, exhibiting samples of all
the refreshments going. It was a lively
scene. The long room with rows of beds
down each side, while on the porch outside
were the worst cases of pneumonia patients, so as to get all the air they could,
too sick to talk or eat.
The process of
cleaning up here had been limited to bathing faces and hands, and placing ice caps
to fevered heads. "But the beds all filled
by an occupant whom water, shears and
clean raiment had transformed from a
dreary ragamuffin into a recumbent handsome hero, with a cropped head. To and
fro rushed we two nurses, corps boys and
convalescent boys, "skirmishing with
knives and forks," retreating with empty
plates, while the clashing of busy spoons
fee, appeared,
85
made most
inspiring music for the charge
of our ''Light Brigade."
'
'Patients in front of them,
Patients to right of them,
Patients to left of them,
Nobody blundered.
Screamed at with brimming bowls,
Beamed at by hungry souls.
Steamed at by Army rolls.
Buttered and sundered
With coffee not cannon plied
Each must be
Whether they
men
All the
Curious
tragic
satisfied
lived or died.
wondered."
contrasts
of
the
comic
and
met one everywhere, and some
episodes
might have been recorded that day, as
well as all the succeeding days, but I suppose the events of that first day would
naturally recur to one's memory more
promptly than events which followed.
small Italian boy, beckoned me to his aid,
touching as
well
as
ludicrous
A
and in broken English conveyed the information to my mind, that if I would help
him "sit up" as he termed placing a rest
back of him, he might be able to eat his
soup, with which his bed and beard were
getting plentifully anointed.
86
He
explain-
ed that to
sit
up without anything behind
him made him very "deezy."
I saw him safely in a reclining
position
before leaving him, and went to the porch
where my attention had been attracted by
a boy, who was restlessly tossing about
upon his bed. Observing that his food
was untouched, I offered to assist him as I
had the man I had just left. But he only
shook his head, "Id like a drink of water
please ma*am if you ain't too busy."
I
rushed away, but the water was shut off
for some cause and none drawn in pail or
pan, so I hastened to the next ward to see
if by any chance there was any to be had
there.
But finding no better success, I
hastened back to the ward and was gladdened to find the water on again. I hurried with a cup full back to him. He seemed to be asleep, but something in the tired
white face, caused me to listen for his
breath, but none came, his forehead was
Then I knew that while he waited,
cold.
a better nurse than I, had given him 'a
cooler draught, and healed him with a
I laid the sheet over the quiet
touch.
sleeper, whom no noise could now disturb,
and half an hour later the bed was empty.
That hospital bed was lonely even in a
crowd. For there was no familiar face to
look his last upon, no friendly voice to say
87
good bye; no hand to lead him gently down
into the "Valley of the Shadow," and he
vanished like a drop in the sea upon whose
shores so
many women
stand lamenting.
Yet can we say no hand was
laid
on his at
that time when we are told that, "not
without God's will, e'en a sparrow can
fall?" I think not. I should have felt bitterly indigant at this seeming carelessness
of the value of life, had I not possessed
great confidence in the words of our Lord
and Master, that "the hairs of your head
are numbered," and "ye are of more value
than many sparrows."
The doctor having made his rounds,
medicine administered, temperatures
taken, the afternoon wore away, and at
five o'clock the kitchen boy who was
known as the K. P. announced supper.
The Corps boys flew, not to arms, but to
their trays. The dozing patients awoke at
the noise and commotion, and I presently
discovered that it took a very severe onslaught of illness to incapacitate the boys
for the consumption of their rations.
88
CHAPTER IX
Reminiscences
iHE succeeding days were
some extent a repetition
to
of
thankful to
the first. I am
say that there were no more
deaths in our ward for many
weeks.
The men all having had their first good
cleaning up in several weeks, by the end of
the first week each and every mother's
son had undergone a complete transformation. And having gotten the bodies of our
boys into something like "ship shape" order, the task for the remaining days after
the morning's tidying up was finished, was
to minister to their minds, by writing letters to the anxious souls at home, answering questions, reading papers, or doing any
task that might add to the comfort or enjoyment of the homesick lads we had
under our care.
Upon entrance to the ward, each boy
gave his money and valuables into the
hands of the ward master to turn over to
89
the Lieutenant for safe keeping. Pocketbooks, purses, miniatures and watches,
were sealed up, labeled and handed over
to the doctor, till such time as the owners
thereof were ready to depart homeward
or campward again.
One
of the lively episodes of hospital life
is the frequent marching away of such as
are well enough to rejoin their regiments,
or betake themselves to some convalescent
camp.
The ward master comes to the door of
each room that is to be thinned, reads off
a list of names, bids their owner^s look
sharp and be ready when called for; and,
as he vanishes, the room falls into an indescribable state of topsy-turveyness, as
the boys begin to polish their shoes, brush
clothes, overhaul knapsacks, make presents, are fitted out with needfuls, and
well, why not ? kissed sometimes, as they
say good bye for in all human probability
we shall never meet again and a woman's
heart yearns over anything that has clung
to her for help and comfort.
I never liked these breakings-up of our
little household, though my stay at tTie
;
camp, and hospital at Washington showed
me several of them. I was immensely
gratified by the handshakes I got, for
90
somewhat painful cordiality assured
I had not tried in vain.
The withered Frenchman mumbled out
their
me
that
his unintelligible
adieux with a grateful
face and a premonitory
smooth of his
stubby mustache, but he got no farther,
for some one else stepped up, with a large
brown hand extended, and
this
recommen-
our faulty establishment:
"We're off. Ma'am, and I'm powerful sorry,
for I'd no idea a orspitle was such a jolly
place."
"Sorry I can't get somethin' to
bring me back to be took care of again;
dation
mean,
for
ain't it?"
of inglorious ease was not
the right one to preach up, so I tried to
look shocked, failed signally and consoled
myself by giving him one of the little
"housewives" the Red Cross workers had
left for all who were leaving that day.
They fell into line in front of the ward,
looking rather wan and feeble, some of
them, but trying to step out smartly, and
The doctrine
march
in
good order, though several lean-
ed on sticks, instead of shouldering guns.
All looked up and smiled, or waved their
hands, and touched their hats as they
passed by the window, and so away. Some
to their homes in this world, and some to
that in the next; and for the rest of the
day, I felt like Rachel mourning for her
91
children, when I saw the empty beds, and
missed the familiar faces.
It was never exactly my intention to lecture to the boys, yet there were times,
while busy about the ward duties, when it
seemed profitable as well as agreeable, to
speak a word in defense of the faith in
Jesus, which is only the plain duty of anyone who considers himself a Christian.
And as the great Apostle said "is our rea-
sonable service."
I
found on such occasions that the boys
listened to such words respectfully and
even eagerly. And on several occasions,
as the one I have just described, when a
body of them were leaving the ward, several informed me, with all sincerity that
they were glad I talked to them in this
manner, and would always remember
words to them.
The
my
letters dictated to us in those days,
were both interesting and comic, as well
as pathetic. Full of affection, pluck and
errors of speech, but nearly all giving lively accounts of life at the hospital, ending
usually "with a somewhat sudden plunge
from patriotism to provender, desirmg
"Marm," "Aunt Emmie," or "Caroline" to
send along some cookies, pickles, or apples,
to "your'n" in haste, "Hal," "Tom" or
"Jake," as the case might be.
92
The evening meal was followed by washfeverish faces, smoothing tumbled
beds, beating up flattened pillows, and general preparations for the night. By seven,
the last labor of love was done, the last
**good night" spoken, and if any needed a
reward for the day's work, they surely received it, in the silent eloquence of those
long lines of faces, showing pale and peaceful in the shaded room, as we quitted
them, followed by grateful glances that
lighted us to bed, where rest the sweetest,
made our pillows soft, while night and nature took our places, filling that groat
house of suffering with the healing mira*
cles of sleep.
ing
93
CHAPTER X
Christmas
in the
Ward
S the month of December sped
on, the weather moderated to
such a degree that, on Christsitting about the
Nurses' home, it was so warm
that the windows were thrown up, and the
The balmy
doors were left wide open.
breezes were laden with an air of Christmas tide, and excitement ran high as the
big army trucks would drive up to our
back door, and the boys in khaki would
unload boxes for this one and that, until
each and every one had received some remembrance from friends and loved ones
at home.
mas eve
Many of the nurses were busy adding
the last finishing touches to some small
gift for the illest, or youngest, lad in her
ward, and the hours flew by, full of gaiety
and laughter, in anticipation of the festive
occasion.
Groups of nurses and soldier
boys came in with their arms laden with
94
holly, palms and glistening branches of
magnolia, for decorating the halls and reception room at the nurses' barracks. For
tonight was the night of the first party,
given as a reception to the nurses by tlie
officers of the hospital in appreciation of
our advent upon the scenes at this time.
The tables in the great dining room were
shoved to one end for serving tables, the
benches placed around the walls for seats,
and the floor sprinkled with corn meal to
make it smooth and slick for those who
wished to partake in that part of the festivities, to "trip the light fantastic" until
midnight. A large bowl of fruit punch
was arranged upon a table under a bower
of fern leaves, holly and mistletoe, and
granite cups in abundance were handy so
that each one may help themselves when
they wished.
Plates piled high with sandwiches of
various kinds and plates of cookies covered
by paper napkins were reposing upon the
tables in the background, until their time
should arrive to take a part in the merry
festivities.
There were some dozen or more of us
did not care for the dancing, but enjoyed watching the dancers glide to and
who
fro,
each
girl attired in
95
some
soft pretty
evening frock, the various soft shades of
color making a very pretty picture. The
officers resplendent in all their straps,
bars, belts, buttons and chevrons, their
well-fitting uniforms and leather puttees
setting off their manly figures to the best
advantage, made a very striking picture,
which I doubt if any present on that occasion had been accustomed to see vory
often. We watched the scene until quite
late, when tired and sleepy from a long
day in the ward, we betook ourselves to
our sleeping abode, whose windows being
open wide, we fell asleep to the tunes of
the then popular patriotic airs of "Over
There," "Joan of Arc," "Pack Up Your
Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag," and "A
Long, Long Trail a Winding."
"Merry Christ"Merry Christmas !"
Miss Lee!"
Christmas,
mas," "Merry
echoed from every side as I entered my
ward that Christmas morning. My colleague having left the ward a week earlier, I was alone to plan and superintend
the preparations necessary to brighten
our ward for this, our first Christmas in
Most all of the nurses had
the Army.
spent a good part of their leisure moments the past week trying to fix up some
little gift for the sick, home-sick boys in
our wards for as the Chief nurse once had
96
One-half of whose male population were taking the other half to the guard house.
See page 153.
said to me in conversation **Af ter all Miss
Lee, men are but a lot of sick babies,
:
when they are sick, and the bravest and
most manly of them enjoy the coddling
that only a woman's hands know how to
administer."
No wonder the greetings were hearty,
and thin faces brightened, for when they
awoke that morning, each lad found that,
in the silence of the night, some friendly
hand had laid a little gift beside his bed.
Very humble little gifts they were, but
chosen with thoughtfulness and a desire
to make the blithe anniversary pleasant,
even in a hospital, hoping to keep uppermost the lesson of the hour, ^Peace on
Earth, good will to man.
—
"I say
ma'am
these are just splendid,
and I had just been wishing for some of
them," cried one poor fellow, surveying a
bunch of white Malaga grapes with as
much satisfaction as if he had found a
fortune.
"I thank you kindly Miss, for
the paper and fixins, I hated to keep borrowing, but I don't seem to be able to get
hold of any money," said another, eyeing
his gift with happy anticipations of the
home letters, with which the pages should
be filled.
**l
want
my
basket of flowers hung in
97
the center of the room Miss, where all the
boys can see it, if you please/'
"But then I'm afraid you can't see it
yourself Louis, and I think you're fonder
of them than the rest," I said, taking both
the little basket and the hand of my pet
patient, a lad of twenty, who was valiantly fighting for his life against quick consumption. "That's why I can spare it for
a while, I shall feel them in the room, and
they'll do the boys good.
You pick out
the one you like best for me to keep and
hang up the rest please." As I handed
him a sprig of holly and a red rosebud, his
smile was as sweet and winning to me, as
was the flower to the lonely lad who never
had known womanly tenderness and care
until he found them in a hospital.
Louis'
prediction came true, the flowers did do
the boys good, for all welcomed them with
approving glances, and
their refining influence more or less keenly, from
cheery Pat, who paused to fill the cup inside with fresh water, to surly Ben Burrows who stopped growling as his eye
caught sight of the sweet peas just like
those blooming in his sweetheart's garden
all felt
last summep,r.
I
one
explained to them all then, that the
who merited the greater part of their
gratitude
was
Miss
98
Sailor,
their
first
nurse, then indisposed as also their faithcame in for her share of
the thanks, for we three had tried to be
Santa Claus to our boys at this time.
**Now let's begin to enjoy the festivities
Fling up the windows Pat,
of the day.
and Alphonse go for breakfast, while I
finish washing faces and straighten the
bedclothes." After which directions I set
to work and after half an hour's time,
thirty gentlemen with spandy clean faces
and hands, were partaking of refreshment with as much appetite as their varThe air
ious conditions would permit.
blew in through the windows as blandly as
ful night nurse,
though spring had come, and wished the
boys the compliments of the season in the
mildest mood; while a festival smell pervaded the whole house, and appetizing
rumors of turkey, mince pie, and oysters
for dinner circulated through the wards.
When the breakfast things were cleared
away, medicine administered, throats
swabbed, ears irrigated, temperatures
taken and all the disagreeables over, and
the ward tidied up, the fun began.
In any other place that would have been
considered a very quiet morning. But to
the weary invalids prisoned in the room,
it was quite a whirl of excitement.
None were dangerously ill, but Louis,
99
and all were easily amused, for weakness,
homesickness and ennui, made every trifle
a joke or an event.
In came Pat with a big load of holly
and magnolia branches. And such of the
men who could get about and could help,
did so. The corps boys generously aided
when their duties permitted, and soon a
green bough hung at the head of each bed,
depended from the electric lights, and nodded over the doors and windows, while the
finishing effect was given by a cross and
wreath of holly at each end of the room.
Each one manifested great interest, and
many were the mishaps attending this
performance, causing frequent laughter,
for sick men when convalescent are particularly jovial. When Sambo, the colored
incapable, essayed a grand ornament above
a door, and relying upon one insufficient
nail, descended to survey his handiwork
with the proud exclamation: "Look at de
neatness of dat job, gen'Fmen," at which
point the whole thing tumbled down about
his ears,
how they all shouted but pneumonia Bob, who having lost his voice,
could only make ecstatic demonstrations
with his legs.
Poor Sambo cast himself and his
hammer despairingly upon the floor,
while stepping into a chair I pounded
—
100
stoutly at the traitorous nail, and with a
made
amid a burst
of applause, which arose from the beds.
When Lieutenant Roberts came in to see
what all the noise was about, I explained
bit of string
while
all fast,
tucked a bit of holly in his buttonhole, and wished him a Merry Christmas,
as he bolted out again calling Christmas a
hard time, but exulting over the thirty
emetics he would have to prescribe on the
morrow. When everything was done, I
think every one agreed with Louis, when
he said, "I think we are coming Christmas in great style; things look so green
and pretty, I feel, as I was setting in a
bower."
Pausing to glance around the ward enjoying the Chrismasy effect the greenery
gave to it, I noticed Harkins, a boy from
Ohio, looking as black as a thunderbolt.
He bounced over on his bed the moment
he caught my eye, but I followed him up
and gently covering the cold shoulder he
evidently meant to show me, peeped over
it, asking with as much gentleness as I
could "What can I do for you Harkins ? I
want my boys to all have bright faces
today." "I didn't get the box from home,
they said I should get it two, three days
ago. Why don't I get it then?" growled
Harkins.
I
101
a busy time, you know, but it
come if they promised, and patience
"It is
will
won't delay it, I assured him."
"They're a slow set, and my patience is
about gone, Fd get it all right if I wore
shoulder bars, as I don't I'll bet I'll never
see it till the things are all spoiled and
fit to eat, and news is old and I don't
care a rap about it."
"I'll see what I can do; perhaps before
the hurry with dinner begins, some one
will have time to go for it."
"Nobody ever has any time but folks
who would give all they are worth to be
stirring around. I know you can't get it;
its my luck, so don't worry ma'am."
I did not worry but worked, and in time
someone was found, provided with the necessary money, pass, and directions, and
dispatched to hunt up the missing Christmas box.
Pausing to see what came next, not that
it was necessary to look for a task, but, to
decide which out of many was most important to do first. Seeing my rheumatic
patient Barker with his face all screwed
up and tears running down his cheeks, I
ain't
hastened to him.
"Why Barker crying again? which
headache, or back this time?"
102
is it
*rheumatis* ma'am. My bones
ache so I can't lay easy any way, and
so tired I just wish I could die and be out
of this misery," sobbed the poor ghost of
a once strong and cheery fellow, as I wiped
the tears away and gently massaged the
weary shoulders. "You must not wish that
Barker for the worst is over and all you
need is to get your strength again. The
doctor has said you may sit up a little,
and it is quite time you tried a change of
posture will help the ache wonderfully and
make this "deadful bed" as you call it,
"It's
my
Fm
;
seem very comfortable when you come
back to it."
