That night, sitting at dinner in a hotel, I saw two pretty nurses come in. They had been relieved for a few hours from their hospital and were on holiday.
One of them had a clear, although musical voice. What she said came to me with great distinctness, and what she was wishing for was a glass of American soda water!
Now, long months before I had had any idea of going to the war I had read an American correspondent’s story of the evacuation of Antwerp, and of a tall young American girl, a nurse, whom the others called Morning Glory. He never knew the rest of her name. Anyhow, Morning Glory leaped into my mind and stayed there, through soup, through rabbit, which was called on the menu something entirely different, through hard cakes and a withered orange.
So when a young lieutenant asked permission to bring them over to meet me, I was eager. It was Morning Glory! Her name is really Glory, and she is a Southern girl Somewhere among my papers I have a snapshot of her helping to take a wounded soldier out of an ambulance, and if the correspondent wants it I shall send it to him. Also her name, which he never knew. And I will verify his opinion that it is better to be a Morning Glory in Flanders than to be a good many other things that I can think of.
HOW AMERICANS CAN HELP
With the possible exception of Germany, which seems to have anticipated everything, no one of the nations engaged appears to have expected the fearful carnage of this war. The destructive effect of the modern, high-explosive shell has been well known, but it is the trench form of warfare which, by keeping troops in stationary positions, under grilling artillery fire, has given such shells their opportunity. Shrapnel has not been so deadly to the men in the trenches.
The result of the vast casualty lists has been some hundreds of isolated hospitals scattered through France, not affiliated with any of the Red Cross societies, unorganised, poverty-stricken, frequently having only the services of a surgeon who can come but once a week. They have no dressings, no nurses save peasants, no bedding, no coal to cook even the scanty food that the villagers can spare.
No coal, for France is facing a coal famine to-day. Her coal mines are in the territory held by the Germans. Even if she had the mines, where would she get men to labour in them, or trains to transport the coal?
There are more than three hundred such hospitals scattered through isolated French villages, hospitals where everything is needed. For whatever else held fast during the first year of the war, the nursing system of France absolutely failed. Some six hundred miles of hospital wards there are to-day in France, with cots so close together that one can hardly step between. It is true that with the passing of time, the first chaos is giving way to order. But France, unlike England, has the enemy within her boundaries, on her soil. Her every resource is taxed. And the need is still great.