Observations of an Orderly eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 129 pages of information about Observations of an Orderly.
is remarkable how often the patient refuses help in getting off the stretcher on to the bed.  He may be a cocoon of bandages, but he will courageously heave himself overboard, from stretcher to bed, with a gay wallop which would be deemed rash even in a person in perfect health.  Our receiving hall, at a big intake of wounded, when every bed bears its poor victim of the war, presents a spectacle which might give the philosopher food for thought; but I suspect that, if he regarded its actualities rather than his own preconceptions, what would impress him more than the sadness would be on the one hand the kindliness, brisk but not officious, of the staff, and on the other the spontaneous geniality of the battered occupants of the beds.  The orderlies can spare little time for talk, but the few chats which they are able to have with patients whom they are helping to change their clothes, or to whom they are proffering the inevitable cocoa (which is a cocktail, as it were, prior to the meal which will be served in the men’s own ward), are punctuated by jokes and laughter rather than the long-visaged “sympathy” which the outsider might—­quite wrongly!—­have pictured as appropriate to such an assemblage.

The stretcher-case, before he is taken to his ward, must also “give his particulars,” must also be interviewed by the Pack Store officials, and must also have assigned to him his blue uniform (wherewith are a shirt, a cravat, slippers and socks) in anticipation of the time when he shall be able to use his feet again and promenade our corridors and grounds.  He receives the customary packet of cigarettes (probably the second, for he often gets one at the railway station too), and then, on another stretcher, mounted on a trolley, is wheeled off to his ward.  Here, bestowed in bed at last, we leave him to his blanket-bath, his meal, his temperature-taking and chart filling-in by the Sister, his visit from the doctor, and all the rest of it.  For the moment we see no more of him; we must race back to the receiving hall, and, if there are no more patients to take away, return the trolley to its proper nook, put straight the blankets and pillows on the beds, sweep the floor, and tidy up generally, in readiness for the next convoy’s advent.

Presently the huge room, beneath its dim arched ceiling, is silent and empty once more.  The four ranks of beds, without a crease on their brown blankets, are bare of occupants.  The Sister and her probationers have vanished.  The Pack Store orderlies have carried off their loot of dirty khaki tunics and trousers for the fumigator.  The clerical V.A.D.’s have gone to enter “particulars” in ledgers and card-indices.  The cookhouse people have removed their cocoa urn.  The sergeant is inspecting the metal ward-tickets left in his rack.  A glance at them tells him how many beds, and which beds, are free in the hospital; for the tickets have no duplicates; any given ticket can only reappear in the rack when

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Observations of an Orderly from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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