Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Half a Century.
thing first, and this was ridding the wounds of worms and gangrene, supporting the strength of the men by proper food, and keeping the air as pure as possible.  I got our beef into the way of being boiled, and would have some good substantial broth made around it.  I went on a foraging expedition—­found a coal-scuttle which would do for a slop-pail, and confiscated it, got two bits of board, by which it could be converted into a stool, and so bring the great rest of a change of position to such men as could sit up; had a little drain made with a bit of board for a shovel, and so kept the mud from running in at the side door; melted the tops off some tin cans, and made them into drinking cups; had two of my men confiscate a large tub from a brewery, set it in the vestibule to wash rags for outside covers to wounds, to keep off chill, and had others bring bricks and rubbish mortar from a ruin across the street, to make substitutes for pillows.

I dressed wounds! dressed wounds, and made thorough work of it.  In the church was a dispensary where I could get any washes or medicines I wished, and I do not think I left a worm.  Some of them were over half an inch long, with black heads and many feet, but most were maggots.  They were often deeply seated, but my syringe would drive them out, and twice a day I followed them up.  The black and green places grew smaller and better colored with every dressing.  The men grew stronger with plenty of beef and broth and canned milk.  I put citric acid and sugar in their apple sauce as a substitute for lemons.  I forget how many thigh stumps I had, but I think as many as twelve.  One of them was very short and in a very bad condition.  One morning when I was kneeling and dressing it, the man burst into tears, and said: 

“You do not seem to mind this, but I know you would not do it for anything but the love of God, and none but He can ever reward you; but if I live to see my wife and children, it will be through what you have done for me, and I will teach them to bless your name!”

He quite took me by surprise, for I seemed to have forgotten any other life than that I was then living; and dressing the most frightful wounds was as natural as eating.  I felt no disgust, no shrinking, and mere conventional delicacy is withdrawn when the Angel of Death breathes upon it.

The man we stepped over at the back door, proved to be a student from the Pennsylvania Agricultural College, shot through the alimentary canal, near the base of the spine.  For him there was no hope, but I did what I could to make him less uncomfortable, and once he said: 

“This is strange work for a lady.”

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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