Half a Century eBook

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

“You forget,” I said, “that I am surgeon in charge, that you and I were made of the same kind of clay, in much the same fashion, and will soon turn into just the same kind of dust.”  How my heart was wrung for him, with his refined face, dying for a country which sent its bayonets to stand between him and the armful of straw, with which I might have raised him above that muddy floor.  He had no knapsack to serve as a pillow, no blanket, no cup, and his position across the doorway was cold and uncomfortable; but even after I had made a better place for him, he objected to leaving two companions, who lay next to him, and I could not find room for all three together, even on that dirty floor.  He himself always dressed the wound where the bullet entered, and was most grateful for the means of doing so.  I cared for that one through which Death’s messenger made its exit, and although he knew its condition, he did not know the certainty of a fatal result, and resented any intimation that he should not recover.



The second morning of my work in the old theater, Miss Hancock came to see how I got along.  She was thoroughly practical, and a most efficient laborer in the hospital field, and soon thought of something to better the condition of the man minus clothes, who lay quite near my desk and the front door, and caught my dress whenever he could, to plead for a blanket.  She could get no blanket; but was stationed in the Methodist Church, where there was a surgeon in charge, and everything running in regular order.  In a tent adjoining, this man could be laid out of the draught and chill of that basement, and she would do her best to get some clothing for him.  She sent two men with a stretcher, who took him to the church tent, where I fear he was not much better provided for than in the place he left.

After some days, Mrs. Gen. Barlow came to see the men who all belonged to her husband’s division, and were rejoiced to see her; and to express a general fear for my life.  I was to die of overwork and want of sleep, “and then,” she exclaimed, “what will become of these men?  No one but you ever could or would have done anything for them.  Do you know there were three surgeons detailed for duty here, before you came, and none of them would stay?  Now if you die, they will.  Do take some rest!”

I listened and looked at her flushed face, while she talked, and said: 

“Mrs. Barlow, I am not going to die—­am in no danger whatever, and will hold out until help comes.  This cannot last; Government will come to the rescue, and my men will be here when it comes.  After all is over, I will fall to pieces like an old stage coach when the king-bolt drops out; will lie around as lumber for a while, then some one will put me together again, and I will be good as new.  It is you who are killing yourself.  You must change your arrangements or you will take typhoid

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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