“On the road to
Where the stretcher-bearers sweat,
And the cars come up in convoy,
From the camp to Fontinettes.
“For ’er uniform is khaki,
And ’er little car is green,
And ’er name is only FANNY
(And she’s not exactly clean!)
And I see’d ’er first a’smoking
Of a ration cigarette.
And a’wasting army petrol
Cleaning clothes, ’cos she’s in debt.”
On the road to Fontinettes, etc.
I longed to be back so much sometimes that it amounted almost to an ache! This, and the fact of being the only one, I feel sure partly accounted for it that I became ill. According to the doctor I ought to have been in a proper hospital, and then once again the difficulty arose of finding one to go to. Boards and committees sat on me figuratively and almost literally, too, but could come to no conclusion. Though I could be in a military hospital in France it was somehow not to be thought of in England. Finally I heard a W.A.A.C.’s ward had been opened in London at a military hospital run by women doctors for Tommies, and I promptly sat down and applied for admittance. Yes, I could go there, and so at the end of November, I found myself once more back in London. I was in a little room—a W.A.A.C. officers’ ward, on the same floor as the medical ward for W.A.A.C. privates. I met them at the concerts that were often given in the recreation room, and they were extremely kind to me. I was amused to hear them discussing their length of active service. One who could boast of six months was decidedly the nut of the party! We had a great many air raids, and were made to go down to the ground floor, which annoyed me intensely. I hated turning out, apart from the cold; it seemed to be giving in to the Boche to a certain extent.
I loved my charlady. She was the nearest approach to the cheery orderlies of those far away days in France, I had struck since I came over. Her smiling face, as she appeared at the door every morning with broom and coalscuttle, was a tonic in itself. I used to keep her talking just as long as I could—she was so exceedingly alive.
“Do I mind the air rides, Miss? Lor’ bless you no—nothin’ I like better than to ‘ear the guns bangin’ awy. If it wasn’t for the childer I’d fair enjoy it—we lives up ’hIslington wy, and the first sounds of firing I wrep them up, and we all goes to the church cryp and sings ’ims with the parson’s wife a’plying. Grand it is, almost as good as a revival meeting!”
(One in the eye for Fritz what?)
I asked her, as it was getting near Christmas, if she would let me take her two little girls (eight and twelve respectively) to see a children’s fairy play. She was delighted. They had never been to a theatre at all, and were waiting for me one afternoon outside the hospital gates, very clean and smiling, and absolutely dancing with excitement. I was of course on crutches, and as it was a greasy, slippery day, looked about for a taxi. It was hopeless, and without a word the elder child ran off to get one. The way she nipped in and out of the traffic was positively terrifying, but she returned triumphant in the short space of five minutes, and we were soon at the door of the theatre.