Perhaps you don’t believe it, but I write and write as if my life depended on it, and if the censor or the sea swallows my letters I really can’t help it. I’ve acknowledged everything up to date so far as I know, except the lamp and the handkerchief-case, to their respective donors, and I’ll try to slip a few lines in this unless the unforeseen happens- it usually does these days. After a frozen silence the cannon booms and booms, the munition trains are redoubled along our lines, all autos available have been ordered to the front, they’ve telegraphed for “lit d’urgence,” and it appears that the Boche are trying desperately to take Tahure. My cottons and compresses are all prepared, so if I’m inundated I’ll have material to work with…(Ten minutes later.) Excuse me for stopping, but a steam of “galons” has just passed through the salle to take cultures from our throats, beginning with the infirmiere. A quite unexpected, undesired and unexplained diversion, which obliged us to chant Ah in many keys. Probably there’s a case of diphtheria somewhere – happily shorn now of its terrors- or perhaps the profession got tired and wanted to do something. Certainly unless the victims of the early attacks are shipped straight into the interior, which is possible, with a view to reserving the Ambulanes de l’avant for the big shock later, we shall have all we can do in a few days. That is, if the Ambulance is still here. We never know from one hour to the next what we are going to do. All of which may be interesting enough, but it leaves me with an embarrassment as regards my cases. No less than six have been signales from Paris, and until we have an idea approximately definite (if such a thing be possible in war-time) I don’t want to bring them here. Those cases may contain material which I want to control personally; if I brought them here and we pulled up stakes, it would be a terrific nuisance and expense to transport them elsewhere; and I couldn’t make the Ambulance responsible by making a wholesale gift even if I wanted to, for the supplies are all inventoried and loaded on wagons (we are not automobilized) _ according to weight, and not one pound is supposed to be added or subtracted on the march. By the way, I think I didn’t tell you, but this is one of the original ambulances that made the retreat all the way from Belgium. It is thrillingly awful to hear B. tell about the highways crowded with starving, dying women and children, the days when, after walking 70 kil, he spent the entire night dressing the wounded, and the two whole months when they knew absolutely nothing of what was going on, or why those terrible forced marches, except through one stray journal that said “Les Francais reculent.” O, we don’t admire the French half enough!
Just now, as I told you, I have only six grand blesses: the rest on the wounded side are other troubles, and on the other side that odious speciality that has nothing to do in kind with the war, and nothing whatever with an infirmiere. But the poor things have to be cared for by somebody, and since this is the one surgical ward left, the others being now converted into medical –grip, bronchitis, rheumatism, etc – these, being semi-surgical, are given to me. There are not many nurses who wouldn’t raise serious objections, as the entire spirit of the thing is different, and I don’t understand anything about it. But having entered this business for better or for worse, and being an enlisted soldier, I simply do as I’m told without asking questions.
Later. I’ve just read this over and it looks as if I were unable to hold to my subject –American gifts and American givers. Please encourage both to the utmost, and don’t be discouraged because, pro tem, I’m indefinite. It is a magnificent work, and you’ll see later better than now how it tells. Do you suppose, later, that some more of those magnificent gloves could be forthcoming? – sizes seven and a half and eight. The syringes are wonderful, but the thing always needed, any time, anywhere, is thermometers. Those you sent are a little small, perhaps, since we don’t take temperatures by mouth, and it’s a shame three were broken.
But nothing American has been such a success as the marsh-mallows! (Peppermints and biscuits next.) I toast them one at a time on a fork, and you should see my nestlings open their mouths! The box isn’t empty yet. We’ll have another orgy this afternoon, when the dressings are finished, and that will console us for the weather. Great Guns, how it pours! A perfect equinox. This morning there were puddles all over and they’re busy stopping the roof. The salle however, is very cheerful, and now we have lots of plants – the palm, cineraria, a mimosa, and a cluster of yellow jonquils. I took a walk Sunday, my second since September, and found a plant in tight bud by a stream. I uprooted it with a little earth, and planted it in a glass jar. Now the buds are all out – a golden joy.
No copyright found- see below.
Volume: Vol. 98, Ser. 5, Vol. 32, Pt. 2
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Phillips & Hunt
Call number: 31833017365757
Digitizing sponsor: Internet Archive
Book contributor: Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
Notes: No copyright page found. This is a digital copy of a photocopied book.
Full catalog record: MARCXML