This was the first typhoid death I had actually witnessed. In the morning the sinister coffin cart flapped into the yard and bore him off to his last resting place. What, I wondered, happened to his wife and five children?
When I became more experienced I could tell if patients were going to recover or not; and how often in the latter case I prayed that it might be over quickly; but no, the fell disease had to take its course; and even the sisters said they had never seen such awful cases.
THE ZEPPELIN RAID
Once while on night duty I got up to go to a concert in the town at the theatre in aid of the Orphelins de la Guerre. I must say when the Frenchman makes up his mind to have a charity concern he does it properly, and with any luck it begins at 2.30 and goes on till about 9 or possibly 10 p.m.
This was the first we had attended and they subsequently became quite a feature of the place. It was held on a Sunday, and the entire population turned out colimente and endimanche to a degree. The French and Belgian uniforms were extraordinarily smart, and the Belgian guides in their tasselled caps, cheery breeches, and hunting-green tunics added colour to the scene.
The Mayor of the town opened the performance with a long speech, the purport of which I forget, but it lasted one hour and ten minutes, and then the performance began. There were several intervals during which the entire audience left the salle and perambulated along the wide corridors round the building to greet their friends, and drink champagne out of large flat glasses, served at fabulous prices by fair ladies of the town clad in smart muslin dresses. The French Governor-General, covered with stars and orders, was there in state with his aides-de-camp, and the Belgian General ditto, and everyone shook hands and talked at once. Heasy and I stood and watched the scene fascinated. Tea seemed to be an unheard of beverage. Presently we espied an Englishman, very large and very tall, talking to a group of French people. I remark on the fact because in those days there were no English anywhere near us, and to see a staff car passing through the town was quite an event. We were glad, as he was the only Englishman there, that our people had chosen the largest and tallest representative they could find. Presently he turned, and looked as surprised to see two khaki-clad English girls in solar topees (the pre-war F.A.N.Y. headgear), as I think we were to see him.
The intervals lasted for half an hour, and I came to the conclusion they were as much, if not more, part of the entertainment as the concert itself.
It was still going strong when we left at 7 p.m. to go on duty, and the faithful “Flossie” (our Ford) bore us swiftly back to hospital and typhoids.
On the night of March 18th, 1915, we had our second Zeppelin raid, when the Hospital had a narrow escape. (The first one occurred on 23rd February, wiping out an entire family near the “Shop-window.”) I was still on night duty and, crossing over to Typhoids with some dressings, noticed how velvety the sky looked, with not a star to be seen.