"I just can't ma'am. My legs ain't no
good at all and I ain't even strong enough
to try." "You never will be if you don't
try." Never mind the legs, Pat will carry
you. I have a wheel chair all ready and
you will be real cozy by the fire. Why not
celebrate Christmas day by overcoming
the blues, which only retard your recovery, and prove to the others that your illness has not taken all the manhood out of
you."
"It has though, I'll never be the man I
was, and may just as well lay here till
spring, for I shall be no use if I do get up."
If Harkins was a growler, this man was
103
well acted charade of his own name, as
well as a whiner and few hospital wards
are without both.
But knowing that it
was from much pain and suffering which
a
had soured the former and
pitifully
weak-
ened the latter, I tried to have patience
with them, and still hoped to bring them
round again.
As Barker whimpered out his last dismal speech I bethought myself of something which in the hurry of the morning,
had slipped my mind till now.
"By the way, Fve got another present
for you. The doctor thought I'de better
not give it yet, lest it should excite you
too much, but I think you need a little excitement to help you to forget yourself,
and when you realize how many blessings
you have to be grateful for, you will make
an effort to enjoy them."
Blessings,
ma'am ? I don't see 'em." "Don't you see
one now " And drawing the letter from
my pocket I held it before him. "It's from
my wife, I guess. I like to get her letters
but they are always full of grievings and
worryings over me, so they don't do me
much
good."
"This one may prove an exception to the
rule and you may be very happy when you
read it," I said as he sat moodily scanning
the outside of the envelope.
104
Then breaking the seal he began to scan
the pages and a wonderful change lighted
up his countenance. As I watched him I
thought there must indeed be wonderful
news to change his face so quickly from
the picture of gloom to one of noonday
brightness.
"Hooray hold on a
!
bit,—-it's all right,
be out again in a minute."
With which remarkable burst Barker
vanished under the bedclothes, letter and
Whether he read, laughed or cried, in
all.
the seclusion of that cotton grotto, was
unknown, but I suspected that he did all
three, for when he re-appeared he looked
as though during that pause, he had dived
1*11
into his sea of troubles
old self again.
and fished up his
"What will I name her, Miss Lee?"
was his first remark delivered with such
vivacity that his neighbors began to think
he was getting delirious again. "What is
your wife's name?" I asked, gladly entering into the domesticities which were producing such a salutary effect.
"Her name is Ann. I'de decided on
Steve, for I was countin on a boy named
after me; and now you see I ain't a bit
prepared for this young woman."
Very proud of the young woman he
seemed nevertheless, and perfectly resign105
ed to the loss of the expected son and heir.
"Why not call her Stephanna then?
That combines both her parents names and
is not a bad one in itself."
"Now that's just the brightest thing I
ever heard in my life!" cried Barker sitting bolt upright in his excitement, though
half an hour before he would have considered it an utterly impossible feat. "Stephanna Appleton Barker, its a tip-top
name, ma'am and we can call her Stevie
just the same. Ann will like that, bless
them both Don't I wish I was at home ?
And down he went again despairing.
"You can be before long if you choose.
Get your strength up and off you go.
Come, begin at once, drink your beeftea and sit up for a few minutes just in
honor of the good news you know."
"I will, By Steph!
no, by Stephanna!
That's a good one, ain't it ?" and the whole
ward was electrified by hearing a genuine
giggle from the "Bluing-Bag." Down went
the beef -tea and up scrambled the determined drinker, with many groans, and a
curious jumble of chuckles, staggers and
—
!
—
—
fragmentary repititions of his first, last
and only joke. But when settled in the
comfortable wheel chair, upholstered with
pillows, with the gray flannel robe on, and
the new Christmas slippers getting their
106
inaugural scorch, Barker forgot his bones
and sat before the fire seemingly feeling
amazingly well, and looking very like a
trussed fowl being roasted in the primitive
fashion.
The languid importance of the man, and
the irrepressible satisfaction of the parent were both laughable and touching
things to see, for the happy soul could not
keep the glad tidings to himself. A hospital ward is often a small republic, beautifully governed by pity, patience and the
mental sympathy, which lessens mutual
suffering.
Barker was no favorite, but
more than one honest fellow felt his heart
warm towards him as they saw his dismal
face kindle with fatherly pride, and heard
the querulous quaver of his voice soften
with fatherly, affection, as he said "my little Stephie, sir."
be getting along foin now
Miss, this has given him the boost he needed, and in a week or two he'll be off our
hands."
Pat made the remark with a beaming
countenance and Pat deserves a word of
praise for he never said one for himself.
An ex-patient promoted to an attendant's
place, which he filled so well that he was
regarded as a model for all the rest to
I
guess
he'll
107
copy.
Patient, strong, and tender, he
seemed to combine many of the best traits
of both man and woman; for he appeared
to know by instinct where the soft spot
was to be found, in every heart, and how
best to help sick body or sad soul. No one
would have guessed this to have seen him
lounging in the hall during one of the
short rests he allowed himself. A brawny
six foot Irish fellow, in a much faded (by
oft repeated washing) khaki shirt, khaki
trousers, also showing evidence of much
scrubbing, for Pot was immaculate. Army
shoes and spiral puttees, a well shaven
coarse-featured face, whose prevailing expression was one of great gravity and
kindness, though a humorous twinkle of
the eye at times betrayed the man, whose
droll sayings at times set the boys in a
roar.
"A good-natured, clumsy body," would
have been the verdict passed upon him by
a casual observer; but watch him in his
ward and see how great a wrong that
hasty judgment would have done him.
Unlike his predecessor who helped himself generously when the meals came up,
and carelessly served out rations for the
rest, leaving even the most helpless to
bungle for themselves, or wait till he was
done, shut himself into his pantry and
108
—
to borrow a hospital phrase,
"gorge." Pat often left nothing for himself, or took cheerfully such cold bits, as
remained when all the rest were served;
so patiently feeding the weak, being hands
and feet to them, and a pleasant provider
for all that, as one of the boys said,^ "The
vittles tastes better when Pat fetches
them." If one were restless Pat carried
him in his strong arms, holding him with
a touch as firm as kind. If one were homesick, Pat wrote letters for him with great
hearty blots under all the affectionate or
important words. More than one unhappy
fellow read his fate in Pat's pitiful eyes
and breathed his last breath away on Pat's
broad breast, always a quiet pillow till
its work was done, then it would heave
with genuine grief, as his big hand softly
closed the tired eyes and made another
comrade ready for the last review.
The war showed us many Pat's. For the
same power of human pity which makes
women brave, also makes men tender, and
each is the womanlier, the manlier, for
these revelations of unsuspected strength
and sympathies.
At twelve o'clock Christmas dinner was
the prevailing idea in ward No. 24, and
when the door opened, every man sniffed
for savory odors broke loose from the
there,
—
—
109
kitchen and went roaming about the house.
Now this dinner had been much talked of
besides the Government supplies from the
Q. M. department, certain charitable and
had
patriotic persons in the town of N
in
the
ward
endeavored to provide every
hospital with materials for this time-honored feast. Some mistake in the list sent
to headquarters, some unpardonable neglect of orders, or some premeditated robbery, caused the long expected dinner in
ward 24 to prove a dead failure; but to
which of these causes it was attributable,
was never known, for the deepest mystery
The full
enveloped that transaction.
disappointment
was
weight of the dire
mercifully lightened by premonitions of
the impending blow. Alphonse was often
missing, for the corps boys were to dine
en masse after the patients were done,
therefore a speedy banquet for the latter
was ardently desired, and, he probably devoted his energies goading on the cooks.
He would appear in the doorway from time
to time, make some thrilling announcement and vanish, leaving ever-increasing
appetite, impatience and expectation, behind him. Dinner was to be served at one
at half past twelve Alphonse proclaimed:
"Dere ain't no vegetables but beets and
—
pitaters."
110
A
universal groan arose, and several indignant parties on a short allowance of
meat, consigned the defaulting cook to a
warmer climate than the tropical one he
was then enjoying.
At quarter of one, Alphonse increased
the excitement by whispering iminously:
"I say, dere ain't no plum puddin."
"Fling a pillar at him and shut the door,
Pat," roared an irascible being, while several others received the news with equanimity.
At ten minutes of one, Alphonse piled
up the agony by adding the bitter information, "Dere isn't but two turkeys for
this ward and dey's little fellers."
Anxiety instantly appeared on every
countenance, and intricate calculations
were made as to how far the two fowls
would go when divided among thirty men
also friendly warnings were administered
to several of the feebler gentlemen not to
indulged too freely, if at all, for fear of relapses.
Once more did the bird of evil omen return, for just as the clock struck one, Alphonse croaked through the keyhole,
"Dere ain't no pies at all, only ice cream,
genTmen."
That capped the climax, for the masculine palate
has a predilection for pastry
111
and mince pies was the sheet-anchor to
which all had clung when other hopes went
down. Even Pat looked dismayer; not
that he expected anything but the perfume and pickings for his share, but he
had set his generous heart on having the
dinner an honor to the institution, and a
memorable feast to the men, so far away
from home, and all that usually makes the
day a festival among the poorest.
He looked pathetically grave as Barker
began to fret, Harkins began to swear
under his breath, Rowland to sigh, Louis
to wish it was all over, and the rest began
to vent their emotions with a freedom
which was anything but inspiring.
At
that moment, I was called to the door to
attend the occupants of a big car which
had driven up to the front. A few moments later returning to the ward bearing
a great basket of apples and oranges in
one hand and in the other a basket containing several convivial looking bottles.
"Here is our dessert boys!
A kind
friend remembered us and we will drink
her health in her own grape wine." I said
while I noticed a feeble smile circulating
round the room, as in some sanguine
bosoms hope revived again. Pat briskly
emptied the baskets while I whispered to
Louis, " I know you will be glad to get
—
112
away from the confusion
of the next hour,
to enjoy a breath of fresh air, and dine
quietly with Mrs. Blain in
wouldn't
A—
you?"
"Oh Miss Fde like it so much, but how
in the world can I go "
The ambulance
most killed me last time, and I
weaker
!
am
"My
dear boy I should not think of
letting you go in the ambulance.
Miss
Blain's auto is at the door and all you have
to do is to let me bundle you up and Pat
carry you out to the soft cushions of the
car," I said as he looked eagerly at me,
and gave a sigh of relief as he submitted
to both of these processes, and as I watched his happy face as the car smoothly
glided away, I felt amply repaid for the
little sacrifice of rest and pleasure for Mrs.
Blain had come for me instead of Louis.
"Now Pat we must make this unfortunate
dinner go off as well as we can," I wMspered. "On many accounts it is a mercy that
the men are spared the temptations of a
more generous feast; pray don't tell them
so, but make the best of it, as you know
very well how to do."
"Fll try my best. Miss Lee, but I'm no
less disappointed, for some of thim, bein
no better than children, have been livin on
the thoughts of it for a week, and it comes
now."
hard to give
it
up."
Having
113
him
place
several small tables together in the end of
the room I made a judicious display of
plates, knives and forks while he went for
the banquet. Presently he returned bearing the youthful turkeys and the vegetables in his tray, followed by Alphonse
looking melancholy, but elated, that the
time was near for his pessimistic phophecies to be fulfilled.
I played a lively tattoo as the procession
approached, and when the viands were arranged, with the red and yellow fruit prettily heaped up in the middle, it really did
look like a dinner.
"Now, gentlemen, here's richness
Here's the delicacies of the season, and the
comforts of life V* said Pat, falling back to
survey the table with as much apparent
satisfaction as if it had been a lord mayor's feast.
"Hurry on Pat, and give us our dinner,
what there is of it!" grumbled Harkins.
"Boys, continued Pat, beginning to cut up
the turkeys, these noble birds have been
sacrificed for the defenders of their country they will go as far as ever they can,
and, when they can't go any farther, we
shall supply their lack with soup or ham,
oysters having given out unexpectedly.
"Put it to a vote; both having been provided on this joyful occasion, and a word
;
114
will fetch either."
all sides.
ed from
affair,
and
"Ham! ham!
respond-
Soup was an e very-day
therefore
repudiated
with
scorn; but ham being somewhat of a rarwas accepted as a proper reward of
merit,
and acknowledgment of their
wrongs. The "noble birds" did go as far
as possible and with the addition of a
plentiful helping of gravy and each plate
garnished by a large slice of ham along
side of the potato and beets, would have
been at any other time considered a "fair
feed," but on this day a few extras had
been expected and the disappointment was
keen.
Taking the one brick of ice cream and
dividing it into thirty diminutive pieces,
Pat placed each mouthful upon the center
of a large clean plate, and handed them
around with the gravity of an undertaker.
Dinner had restored good humor to many
this hit with the dessert put the finishing
touch to it, and from that moment an atmosphere of jollity prevailed.
Healths
were drunk in grape juice, apples and
oranges flew about as an impromptu game
of ball was got up, and Pat gamboled like a
sportive giant as he cleared things away.
ity,
Pausing in one of his prances to and fro,
he beckoned me out, and, following, handed me a plate heaped up with good things.
115
"Come
right in here and eat it while its
hot, said he, leading the way into the kitchen and pointing to a sunny window seat.
"Are you sure you have eaten, and this
not your dinner Pat?" I said while his
wild expostulations showed me that I was
right and his words "why of course I have,
IVe just been feastin' sumptuous in this
very room,^' were of no weight.
"I don't exactly see what you have been
is
feasting on," glancing around the tidy pantry, and now Pat, since I am now going to
the nurses' quarters to dinner, and a good
command you
to sit down here and
eat your dinner without a protest or murmur, nevertheless I thank you heartily for
wanting me to have your dinner, but since
I know of no one who deserves it more
than yourself, you will be obliging me very
much by consuming it as quickly as you
can.
one, I
"Thankee, Miss, Fll only eat it to oblige
you, for at the rate he's going on Alphonse
wouldn't be equal to it," said Pat, looking
very much relieved, as he polished his last
fork and hung his toy^el up to dry.
Upon returning to the ward after partaking of a very good Christmas dinner
at the nurses* home, having left Pat in
charge during my absence, I found that a
116
pretty general siesta followed the exciteof dinner in the ward, but by three
o'clock the public mind was ready for
amusement, and the arrival of Harkins'
box provided it.
He was asleep when it was brought in
and quietly deposited at the foot of his
bed, ready to surprise him on awaking.
The advent of a box was a great event,
for the fortunate receiver seldom failed to
treat the rest, and next best to getting
things from one's own home, was the getting them from some other boy's home.
This was a very large box, and all felt impatient to have it opened, though Harkins'
exceeding crustiness prevented very great
expectations. Presently he awakened, and
the first thing his eye fell upon was the
box, with his own name in big black letters on the top. He stared stupidly at it
for awhile, as if it had been the continuance of his dream, then sat up exclaiming :
"There you are! you've come at last!"
"Now who said it wouldn't come? Who
hadn't the faith of a mosquito? and who
didn't half deserve it by being a fusser,"
cried Pat, emphasizing each question with
a bang on the box as he waited, hammer
in hand, for the arrival of the ward master, whose duty it was to oversee the opening of such boxes and parcels which came
ment
117
"Ain't it a dandy big box?"
open and don't wait for anybody
or anything!" cried Harkins tumbling
from his bed and pounding on the lid with
his one hand, his other arm having been
broken in an accident at the Remount staIn came the ward master, off came
tion.
the cover, and out rolled a motley collection
of apples, papers, socks, doughnuts, pickles, photographs, pocket handerchiefs, tobacco and perfume. "All right, glad it's
don't kill yourself," said the ward
come,
master, as he took a hasty survey and
walked off again. Drawing the box nearer the bed, Pat delicately followed, and
Harkins was left to brood over his treasto the ward.
Knock
it
—
ures alone. At first all the others following Pat's example, made elaborate pretenses of going to sleep, being absorbed in
books, or utterly interested in the outer
world.
But very soon curiosity got the
better of politeness, and one by one they
all turned round and stared.
They might
have done so from the first, for Harkins
was perfectly unconscious of anything but
his
own
affairs,
and having gone through
everything, read the letters, looked at the
pictures, undid the bundles, turned everything inside out, and upside down, tasted
all the eatables, and made a spectacle of
himself with jam, he paused to get his
118
breath and find his way out of the confusion he had created. Presently he called out: Miss Lee, will you come and
help me straighten up my duds ? As I began to straighten up he said, "I don't know
what I'll do with them all, for some won't
keep long I'm afraid my appetite will give
out a'fore I finish them up or they spoil."
"How do the others manage with their
things " I asked innocently, knowing without having to put the question.
"They
give 'em away, but I'll be hanged if I do,
for they are always callin' me names and
pokin' fun at me.
Guess they'll not get
anything out of me now."
The old cross look came back a^b he
spoke, for it had disappeared while reading the home letters, touching the home
gifts. Still busily folding and arranging, I
asked
"You know the story of the three
Gnomes, which are you going to be Disagreeable, Halfway pleasant, or Very
agreeable?" Harkins laughed at this sudden application of the nursery legend, and
seeing my advantage I pursued it: "We
all know how much you have suffered, for
having a broken arm and limb at one time
is no joke, and we respect you for the
;
:
—
courage with which you have borne your
long confinement, but don't you think you
have given the boys some cause for laugh119
ing at you, as you say? You used to be a
favorite and can be again, if you will only
try to cheer up and help keep the others
Better lose both arm and limb
cheerful.
