I knew who had sent it and hastened to explain: “It’s not champagne, Padre, it’s Eau de Cologne!” That surprising sportsman replied: “Isn’t it? Bad luck. Have you a scent spray? No? Well, I’ll get you one!” (Some Padre!)
On the Sunday one of my people came over, thanks to the cheery telegrams the War Office had been dispatching. It seemed an unnecessary fuss—the Colonel, too, showed distinct signs of “needle”—but it was a dear little Aunt who is never flustered by anything and who greeted me as if we had parted only yesterday. The word “leg” was not included in her dictionary at all. One is apt to be a bit touchy at first about these little things, and though I had seen the most terrible wounds in our hospital, amputations had always rattled me thoroughly.
The little Aunt subsequently entertained the austere A.P.M., while her papers were being put in order, with most interesting details of my childhood and how she had brought me up from a baby! The whole interview was described to me as “utterly priceless,” by the F.A.N.Y. who had taken her there.
The French Battery sent daily to enquire and presently I was allowed visitors. I began to realize after a while that in losing a leg you find out exactly who your real friends are. There are those whom I shall never forget who came day after day to read or talk to me—friends who paid no attention when the leg gave one of its violent jerks, but went on talking as if nothing had happened, a fact that helped me to bear it more than all the expressed sympathy in the world. The type who says “Whatever was that? How dreadful!” fortunately never came. It was only due to those real friends that I was saved from slipping into a slough of despond from which I might never have hoped to rise. Eva gave up rides and tennis in order to come down every day, and considering the little time there was to devote to these pastimes I appreciated it all the more.
To say I was the best posted person in the place is no exaggeration. I positively heard both sides of every question (top and bottom as well sometimes) and did my best to make as little scandal as possible!
I was in a room off the “Grand Circle” of the one-time Casino, an officers’ ward. One night the Sister had left me for a moment and I could have sworn I saw three Germans enter. I thought they said to me that they had come to hide and if I gave them away they would hit my leg. The mere suggestion left me dumb and I distinctly seemed to see them getting under the two other empty beds in the room.
After a few minutes it dawned on me what a traitor I was, and bit by bit I eased myself up on my elbows. “I must go and tell someone these Germans are here,” I thought, and turned back the clothes. After throwing the small sand bags on the floor that kept my bad leg in position, I next seized the cradle and pitched that overboard. I then carefully lifted first one leg round and then the other and sat