In spite of the three Zeppelins the Huns only succeeded in killing a baby and an old lady. At last they were successfully driven off, and we settled down hoping our excitements were over for the night, but no, at 3.30 a.m. the tocsin again rang out a third alarm! This was getting beyond a joke. The air duel recommenced, bombs were dropped, but fortunately no serious casualties occurred. Luckily at that time none of the patients were in a serious condition, so we felt that for once the Hun had been fairly considerate. It was surprising to find the comparatively little damage the town had suffered. We had several others after this, but they are not worth recording here.
One patient we had at that time was a Dutchman who had joined the Belgian Army in 1914. He was a very droll fellow, and told me he was the clown at one of the Antwerp Theatres and kept the people amused while the scenes were being changed. I can quite believe this, for shouts of laughter could always be heard in his vicinity. He was very good at imitating animals, and I discovered later that among other accomplishments he was also a ventriloquist. Sister and I, when the necessary feeds had been given, used to sit in two deck chairs with a screen shading the light, near the stove in the middle ward, until the next were due. One night I heard a cat mewing. It seemed to be almost under my chair, I got up and looked everywhere. Yes, there it was again, but this time coming from under one of the men’s beds. It was a piteous mew, and I was determined to find it. I spent a quarter of an hour on tiptoe looking everywhere. It was not till I heard a stifled chuckle from the bed next the Dutchman’s that I suspected anything, and then, determined they should get no rise out of me, sat down quietly in my chair again. Though that cat mewed for the next ten minutes I never turned an eyelash!
I liked night duty very much, there was something exhilarating about it, probably because I was new to it, and probably also because I slept like a top in the daytime (when I didn’t get up, breathe it quietly, to steal out for rides on the sands!). I liked the walk across the yard with the gaunt old Cathedral showing black against the purple sky, its poor East window now tied up with sacking.
One night about 1 a.m. I came in from supper in my flat soft felt slippers, and from sheer joy of living executed, quite noiselessly, a few steps for Sister’s benefit down the middle of the Ward! It was a great temptation, and needless to say not appreciated by Sister as much as I had hoped. I heard subdued clapping from the clown’s bed, and there was the wretch wide awake (he was not unlike Morton to look at), sitting up in bed and grinning with joy!
The next morning as I was going off duty he called me over to him. “He, Miske Kinike,” he said, in his funny half Dutch, half Flemish, “if after the war you desire something to do I will arrange that you appear with me before the curtain goes up, at the Antwerp Theatre!” He made the offer in all seriousness, and realizing this, I replied I would certainly think the proposition over, and fled across to have breakfast and tell them my future had been arranged for most suitably.