Harkins than cheerfulness and self-control, and the respect of your fellow sufferers." Pausing to see how my little lecture was received, I felt that Harkins' better self was waking up and added yet another word, with a desire to help a mental
and spiritual ailment as well as the physiLooking at him as kindly as I
cal ones.
as I did
could, I said in a lowered voice,
not wish the others to bear: "This day
on which the most perfect life began, is a
good day for all of us to set about making
ourselves readier to follow that divine example. Troubles are helpers if we take
them kindly, and the bitterest may sweeten us for all our lives. Believe and try this
Harkins and when you leave us, let those
who love you find that tho' lame in arm
and limb you have fought an important
battle and won." Harkins made no answer, but sat thoughtfully with a halfeaten apple in his hand. He stole a glance
about the room, and as if all helps were
waiting for him, his eye met Louis'. From
his solitary bed he would seldom leave
again before going to his grave, the boy
smiled back at him so sweetly and happily
—
120
that Harkins' heart warmed as he looked
upon the faces of mother, sister and sweetheart, scattered about him, and remembered how poor his comrade was in such
tender ties, and yet how rich in content,
which, "having nothing, yet hath all." He
had no words with which to express his
it came to him and did him
good, as he proved in his own way. "Miss
Lee," he said a little awkwardly, "I
wish you'd pick out what you think each
would like, and give 'em to the boys." He
got a smile in answer which drove him to
his apple as a refugee, for his lips would
tremble, and he felt half proud, half ashamed, to have earned such quick approval.
"Let Pat help you," I said: "He knows
better than I. But you must give them all
yourself, it will so surprise and please the
boys; and tomorrow write a capital letter
feelings, but
home
telling what a jubilee you made over
their fine box." At this proposal he half
repented; but as Pat came lumbering up
at my summons, he laid hold of his new
resolutions with all his might. Dividing
the most cherished possession, which (alas
for romance) was the tobacco, he bundled
the larger half into a paper, whispering
to me: "Pat ain't exactly what you'd call
a ministerin'
angel, to look at, but he is
amazin' near one in his ways, so I'm goin'
121
to begin with him." Up came the "ministering angel" in khaki and cowhide boots,
and Harkins tucked the little parcel into
his pocket, saying as he began to rummage
violently in the box: "Now just hold your
tongue and lend a hand here about these
things." Pat was so taken back by this
proceeding that he stared blankly, till a
from me enlightened him; and taking his cue, he played his part as well as
could be expected on so short a notice.
Clapping Harkins on the shoulder not
the bad one, Pat was always thoughtful of
those things he exclaimed heartily: "I
always said you'd be all right when your
leg got well and this arm of yours got a
good start, and here you are jollier*n ever.
Lend a hand! So I will, a pair of *em.
Pack these traps up
What's to do?
look
—
—
again?" "No, I want you to tell me what
you'd do with 'em if they were yours."
Pat held onto the box a moment as if this
second surprise rather took him off his
legs; but another look from the prime
mover in this resolution steadied him, and
he fell to work as if Harkins had been in
the habit of being "free." "Well let's see.
I think Id put these clothes into this smaller box and stand it under the table, handy.
Here's newspapers and pictures too! I'd
make a
circulatin' lib'ry of
122
them;
they'll
be a real treat. The pickles I'd set on the
window here as a kind of relish at dinner
time or to pass along to them as longs for
Cologne, that's a terribly handsome
That now would be a
bottle, ain't it?
first-rate gift to somebody as was fond of
it, sort of delicate attention, you know,
if you happen to meet such a person anywheres." The jelly I'd give to Miss Lee
to use for the sick ones the cake and that
pot of jam that's gettin' ready to work,
I'd stand treat with for tea, as dinner
wasn't all we could have wished." "The
apples I'd keep to eat and fling at Louis
there, when he's too bashful to ask for
one, and the tobaccer I would not go lavishin' on folks that have no business to be
en joy in' luxuries, when many a poor fellow
is dyin' of want in the world."
Harkins
was enjoying the full glow of his generosity by this time.
As Pat designated the
various articles, he set them apart, and
when the inventory ended, he marched
hmping away with the first installment:
The biggest, rosiest apple and all the pictorial papers for Louis.
Pickles are not
usually regarded as tokens of regard, but
as Harkins dealt them out one at a time,
for he wouldn't let anybody help him, and
his good hand being the left, was as awkward as it was willing,—the boys' faces
'em.
;
123
brightened, for a friendly word accompanied each, which made the sour gherkins
as welcome as sweetmeats.
With every
trip the donor's spirits rose; for Pat circulated freely between whiles, and thanks
to him, not an allusion to the past marred
the satisfaction of the present. Jam and
cake was such an addition to the usual bill
of fare, that when supper was over a vote
of thanks was passed, and speeches were
made; for being true Americans, the ruling passion found vent in the usual "Fellow Citizens! and allusions to the Stars
and Stripes for ever." After which Harkins subsided, feeling himself a public
benefactor and a man of mark.
The doctor's evening rounds over, medicines given, tidying up the ward, bathing
faces and hands, beating up pillows,
straightening and brushing out crumbs
from the beds for the night, and Christmas day is over in Ward 24. Going to a
shelf at the end of the room, I took down
a rusty covered volume, and sitting down
by Louis' bed began to read aloud. One
by one all other sounds grew still; one by
one the men composed themselves to listen and one by one the words of the sweet
old Christmas story came to them, as I
read on. If any wounded spirit needed
balm, if any hungry heart asked food, if
;
124
any upright purpose,
new-born inspirawavered for
want of human strength, all found help
and consolation in the beautiful and blessed influences of the dear old book and the
tion, or sincere
repentance
story of that first Christmas. The clock
struck seven, the day's work was done;
but I lingered beside the boy Louis, for his
face wore a wistful look and it seemed as
though there was something he wished to
say. "What is it Louis boy
What can I
do for you before I leave you for the
night?" I asked as he drew me nearer
and whispered: "It's something that I
know you'll do for me, because I can't do it
for myself, not as I want it done and you
can." "I just want you before you go, and
because its Christmas, to tell the boys
every one, from Pat to Alphonse how
—
much I thank 'em, how much I love 'em,
and when someone else is in this bed and
I'm gone, how glad I was that I had known
'em, even a
tell
them
little
while."
What
all.
"Yes, Louis,
else
can
I
do
I'll
my
boy?" "Only let me say to you what no
one else must say for me, that all I want
to live for is to try to do something in my
poor way to show you how I thank you
Ma'am." "You've made this such a happy
I shall be sorry when I
Poor Louis! It must have
home-like place,
have to go."
125
fared hardly with him
all
those twenty-
a hospital seemed home-like and
a little care, a little sympathy could fill
him with such earnest gratitude. "Today
I hadn't anything to give you Fm so poor,
but I wanted to tell you this on the last
Christmas I shall ever see." "He placed a
kiss upon my hand which he held in his
very himbly, and the sincerity of a great
gratitude made it both a precious and
years,
if
me who
half unconsciously
had made this brief and barren life so
happy and contented at it's close. After
telling the boys his wish I murmured, as I
smoothed back the hair from his brow:
"I have had my present, now Louis: Good
sacred gift to
night my boy and happy dreams," and left
the ward.
126
CHAPTER XI
A
Change of Surroundings
was the custom
)T
at this hos-
make a change all
around once a month, when
the night nurses came off and
pital
to
others
took
their
places,
which was a very good plan, as the work
in some of the wards was much harder
than that in others, and by this method
each and all had their turn at both heavy
and light work.
I had during the month in our ward
grown very fond of my boys, and had a
reluctance at leaving them. For we had
grown to seem like comrades. I usually
found them in the jolliest state of mind
their condition allowed, for it was a known
fact that Miss
Lee objected to blue
devils, and entertained a belief that he
who laughed most was sure to recover
first.
At the beginning of my reign,
dumps and dismals prevailed, and a general
"Hark
from the-tombs-a-dolefulsound," style of conversation seemed to be
127
!
the fashion a state of things which caused one coming from a merry social Northern town to feel as if she had gotten into
most untoward circumstances, and the instinct of self-preservation, to say nothing
of a philanthropic desire to serve the race,
caused a speedy change in Ward No. 24.
More flattering than the most gracefully
turned compliment, more grateful than the
most admiring glance, was the sight of
those rows of faces, all strange to me a
little while ago, now lighting up with
smiles of welcome, as I came among them,
enjoying that moment heartily with a
womanly pride in their regard, a motherly
But now they
affection for them all.
would all soon be going home on furlough
after their long sick spell, or back to camp
to take up their various duties where they
had left them when overtaken by sickness.
Many of the boys had already gone and
;
many new
recruits had been added to our
ranks since that first day but my heart
was a trifle sad as I ipade my last rounds
of the ward and told my boys goodbye.
the memory of many pleasant manly faces, glad to
have known and ministered to so brave a
lot, and hoping for each a speedy return
to home and loved ones and the pursuit of
happiness nearest to his heart when the
Then
I left
them, taking with
128
me
war should
finally
est trouble at
My
next
be over and our great-
an end.
field of
action lay in
Ward No.
18, which was for clean surgical cases.
The work here was very interesting; the
patients all looked happy and well cared
for, the
beds looked so neat in their white
wool blankets (we had only gray in the
other ward) but strange to say there were
no pillows for the beds. A piece of mosquito netting stuffed into a pillow case, or
a folded blanket did duty as a pillow until
a happy circumstance fitted our ward out
in fine shape and not a lad but whom possessed a soft fleecy downy pillow for his
head.
It was while here that some of the
piest, as well as saddest moments
hap-
were
There were two doctors in the
ward, one a round-faced, short, heavy-set
spent.
docior, Lieutenant John's, from New Orleans, and a tall, thin, lank, lean doctor,
from Oklahoma, by the name of Lieutenant ,Boggs. Three times a day this doleful yisaged individual made his rounds,
leaving the customary amount of discomfort, discontent and dismay behind him.
He was anything but a sanguine or conciliatory personage, though skillful enough
doctor no doubt. He saw life through the
bluest of spectacles, and seemed to think
129
that the sooner people quitted it the happier for them. I dare say he did his duty
by the men, but if they recovered, he
looked half disappointed and congratulated them with cheerful prophesies that
there would come a time when they would
wish they hadn't. If one died he seemed
relieved and surveyed him with pensive
"He's better
satisfaction, saying heartily
off now, poor devil, and well out of this
:
miserable
doleful line
Dante's
thank God."
might have been appropriately
world,
written over the door:
"Who enters here leaves hope behind."
But for Dennis O'Lear, the capable and
efficient ward master here, the sanitary
influences of the ward would have been
small. Lieut. John's seldom appeared upon
the scenes, but when these rare occasions
did occur, he was always jovial, genial and
jolly, cheering the boys with some pleasant remark, the direct antipode in disposition to Lieut. Boggs.
Dennis O'Lear
(the boys called him Learie for short) and
Dr. B. perfectly understood and liked each
other well enough, but never agreed, always skirmished over the boys as if manful cheerfulness, and medical despair were
fighting for the soul and body of each one.
"Well, Dr. B. would remark, while inspecting some wound not healing as quickly as
130
tetanus sometimes follows such cases, but that is soon over, and
I should not object to a case of it, by way
of variety." The patient's hopeful face
would fall, and he would set his teeth as if
the fatal symptom were already felt. "If
one kind of lockjaw was more popular than
'itis, it wouldn't be a bad thing for some
folks I could mention," observed "Learie"
covering the well healed wound as carefully as if it were a sleeping baby, adding,
as the doctor walked away, "there's a sour
old saw bones for you !" Why bless your
bones Harry, you're getting on splendid
and he just goes on that way because
there's no chance of his gettin' another
he expected
whack
at
it to,
you !"
"Now there he goes to Burns to squelch
him, just as we've bio wed a spark of spirit
into him; if ever there was a born extinguisher, its Boggs." Learie rushed to the
rescue, and not a minute too soon, for
Burns who now labored under the delusion that his recovery depended solely
upon his getting up in a chair a few minutes each day, was sitting by the fire,
looking up at the doctor, who pleasantly
observed, while feeling his pulse, "So
you're getting up another fever are you
"Well we've grown rather fond of you and
will keep you six weeks longer if you have
—
V
131
set your heart on it." Burns looked nervous, for the doctor's jokes were always
grim ones, but Learie took his other hand
in his and gently rocked the chair as he replied, with great politeness: ^This robust
convalescent of our'n would be happy to
oblige you, sir, but he has a pressin' engagement up state for next week and
couldn't stop on no account." "You take
the responsibility of this step upon your-
Very well, then I wash my
self, do you?
hands of Bums, only, if that bed is empty
in a week, don't lay the blame of it at my
"Nothing shall induce me to do it
door."
"Now
sir," briskly responded Learie.
then, turn in my boy, and sleep your prettiest for I wouldn't but disappoint that
cheerf ulest of men for a month's pay and
;
that's liberal, as I ain't likely to get it."
This ward was not so well supplied with
towels and bedding as the one where I had
been. We had some half dozen pillows to
do duty for forty beds. As in so many
instances in the Army Hospital, there was
a lack of judgment in distributing supplies, for there would be an over abundant
supply of some commodity, while a total
absence of some other perhaps far more
useful article existed. For example, while
having no pillows, one whole long shalf
was needed to hold the stacks of pillow
132
cases in the linen closet. While there
were dozens of bath towels in this ward,
not a face towel or wash cloth was to be
found, until several weeks later.
Whether from neglect of those in charge
in putting in requisition for articles needed, I know not, but it was most pathetic
to watch the poor fellows brought from
the operating room, thrown into bed and
have to lay for days and weeks without a
pillow with any approach to softness
under their heads.
In a letter to friends at home I remarked upon this subject and mentioned the
fact that I almost envied the sofas all
over the country, the nice soft pillows I
was sure reposed in state upon them,
while our poor boys lay there with nothing
but the hard mattress under their heads,
or perhaps for slight elevation, a folded
blanket. Little did I know then the outcome of that letter. It went before the
Red Cross Society in a Northern town, and
touched the motherly hearts of those
Northern ladies in behalf of the boys in
the South, and ere long two huge boxes
of lovely pillows traveled through many
states until finally landing in Ward No. 18
made forty beds comfortable, forty faces
bright and happy, and forty hearts very
grateful, and full of praise for the kind
133
and loving hearts of the women who cared
for their sufferings by adding to their
comfort and ease though so far away.
There were enough pillows besides, to
bring cheer and comfort to other wards
a very sad instance
which occurred while here.
One day after I had been in my ward
about three weeks, I came upon a young
boy about eighteen, who had just come in
from camp the evening before. I saw at
a glance that he was frightened almost to
death. He was pale at the prospect of
having to submit to an appendectomy.
Upon questioning him, I learned that he
had never spent so much as one night
away from home until coming into the
Army, whereupon alighting in camp, the
few weeks of strenuous exercise connected with drilling, marching with heavy
packs, digging mock trenches, etc., had
brought on a pain in his side which was
diagnosed as appendicitis. He had then
been hustled in here to be "whittled on*'
as he expressed it. I saw at once that he
was in need of some "mothering" so I proceeded to comfort him as best I could, by
telling him that I was very sorry that the
doctors found an operation needful, but
that it would in all probability not he so
dangerous or painful as he had surmised.
also.
I
will relate
134
That the anaesthetic which was not at all
dangerous, seeing he had a good heart,
would prevent his suffering any pain, and
that I was much interested in his case, and
would be at his bedside when he came
back, to watch his recovery from the
anaesthesia. My words, I saw, had a quieting effect upon him, and he looked eagerly
"Please maa'm would it
at me as he said
be too much trouble for you, could you go
to the operating room with me?" I was
:
very sorry just then, for the strict rules
in Army hospitals which prevented one's
going and coming as one pleased, and I
knew there were sufficient nurses on duty
in the operating room at that time to attend to all duties connected with that department, and that it would be considered
a very foolish and unnecessary request
should I ask leave to accompany one of my
boys, just to satisfy a whim, but his face
was so eager and wistful that I hadn't the
heart to refuse, so I said I would see what
we could do about it.
It happened Dr. Boggs was in the office
when I made my request. I had hoped Dr.
John's would be present, for I had little
hope of gaining any favor from Dr. Boggs.
It was evident that I had made as absurd
a demand as if I had asked for the nose off
his respectable face, for he scowled and
135
stared, and before he had time to burst
forth with the torrent of scathing remarks, which was aminous from the looks
of his face, I backed out leaving him no
doubt to regret that such mild maniacs
were left at large
I went back to Moor's bedside and told
him that since he would be gone from the
ward such a little while, and while he was
gone, I would have to see to preparing his
bed for his return, with fresh linen, warm
bottles, etc., that it would be impossible
for me to accompany him, but with promises of being on hand at his bedside upon
his return, I gave him a pat on the shoulder and a gentle smooth-back to his forelock as I said: "There I knew you were
one of my bravest soldiers, of whom I feel
very proud." He grabbed my hand, laid
his cheek upon it for a second, then was
wheeled down the ward toward the door,
and out into the corridor leading to the
operating room. It was through my solicitation for this homesick boy that afterward caused my summary dismissal from
this ward, by Dr. Boggs, who seemed to
take a dislike to both the boy and myself,
from the day I asked to accompany the
lad to the operating room.
When Moor returned, I noticed symptoms
of a cold even before he was well out of
136
the ether. And little wonder. One of my
chief worries was, on seeing the boys come
from the warmth of the operating room, be
wheeled through a long corridor with many
times insufficient covering over their bodies
which usually were drenched with perspiration.
