Action Front eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 193 pages of information about Action Front.
he would come as soon as he could, and told the orderly in the meantime to go and bandage any minor wounds his casualty might have.  The bearer replied that there were no minor wounds, that the man was “just nothing but one big wound all over”; and as for bandaging, that he “might as well try to do first aid on a pound of meat that had run through a mincing machine.”  The doctor at last, hobbling painfully and leaning on the stretcher-bearer—­for he himself had been twice wounded, once in the foot by a piece of shrapnel, and once through the tip of the shoulder by a rifle bullet—­came to Private Ruthven.  He spent a good deal of time and innumerable yards of bandages on him, so that when the stretcher-bearers brought him into the dressing station there was little but bandages to be seen of him.  The stretcher-bearer delivered a message from the doctor that there was very little hope, so that Ruthven for the time being was merely given an injection of morphia and put aside.

The approaches to the dressing station and the station itself were under so severe a fire for some hours afterwards that it was impossible for any ambulance to be brought near it.  Such casualties as could walk back walked, others were carried slowly and painfully to a point which the ambulances had a fair sporting chance of reaching intact.  One way and another a good many hours passed before Ruthven’s turn came to be removed.  The doctor who had bandaged him in the firing-line had by then returned to the dressing station, mainly because his foot had become too painful to allow him to use it at all.  Merely as an aside, and although it has nothing to do with Private Ruthven’s case, it may be worth mentioning that the same doctor, having cleaned, sterilized, and bandaged his wounds, remained in the dressing station for another twelve hours, doing such work as could be accomplished sitting in a chair and with one sound and one unsound arm.  He saw Private Ruthven for a moment as he was being started on his journey to the ambulance; he remembered the case, as indeed everyone who handled or saw that case remembered it for many days, and, moved by professional interest and some amazement that the man was still alive, he hobbled from his chair to look at him.  He found Private Ruthven returning his look; for the passing of time and the excess of pain had by now overcome the effects of the morphia injection.  There was a hauntingly appealing look in the eyes that looked up at him, and the doctor tried to answer the question he imagined those eyes would have conveyed.

“I don’t know, my boy,” he said, “whether you’ll pull through, but we’ll do the best we can for you.  And now we have you here we’ll have you back in hospital in no time, and there you’ll get every chance there is.”

He imagined the question remained in those eyes still unsatisfied, and that Ruthven gave just the suggestion of a slow head-shake.

“Don’t give up, my boy,” he said briskly.  “We might save you yet.  Now I’m going to take away the pain for you,” and he called an orderly to bring a hypodermic injection.  While he was finding a place among the bandages to make the injection, the orderly who was waiting spoke:  “I believe, sir, he’s trying to ask something or say something.”

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Action Front from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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