They forgot to give us any breakfast that day, but we did not mind. Every mile now, along this flat, marshy country, was a mile nearer Denmark and freedom, and our spirits rose higher every moment. Though why the Germans should take us all through Germany and Denmark, when they could just as easily have dropped us on the Dutch frontier, I cannot even now imagine.
Early that afternoon we arrived at Vendrup, the Danish frontier, and the soldiers and the train that had brought us all the way from Cologne went back to Germany. It was difficult to realize that we were free once more, after two months of being prisoners with no news of home, tied down to a thousand tiresome regulations, and having witnessed terrible sights that none of us will ever forget. Strange and delightful it was to be able to send a telegram to England once more and to buy a paper; wonderful to see the friendly, smiling faces all round us. It felt almost like getting home again.
A PEACEFUL INTERLUDE
Late that night we arrived in Copenhagen. The kindness we received there surpasses all imagination. The Danish people opened their arms in welcome and gave us of their best with both hands. Every one went out of their way to be good to us, from the manager of the delightful Hotel Cosmopolite, where we were staying, to the utter strangers who sent us flowers, fruit, sweets, illustrated papers and invitations to every possible meal in such profusion.
Miss Jessen, the secretary of the Danish Council of Nurses, called at once and arranged a most delightful programme for every day of our stay in Copenhagen, bringing us invitations to see over the most important hospitals, and the Finsen Light Institute, the old Guildhall, the picture gallery, and anything else any of us wanted to see.
[Illustration: MAP OF OUR NORTHERN JOURNEY]
The president, Madame Tscherning, and the members of the same council, arranged a most delightful afternoon reception for us at the Palace Hotel, at which Dr. Norman Hansen welcomed us in the name of Denmark, and read us a poem which he had written in our honour.
TO THE BRITISH SURGEONS
AND NURSES PASSING COPENHAGEN ON THEIR WAY
Silent, we bid you welcome,
in silence you answer’d our greeting
Because our lips must be closed, and your teeth are set
Against the gale.
Our mouths are mute, our minds are open—
We shall greet you farewell in silence;
Sowers of good-will on fields where hate is sown—
Fare ye well.
C. NORMAN HANSEN, M.D.
That evening at dinner we all found a beautiful bunch of violets tied up with the Danish colours on our plates, and a pretty Danish medal with the inscription “Our God—our Land—our Honour” which had been issued to raise a fund for the Danish Red Cross Society. This was a little surprise for us on the part of the manager of the hotel, who, like every one else, simply overwhelmed us with kindness. One simply felt dreadfully ashamed of oneself for not having done more to deserve all this.