Half a Century eBook

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

“He wept afresh but less bitterly, and said: 

“Oh you will think I am a baby!”

“Well!  That is just what you ought to be.  Your past life is sufficient certificate of manhood; and now has come your time to be a baby, while I am mother.  You have been lying here like an engine, under a high pressure of steam, and the safety-value fastened down with a billet of wood, until there has been almost an explosion.  Now just take away that stick of wood—­your manhood and pride, and let out all the groans and tears you have pent in your heart.  Cry all you can!  This is your time for crying!”

When I had talked him into a mood to let me feel if his feet were warm, I found that wounded limb dreadfully swollen, cold almost as death, stretched out as he lay on his back, and a cushion right under the heel.  Had there been no wound the position must have been unendurable.  Without letting him know, I drew that cushion up until it filled the hollow between the heel and calf of the leg, and supported the strained muscle, tucked a handful of oakum under the knee, moved the toes, brushed and rubbed the foot, until circulation started, sponged it, rolled it in flannel, of which I had a supply in my basket, washed the well foot, and put a warm woolen sock on it, arranged the cover so that it would not rest on the toes of the sore leg; told him to get the new surgeon next morning to make a large opening on the lower side of his thigh, where the bullet had gone out—­to ask him to cut lengthwise of the muscle; get out everything he could, that ought not to be in there; keep that opening open with a roll of bandage, so that old Mother Nature should have a trap-door through which she could throw her chips out of that work-shop in his thigh; to be sure and not hint to the surgeon that I had said anything about it, and not fail to have it done.

I left him asleep, and the next day he told me the surgeon had taken a quart of pus and several pieces of woolen cloth out of his wound, and his recovery was rapid.



In making molds and rests for mangled limbs, I had large demands for little cushions, and without economy could not get enough.  When one just fitted a place I wanted to keep it, and to do this, must have it aired, perhaps washed.  To avoid lint dressings, I hunted pieces of soft, table linen, gave to patients pieces to suit, and as the supply was short they would get nurses and surgeons to leave their pieces of linen, after dressing their wounds until I should take charge, and have them cleansed for next time.  To do all this, I must use the grass-plats and railings for airing and drying cushions and rags.  These plats and railings were for ornament, and there was soon a protest against putting them to “such vile uses.”  I had gone into the hospital with the stupid notion that its primary object was the care and comfort of the sick and wounded.  It was long after that I learned that a vast majority of all benevolent institutions are gotten up to gratify the asthetic tastes of the public; exhibit the wealth and generosity of the founders, and furnish places for officers.  The beneficiaries of the institutions are simply an apology for their existence, and having furnished that apology, the less said about them the better.

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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