“Germans!” I gasped, pointing to the two beds. I must have looked a little odd sitting swaying there in a very inadequate “helpless” shirt belonging to the hospital! With a muttered exclamation he rushed forward just catching me in his arms, and I was back in bed in a twinkling. The whole thing was so clear to me; even now I can fancy I really saw those Germans, and the adorable V.A.D., after searching under the beds at my request, sat with me for the rest of the night. My “good” leg was tied securely down after that episode.
I was dead and buried (by report) several times that first week in hospital and Sergeant Richardson from the Detail Issue Stores, who saw we always had the best rations, came up to see me one afternoon. He was so spick and span I hardly recognized him, and in his hand was a large basket of strawberries. The very first basket that had appeared in the fruiterers’ that year. He sat down and told me how anxious “the boys” were to hear how I really was. All sorts of exaggerated rumours had been flying about.
He related how he had first heard the news on that fatal Wednesday and how “a bloke” told him I had been killed outright. “I knocked ’im down,” said the Sergeant with pride, “and when he comes to me the next morning to tell to me you wos still alive, why, I was so pleased I knocked ’im down again!”
Bad luck on the “bloke,” what? I was convulsed, only the trouble was it hurt me even to laugh, which was trying.
He had been out in Canada before the war as a cowboy and had always promised to show me some day how to pick things off the ground when galloping, a pastime we agreed I should now have to forgo. I assured him if I couldn’t do that, however, I had every intention of riding again. Had I not heard that morning of someone who even hunted! I began to appreciate the fact that I had my knee.
HOSPITALS: FRANCE AND ENGLAND
An old Frenchman came to the hospital every day with the English papers, and looked in to leave me the Mirror, for which he would never accept any payment. He had very few teeth and talked in an indistinct sort of patois and insisted on holding long conversations in consequence! He told me he would be enchante to bring me some novels bien choisis par ma femme (well chosen by my wife) one day, and in due course they arrived—the 1 franc 25 edition.