The ward master or corps boys of inexperience were usually left to attend to this
part of the proceeding, and should a nurse
remonstrate at such procedure, would in
many cases be tho't fussy and be set aside
with an amused smile of masculine superiority, so the consequences were that in
many, as in Moor's case, a most disagreeable cold, if not ether pneumonia would
develop. "Lieut." John's being absent so
much, I drew the attention of "Lieut."
Boggs to the boy, but when in a day or
two his cold had developed to such alarming proportions without any apparent solicitation on the doctor's part, I again mentioned the boy to Dr. Boggs, adding that
I feared if something was not done soon,
he w^ould go into pneumonia. His cough
being tight and hoarse and his temperature rising. Dr. Boggs evidently did not
consider the boy's condition in such a grave
state as i had pictured it, for a couple of
days more elapsed without any order for
treatment of any kind whatever. Mean137
upon "my own hook,"
smothered
him with old-fashioned remedies outwardcamphorated oil,
ly, like compresses of
turpentine, etc., which I knew, if doing no
good, would at least do him no harm, and
which had the soothing effect upon the
lad of causing him to feel that something
was being done for him. He suffered inwhile,
I
tensely when obliged to cough, as the incisinon in his side was still very tender. He
seemed to be perfectly satisfied, however,
that all was being done that could be, and
remarked once while I was applying my
greasy treatment to his chest, that he was
glad I was doing that for he knew that if
he were home, his mother would be doing
that very thing. This was comforting to
me, but I trembled lest the Doctor might
take a notion to look him over, and finding him all dobbed up with grease create
a scene, and order such foolish "coddling"
of the patients be discontinued. It was the
fourth day after ^Moor's operation, his cold
was still very troublesome, though he declared the pain in his chest had ceased
since I had begun to "grease" him, that
in making the rounds of the ward with the
big Major who was head of the Surgical
Department at the hospital and who came
through the wards once a week, that
brought calamity upon my head in the
138
shape of the wrath of Lieut. Boggs. He
was with the Major, and it was also the
nurse's duty to accompany them upon
Upon approaching Moor's
their rounds.
occupant
was at that moment
whose
bed,
suffering greatly from an attack of coughing, I took it upon myself to explain his
case to the Major, seeing Dr. Boggs had no
intention of doing so, there being indications of passing by without a word of
comment. I felt that if his case were neglected further it might prove very grave
in the end.
I realized to the fullest ex-,
tent, the terrible and unpardonable breach
of military tactics I displayed in speaking
any rank over my superior
officer's head, but as I was not, nor do I
have any ambition to ever be, at all "military," and as I had twice called the at-
to an
official
of
tention of the Lieutenant in charge to the
boy with no results, and as I was there to
do what I could to help our boys, and as
this boy's fate and life perhaps hung in
the balance, I cared naught for the consequence myself, so I could get the major
to see that the case was looked into and
find out if the boy was in as serious a
plight as I had feared. I know not why our
doctor had so persistently neglected this
boy for he seemed to take 4in interest (in
his doleful way), in the cases under his
139
and perhaps had I taken no
notice of the lad, he would have taken up
care, as a rule,
his case long ago. I scarce could help the
interest I showed, for his helpless, frightened homesick condition, had enlisted
my
sympathies from the first. Perhaps for
that very reason the doctor thought that
I was making enough fuss over him, but
any discerning person could see that he
was in need of medical attention, as well as
coddling. I believe a good doctor not only
sees everything that is, but a great many
things that are not. Until upon this occasion I had taken it for granted that Dr.
Boggs, despite his morose disposition
which was evident at all times, was at
least, like so many doctors, a kind sympathetic person to whom a nurse might go
in her anxieties concerning her patients,
for had not a nurse who was about them
so much, bathing, tending, and in many
instances feeding them, and doing all those
little things necessary to the comfort and
much better
well being of the sick, a
chance to note any unusual symptoms
which might at any moment develop, unnoticed by the physician whose observations are confined to a hurried trip through
the ward not oftener than three times during the day?
An unsympathizing physician or nurse
140
is, to my mind, a person bereft of one of
the most potent agencies of treatment,
and of cure. He knows not the whole ex-
tent of his art,
when he
recklessly neglects
the marvelous influence of mind over body.
wise physician or nurse knows, I believe,
that the best way to win from patients a
full understanding of their case, is to secure their confidence by kindly, sincere,
A
and sympathetic treatment. The Major
examined the boy thoroughly, raised his
eyebrows, and turning to Dr. Boggs asked,
"How long has this boy's lung been affected?" Lieut. Boggs stammered as he replied, "He was just operated on *sir* a day
or so ago 'sir,' and hasn't gotten all the
ether out of his lungs yet sir."
"H'm, the Major grunted, he has a decided touch of pneumonia in the left lobe
here; however, you did a good thing by
poulticing as you have been doing, this,
while he wiped the disc of his stethoscope
on a piece of cotton to remove the grease.
Just keep up the turpentine, and lard, and
with a few curt orders concerning medication, to "Lieut." Boggs, we passed on
down the ward.
A
glance from Dr. Boggs' eye showed
me that I had made an enemy and I wondered in just what manner he would try
141
to "get even with me," should he be of a
vengeful disposition.
I felt I had done the best I could, and
while I bore no ill will toward Lieut.
that he might have
shown a little more concern in this matter.
few days after this incident, I received a call to the Chief's office.
I soon learned that I was, though having only a week left of service before it
should be my turn to go to another ward,
to be transferred to another ward at once
I must leave my dear boys of whom I had
grown so fond. The boys who had received with such gratitude the pillows from
my home friends, that I had toiled over
like a mother over a family of sick babies.
Each and every one had some characteristic winsome way about him, all felt toward me as toward a mother or elder sister. Many were the little tokens of appre-
Boggs,
I
did
feel
A
ciation which
while there.
had been showered upon
me
I learned that Dr. Boggs had complained
that I wearied him unnecessarily about
the boys' conditions. The Chief had said
"of course Miss Lee, we all know the
reputation Lieutenant Boggs has of surliness and grouchiness, but it is best, where
there is any dissatisfaction to separate
the parties in the ward." I felt too bad to
142
cry.
I wanted to stay in his
could he not have waited the
Not that
ward—why
few remaining days when my time would
have been up to leave the ward, and not
have taken such an unkind way about it?
Well, he had his revenge
said nothing to the boys, just bade
them good night, as usual, as I left the
I
But before the next day was over
ward, which was not far dis-
ward.
at
my new
who
could walk,
creep or crawl or be wheeled in a chair,
came over to my ward to tell me how sorry
they were I had left them. In another
fortnight "Moor, my pet patient himself,
was wheeled over by one of the boys, and
tant, every mother*s son
stayed in my ward and warmed by our
fire as long as he could stay, before being
called
back to supper.
Many
precious little gifts to this day
repose in my trunk and occasionally as I
gaze upon them, bring back sweet memories of the dear boys who were so anxious
in their grateful hearts to show their appreciation of the little care and kindness
it was our privilege to minister to them.
Bits of crochet work from mothers and
sisters, of boys, who, recounted their
nurse's kindness to them in such glowing
words that those at home sent tokei^s of
regard to show their appreciation of the
143
shown to their loved boys while ill
away from home. A dainty cap from the
Governor's wife in a Western state whose
son lay ill so long in our ward pillow tops,
care
;
handkerchiefs, bits of lace and no end of
dainty cards and beautiful letters, lay in
the box of keepsakes, whose worth, in affection and love, the rarest gift of all, can
never be measured.
I recall one stalwart fellow, who came
shame-facedly toward me one day, holding
in his hands a very long string of beads,
saying that he had taken the first opportunity of buying me a present, to show
his appreciation of my kindness to him
while he was sick. I felt a hesitancy in
taking them, as I seldom wear beads, but
not wishing to disappoint him, I thanked
him kindly. The poor fellow had given
several dollars in exchange for the beads,
(the length of the string would have permitted the wrapping of them about my
neck half a dozen times with enough left
to go around my waist once, I think,) to
an Indian who was going about the camp
selling them, reaping a fat harvest from
the boys whose only way of separating
themselves and their pay was at the canteen.
was reported later that the said Indian was a German spy, finding out all he
It
144
couid about the hospital, while going about
in the guise of an Indian peddler. He was
found to have maps of the camp and hospital in his hat, and it was reported that
he was shot in the town of A. I do not
know how true this report was. But the
sweetest gift to me of all, I think was a
huge bunch of magnolia blossoms. We
had had, in our ward No. 24, a very dear
boy who had suffered with complications
of ear trouble following measles.
Shy,
sweet-faced, large honest brown eyes, too
young and gentle and sweet to be in training to take the life of his fellow men
So
modest that he colored like a school girl
!
when
washed him, and when I came to
which were very soiled and cold
as ice, he did not seem to understand just
what was happening. But when I turned
the covers back just enough for both feet
to be plumpped into the tub of warm suds,
he raised his head, gave one look and sank
I
his feet
back, burying his face in the pillow with
the exclamation:
"My dirty feet!" but
when they were nicely dried and warm
and comfortable he banished his timidity
and said, "I feel so comfortable now, I
never can show you how much I thank
you Miss, but I hope I can sometime."
Several months after this while sitting
with a group of nurses under the trees in
145
the open air, in front of the large screen
upon which the pictures of "Pershing with
the Army in France" was to be shown in
a short while, someone stole up in the twilight and laid a wonderful bouquet of the
large beautiful magnolia blossoms in my
lap. The bunch was about as large as my
arms could hold and everyone a perfect
specimen. Not a word was spoken, neither did he stop to receive my thanks, but
kept moving on and as I scanned his back
closely in the quickly gathering dusk, I
recognized Marks, of the "foot washing"
and I prized his gift very highly, as I realized to what height he had climbed to obAfter the pictures I watched
tain them.
for him and going to him I told him how
I appreciated his gift and the pleasure it
had given me. There was a radiant smile
"It's nothing comon his face as he said
like
I*d
to
do for you Miss,
pared to what
for I never will forget you."
My thoughts were very pleasant as I
wended my way back to our barracks
across the wide stretch of ground that lay
between, and my reflections ended with
this exclamation, "God bless the brave
lads, who without much thought of fear
were preparing all these months to go and
face machine gun fire, shot and shell, without a qualm, but who quailed at the
:
146
thought of having a
woman wash
their
feet.
Having espoused the cause of
was one of
Christianmy chief
christians
boys
beof
my
all
to
see
desires
fore going upon the hazardous journey to
a foreign land, from which so many of
them should never return. So I made it a
point as I felt it a duty, not to let any of
ity early in life, it
the boys pass from the wards in which I
attended them, without at some time during their stay, hearing words of earnest
admonition to take the Saviour as their
guide and helper for time and eternity.
That He would prove an ever present help
in time of need.
I tried to impress upon
their minds, that not their own deeds of
sacrifice or bravery could save them, that
nothing less than faith in Jesus' blood
which was shed for the remission of sins,
could make them safe. I heard some of
the nurses expressing an idea, which seemed to become quite popular, that, the sacrifice of giving their lives would save even
the most desperate of the wicked and degenerate. It grieved me to have this erroneous teaching promulgated among the
boys, for if such were true, then there
would be no need of a Saviour. But God's
word says that our righteousness is as filthy rags, and that there is no name given
147
under heaven whereby we can be saved,
but in and through the name of Jesus, and
that faith in His blood alone can cleanse us
from
sin.
pointed out by the Bible, how that it
was absolutely necessary for each soul to
repent, and be born again, that is, to forsake his sins and become a new creature in
Christ, trusting in Jesus' blood alone to
cleanse him from sin, and that he is then,
and only then, fit to die and meet his God.
After pointing out the truth as it is in
God's word to the different groups that
came and went, through those busy
months, while going about the humble
duties of bathing faces and hands,
straightening bedclothes, beating up pillows or serving rations, etc., I could only
pray the Father above, to water the seed
sown, that it might be fruitful and not return unto Him void. I believe that many
of the boys gave their hearts to God in
those days, for they promised almost to a
man, to take the Saviour with them and
live as He would have them live by His
Grace.
I
148
CHAPTER
XII
Duty
Off
)T IS not the most pleasant task
to recall the three weeks spent
nursing
the
grippe
and
a
frost-bitten foot, when there
was so much to be done in the
wards, but as I am recounting happenings
as they occurred, I will have to put it all
in.
Meeting Captain Warren in the office
one morning, after a painful night with
the foot, I could not evade the close scrutiny of his eyes.
He arose upon my entrance, and covering me with a glance remarked, "My dear
we shall have you laid up in a few
days, if you do not take a few days off and
rest yourself."
"Miss Emmet is getting
things
now
onto
and can manage the ward
alone for a few days." "Do be prudent,
and do not let me have to add 'Nurse
Lee* to my bouquet of patients." This
advice was delivered in a paternal manner, by the elder surgeon in the ward I had
girl,
149
now been
kind hearted gentleman, as unlike Lieut .Boggs as
day is from night. From his kind solicitude he seemed to consider me a frail
young blossom, that needed much cherishing, instead of a small, but robust and
healthy spinster, who had been knocking
about the world for some thirty odd years.
His advice had been offered by several
persons for a week and refused by me with
the obstinacy with which my sex is sometimes so richly gifted. But the last few
hours had developed several surprising internal and external phenomena, which impressed upon me the fact that if I didn't
make a masterly retreat very soon, I
should tumble down somewhere and have
to be borne ignominiously from the field.
My head felt like a wooden bucket from
the cold I had acquired, my feet had a tendency to cleave to the floor; the walls at
times undulated in a most disagreeable
manner; people looked unnaturally big,
and the very bottles in the medicine case
appeared to dance desisively before my
eyes. Taking all these things into consideration, while blinking stupidly at Captain
Warren,
in for three weeks, a
resolved to retire gracefully, if
I must so, with a valedictory to the boys,
a private lecture to Miss Emmet, who was
new in the ward, and a fervent wish that I
150
;
I
could take off
my
body and work
in
my
mournfully ascended the steps to
which had been summoned
conveyance
the
to take me to the nurses* quarters, and
nurse Lee was reported "off duty.'*
For a day or two I managed to appear
at meals; for: "The human grub' must
eat till the butterfly is ready to break
loose," and no one had time to carry food
such a distance, while it was possible for
me to go to it. Far be it from me to add
another affliction or reproach to that enduring black soul the cook Sallie, for compared to her predecessor, she was a horn
of plenty but I put it to any candid mind
soul, I
—
;
not the following bill of fare susceptible of improvement, without plunging the
nation madly into debt? The three meals
were "pretty much of a sameness," and
consisted of beef (when we had it) evidently put down for the men of '61 pork,
just in from the woods, army bread, composed of sawdust and saleratus; butter
three times a week, and salt as if churned by Lot's wife stewed prunes, so much
like preserved beetle.^, that only those devoid of imagination could partake thereof
with relish; coffee, mild and muddy or
strong and bitter, tea tasting like Senna
tea, animated and unconscious to any approach to clearness. Variety being the
is
;
;
151
spice of
life,
a small pinch of the article
would have been appreciated by the hungry, hard working sisterhood
one of
whom, though accustomed to plain fare,
soon found herself reduced to bread and
water; having an inborn repugnance to
the fat of the land, and the salt of the
;
earth.
It is only just to relate that this state
of affairs lasted but a short time, in fact
no longer than our neat, bonny and capable dietitians arrived upon the scene.
They took the culinary establishment in
hand and worked such magic that no one
would have believed it to be the same
place a few weeks later. We were soon
finding ourselves transplanted "as
it
were"
from a bare Sodom and Gamorrah
sort of
place to a land "flowing with milk and
honey."
Very soon after leaving the ward, I discovered I had no appetite, and cut the
bread and butter interests almost entirely, trying the exercise and sun cure instead
but the lame foot handicapped the exercise, so I had to be contented by sitting
upon my bed and occupying the time by
reading, writing or knitting. I longed to
get out and explore the woods and surrounding country, but my foot was so
swollen and painful, I could not venture
152
far in a community one-half of whose
male population seemed to be taking
the other half to the guard house,^
but every morning I took a brisk run in one
direction or another; for the February
days were as mild as spring. Finally the
foot getting no better at last balked and
would not permit my using it at all. The
surgeon who examined it suggested an
operation, but not being in favor of such
procedure, I took it in hand and began to
poultice it myself, obeying the surgeon's
injunction to keep off of it. With the help
of several kind-hearted nurses, we soon
brought it around to where I could hobble
about on crutches. Our Chief being laid
up at the same time from a fall on the ice,
a fortnight previous to this gave us many
a pleasant chat and visit together.
But some of those days shut up in the
dormitory with no voice, spirits or books,
was not a holiday by any means. Finding
meals a humbug, I stopped away altogether, trusting that if this sparrow was of
any worth, the Lord would not let it fall
to the ground.
Like a flock of friendly
ravens, my sister nurses fed me, not only
with food for the body, but kind words for
the mind and soon from being half starved, I found myself so be-teaed and be;
toasted, petted
and served, that
153
I
was
nearly killed with kindness, in spite of
cough, headache, a painful consciousness
of my pleura and pain in my swollen foot.
