Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Half a Century.

“Surgeon Baxter!  Why—­what does he know about me?”

“Oh, Surgeon Baxter, two medical inspectors, and the surgeon of this ward were present this morning when you came in and took possession.”

His black eyes twinkled, and he shook with laughter when I sat up, clasped my hands, and said: 

“Oh, dear?  Were they the men who were standing around Charlie?  Why I had not dreamed of them being surgeons!”

“Did you not know by their shoulders traps?”

“Shoulderstraps?  Do surgeons have shoulderstraps?  I thought only officers wore them!”

“Well, surgeons are officers, and you can know by my shoulderstraps that I am a surgeon.”

“Oh, I do not mind you; but Dr. Baxter!  How I did behave before him!  What must he have thought?  And he does not allow women to come here!”

“Well.  You passed inspection; and as you propose to stay with us, I will have a room prepared for you.”

He then went on to state that the reason Doctor Baxter would not have female nurses, was that he would not submit to Miss Dix’s interference, did not like the women she chose, and army regulations did not permit him to employ any other.

“But,” he continued, “no one can object to his entertaining a guest, and as his guest you can employ your time as you wish.”

Ah! what a glorious boon it was, this privilege of work, and my little barrack-room, just twice the width of my iron cot.  I would not have exchanged for any suite in Windsor palace.



Nothing was more needed in the bad ward, than an antidote for homesickness, and, to furnish this, I used my talking talent to the utmost, but no subject was so interesting as myself.  I was the mystery of the hour.  Charlie was commissioned to make discoveries, and the second day came, with a long face, and said: 

“Do you know what they say about you?”

“No indeed! and suspect I should never guess.”

“Well, they say you’re an old maid!”

I stopped work, rose from my knees, confronted him and exclaimed, with an injured air: 

“An old maid!  Why Charlie! is it possible you let them talk in that manner about me, after the nice pickles I gave you?”

The pickles had made him sick, and now there was a general laugh at his expense, but he stuck to his purpose and said: 

“Well, ain’t you on old maid?”

“An old maid, Charlie?  Did any one ever see such a saucy boy?”

“Oh, but tell us, good earnest, ain’t you an old maid?”

“Well then, good earnest, Charlie, I expect I shall be one, if I live to be old enough.”

“Live to be old enough!  How old do you call yourself?”

I set down my basin, counted on my fingers, thought it over and replied: 

“Well, if I live two months and five days longer, I shall be sixteen.”

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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