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A BOX FROM ENGLAND.
Then came the astounding news that the soldiers were to be supplied with pockethandkerchiefs. Up to this period none were given in the hospitals but from the freegift store, and it used to be perfectly absurd to hear the ladies begging for them from their superintendent. They were so prized by the men, especially when they were of some bright colour: in fact, with very few exceptions, the men highly appreciated anything which conduced to habits of cleanliness and neatness.
One day a box for me arrived from England, upon opening which I found the contents to be writing paper with views of the war—that published by Messrs. Rock Brothers, Walbrook. A kind friend had sent me a large quantity, and Messrs. Rock themselves added a present of more. Its arrival created a great sensation in the hospital. The ladies and Sisters begged hard for a share. They could not all have
PICTURES OF THE PAST.
it. I gave some to the General Hospital and the rest to the Barrack.
It was a great pleasure to distribute them. I spread one of each different view out on the table, and begged the soldiers to make their selection. Everybody who could walk at all crowded round the table. Orderlies and sergeants left their work to have a look, and even the medical officer was attracted by the crowd and came to look and admire. The different views were carried round to the patients in bed. The business of choosing took a long time. Each wanted some scene in which he had formed a part. Some had been with Colonel Chester when he so gallantly led on the 20th ; those who had been in the battle of the Alma wished for that; those who had been at Balaclava another; while those again who had fought at Inkermann another. Some had seen General Strangways die, and wanted his last scene; others were less warlike and chose the pretty views
of the valley of the Alma before and after the battle, while the comic pictures were not without their share of admirers.
One sergeant was particularly struck by the “ Fresh Arrivals ” —two young officers fresh from England, in all the pride of new uniforms and polished boots, meeting an old campaigner on a mule who had been out foraging for the mess-table and was bringing home his purchases. The sergeant held this up for the admiration of his comrades, and there was a shout of laughter instantly raised.
I much wish my friend and Messrs. Roek also could have seen the extreme pleasure these gifts were the means of giving—the delight it gave the soldiers to write home on these sheets of paper, or how they were treasured up and compared with each other day after day, and many a tale did the pictures elicit as they brought back more vividly to mind past scenes of Alma and Inkermann, &c. When I wrote home, say
THE SOLDIERS' LETTERS.
ing how grateful I was for the present, and how much it had been valued, the same friend sent another packet, which shared the fate of but too many other kind offerings and was lost.
Stationery was very much prized; all we had was supplied from our free-gift store, and up to this period had been very scarce, but about this time we had a great deal sent out to us and could supply the demand sufficiently. Now that we had plenty of tables in the ward, we had a store of paper, envelopes, pens, and ink lying on it for all, and in some wards a box to receive the letters, which was emptied on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and the letters carried home by the ladies and sorted; those to the camp did not need a stamp, those for England were stamped by the chaplain, to whom we gave them. Extraordinary were the directions and spelling that used to occur in these letters—we often wondered how they ever
CONDUCT OF THE HIRED NURSES.
reached their destination. One very common direction to the camp was “ Sebastopol, Russia, in Turkey.”
There was one great trouble which we began to feel at this time-namely, the conduct of the hired nurses. We had indeed been tried by this from the beginning, and several, as I have mentioned, were sent home for bad conduct; but still the distress around them and the frequent sickness among their own numbers kept some sort of check upon them, and after some had been dismissed for bad conduct and others from sickness only two remained when the new party arrived on April 9th.
The hospital costume in which Miss Stanley's party left England was worn alike by ladies and nurses, which was intended to mark the equality system, but soon after beginning hospital work we found it impossible to continue wearing the same dress as the nurses, and therefore discontinued it. When