Not being able these days to help in the
care of fleshly bodies, arms and legs, I
solaced myself by mending cotton ones,
and as I sat sewing at my window, watched the moving panorama that passed below amusing myself with taking notes of
the most striking figures in it.
Long
trains of army trucks kept up a perpetual
;
rumble from morning till night. Ambulances rattled to and fro with busy surgeons or nurses taking an airing or convalescents going to town or over to the
camp. There were more mules here than I
had ever expected existed, and they were
my special delight; an hour's study of a
constant succession of them introduced me
to many of their characteristics; for instance, the coquettish mule had small feet,
a nicely trimmed tassel of a tail, perked
up ears, and seemed much given to little
tosses of the head, affected skips and
prances, and as if he wore the bells, he
put on as many airs as any belle. The
moral mule was a stout, hard-working
always tugging with all his
might, often pulling away after the rest
had stopped, laboring under the consciencreature,
tious
delusion that food for the entire
154
army depended upon
his private exertions.
I respected this style of mule, and had I
possesed a juicy turnip, would have pressed it upon him, with thanks for his excelThe pathetic mule was,
lent example.
perhaps, the most interesting of all; for
though he always seemed to be the small-
thinnest and weakest, he struggled
feebly along, head down, coat muddy and
rough, eye spiritless and sad, his very tail
a mortified stump, and the whole beast a
picture of meek misery, fit to touch a heart
of stone. The jovial mule was a roly poly
happy-go-lucky little piece of horse flesh,
taking everything easily, from cudgelling
to caressing strolling along with a roguish
twinkle of the eye, and if the thing were
est,
;
possible would have had his hands in his
pockets, and whistled as he went.
If
there ever chanced to be an apple-core, a
stray carrot or wisp of hay in the gutter,
this Happy Hooligan was sure to find it,
and none of his mates seemed to begrudge
him his bite. I suspected this fellow was
the peacemaker, confidant and friend of
all the others, for he had a sort of cheerup-old-boy, I'U-pull-you-through" look,
which was exceedingly engaging.
But more interesting than officers,
ladies, pigs or mules were my colored
brothers and sisters, because so unlike
155
anything I had ever seen in the North.
Here was the genuine article, (this side of
Africa)
But the sort of creatures generations of slavery had made them had never
migrated from the spot where three generations had been born, lived, died their
children had been born and lived, or existed, I should say, trickish, lazy and ignorant, yet kind-hearted, merry tempered,
quick to feel and accept the least token of
the brotherly love which is slowly teaching the white hand to grasp the black, in
.
—
benevolent, broadening, fair-minded
land of freedom.
this
I
had not been
off
duty a week coming
in contact with the many and various
sized servants about the nurses* home,
with the neglected, "devil may care" expression in many of the faces, till it seemed an urgent appeal to leave nursing white
bodies, and take some care of these black
souls.
Much as the lazy boys and saucy
girls tormented me, I liked them, and
found that any show of interest or friendliness brought out the better traits which
live in the most degraded and forsaken of
us
all.
Companies of
my window
sometimes
tening like
soldier boys would pass
marching, always marching,
in the rain, their slickers glissilk,
and their army shoes
156
soaked and despattered with mud. It was
during these weeks that our camp was
visited by an epidemic of that dreaded
disease meningitis. A very strict quarantine was placed over the hospital, camp
No one was allowand the town of A
ed to go or come and for one whole month
all public gatherings were prohibited, even
the Y. M. C. A. Hut was closed, where
twice a week we attended services conducted by our able, kind-hearted chaplain,
Lieut. Arnold.
At the end of three weeks my foot coming on so nicely and all traces of the grippe
having disappeared, I could not listen to
the accounts of the busy times in the
wards and remain away longer, so one day
going to the Chief I asked permission to
go back to work, and to be permitted to
work in one of the wards for meningitis.
This was on Thursday, and she told me I
could not go to work before the following
Monday A. M. I contented myself in the
meantime by reading, and writing letters
and on Sunday evening went with some
other nurses for a stroll around the
grounds, and along the railroad which was
a favorite promenade. It was the last
days of February, the air was balmy and
spring-like, and grass was everywhere
peeping out of the ground. The pine trees
—
.
157
which had never lost their fresh green
color all through the winter looked beautiful in the sunlight, and the large beautiful palm leaves all through the woods,
made it seem like paradise to one who had
been cooped up inside for nearly ten days.
I thanked the Dear Lord in my heart for
permitting me to be able to be about again,
enjoying the beauties of nature and the
prospect of soon being back at my work
where everyone was needed so badly. I
was delighted on Monday A. M. when Miss
Alberts, our Chief, assigned me to a convalescent ward for meningitis. I was here
one month and if I had longed for an opportunity to "do things*' for the poor sick
helpless boys before, my wants were gratified, for though this was a convalescent
ward, scarcely one of the forty patients
was able to walk or help himself. It was
a most pitiful sight to behold, what had
been strong stalwart men, reduced to a
mere skeleton, with perhaps the loss from
paralysis, of an arm or limb, or perhaps
the hearing gone or eyes weak, and even
blind in some cases.
But I shall not dwell
on, or go into details here, suffice it to say
that many of these patients never left the
ward and those who did after many weeks,
were all wrecks of their former selves.
When my month of work in this ward
158
was by this time
night duty, and it fell my lot
was
my
turn
to spend
at
my first night duty in the meningitis ward
proper. As I look back over that month's
experience, it seemed one long nightmare
of howling, screaming, cursing, swearing,
moaning, groaning, suffering humanity.
The only consolation was that they were
delirious most of the time and knew
finished, it
naught of their sufferings. There were
three nurses and three corps boys on duty
through the night here, while a doctor
spent his time between this and the convalescent ward next door. We were all
kept busy all of the night long for each
patient seemed to be obsessed in his delirium with a desire to promenade through
the ward, so it was necessary for each attendant as well as the nurses to keep vigilant watch at all times to keep them in
their beds.
We
lived in isolation during this month,
in the rear of the
nurses' home for those working in these
wards.
tentmate was a lovable, sweet
and tents were put up
My
natured girl from Boston, Massachusetts.
All the girls in isolation loved to come to
our tent, as we had it fixed up so cozy and
home-like. A soldier boy started fires in
the little funnel shaped stoves in all of the
tents in the mornings, and when we arose
159
was warm and comfortable
each tent.
enjoyed life in our little tent more than
in the dormitory.
We even had electric
lights with a rose shade! Our shoe rack
was made of stout cord fastened to the
board wall with nails and we even had
pictures on the wall and rugs on the floor.
The month soon flew by, the terrible epidemic abated, quarantine was lifted and
we were all happy once more. I have
come to believe that the majority of people are compelled to find happiness as best
they may, in doing what they cannot altogether help, and in choosing what appears to be the lesser of two evils, though
it may ultimately turn out a real good.
While others who always seem to have
their own way, in everything, as aids for
procuring their own happiness, oftener
fail in doing so, than those for whom destiny seems to have marked out their
course of life.
By the time the little tents were vacated
the new nurses' home, which had been in
process of construction for weeks, was
completed and I will confess that it was,
with a real pang of regret, that I moved
from the dear little tent that had grown
to be such a cozy home, even to a lovely
room in the new barracks. I was very
happy over the room which was assigned
it
I
160
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CD
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CD
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05
O
<rt-
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a'
o
CD
CO
U2
a>
CfQ
CD
CO
it looked out upon the
front veranda, and from my window I
could see away down the road, past the
"old home" through the woods, toward the
camp. At night when Taps was blown,
the sound wafted on the air through the
woods was thrilling and impressive. In
the morning the revilee at the camp two
miles away could be heard through the
woods as plainly almost as the "Can't get
'em up" of our own hospital bugler.
to me, however, as
As spring passed and summer came on,
our work grew lighter, and it was then
our Chief advised all who wished to take
a short vacation to do so, while they could
easily be spared from duty.
It
was during the spring months
here,
that I first beheld the beautiful sweet bay
blossoms, and the bloom from the majestic magnolia tree.
Some of the blossoms
were large as dinner plates. On our hours
off duty the nurses enjoyed strolling in
the woods, where wild flowers abounded,
and the green of the foliage seemed a lovelier green than I had ever beheld before.
The place abounded in pretty scenery.
There were many picnic parties, and trips
to the bathing beach, twenty miles away,
so we never lacked for amusement and recreation when off duty those days. Horse
161
back riding was very popular among those
who
cared for it.
During the latter part of the summer
the Governors of three states came to review the troops at the camp, before they
were to be sent overseas. Permission was
given to as many nurses as happened to
have the hours off, to go over to the camp
and enjoy the impressive ceremonies. I
happened to be among the lucky number.
An ambulance came for us at the appointed time, we had reserved seats very near
the Governors, and their staffs, and I shall
never forget the impressions of that day
as long as I live. Before the troops came
by we had ample opportunity to study the
distinguished members of the party of
Governors near us. The much bebraided,
betasselled and beploomed officers, looked
like they might have stepped out of some
book about Knighthood of olden times.
The Governors themselves were plainly
dressed except for the high silk hats worn
by two of them the other one wearing a
plain fedora, but looking as much the gentleman as his silk hatted companions.
As the boys came marching by, each
regfiment was led by its own band, and I
never expect to see again upon this earth
such an impressive sight. Fifty thousand
strong, our dear lads marched by, many
;
162
of
all
them had been sick under our very care,,
looking so manly and fine, marching in
perfect step to the music of their band.
As we realized what it all meant, our
hearts were very sad, so many of those
manly forms would remain in foreign
lands, and after sailing so bravely away
would never more return.
My ward next day was honored by a
visit from the very Governors themselves,
who were making a tour of the hospital
in company with the Commanding officer.
I was surprised, that the Governor I had
met on the train, on my way to camp,
should remember my face, but he did, and
was very cordial as he offered some complimentary remark concerning the appearance of the ward, and the patients therein.
Once during the summer we had a talk at
the nurses' home from the big General in
command of the camp; who had just returned from France. This was the one
and only occasion I ever heard of this distinguished gentleman honoring our hospital with his presence.
In August a dear friend, another nurse
and myself went for a ten days outing
down to the Gulf. It being only a little
over one hundred miles away it was not
much of a iourney, but we enjoyed every
moment of the trip. The semi-tropical
163
sun which had poured down with such
in-
tense heat over the camp, seemed to grow
shades less warm as we neared the Gulf.
The shady, cool palm drives, and lovely
drives and walks along the gulf coast with
a trip to Lake Champlain, Boloxi and Pass
Christian, the salt breeze putting new life
into our tired bodies, made new people of
us, so when we returned after our brief
outing, we took up work again with new
zest.
All
summer
long the letters from
my
Washington, gave interesting accounts of the Government Hospital being
enlarged, and equipped for the many patients being brought back from overseas,
hospitals, that put a great desire in my
sister in
heart, to visit my Nation's Capital, and
lend a hand at helping care for those of
our boys who had come back sick, maimed
and wounded, from the battle fields. My
Washington was also
a magnet drawing me, so I set about getsister's presence in
ting
a
Government transfer from the
Southern Base to the Hospital in Washington.
My friend and Pal, Miss Bates,
declared if I left the camp she would go
too, so when we returned from our vacation our transfer was already made out
for the middle of September.
164
CHAPTER
XIII
A Unique Experience
HE
two weeks stay at the
Southern Base Hospital were
memorable indeed. My work
during this time was in a
ward for colored soldiers, and
I would not have missed this experience,
unique and varied, and so different from
anything I had ever experienced, for all
I
last
the other experiences put together. My
entrance upon this field of work was,
I will admit, with a mind filled with some
misgivings, and temerity, and I may say
that it was with a feeling akin to repugnance that I entered the ward the first day
and beheld two long rows of beds, each
containing a dusky visaged occupant,
whose black face against the white pillows, recalling a picture I have seen somewhere, of a black urchin in the middle of a
large bed, whose little black face stood out
in relief against the huge white pillows
behind it, and, underneath the words, *'far
from the maddening crowd."
first
165
Here were faces resembling all species
of the hairy tribe, from the Gorilla down.
But after working among them for a short
while, I soon learned that they too were
just a lot of sick, helpless, pitiful humanity, more touching in their helplessness
and if such a thing could be, even more
grateful and appreciative for the least
kindness shown them, or thought taken for
their comfort.
There were thirty patients in the ward,
and though as I have said, we had all sorts
of peculiar visaged ones, there were also
some fine specimens of their race, but all
were humble, meek and lowly, and almost
to a man, very religious. It was very interesting to listen to them at times. Those
who were able ate their meals at a large
table on the porch at the end of the ward.
They never partook of their meal without
first returning thanks to their Heavenly
Father for His many blessings, amidst the
hardships of hospital life. The prayers
ivhich poured forth from those dusky
throats were wonderful to hear. On Sunday and Wednesday there was preaching,
for among the patients was one Reverend
Johnson, who was a convalescent and
preached to the boys who were able to go
out to the porch where the meetings were
held. I never had the opportunity of at166
tending any of these meetings, as it took
place after the day's work was over in the
ward, but if the sermons were delivered
with the same unction and fervor that
his prayers were, then it must have been
a treat indeed to hear him.
There are those who think meanly of
prayer, and never bow the knee to the
giver of all good from one year's end to
another. Such persons would do well to
imitate our lowly brethren, who in many
instances show more of that humble
Christ-like piety than many so-called
Christians of the higher races.
They
sometimes ask, "what profit should we
have if we pray to the Almighty?" Job
21-15. The true answer is, "much every
way"
for
is an eye that never sleeps,
Beneath the wings of night;
There is an ear that never shuts
*'There
When
There
is
sink the
beams of
light.
an arm, that never
tires
When human
There
is
When
strength gives way;
a love that never fails
earthly loves decay.
That eye is fixed on seraph throngs,
That arm upholds the sky
That ear is filled with Angel songs
That love is throned on high.
167
But
there's a
When
power which man can wield
mortal aid
is
vain
That eye, that ear, that love to reach
That listening ear to gain.
That power is Prayer, which soars on high
Through Jesus, to the throne;
And moves the hand which moves the
To
world.
bring salvation down.
It was the desire of one and all of the
colored brethren to possess a New Testament, so one day I walked over to the Y.
M. C. A. and asked the man in charge for
some testaments for our ward. Having
about a dozen on hand, for distribution
among the soldiers, he gave them to me,
and returning to the ward, I presented
them to those who seemed most desirous
of obtaining one.
They were delighted,
and asked me to write their names in each
man's book, for many of them could neither read nor write.
At mealtime, one day, shortly after this,
I missed one of the most devout brethren,
and of course a search was instigated at
once, when just as Parson Johnson had
finished saying grace, in rushed Riley,
panting and out of breath from his endeavor to get back to the ward before being missed. Upon inquiry as to where he
168
"You knows
his reply
Miss, dat black rascal whut done slept
next to me, he done gone back to camp
s'mon'i'n?" "Well dat good-fo'-nothin' rascal, he done stole ma testament." "I jes'
caught him in time." "He wuz right in
the act of goin' off in de amb-lance. "He
done see's me, comin,' and reaches ma'
book to me fo any dem Lef'tenants sees
what I cum fo." "So I jes lets him alone,
and cum on back to ma' ainnah." And
with a broad grin and a hearty slap on his
breast pocket, he added, "But I'se all right
I'se got ma' test'ment agin."
had one very peculiar specimen in
this ward. I was for some days a little in
awe of him ; as he would neither talk, eat,
But sat staring stolidlie down, or sleep.
ly into space, like some huge statue of a
had been,
this
was
:
We
His expressionless eyes looked
Gorilla.
straight ahead, without one iota of emotion or interest in his surroundings, even
though corps boys, patients, doctors, and
all around him, tried by every persuasive
means to obtain some inkling of notice
from him. I thought to catch him off his
guard, by preparing his food with care
and delicacy and serving it to him as
though he were a king, but to no purpose.
He sat indifferent to all appeals, baffling
the doctors, a sight pitiful enough to touch
169
a heart of stone. He was taken away
later to a psychopathic ward, and I never
learned what befell him afterward.
There were three Northern nurses worked in this ward, some of the Southern girls
thought it degrading to serve and wait
upon the colored race, and flatly refused
to be placed in the ward for them. I soon
come to feel that it was just as important
and ennobling a task to care for and help
those poor pitiful creatures, as to care for
the white men, and indeed in many instances the blacks seemed superior in gentle kindness and tender thoughtfulness toward one another, than some of the white
fellows.
I cared for them at first with some such
feeling as I might have shown toward a
ward full of Newfoundland dogs, or black
bears, but I soon come to feel that they
were human
ly,
souls,
though black outward-
many
whose
as any
of them were as "white" inside,
acts were as kindly and christian
race of any color.
came time for my departure
some of the sick boys
heard I was going away to "Washington,**^
and there were tears of sincere sorrow in
When
from
it
this ward,
their eyes as they said good bye, and told
me they were sorry I was going away. I
felt their gratitude and their sorrow at
170
my
departure was as great a compliment
as one could have wished. I told them if
here, I hoped we would meet
again in the "Sweet bye and bye," and I
was sincere in saying it.
I many times resolve, by the Grace of
God, upon a determination to keep steadily in view the existence of a future state,
where all pure in heart and good people,
as well as our friends and loved ones have
gone, a consideration which bears in its
consequences upon every iota of our actions, believing that our every act has
vast influence over our moral undertakings, and of which I acknowledge myself
many times, wickedly forgetful.
