That fish story went all over the hospital.
Nursing in the typhoids was relieved by turns up to the trenches behind Dixmude, which we looked forward to tremendously, but as they were practically—with slight variations in the matter of shelling and bombardments—a repetition of my first experience, there is no object in recounting them here.
The typhoid doctor—“Scrubby,” by name; so called because of the inability of his chin to make up its mind if it would have a beard or not—was very amusing, without of course meaning to be. He liked to write the reports of the patients in the Sister’s book himself, and was very proud of his English, and this is what occasionally appeared:
Patient No. 12. “If the man sleep, let him sleep.”
Patient No. 13. “To have red win (wine) in the spoonful.”
Patient No. 14. “If the man have a temper (i.e. temperature) reduce him with the sponges.” And he was once heard to remark with reference to a flat tyre: “That tube is contrary to the swelling state!”
So far, I have made no mention of the men orderlies, who I must say were absolute bricks. There was Pierre, an alert little Bruxellois, who was in a bank before the war and kept his widowed mother. He was in constant fear as to her safety, for she had been left in their little house and had no time to escape. He was well-educated and most interesting, and oh, so gentle with the men. Then there was Louis, Ziske, and Charlke, a big hefty Walloon who had been the butcher on a White Star liner before the war, all excellent workers.
About this time I went on night duty and liked it very much. One was much freer for one thing, and the sisters immediately became more human (especially when they relied on the pros. to cook the midnight supper!), and further there were no remarks or reflections about the defects of the “untrained unit” who “imagined they knew everything after four months of war.” (With reference to cooking, I might here mention that since the fish episode Mrs. Betton and I were on more than speaking terms!)
There were several very bad cases in Salle II. One especially Sister feared would not pull through. I prayed he might live, but it was not to be. She was right—one night about 2 a.m. he became rapidly worse and perforation set in. The dreadful part was that he was so horribly conscious all the time. “Miske,” he asked, “think you that I shall see my wife and five children again?” Before I could reply, he continued, “They were there la bas in the little house so happy when I left them in 1914—My God,” and he became agitated. “If it were not permitted that I return? Do you think I am going to die, Miske?” “You must try and keep the patient from getting excited,” said the calm voice of the Sister, who did not speak French. He died about an hour later. It was terrible. “Why must they go through so much suffering?” I wondered miserably. If they are to die, why can’t it happen at once?”