“Dost thou know, Maman,” I heard one mite saying, “I would like well to mount astride that cannon there,” indicating a huge 7.4, but the woman only smiled the saddest smile I have ever seen, and drew him over to gaze at the silvery remains of the Zeppelin that had been brought down on the Marne.
The rooms leading off the corridors above were all filled with souvenirs and helmets, and in another, the captured flags of some of the most famous Prussian Regiments were spread out in all their glory of gold and silver embroideries and tassels.
We went on to see Napoleon’s tomb, which made an impression on me which I shall never forget. The sun was just in the right quarter. As we entered the building, the ante-room seemed purposely darkened to form the most complete contrast with the inner; where the sun, streaming through the wonderful glass windows, shone with a steady shaft of blue light, almost ethereal in colouring, down into the tomb where the great Emperor slept.
CONCERNING A CONCERT, CANTEEN WORK, HOUSEKEEPING, THE ENGLISH CONVOY, AND GOOD-BYE LAMARCK
When I returned to the hospital the “English Invasion” of the town was an accomplished fact, and the Casino had been taken over as a hospital for our men. In the rush after Festubert, we were very proud to be called upon to assist for the time-being in transporting wounded, as the British Red Cross ambulances had more than they could cope with. This was the first official driving we did and was to lead to greater things.
The heat that summer was terrific, so five of us clubbed together and rented a Chalet on the beach, which was christened The Filbert. We bathed in our off time (when the jelly fish permitted, for, whenever it got extra warm, a whole plague of them infested the sea, and hot vinegar was the only cure for their stinging bites; of course we only found this out well on into the jelly-fish season!). We gave tea parties and supper parties there, weather and work permitting, and it proved the greatest boon to us after long hours in hospital.
As we were never free to use it in the morning we lent it to some friends, and one day a fearful catastrophe happened. Fresh water was as hard to get as in a desert, and the only way to procure any was to bribe French urchins to carry it in large tin jugs from a spring near the Casino. These people, one of whom was the big Englishman, after running up from the sea used the water they saw in the jugs to wash the sand off (after all, quite a natural proceeding) and then, in all ignorance of their fearful crime, virtuously filled them up again, but from the sea!
That afternoon Lowson happened to be giving a rather swell and diplomatic tea party. Gaily she filled the kettle and set it on the stove and then made the tea. The Matron of the hospital took a sip and the Colonel ditto, and then they both put their cups down—(I was not present, but as my friends committed the crime, you may be sure I heard all about it, and feel as if I had been). Of course the generally numerous French urchins were nowhere in sight, and everyone went home from that salt-water tea party with a terrible thirst!