Half a Century eBook

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

Next morning a nurse came running for me to hurry to him.  He had slept six hours, waked, had his breakfast, and had his wound dressed, and now the pain was back bad as ever.  I went, fixed the mangled muscle with reference to his change of position, made a half-mould to hold it there, and before I had finished he began an eight-hour sleep.  Ten days after he was sent home to his mother, and I saw or heard of him no more.



The other ward in which I was not welcome, adjoined that one in which my room was situated, and to reach it I must go out of doors or pass through one-half the length of that ward.  In these passages I had an opportunity for studying Piemia and its ordinary treatment, and could give the men lemonade when they wanted it.

In this ward lay a young German with a wounded ankle.  He had a broad, square forehead, skin white as wax, large blue eyes and yellow hair, inclined to curl.  His whole appearance indicated high culture, and an organization peculiarly sensitive to pleasure or pain; but no one seemed to understand that he suffered more than others from a like cause.

Surgeon and nurses scoffed at his moans, and thought it babyish, for a muscular man over six feet to show so many signs of pain.  I think that from some cause, the surgeon felt vindictive toward him, and that his subordinates took their cue from him.  When I went to give him lemonade, he would clutch my hand or dress, look up in my face, and plead: 

“Oh, mutter! mutter!”

But if I sat down to soothe and comfort him, a nurse always came to remind me of the surgeon’s orders, and I used to go around on the outside, that he might not see and call me.  When he was in the amputation room I heard his shrieks and groans, and carried a glass of wine to the door for him.

He heard my voice, and called “Mutter! mutter!”

I pushed past the orderly, ran to him, and his pleading eyes seemed to devour me as he fastened his gaze on my face.  I cannot think to this day why be should have been nude for the amputation of a foot; but he was, and some one threw a towel across his loins as I approached.

Dr. Baxter said: 

“No sympathy! no sympathy!”

So I stood by him, placed a hand on each side of his corrugated brow, steadied my voice and said: 

“Be a man and a soldier!”

He had asked me for bread; I gave him a stone, and no wonder he dashed it back in my face.  With a fierce cry he said: 

“I hev been a man and a sojer long enough!”

Ah! verily had he, and much too long.  Days before that he should have been “a boy again;” aye, a baby, a very infant—­should have been soothed and softened and comforted with all the tenderness of mother-love; but even now, in this cruel extremity, every sign of sympathy was denied him.  Some one put a hand gently but firmly on each of my shoulders, turned my back to him, took me out of the room, and I hurried away, while the air shuddered with his shrieks and groans.  After he had been brought back to his place in the ward I could often hear him as I passed to and from my room, and even while I occupied it.

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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