Having spent much prayer over the
matter of changing my location, there
seemed no hindrance to the move, so in
company with my friend. Miss Bates, I
took my departure from the camp hospital
on September 9, 1918, having spent just
nine months at the Base Hospital in the
South.
we never met
171
CHAPTER XIV
A
Pleasant Journey.
our pleasant three
days journey from the Southland, up to the Eastern city,
lO describe
where the Nation's
capital
smiling repose, would
be to write another story, so I will not attempt it at this time. We met many congenial travelers, for it being war time,
people were going to their different fields
of action, for the pursuance of their varsits in
A
regiment of soldiers to
Camp Meade in Maryland, a crowd of
Aviators from a flying field in Florida, being mustered to the coast, thence on overseas, from whence I can but hope they all,
but fear many never returned. Nurses
going to their various fields of duty. Government clerks hastening to Washington
to take their place among the throngs of
those patriotic souls already there, doing
their bit in the thousands of offices, and
helping on the country's need at this time
as best they could.
ious duties.
172
Upon arriving in Washington, and finding the hospital to which we were going,
situated ten miles from the city, we decided it was a good time to see something
of the place we had heard so many wonderful and glowing accounts of, since
childhood, and this day being sort of a
holiday, between giving up our old work
and assuming the duties at the new hospital and anxious to see the sister I had
not seen for nine long busy months, we
took a car and visited many places of note
during the day, toward evening, when she
should be at leisure, driving out to sister
Ruth's place of abode. After a happy
repast together she accompanied us to the
hospital where we were to pursue our
duties as Army nurses as long as our
country had need of us.
The chief nurse, a tall gray-haired wo-
man from
Canada, greeted us cordially,
and assigned us to our quarters in Barracks No. 1, a handsome brick structure
whose luxuriously furnished interior seemed to us a palace, coming as we had from
the crude temporary building at the camp.
An incident occured while visiting the
capital building the day before, which I
will relate here.
My colleague, a girl twice the avoirdupois of myself, decided after traveling
173
over what seemed miles of stone corridor,
to await the crowd at the foot of one of
the massive stone stairs, after resting
there a bit to rejoin us again as we came
that way. The crowd of sightsee'rs forged on, up the stair, following the guide
who was
busily engaged in giving an interesting account of all points of interest,
as he pointed them out to us. We had
gone through Senate Chamber, House of
Representatives, down another stair and
corridor through Statuary Hall when I
discovered to my dismay, that we were
leaving the building and my friend. Miss
Bates, was not in the party. I spoke to
the driver on reaching the car and he,
kindly gentleman that he was, suggested
while another man drove the remainder
of the party to the Congressional Library
(which was a short distance) to return
with me to the capital to search for the
one "numbered amongst the missing." We
retraced the ground we had covered in our
earlier rounds, from garret to basement,
but Miss Bates was nowhere to be seen.
I begun to picture myself going on life's
journey alone, while she languished until
life became extinct in some one of these
numerous stone grottoes of which the CapAfter we were thoroital seemed so full.
ughly convinced that she was no where in
174
the building, at least not visible to the eye
of flesh, we gave up and I, very sad at
heart,, worried and perplexed, accompanied the guide back to the Library, where
upon reaching, the first person I laid eyes
on was the smiling, happy countenance of
Miss Bates, awaiting me at the entrance.
We had quite a laugh over the episode,
though a few moments before it had appeared very alarming to me. She had gotten tired waiting at the stairs, for of course
we never came back that way, and had
strolled on over to the Library which was
the next stop.
My assignment to duty the next day
was in the main building, a large brick,
which was one of the original buildings of
this Government Hospital, which had been
in existence as a home for sick soldiers
since the Civil War.
This was a very
handsome building, thoroughly equipped
with
all
conveniences that
modem
inven-
tion could produce. Hardwood floors, polished so slick that one was in danger of
injury at any time from a fall, woodwork
and beds of a snowy appearance, windows
polished till they shone like diamonds.
The long clean and airy wards were fully
appreciated by Nurse Lee coming from
wards with tar-like oil all over the floors,
which clung to the shoes, leaving a grease
175
spot wherever one set their foot. As I
watched the proceedings, I recalled my
former tribulations, and contrasted the
two hospitals in a way that would have
from
dismissal
caused my summary
former had it been known earlier.
Here order, method, common sense and
liberality seemed to rule in a style that did
While at the
one's heart good to see.
camp, in some of the wards, disorder, discomfort and bad management reduced
things to a condition which I despair
The presiding genius
of describing.
over this particular department was an
"Army Nurse" of several generations.
the
Like so
many
of these long suffering indi-
viduals, the years spent in keeping a military establishment up to the mark, had
seemingly dried up all milk of human kindness, that ever had existed, and rendered
a being almost mechanical in precision,
with no mercy for man, woman, or beast,
if such contended with the strict and for-
mal rules and regulations of
Army
life;
boys expression of "hard boiled"
some instances, very appropriate. Deliver me from the possibility of
ever becoming a hard tyranical, unsympaThe work here
thetic "Military" woman
was very interesting. Being a department
of bone surgery, we had to do with hununtil the
became
in
!
176
dreds of cases of bone defection, the patients coming to our department for examination, correction, etc., from all over the
hospital, as well as the surrounding camps
of Meade, Meggs and Fort Myer.
There were two very high classed bone
which were the surgeons
who did the largest bulk of the bone
work.
Major B. from New York State
and Capt. R. from Massachusetts. The
whole morning was given to dressing
wounds, the work sometimes being continued into the afternoon. It wasn't a festive scene, by any means. For Major B.
whose aid I was constituted, fell to work
with a vigor which soon convinced me that
I was a weaker vessel, though nothing
would have induced me to confess it then.
specialists here,
He had
served in the Spanish-American
war, and seemed to regard a dilapidated
body very much as I should have regarded
a damaged garment and slipping into his
gown, whipped open a very unpleasant
looking case of instruments, cutting, sawing, patching and piercing with the enthusiasm of an accomplished surgical seam;
stress; explaining the process, in scientific terms, to the patient, meantime, which
of course, was immensely cheering, and
comfortable. There was an uncanny sort
177
of fascination in watching him as he peered and probed into the mechanism of those
wonderful bodies, whose mysteries he understood so well.
The more intricate the wound, the betpoor private with both
ter he liked it.
the lungs, posthrough
legs off and shot
sessed more attractions for him than half
a dozen Generals slightly scratched in
some "masterly retreat," and had any one
appeared in small pieces requesting to be
put together again, he would have considered it a special dispensation.
A
Major B. was a capital surgeon and a
kindly man, though I sometimes feared
his profession blunted his sensibilities, and
perhaps rendered him indifferent to the
sight of pain. He was not wilfully hard
or cruel, but through long acquaintance
with many of the ills flesh is heir to, had
acquired a somewhat trying habit of regarding a man and his wound as separate
institutions, and seemed rather annoyed
that the former should express any opinion upon the latter, or claim any right in
it, while under his care.
He had a way,
bandage
after a
was removed, of giving a
limb a comprehensive sort of clutch, which
though no doubt entirely scientific, was
rather startling than soothing and highly
178
objectionable as a means of preparing
nerves for any painful ordeal. He sometimes expected the patient to assist in
small operations, as he termed them, and
to restrain all demonstrations during the
process. "Here, my boy, just hold it this
way, while I look into it a bit," he said one
day to a little sergeant, putting a wounded
arm into the keeping of a sound one, and
proceeding to poke about among bits of
bone, and the visible muscles in a red and
black chasm, made by some infernal machine of the shot and shell description.
Poor Davis held on
like
grim
death,
ashamed to show fear before a woman, till
it grew more than he could bear in silence,
and, after a few smothered groans, he
looked at me imploringly, as if to say, "I
wouldn't ma'am, if I could help it," and
fainted quietly away.
The Major looked up, gave a compassionate sort of cluck and prodded away
more busily than ever, with a nod at me
and a brief "never mind" "be so good as
to hold this till I finish." I obeyed, cherishing the while a strong desire to insinuate a few of his own disagreeable knives
and scissors into him, and see how he
very disrespectful and ridiculiked it.
lous fancy of course, for he was doing all
—
A
179
that could be done, and the
finely in his hands.
arm prospered
But the human mind is prone to prejudice, and though a personable man, speaking French like a born "Parla Voo," and
whipping off legs like an animated guillotine, I must confess to a sense of relief
when he was ordered overseas, and suspect that several of the boys would have
faced a Hun battery with less trepidition
than they did Major B. when he came
briskly in on his morning round.
As
if
to give us the pleasure of a con-
trast. Captain R. succeeded him, who, I
think suffered more in giving pain than
did his patient in enduring it, for he often
paused to ask "Do I hurt you ?" and seeing his solicitude, the boys invariably answered "not much, go ahead doctor,"
though the lips that uttered this aimable
fib might be white with pain as they spoke.
:
Over the dressing of some of the wounds
to carry on conversations upon
subjects foreign to the work in hand, that
the patient might forget himself in the
charms of our discourse.
Hallowe'en was spent in this way: The
we used
Captain strapping the little sergeant's
arm, I holding the extension light, while
all three laughed and talked as if any180
where but in a hospital ward, except when
the chat was broken by a long "oh !" from
the Sergeant, an abrupt request from the
doctor to, "hold the light a little higher
please," or an encouraging "most through
sergeant," from Nurse Lee.
isi
CHAPTER XIV
Influenza
^BOUT
my
days were
of
departure
saddened by the
my friend, Miss Bates, to
Camp H. which being swooped
this time
down upon by a
violent epi-
demic of Influenza, and having a shortage
of nurses, was reinforced by twenty of our
nurses, Miss Bates being among them.
After the epidemic subsided she was
sent on overseas, and though we have kept
up a regular correspondence, I have noT
seen her since her return from France, but
continually look forward to our meeting
once more and a happy visit together
some time in the future.
It was well for me that my days were
so filled with work, for it lessened, perhaps, the lonliness of her absence. I should
have said nights, rather than days perhaps, for I went on night duty in a ward
of Influenza patients, and being the only
nurse, with two attendants in a ward of
fifty and a greater part of the time sixty
182
men, sick enough to
die,
was not conduc-
tive to a habit of spending much time bemoaning the departure of a friend, be she
ever so necessary to one's happiness. Even
when off duty, there was little time to
spend in thought, for weary from the long
strenuous night in the ward, the shining
hours were taken up by sleep, that great
restorer of tired and weary bodies, until
it was time to go on again.
JBut being fond of the night side of nature, "night duty" was one of
specialties during training, so here I had an excellent opportunity for indulging in
my
my
favorite pastime of "owling" with
all
the
horros and thrills imaginable accompanying it, to my heart's content.
My
ward was divided into three parts,
two rooms and a very long porch, where
those cases having a tendency toward
pneumonia were placed.
Wherever the sickest or most helpless
man
chanced to be, there I held my watch,
not busily engaged upon the aforementioned charts, which required an
alarming amount of one's time and which
I begrudged them every moment spent
thereon. I often visited the other rooms
when
to see that the general
watchman or corps
boys were doing their duty, and not asleep
183
and to get fresher
sometimes afforded.
One
air
than
the
of the harmless ghosts,
me company
rooms
who
bore
haunted hours
here, was Andrews, my colleague and
corps man, whom I regarded with a certain awe; for though so much together, I
never fairly saw his face, and, but for his
legs, should never have recognized him, as
we seldom met by day. His little round
head set upon as it were a pair of very long
legs, gave me the idea of a preambulating
clothespin, for his body being short rotund, and done up in a grey army sweater,
helped to complete one's imaginative propensity toward this conclusion. The collar to his sweater hid the lower part of his
face, his hat brim the upper, and all I ever
discovered was a pair of sleepy eyes, and a
very mild voice.
Another goblin who appeared to me,
during the
was the other faithful attendant, who being a kind-hearted soul, was often attending two or three men at a time, weak and
wandering as babies, after the fever had
gone. When not thus engaged, the aimable creature beguiled the watches of the
night, by brewing jorums of a harmless,
but nauseating beverage he called cocoa,
and insisted on sharing with me.
Overtaking me with a great bowl of
184
something resembling
mud soup,
and
amount of good
also went inkindness
and neighborly
of
all-pervading flavor
an
Such
milk.
scorched
will,
rich in an
molasses
to the mess, that I never could find the
heart to refuse, but always received it with
thanks and hypocritically whipped it into
the sink at the first opportunity, the mstant he departed. It was a strange lifeasleep half the day, exploring the sur-
roundings the other half, and all night
hovering like a massive cherubim, in a red
sweater, over the slumbering sons of men.
The snores alone, were quite a study, varying from the mild snif to the stentorian
snort, which startled the echoes and hoisted the performer erect to accuse his neighbor of the deed, magnanimously forgive
him, and wrapping the drapery of his
couch about him, lie down to vocal slumber,
would have given much to have possessed the art of sketching from life, for
many of the faces became wonderfully inI
teresting
when
unconscious.
young and
smoothed the lines
-_Often the roughest grew
pleasant
when
sleep
away, letting the real nature assert itself
many almost seemed to speak and I learned to know these men better by night than
through any intercourse by day. A few
185
talked busily and one young boy sang
sweetly, though no persuasions could win
a note from him by day, and several depended upon being told what they had
talked of in the morning.
Sentinels tramped round us
all
long, their rifles glittering in the
night
Autumn
moonlight, as they walked or stood before
the doors, straight and silent, as figures
of stone.
Wandering up and down these lower
rooms (for ours was a two-story building,
there being the same proportioned ward
upstairs) I often heard cries from above,
steps hurrying to and fro, saw surgeons
passing up, or men coming down carrying
a stretcher, where lay a long white figure,
whose face was shrouded and whose fight
was done.
An incident which occurred about this
time shows how the pathetic and comic
went hand in hand that one sometimes
stopped and wondered at the seeming callousness of life.
I had taken my station by a Virginia
boy whose fever was higher than usual
this night, his eyes restless, his head never
It was after midnight, the "0. D."
still.
had made his rounds, the corps boy had
watched by his bed while I had taken a
186
bites of refreshment and had now
gone to his supper at the mess hall, and
patient, trying to soothe
as I sat by
few
my
his poor distracted brain by a constant application of wet towels to his burning fore-
head, he
was slowly wearying himself
in-
to fitful intervals of quietude, when in one
of these pauses, a curious sound arrested
my attention. Looking up I saw a onelegged phantom hopping nimbly down the
room, and going to meet it I recognized a
big athlete from New Hampshire, who had
lost one limb at Chatteau Thierry and
whose fever had taken a turn for the
worse, and set him literally tripping on
the light, fantastic toe "toward home" as
he blandly informed me, touching his hat
in a military manner, said hat forming a
striking contrast to the severe simplicity
Balof the rest of his undress uniform.
meditaa
like
one
leg,
on
ancing himself
tive stork, he plunged into an animated
discussion of the war, the Kaiser, French
wines and Enfield rifles, regardless of any
suggestions of mine, as to the propriety
of returning to bed.
Anything more supremely ridiculous can
hardly be imagined than this figure, pa jama suit of striped black and white, the
empty leg dangling limply, its one foot
covered with a big brown sock, a dingy
187
hat sat rakishly askew on
its
head, and
placid satisfaction beaming in his countenance, as it flourished a granite cup in
one hand, an old shoe in the other, calling
them mess kit and canteen, while it
skipped and fluttered in the most unearthly fashion. What to do with the fellow I
didn't know; Andrews was still at supper,
and if I went to find him the preambulator might festoon himself out of the window, set himself on fire, or do some of his
neighbors a mischief. The other attendant was sleeping like the "Rock of Gibraltar," and nothing short of pins would
rouse him.
Still declaiming, in a fine flow of eloquence, the demented gentleman hopped
on, blind and deaf to my graspings and entreaties, and I was about to slam the door
in his face and run for help when a second
and saner phantom came to the rescue, in
the person of a big Russian, who spoke no
English, but devined the crisis, and put an
end to it by bundling the lively monaped
into his bed, like a baby, with an authoritative command to "stay put," which received added weight by being delivered in
an odd conglomeration of Russian and
French accompanied by warning wags of a
head decorated with a gray outing flannel
night cap with an imposing peak at the
188
hood of a Monk. Rather exexertions, the one time
his
hausted by
athlete subsided, and after an irrepressible
laugh together, though unable to understand a word of each other's speech,
Russian ally and myself returned to our
places and if not quiet, at least peace
top, like the
my
reigned throughout the ward the remainder of the night.
139
CHAPTER XV
Another Phase of
War
sHERE was
plenty of variation
at this hospital,
in
for though I had expected
when entering the army, to
the work
my
time in nursing
sick soldiers only, I found myself not long
after this acting as night special nurse to
one of my own unfortunate sisters of the
profession, who had entered the Red
Cross nursing service at one of the Southern Base Hospitals, and being of a highstrung nervous temperament, had in trying to adjust herself to the unnatural and
strenuous conditions surrounding Army
life, lost her mental balance and had been
sent to the large Government hospital at
Washington for treatment, and it was
hoped she would regain once more her
mental efficiency and be able to return to
her Western home.
occupy
considered some nerveduring the two
experiences
racking
upon this patient
weeks attendance
I
had what
I
190
through the long watches of the night
alone, for it happened the night I took
up my first watch with her, she was moved
from the room in the officers' ward,
where other nurses were on duty and
other patients could be seen occasionally,
to a building quite remote from the other
part of the hospital, occupied by doctors
offices during the day time but silent and
tomb-like as the grave through the long
hours of the night. Our only neighboring
building being the psychopathic ward, did
not add to the cheerfulness of the place by
any means, for all through the doleful
hours of the night could be heard the
moans and hideous shrieks of the demented unfortunates who were imprisoned
therein.
