MISS MABEL JOICE WRITES.
Nursing Sister Mabel Joice, honor graduate of Western Hospital, Toronto, and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Joice, Eddystone has written her cousin, Miss Pearl Cornelius of her work in France as follows:
Hospital Militaire 41, Lisieux, Calvados, France, Jan. 8th, 1917.
Your kind letter and generous bundle of papers reached me some time ago. Many thanks for all. We all enjoyed reading the papers.
Once again the festal season is over. We were very quiet here on Christmas. New Year's Day is the great 'fete' with the French, but it was all very quiet this year owing to the war.' There are not many homes in this war- swept country from which loved ones have not gone never to return, and their Yuletide season was far from being a joyous one. Poor France! How much of her history has been war, and what splendid soldiers her sons make! They are not in the least boastful, and so cheerful. One morning when I was on night duty I went into the ward, just after the newspaper woman had been around, and taking up the paper, read the headlines announcing that the French had been victorious, taking 19,000 prisoners and 115 cannons, so I sailed down the salle, 'Vive La France,' but a chorus of voices in unison answered me with 'Et l' Angletene aussi, sister.' They are so polite when you praise them, just like a well trained child.
We have been very slack since before Christmas and having our number of patients so reduced were able from our slim war nurses' purse to help to brighten the Christmas Day of our maladies by small gifts. We bought tobacco, candy, handkerchiefs, and cards and tying these meager gifts in little packages with national coloured ribbon, made our distribution like a real Santa Claus early Christmas morning. The patients were as pleased as a child with a full stocking. We all enjoyed a very nice Christmas and New Years dinner and everything was as nice as could be expected in times like these.
I must tell you about our New Year's Resolution and how we lived up to it. Taking the advice of one of the personnels here who says if we would speak French to each other and not only when the occasion necessitates it, we would make much more progress, we agreed with the New Year to speak no more English. Anyone failing to keep this law was to forfeit two sous for each word of English spoken. I will tell you how I got along the first day of 1917 and I was no exception that day. I left my lodgings with three sous in my purse and these I forfeited on the threshold of the hospital by, as usual, telling someone else of their shortcomings. All morning I was much more silent than was my custom to be. During the afternoon I went alone to the 'Salle de pansements,' and wrote letters and I went home that night several francs in debt. So you see I must either be penniless or silent and neither condition appeals to me. All the sisters are to be entertained at 'Chez Moi' next Wednesday night. We are having a masquerade house party and your humble servant is to be a priest and my pal is coming as a nun. The others have not told me what characters they will represent as it would spoil the fun. They are very nice people where we room in the village and enter into our little parties wholeheartedly.
We still have a few jokes over this awful language. One of the girls wanted the madame with whom she lodges to call a cab for her, and she did not know the word for cab, as she asked if she would call a horse with something behind it. But the mistakes are not all on our side. We have working with us in the hospital a French woman who has been learning some English by working with 'Les Anglaises' she says, and to-day, in asking for the cheese to be passed to her, she asked for the 'steeple chase.' She had heard us say cheese and quite thought that she was asking for a certain kind of cheese. We all laughed and forgot. I am afraid that we make as many mistakes every day. However she is such a dear, she quite enjoyed the joke herself.
Now, I must close. I do not expect to be at Lisieux very much longer but will write if I change my place of abode, and my letters will be sent on to me wherever I am. Wishing all the best of everything in 1917.