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