To add to the gloom of that first night
with an insane patient, I was hailed and
my
fellow nurses as I
met them coming off duty as I was going
on, by such remarks as the following:
**Good bye Nurse Lee,I sure would hate
to be in your shoes," and Oh Miss L. she
has been simply terrible today, no one
could manage her, nearly killed Miss B.
Such remarks were not the most enetc.
couraging or comforting to one who had
as yet had very little dealings with insane
people aside from a few D.Ts., D.Fs. and
191
greeted by some of
!
neurasthenics
on
different
occasions
throughout my nursing career. But screwing up my courage to the top notch and
calling upon my Friend above to see me
through, I took hold of the situation and
finally came out vict^jrious I believe, for
from the first the patient seemed to form
a liking for me, in her more rational moments, and till the day I parted company
with her seemed to manifest great confidence in what I did and said, though my
first night with her she nearly frightened
the wits out of me.
The only person inhabiting our lonely
exile through the night time was a night
sergeant who slept in an office quite a distance from our room down the corridor.
I was to call him should I have need of
help at any time during the night. I
grimly consoled myself with the thought
that this woman who was thrice my size
would have time to scalp, tar and feather
me had she so chosen, ere my cries could
awaken my valliant protector from the
stentorian echoes resounding throughout
the building which issued from his door.
The only mirror of any size our suite had
access to was in a bathroom some twelve
yards down the hall, necessitating much
travel back and forth a good part of the
time, for like some more of her sex who
192
The place abounded
in pretty scenery.
See page 161.
The place abounded
in pretty scenery.
See page 161.
with more reason in their heads and less
reason for so doing, this woman evinced
an uncontrolable desire to primp and fix
and comb at her hair, meanwhile never
removing her eyes from her own face in
the mirror. It being my method to allow
her what privileges I could, I permitted
her to do as her fancy inclined so long as
it was in bounds and trotted meekly along
at her side watching her for an hour at a
time, trying her hair in every conceivable
style known to the feminine mind.
She
brooked no interference when planted before the mirror, comb in hand as she violently wielded the hair brush and comb as
though her life depended upon getting it
done at a given time, and no sooner was
the elaborate coiffeur finished than down
it came to begin all over again with some
altogether different style of arrangement.
After watching this process until it begun to tell upon the nerves of Nurse L, as
well as the patient and feeling uncomfortable from the chilliness of this bathroom
in a long cold hall, I decided that if I was
to become mistress of this situation the
time to assume control was at the very beginning, so speaking to my patient with
as much kindness as I could command, but
with no uncertain sound, I told her she
must finish her toilet at once, as the room
193
was
and I did not wish to remain
longer away from our room. She violently threw both comb and brush on the floor
with much force, slammed the door shut
and wheeling as quickly as a cat can leap,
planted both strong hands upon my shoulders, almost knocking my feet from under
me, and stared wildly into my face and
could as easily have strangled me to death
had she chosen, for the strength with
which she had thrown her hands upon my
shoulders showed me that strong women
that she was I would be as putty in her
hands should she choose to use violence
toward me. Nevertheless I pluckily stood
my ground and even smiled I believe as I
looked at her a second before turning my
face aside with a pretended yawn as I asked her to excuse me, all the while my knees
were knocking together beneath me and
my hair felt as though it were standing on
end.
I did not wish her to discover my
fright as I admonished her to get a hustle
on herself now as I was cold and wanted
to go back to the room and retire, and prechilly
tended to be very sleepy. I chose a way
of talking to her as though she were a rational being, instead of one out of her
mind, and whether this method had any
influence over her condition or not I do
not know, but it did have a comforting ef194
feet
upon
my own
nerves as
I
thought
how nice it would be if she were
I
really as sane as I was pretending.
did
treatment
come to fancy my mode of
help for she often told me that I seemed
to calm her, and that she did not feel half
so *'crazy" when I was with her, (for she
knew she was not right), but seemed to
have no control over her imagination most
of the time. She did not pursue her attempt at trying to frighten me, but remarked on our way back to the room "you
are not afraid of me, are you Miss Lee?"
I gave a fairly good imitation of a laugh
as I thought of my fright a few moments
ago, but replied, "I see nothing whatever
to be afraid of, why should I be afraid?"
"You are simply a little nervous and
wrought up perhaps, but when you are
thoroughly rested and built up with nourishing food you will be yourself again I
am quite sure. Meanwhile as we are to
depend upon one another for amusement
and comfort for awhile, we must begin by
being as pleasant and agreeable as we can,
don't you think so?" I asked curious to
see what her reply would be.
She gave a little hysterical laugh as she
answered, I think you know how to manage me all right. At times she would undertake to command me, and wield the su195
premacy but on such occasions I assumed
authority, and would tell her that though
I wanted to be kind to her as I could, when
she took a turn of this kind obstinate and
morose, that I would not yield one iota
and that I was the Commanding officer of
this Brigade.
We usually ended up by
having a good laugh together, for strange
to say she never seemed to lose a keen
sense of humor, which is far from being a
general characteristic of an insane person.
She was worse during the day and after
two weeks it was decided by the powers
that be to send her to an institution for
the insane twenty miles away. I felt very
sorry when I learned of this, for though
she was by no means a rational person, I
did not consider her condition bad enough
for her to be sent to this place, for as I
believed, could she have been removed to
some quiet place, say in the country, with
pleasant surroundings and kind treatment,
I believe she would have again regained
her equilibrium mentally and once more
become a happy as well as useful member
of society.
I had several letters from her after this,
thanking me for all my kindness to her
and requesting me to write her father in
the West as to her whereabouts, as I
promptly did, and hope he soon came
196
take her home, for as I thought
during my short visit there, that should
a perfectly sane person have to take up
their abode in such a place, as an inmate,
I doubt if they would long remain sane in
that bedlam of noises from the screaming,
howling and moaning coming from the
to
windows on
all
sides.
It is needless to
say that this part of my army nursing was
very, very sad, and brought to my mind a
realizing sense of a phase of war that I
had not even dreamed of before.
It was my disagreeable duty to accompany this girl, in company with her day
two sergeants of the hospital
corps, to the institution for the insane
across the city, for as the Chief nurse said
special, also
when awakening me from my
peaceful
slumbers at midday, she would not go one
step unless her night nurse sanctioned the
move and accompanied her. Upon arriving at our destination and seeing my patient as far as was possible comfortably
settled in her new home (if such a place
could be called home) I learned, while in
conversation with the doctor in charge of
the institution, who was a woman from
my own state, that the asylum was practically filled with officers, men and nurses
since the war begun, who had gone down
in the maelstrom of one of life's greatest
197
woes, insanity. A sickening sense of the
horror of war with all its multitude of
suffering and woe overcame me for awhile
and as I returned to the hospital I felt I
should always be a sadder and wiser woman for having had the unpleasant experience above mentioned.
As Nurse Lee
brushed her raven locks preparatory to retiring that night she did not wonder at
the numerous gray hairs which a few
months previous had been totally absent,
but which were creeping in among the
black tresses very rapidly, for *tis a known
fact that sad and wearying scenes age one
more quickly than work. It is with a wish
to avoid anything like a tendency to emphasize my own philanthropic zeal, in
these notes, but as I am the person who
experienced these happenings, the personal pronoun I occurring frequently may
cause some to have some such conjecture.
I must relate the incidents as they occurred, and it is with no desire to enlarge
upon my own part in them, but I will say
that in many instances circumstances
seemed to help the furtherance of charitable inclinations and make it possible and
even easy to do almost the impossible in
many matters toward
helping the sick,
suffering and wounded.
I believe if we make it the one great ob198
ject of life to serve the Redeemer, in doing deeds of kindness and love, we will
find that all things help to work out for
us what we aim to do, and everything fall
in as aids to work out our plans as we
would have them, if always in the Lord's
will.
While the person who is always finding
circumstances working against them and
are always battling against "hard luck" as
they term it, and sometimes have a grouch
on life in general, it is my private opinion
that if they would only give their life into
the hands of their Saviour and live it in
a desire to do His will they would find life
much more simple and would find things
beginning to shape themselves more in
their favor and the scriptures would be
fulfilled in their lives, which is written in
the Book of James "That all things work
together for good to them that love the
Lord and obey His commandments.
:
199
CHAPTER XVI
A
Happy Crowd
)NE
would almost, naturally,
think that a ward filled with
boys, all of whom had left an
or limb on foreign fields,
would be a rather doleful
place to be in, but not so, for the orthopedic ward at this hospital was one of the
j oiliest places one could find in many a
day's journey I feel safe in saying. It
was some, one of the boys here I think,
who originated the fashion of calling his
neighbors by their afflictions instead of
their names and I was rather taken a-back
by hearing them bandy remarks of this
sort, with perfect good humor and much
enjoyment of the new game. "How are
you this morning toothout ?" "Look here,
no hand, lend me a stamp, there's a good
feller," "I say Miss Lee, may I give *Eyegone* one of these pears?" etc.
Corporal Sands was christened Wingless
because of the loss of an arm in the Argonne. Very fussy about his food was
arm
200
Corporal S. and much trotting of attendants was necessary when he partook of
nourishment. Anything more irresistibly
wheedlesome I never saw, and constantly
found myself indulging him, like the most
weak-minded parent, merely for the pleasure of seeing his blue eyes twinkle, his
merry mouth break into a smile and hi*
one hand execute a jaunty salute that was
entirely captivating. It was ludricous beyond mention to watch the boys in hilarious sham boxing matches using their artificial hands and arms in the most expressive way giving vehement knocks and
cuffs with these detachable members with
evidently as much pleasure and satisfaction as though they were real. Sergeant
B. walking up to Private L. would exclaim
^*Hi, there, no toes, how be ye this momin'?" give us a shake!" While reaching
forth the artificial gloved hand with which
he was not yet familiar enough himself to
have it adjusted properly, whereupon "No
toes," (so christened from the loss of the
fore part of a foot) gives a vigorous grab
and shake which dislodges the member entirely and brings forth a burst of laughter from all those who happen to be looking.
I was here but a short time caring
for these happy-go-lucky "Hail fellow well
met" individuals, and was very sorry to
201
Army one has to go
and this time duty called
leave them, but in the
when duty
me
calls,
to specialling a Colonel's wife in the
building, through a long and tedious
main
Her recovery being slowly it was
Thanksgiving day before she was able to
illness.
be taken to her
home
in the city.
She insisted upon my accompanying her
and as we sat at meat that evening in the
Colonel's home I partook of the first meal
eaten in a private dwelling for almost one
year.
My
duties in an officers
ward soon
after-
ward convinced me that not all the heroes
of the great war were among the enlisted
men, sergeants and corporals, for some of
these men bore their sufferings with the
fortitude and patience of Job.
One Major with both limbs gone was
continually cheering on his comrades and
causing bursts of merriment by his witty
and clever sallies till one would almost get
the impression that he found it a great
beneficence to be deprived of his limbs.
An adidtion to our ward one day of a
Captain from Alabama and two Lieutenants from Tennessee, brought in bleeding
and mangled as the result of an aeroplane
crash, showed us from the bravery and patience they exhibited in bearing their sufferings that chivalry was not the only vir202
tue a Southern gentleman could boast of.
A Colonel, a member of Pershing's staff,
while battling with pneumonia, contracted
while on official duty in America, sipped
milk from a tablespoon with as much relish and meek quiescence as the humblest
private and a realizing sense of the levelling propensity of sickness and death in
the army was shown when a Scottish
Noble, member of the Embassy and sonin-law to an English Earl, died of pneumonia, was driven through the streets to
the morgue upon the floor of an ambulance, with no more pomp or ceremony
than was shown Private Jones or Sergeant
Smith when a like sudden taking away
ended all earthly reviews.
Late in the fall I was called to my Northern home, there to nurse a member of my
family through the Flu, and upon returning again to Washington found that not a
vestige of likelihood remained of our getting to France at this time, the Armistice
having been signed in the meantime, while
my name, with twenty others, had been up
to go "across" before I left the hospital.
Though
somewhat
disappointing,
our
hearts were filled with gratitude that the
long and bloody conflict was ended, and all
our brave lads who had survived the perils
and hardships of war would soon be re203
turning to their homes and loved ones once
more.
My year in the Army was now nearing
its close, the nurses being mustered out of
service right along, as the hospital begun
to thin out and life once more ''flowed
along like a song." There were at this
time some twelve hundred patients, whereas upon our -arrival here and during the
epidemic of Influenza, the patients numbered upwards of twenty-five hundred,
fifty of whom were nurses. A woman very
high in the nursing world passed beyond
from pneumonia at this time. Impressive
indeed were the ceremonies in the little
chapel before her final interment at Arlington, attended by the whole nursing
personnel of the hospital, marching military fashion, in their white uniforms, covered by the red lined blue army cape, left
flap of each thrown back over the shoulder, showing a dash of color which matched
the red cross on each white cap.
Before leaving the service each nurse
was requested to return the cape and cap
to the Red Cross which had loaned them
to us for the duration of our service. The
scene above mentioned recalled one of a
similar nature we had witnessed while in
the Base Hospital at the South.
In this case it was a nurse who had left
204
her home in Canada and before arriving
at her destination had taken pneumonia
on the train and was so ill when arriving
at A. had been unable to tell who she was
or where she was going until papers found
upon her revealed the fact that she was a
nurse bound for our hospital. The two
nurses detailed to bring her to the hospital
found her on the third floor of a boarding house in A. and delirious with fever,
the poor soul never regained consciousness
but a few moments, ere she passed away
among total strangers, though the hands
who cared for her at the last were as kind
and loving as though they had belonged
to her own flesh and blood. For each one
might have thought as gazing upon her
lifeless form that but for I know not what
intervention this one lying so still and
cold might have been I.
Though all were strange to her, the fifty
nurses who attended her funeral services
at the undertaking parlor will scarcely
ever forget the impressive and touching
The flag-draped casket of our sisscene.
ter nurse, dressed in uniform even to the
little red cross cap she had never worn in
life, as truly dying for her country as any
brave hero upon the battle field of France,
coming such a long distance to do her bit,
had been called the first from our ranks to
205
answer the Great Roll Call above. Though
no relative or friends were there to show
the last loving respect, not a dry eye was
present in that throng, even the kindhearted undertaker was so touched with
emotion that he wept like a father over
the lonely casket.
206
CHAPTER
XVII.
Leaving the Service
lY
LAST fortnight spent in the
hospital at Washington was
in a ward for pneumonia.
As
though my life the last year
had moved in a circle, I had
started on December 8, in Ward 24 for
pneumonia and ended my work December
8, one year later, in a ward by the same
number and containing pneumonia patients, though the field of action was one
thousand miles apart.
There were many sad scenes occurred
during the work here, for our ward contained a great many of those patients who
had survived the terrible onslaught of Flu
and pneumonia which had visited the hospital with such force a few weeks previous, leaving strong men weakened and
amaciated to such a degree that though
we gave them the best of care that was
possible under the circumstances, almost
every day saw our ranks depleted until we
almost despaired of saving any.
207
There was one bright boy in our ward
continually called me Mother in his
delirium and in his rational moments used
to talk of his home and mother in a most
touching manner. He was an only son,
college student, and used to tell the boys
of the wonderful pies, mince, apple and
pumpkin, he knew his mother would have
prepared for him when he should be at
who
home Christmas,
that festive holiday not
being far away. But his fever refused to
go down and his lungs, never very strong
since his long siege of Flu, were in a very
bad way. I watched him closely along
with the Captain of the ward, and shall
never forget the last day he was in my
ward. There was another ward for worse
cases of pneumonia, and Manning dreaded
lest he should be transferred to that ward.
We still had so many cases of influenza in
our ward that as a case developed pneumonia in a bad form, it was moved to the
Manning had pleaded for me not to
next.
let them move him away from the ward,
but knowing how useless it would be to request his being left, I could only pray that
he would not be moved. But my heart
sank upon entering the ward one morning
and finding his bed empty. It lacked a
little time of being 7, the time I was to
report for duty, so I ran over to the ward
208
where he had been taken. As
down the long ward looking for
I
walked
my
boy's
familiar face, he spied me first, and his
eyes lighted up as he exclaimed, "Oh Miss
Lee, I am so glad you have come, are
you going to work in this ward now?" I
hated to tell him I was not, so I said "I
will come in to see you each morning and
evening as I go to and from work, so cheer
up and be the brave boy you have always
been, and you will soon be getting well,"
but I fear the words sounded hollow, for I
could see he was sinking fast. I told him
good bye, placing a kiss upon his forehead
!
and bade him be brave and wended my
way with a sad heart, for well I knew I
should see Manning no more, and my heart
went out in pity to the sorrowing home
somewhere in Syracuse, New York, to the
mother whose boy had called so piteously
for her in his delirium.
I stopped that evening as soon as my
duties in the ward had ended, but it was
as I had expected. Manning had gone to
stand last retreat in that land where suffering is no more.
