A CANADIAN NURSE IN FRANCE
The following is an extract from a letter dated June 1st, 1916 received by Mr. and Mrs. J. Joice from their daughter, who is in service for the French Flag Nursing Corps in France:
This is my night of writing to you. Now that we are so busy, the time goes by very quickly. We are much busier now as seven of our nurses have left during the last week, some have been transferred to other hospitals nearer the front and some whose contracts with the Corps are completed have returned to England, so it leaves us quite busy, but we expect another Canadian unit from London tomorrow. I have two salles to look after now, 40 patients in all, but enjoy the work very as much and shall be sorry to leave.
The weather is fine now, and the country is a dream of beauty. Everywhere one sees such beautiful gardens, the rose bushes are like miniature trees and pinks are beautiful. There are so many locust trees here, and they are a mass of bloom; it seems sad to think of such a beautiful country being so devastated by war.
We have many touching scenes in connection with our work here. We have one poor Belgian boy who left the hospital last night to return to the trenches for the fourth time. He is very despondent, and is wishing he will be killed the first day he is in action. His brothers have been killed in the war. His home has been destroyed, and his people captured by the Germans. He has been trying to find his mother and sisters since last August, but can get no reply to any of his letters. He is so very sad, it makes one's heart ache. He thinks his people must have been killed. Oh, this is a terrible war, and then we only see a small portion of it.
Another item of interest in my week's routine is that I have visited and lunched at the farm house about a mile from the hospital. A patient invited another nurse and myself out to his home, and it was most interesting. Ever since I have been in France, I have been longing to see behind the high fences and walls which bars the estates of the land owners from view of the public, and was delighted to go this week. The house is a very old chateau, as the date on the old fireplace in the kitchen dates back 365 years, but parts of it have been repaired and remodeled since then. The floors of the old part are of stone and brick, it is all so ancient, but so interesting. The farm is small. I do not know how many acres, as they do not measure land by acres here. They showed us all through the barns, and what is now the horse stable was built for a nursery: and what had been a class-room for the children six hens were setting. They do everything here so differently from the way we do it at home. The water pumped by an old donkey, 21 years old. He is hitched to the apparatus and walks around in a circle. They blindfold him because they said he would get dizzy if he could see where he was going. When once started he is expected to work without attention, but he has been to long at the job, so, when he thinks he is quite alone, he will stand still, and first one who happens to find Mr. Donkey idle gives him a lift with a stick they have especially for that purpose. We then went to see the horses. In one end of the horse stable the butter is made, and is also churned by a little two year old colt, in much the same way as the donkey pumps the water. They keep ten cows, have a cream separator and sell the milk and cream separately in Bordeaux. The cattle pasture the year round as the grass never dies here. It is a dairy, pork, and poultry farm, and they have fat pigs ready for market. After we had seen all the stock we went to the house for lunch as guests of honor. The man of the house went to the wine cellar and brought out some white wine, which to the French is a great treat but we took very little as it was too strong for us. We were served with omelet, salads, biscuits and tea with fresh cream in it. They seemed very delighted to have us come and in their way treat us royally. They gave us a lovely lot of flowers and urged us to come again. It was all interesting and we enjoyed it.