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UNPACKING OF THE BOXES.
Miss Stanley's departure. The unpacking of the boxes was often quite affecting. Many a wish was expressed that the kind contributors could see the pleasure their gifts gave. There were packages of lint, of mittens, of comforters made up and enclosed as the gift of the poor. There was one packet of sugar-candy, with a note in a large round hand, “For the sick soldiers, from a little girl.” Another from a little German girl.” Quantities of pocket handkerchiefs were also sent; flannels, Jerseys, socks, night-caps; some crimson pocket handkerchiefs gave great delight, cotton shirts were also valued.
We found the free gifts principally useful as affording us the means of giving necessaries to the men going to England, for they would otherwise have taken that voyage often without a change of linen or any warm clothing. The men who came down in the winter and spring had usually lost their kits
DEPARTURE OF INVALIDS.
in the camp, and so were quite destitute. Long afterwards, when the men did bring their kits down with them, we always enquired what was deficient in them. After the quarter-master had given what he thought requisite, we then gave them articles from our store; so that it was always busy work when the men were going 'home, for another rule was '
not to give the things till just as they were going away, that there might be no temptation thrown in their way to sell their clothes for drink. Consequently all had to be done in a few hours. The ladies wrote their list of what the men wanted, and the superintendent gave them out, and as soon as we had given them they went on board.
The scene at these times was always very interesting. Groups of poor fellows in each ward just risen from their beds and dressed in the uniform of the different regiments, packing up their kits, and reiterating their thanks for the clothes they had just received.
Orderlies running about trying to get the invalids' dinners a little sooner than the usual hour, that the invalids might have a good meal before starting. Comrades who had fought together on the field of battle, or suffered side by side in the trenches before Sebastopol, wishing each other good-bye, those who were left behind sending messages to their friends in England. Chaplains giving away Bibles and prayer books, and as a last kind thought very often finding a quantity of tobacco for them to smoke on the
voyage. Sisters and ladies having a last word with those whom they had long tended, and whom in all human probability they would never meet again in this world, many of these with tears in their eyes loading them with blessings, and earnestly promising (what they well knew would more than compensate for any trouble they might have taken) that they would be different men henceforth to what they had been before they came into the hospital.
KITS FOR THE CONVALESCENTS.
And now the order is loudly given at the entrance of each ward, “The invalids for England to proceed to the shore," and they slowly depart—orderlies carrying the kits of those who are too weak to do so themselves, and some of the wounded and incurable being taken down on stretchers. They all pass down the barrack yard and through the main guard entrance, which is crowded with doctors and officers. One of these accompanies the invalids as far as Scutari, where they embark in a larger vessel for Englandand now the little steamer is ready—the poor fellows are all on board, and we watch them depart with a silent prayer for their safe arrival in old England.
On Mondays and Thursdays patients were discharged from the convalescent hospital to proceed to Scutari, from thence to go to the camp, and what we considered deficient in their kits were made up from the Free Gift Store, so that it had enough to do to supply all these demands. Sometimes it did
A SOLDIER'S PETITION.
get alarmingly low, but somehow, by hook or by crook, it got up again, and we always had enough to give. The men were so grateful for these gifts, and so pleased with them. An amusing letter was sent to one of us once which I insert—the cotton shirts the writer speaks of had been given but not the rest of the free gifts, and he was very much afraid none were coming.
-Please if in your power to let me have the following articles, viz., one pair of slippers, for my feet are very sore; one red scarf; one night-cap ; one pockethandkerchief.
"N.B.—None of the above have I received, though you have supplied me well with clean linen for the voyage, for which I sincerely thank you, and your kindness to me and to every one in the ward shall never be forgotten or neglected in the prayers of your humble servant,
66 CORPORAL G"A flannel shirt and a pair of drawers