In another week the ward was pretty
well thinned, those to whom the task of
recovery had been too great an effort,
crossing the border to join their comrades
in a l^etter land, while those for whom it
209
was decreed they should take up the burden of life once more were now making
wonderful strides toward recovery, going
as they became able to their homes for
the Christmas holidays. Soon after this,
upon looking at the day's buletin in the
reception hall before going on duty one
morning, I was gladdened to see my name
with some twenty others up for release
from duty. We who had been in the service for a year and over had grown weary
and tired of the sad scenes of suffering and
death, but had there been need for it,
would have stayed on indefinitely but now
new and fresh nurses were joining the
Red Cross right along so as it came our
turn we were very glad to be released and
take up our place once more out in the
world among the vast army of toilers.
So after a few days spent in transferring those patients who remained in the
ward, for the hospital had thinned down
so that several wards were marged into
one, as their numbers grew less. Our last
good byes over, there yet remained one
day to be taken up undergoing sundry examinations, physical and mental, as Uncle
Sam wanted to be sure we were all returning to the world at large with the same
store of physical and mental ability which
we possessed upon entering his service, or
210
not to recompense us as best he could
for our loss.
One bright morning, just one year from
the day I had so enthusiastically entered
the Army Nursing services at the Southern Camp Hospital, an ambulance drove up
to the nurses' quarters and twenty nurses
with bags in hand (our trunks having
gone in another wagon) passed in line before the Chief nurse who bade us a fond
farewell, good luck and best wishes upon
our journey, for some were to go to homes
in different parts of the country, while a
few like myself, were to remain in Washington for awhile. The feeling of freedom
of being our own mistress once more after
being at the beck and call of Army orders,
was indescribable, and only those who have
ever been bound by that inexorable iron
hand, be the work ever so agreeable, can
if
understand what it meant. I flew to a
haven of rest in the shape of a cozy homey
little apartment in northwest Washington, for my sister and a girl from our
home town had just taken a place in that
location, and I was to live with them. And
to say I enjoyed that Christmas in a little
home
of luxury, ease and comfort, is putting it mildly, for no one who has not
banged about, moving from one room to
another about every month, with no per211
manent place or work,
a sort of
topsy-turvy dormitory, whose days were
spent in trying to console and comfort the
sick and suffering and continually witnessing saddening scenes of sorrow and death
for a long twelve months, I fear can not
begin to realize just what the comfort and
rest of a quiet home life once more did
mean.
I rested for awhile and then as an epidemic of pneumonia and influenza seemed
living in
to be breaking out afresh in the city, I
registered for work and have been busily
caring for the sick ever since, except what
time I have wished to take for recreation
and
rest.
"With faltering footsteps
I
will
journey
on.
Watching the stars that
roll
the hours
away.
the faint light that guides me now is
gone.
And, hke another life, the glorious day
Shall open o*er me from the empyrean
height
Till
With warmth, and
certainty,
and bound-
less light."
Before bringing the
little book to a
and answer a few of the
many questions which have been asked me
close, I will try
212
concerning the hospital at Washington,
the name of which I have refrained from
mentioning, though I am quite sure none
of my readers are at a loss to know what
the name of the hospital is. My first impression upon alighting here was of a little city complete in itself. Covering about
two hundred acres of ground, containing
upwards of seventy five or eighty wards,
at that time, with a personnel of 400 officers, twenty-five hundred patients, two
hundred nurses, seventy-five reconstruction workers and about the same number
of student nurses.
Having its own Post Office, Laundry,
Bakery, Y. M. C. A., Recreation Buildings
and Clubs.
As
it
is
continually increasing in size
it is hard to give any de-
and inhabitants,
finite statistics
concerning the place.
A
whole city of sick and disabled menfolks,
is somewhat unusual.
In walking about
the corridors to and from the nurses' quarters to the hospital, or about the grounds
in any direction, one always met soldiers
sometimes in squads, sometimes in two's
and three's or one alone, walking on
crutches or several in wheel chairs, with
both limbs gone by the explosion of some
infernal machine invented to wreck men's
lives.
213
Many
there were with one or the other
sleeve hanging empty, young boyish faces,
so different from those one has been accustomed to see, where the empty sleeve belonged usually to some aged veteran in a
suit of blue or gray. But to see these young
boys in the fresh bloom of youth come
back so maimed and stricken was very
touching indeed. Then to visit the wards
for those poor helpless wrecks of young
manhood, whose injuries are of the spine
and who will never walk again, was most
heart-rending.
Then others, victims of tuberculosis,
contracted from exposure to cold, wet,
hunger and injuries too numerous to m^ention while in the trenches, and worst of all,
that long line of wrecked manhood suffering with diseases too horrible to contemplate,
made
this hospital anything but
a
pleasure resort, but as some of the boys
was heaven compared to what
through."
been
they had
said, "it
It grieved me much to see so many of
the boys total slaves to the trifling habit
of cigarette smoking. This vast army of
sufferers not realizing as yet the full exAlas! it grieves
tent of their affliction.
me far more that for this curse they are
forever indebted to many well meaning
American citizens. For if ever a misap-
214
was born
of the lower
world, that same "wolf in sheeps clothing"
was the sending of cigarettes to our soldier boys.
Many a boy who had never poisoned his
system by smoke before going to war,
came back an abject slave to a habit, demoralizing in the extreme.
Oh the pity of it That our American
women and girls should follow so blindly
such mistaken charity. Should in thoughtlessness and ignorance send our boys that
which should poison their young bodies,
and ruin their souls eternally. To follow
a fad, started no doubt by the unrighteous
tobacco combines, to fill their own coffers
at the expense of the lives and clean manhood of many of our boys. For the slave
of tobacco cannot live the full rounded life
a man should live before God, for it destroys the finer sensibilities of the brain,
therefore rendering the user incapable of
seeing truly, reasoning truly, or living
plied philanthropy
!
!
truly.
It was a wholesale national wrong we
perpetrated upon our boys in their helplessness, and for which God will require
an answer at the judgment bar.
I am going to quote here an article on
tobacco by one of the most able and Godly
ministers in America today. The author is
215
a D.D. of National repute, editor of a
Christian paper and president of one of our
Christian colleges.
He
says
"Statistics show that last year (1919)
this country expended for tobacco $1,200,000,000. The war, among its many other
evils, was a great tobacco revival.
It is
startling when we remind ourselves of the
fact that millions of people are actually
starving to death for food and the price of
necessities of life are so high, that even
the industrious poor must go underfed,
that millions of acres of land and millions
of laborers are used for the production of
a poisonous weed that is neither food,
clothing nor medicine, but is poison, unhealthy, uncleanly and hurtful to all things
that are best.
Godly men ought not to raise tobacco,
ought not to buy, sell or use it. We believe there are Christian men, many of
them, mixed up and connected with the
tobacco industry, but with the proper
light on the subject, we believe they would
turn away from it. With men who love
God, trust in Jesus Christ and hope to
make their home in heaven, the right or
wrong of the thing must always be of first
consideration. With them it must not be
a question of money, but, is it right ? The
whole tobacco business measured by this
216
standard means a f orks-of-the-road proposition, and the devout man must bid farewell to the dirty weed. He will see that to
raise and sell an unhealthy weed which
means a waste of money to him who huys
it, and not only so, but a hurt to his
health, and an injury to his usefulness is
entirely contrary to the spirit and teachings of the Lord Jesus. The whole tobacco business, from start to finish, has its
beginning and end in selfishness, world
without end."
So much sorrow and suffering
human race is entailed in a lack of
to the
proper
teaching of the child in the homes all over
our land. Perhaps there are those who
smile derisively at the thought of a spinster giving an opinion as to how the child
should be taught, but I hope to be borne
out by the more broad-minded and generous of my countrymen and women in the
statement that if the simple truths of the
Bible were freely taught the young child
along with its lessons of cleanliness and
first juvenile learnings, it would give the
child so taught a far more beneficial outlook upon life and help him in every way
he may turn.
So many grow to manhood and womanhood without expending much thought
217
upon the meaning and purpose of
life,
(due
to neglect of, or default in teaching those
simple rudiments of life that Jesus
taught), to the child as a rule to gauge
their lives by not knowing or realizing
that their own best good, as well as that
of all persons with whom they come in
contact with, is more or less influenced for
good or evil, by their observance of, or
lack of such teaching. It is a very sad
truth that there are those who
hesitated to sneer at those lowly
as the theme of fools, the hobby
siasts,
or the fanaticism of
have not
teachings
of enthureligious
idiots.
You may agree with them if you like,
but while I find these things treated with
all soberness in the Scriptures and blessing spoken from heaven upon those who
heed and obey them, I must persist in a
different judgment, and ask to be excused
for believing with all my heart that in this
teaching we have a theme which grasps
deep into everything dear to us for time
and
eternity.
The Bible says that "he that doeth His
know the truth which implies
that if we wish to know whether these
things be true, we will set about obeying
them, then, the Spirit Himself will make
the truth of them plain to the seeker.
will shall
218
the Lord have mercy upon us and
save us from the sin of unbelief.
May
Some may think
that this old world is
fast growing into the millenium. In our
day especially, people are looking and laboring for a grand jubilee of nations,
and compacted by
laws, interests and creed, in
shaped to popular
common
rule,
which enlightened ideas
shall bring
about
that state of perfection of government we
all look forward longingly for, in which
revolutions and reforms and progress of
liberal ideas and overturning of old creeds
for the redemption of the world without
Chrst, and glorious philosophies ruling out
a personal Saviour, and exalting self and
passion in His place. But all their glittering ideals, of which to reconstruct society
and relocate the highest interests of man,
much as they may promise, and successfully as they may draw the heart and energy of the world after them, apart from
faith in the blood of Christ, are but the
nurslings of Satan's bosom, in which this
world lies, and the inspiration of his foul
breath.
Dream, and prate, and preach,
and glory as men may, the Bible tells us
that the devil is the god and king of this
world. His mantle may be often changed,
and every day may exhibit a new garb, but
219
the presiding geniues within
old serpent, with all his pride
and
And
is still
that
and malice
go on, "wicked men and seducers waxing worse and
worse," till the last trumpet sounds. Then
shall come another order, not developed
from below, but enforced with sudden and
falsities.
resistless
so
it
will
power from above.
"My kingdom
is
Christ said,
not of this world, it Com-
A
kingdom comes which
eth from above."
breaks in pieces, and consumes all other
kingdoms and stands forever. Having
given the world six thousand years in
which to choose and settle upon its proper
allegiance, and finding after all only an
intenser and more malignant apostasy
among the majority of worldings, He
causes the final trumpet to sound, breaks
in with His Almightiness, and enforces His
rightful dominion. When that day comes it
shall find wickedness and iniquity ripened
to the full. But when the seventh trumpet
sounds it will forever put an end to all infamous, unrighteousness of men, and the
maddened nations shall suddenly be dashed to atoms, as a vessel of pottery struck
with a rod of iron. 0! glorious riddance
of our weary world, when "the Son of Man
shall send forth His angels, and they shall
gather out of His kingdom all things that
220
and them which do iniquity." Well,
may the enthroned Elders fall on their
faces and cry their thanks to the Lord
Another item in the
Almighty for it.
schedule of the last trumpet is, that the
dead are to be judged then. When men
die and their bodies waste in the ground,
it is not the end of them. Whatever may
offend,
be their state meanwhile, they reappear
again. The holy Apostle John sees them,
the small and the great, all standing before the great white throne, to be judged,
every one of them, according to their
works.
There
to be a resurrection, even, of
Some may think this a weird
and doleful subject to introduce into
story, but as the book of Truth tells us
that such are the state of things, which
are to come to pass, I am of the opinion
that it were far better to think upon them
occasionally, and look them squarely in
the face, and try to be prepared for such
a time, than to foolishly put them aside,
afraid to look into them, and let that day
come upon us unawares. It would, in
mind, be equal to the folly of a passenis
the wicked.
my
my
ger upon an ocean
liner,
learning that the
was sinking, to get into a frenzy because some one had spoken of so dismal a
vessel
221
subject, and declaim that he would rather
not be bothered about such things. No, my
friends.
Not one of all who have ever
lived upon this earth can escape that day
and time. They that put an end to their
existence on earth, resolving not to live
any more, must still live, and take the
sentence of Heaven for all their deeds.
This side the grave, full justice is never
done, and up to that great day, no one re-
ceives entirely
all
his deserts.
served
That
is re-
for the period of resurrection.
-Many a great criminal dies without having had his guilt so much as known, whilst
perchance, innocent ones have had to suffer for his sins. The wicked go unpunished, are even honored sometimes in their
crimes, and pass away with no experiences
to mark how they stand in the estimate
of Grod. Fortunes are made, and enjoyed,
and respected, and their holders held in
favorable esteem to the end of their days,
every dime of which is stained and corroded with crime, and marked with fraud,
oppression and deeds of injustice.
So
marked and constant are the inequalities
that occur, that even the holiest of persons have often been tempted to despondency whether their faith and godliness
are njot after all a mistake. Nor is their
222
for
at times any adequate justification
end
the
that
their course but in the fact
of the matter is not in this world. Beyond is the theatre on which final settlement is to be made, there shall all earth's
wrongs be righted, all present inequalities
adjusted and the administrations of God
The dead have not
gone beyond His reach. The grave does
not cover them from His sight nor bar
Having escaped
them from His power.
their just
world,
unpunished from this
portion still awaits them in the next. Peo-
forever vindicated.
ple
may
and dream, and reabut that will
impossible,
as
call it fable,
son it away
not alter it. And when the seventh angel
sounds, there will be exultant thanksgivings in heaven, that "the time of the dead
While the Lord
to be judged" is come.
keeps those happy here who serve Him, no
Christian looks for his compensation in
*Tor if in this life only we
this world.
have hope in Christ, we are most miserable," said Paul. Piety may not always
pay as regards this world, but it will pay
then. Not even the gift of a cup of water
to the thirsty in His name, shall then go
unrewarded, not a loss, or pain, or labor
of love, or a tear of sorrow, incurred for
Jesus or His Truth's sake, shall fail of its
223
Rewards for all who
just recompense.
hold steadfast, and suffer aught in Jesus
name and for all that fear God small and
great are in reserve. Jesus has gone to
make them ready. Faith sees them there,
and waits for them with eager hope. And
when the last trumpet sounds, they shall
be given. Then shall Paul get his "crown
of righteousness," and all the Apostles
take their everlasting thrones. Then shall
Moses possess the recompense to which he
had respect, when he chose rather "to suffer affliction with the people of God, than
to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."
And every one that hath forsaken houses,
or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife or children or lands for the
sake of God and His Christ, shall receive
a hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. No wonder then that the blessed
Elders fall on their faces before God and
praise and thank Him with profoundest
song, when the signal for so glorious a
consummation sounds.
Nor is all this
without the most intent moment to us.
are all concerned with that last trumpet^s
sound. Our eternal interests are wrapped
up in what it is to bring. Big is it with
the doom and destiny of every one, and
everything that is. Be our place^ our
We
224
what it may, our fate and lot,
and every question, every doubt, shall
then come to final settlement. Near or remote as those scenes may be we shall all
be in them, and take from these the char.occupation
acter of our forever. Believe it or not, we
every one shall be there; there as victims
of the great day of Almighty wrath, as
prisoners brought forth for final execution, or, as the friends and servants pf
Jesus, to be confessed, rewarded, and glorAnd as we
ified by our blessed Lord.
spend these swift-passing days, and conduct ourselves in this brief life, will be
the character of our portion then. Building
on Jesus in humble faith and lowly steadfastness, we are safe, and our work is safe.
Then may we rejoice, and be exceedingly
glad, for great is the reward that we shall
get. Otherwise there is no dreader sound
than that of the last trumpet. And when
we think of the millions of dead and living for whom it has no blessing, and of
the utter destruction which it shall bring
on them that know not God, and obey not
the Gospel, is there not a reason for us all
to be moved with fear, lest that day should
come upon us unawares?
It will be too
late then to remedy present mistakes, negligences and omissions. If we are to meet
225
that day with joy, and escape the horrors
it brings to the unprepared, we must be
getting ready now, getting ready by honest repentance of our sins, joining our-
and His people, and with
our heart and energy seeking to be in
accord with His word and will.
Happy
they who, when the last trumpet sounds,
shall be found in such a case!
selves to Christ,
all
do thou mine eyes unseal,
let them grow.
Quick to discern whatever Thou dost re-
**Jesus,
And
veal.
So
shall I be delivered from that woe,
Blindly to stray
Through hopeless night, while all around
is day."
am
indebted to a number of authors
quotations I have used
freely
throughout this little book, believing that
if a thing is worth writing once, it will
bear to be repeated, properly punctuated,
showing that it originated elsewhere.
For a gem of truth, like the loaves and
fishes, can be fed to the multitude, and
still remain to feed multitudes more, and
regardless of having been read and reread, is ever new and profitable reading.
Since this little bit of narrations has
I
whose
226
been finished, I hesitate, and wonder if it
is worth while troubling the publishers
with it, but hoping some may find amuse-
ment or
profit from its pages, I send it on,
and though it started with a State Capital
and ended in the Nation's Capital, I can
scarcely hope for such a wide scope for its
travels.
book, and if you can,
Win some one to think and plan
For a higher life and better place.
Than this old world, so war effaced.
And if that soul should gain a home
Within the portals ne'er to roam,
With all its treasures to imburse
I hope he'll meet this Red Cross Nurse.
Go,
little
(The End)
227
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