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A REAL REFORMER.
ment of England ought to be the source from which it should permanently come. When Mr. Robertson, the new purveyor in chief, came into office, this was realised. The purveying department was soon in a very different state-in working instead of idling order. What was required in the hospitals was procured without delay. First came iron bedsteads and hair mattresses; next tables and benches; a sufficiency of tins for the men's food to be caten out of.
Other improvements followed. The hospitals assumed a different aspect; now, indeed, were English soldiers treated as they deserved. The just complaints began to be hushed; not that the improvements were wrought at once or without labour and difficulty; but Mr. Robertson was a person determined to overcome obstacles, and who went simply and straightforwardly about his business.
It was now we gained possession of the
charcoal brasiers, of which incidental mention has been made. These treasures deserve a more particular description. They are small iron tripods, holding a few pounds of charcoal. They are very difficult to light, and the fire can only be kept alive by being placed in a draught. In the winter, as we have described, we did all our cooking for ten days upon them, but those we then used were borrowed for the emergency. All the ladies and Sisters complained of their not having any fire to go to if they wanted, as so often happened, to make a cup of arrowroot, or warm some wine or water, &c., and it was so tiresome having to send so frequently to the diet kitchen for every little thing: first, it was such a long way off, and in consequence the fetching and carrying took up more than double the time it ought; and secondly, the workers in the diet kitchen found it almost impossible to keep it in order if orderlies and nurses dropped in at all
times asking for every imaginable article, so that a charcoal brasier for each ward had long been one of the objects of our ambition, and now we had but to write requisitions for them and they were procured immediately. They were placed in the lobby of each ward, both that they might have a draught and also not be an annoyance to the patients.
At night we used our "Etnas.” These valuable helps to those who nursed the sick were brought from England by the ladies—they were given by kind friends in England as a last thought for our own comfort should we be laid up. Little did the donors imagine the vicissitudes their Etnas would go through in an Eastern campaign till they were fairly battered out. Before the charcoal brasiers arrived they were constantly used, but of course the spirits of wine required to light them made them rather an expensive luxury. Still they were our night companions, and many a little comfort did they enable us to
THE LADIES' WARD-ROOMS.
give to our poor men, to whom they were also an extreme amusement. They would sit up
in bed sometimes to watch us boiling an egg or some arrowroot in one of them, saying one to another
“ Ain't that a little beauty, now? It's as handsome a little pot as I've see'd since I left England. I wish we'd had it in the trenches; there were no such things as them
Poor fellows, they were easily amused, and it was a real pleasure to us to hear them laugh.
The next good thing that happened was the construction of the ladies' ward-rooms, which was simply dividing off in each ward a small space by means of canvas screens in which were placed two or three chairs and a table; this was a great boon to the ladies, who could thus occasionally take a few minutes' rest, which before they could not obtain except by leaving the hospital and returning home.
RIPE FRUIT FOR THE SICK.
The introduction of canvas screens into the wards was a great improvement. Now the delirious, or cholera, or dying patients could be screened off from the others. Before this the sight of the very terrible cases often had a sad effect on their fellow patients.
The fruit season had commenced, and every day the caiques loaded with fruit dashed past the windows of our home. Strawberries were first, through Mr. Stow's kindness, introduced into the wards. Mr. Robertson said the government ought to provide them, and we had as many as we required. The strawberries were very fine, though they did not seem to us to possess the flavour of English ones. There were quantities of melons brought in caiques for sale, but this was a fruit very seldom wanted in the hospital, and the men did not like green figs, of which there were quantities; grapes followed, and they were much appreciated by the fever patients.