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Date: August 13th 1915
Mary McNaughton


A nurse from this district who is at Cairo with Queen's Stationary Hospital writes an interesting letter to friends in which she says:

Captain Towers is one of our medical officers. He chaperoned Miss Brydon, Miss Armstrong and I out to the pyramids the other day. Of course we had a camel to take us around when we got there, and it was great fun getting on and off. We had our picture taken in front of the sphinx. They are very good but we only got two each as they are quite a large size. The Sphinx looks just like as you see it in the pictures, with part of its nose off and its left ear damaged. One of the guides said, 'Napoleon shot his nose off.' We did not argue the point. The entrance looked just like a big hole in the hillside as it were. Quite near was a native village, and I wish you could see a real native village. The hens, chickens, the geese, the donkeys, the cats, the dogs, etc. and the whole family are one, living in the same, broken down, dilapidated looking place. Such filth and dirt would be hard to find even in the slums of our big cities. Even the children, some of them, had flies sticking to their eyes, and at least two thirds of the people have sore eyes, red and inflamed, and very often only one eye to depend on. A great many women are cross-eyed, the result, I believe, of wearing those black veils over their faces, fastened by a huge brass business to their noses. The better class wears white veils, at least the lower half is white, and they have lots of jewels, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, etc.

Last week we had a sail on the Nile just at sunset. The river is rising just now and the natives are crowding to the banks to offer up prayers as is their custom at this time of the year. It is a rather muddy looking river, coloured almost like cocoa, though I have seen it a lovely blue at times. The lights and shades are very fascinating here. It is beautiful on a moonlight night and so cool, especially when a nice breeze comes along. Darkness and day light come and go quickly. There is no twilight. We sleep with a canopy over our beds (white netting) to keep off the flies, or rather mosquitoes. They are numerous and enjoy the like of us, fresh from a sea voyage. I thought there were a lot of bugs in Canada, but it does not hold a candle to Egypt in that respect. There are ants by the million, as we well know when we go to get our mid-night lunch and find they are walking off with the chicken.

The hospital is really a school and a fine big one it is too. Our own place is not quite ready yet. They are cleaning it up before we go out there. It is about fifteen miles from here. We can get the street car out and we don't care how soon we go as we are still a divided company and the sisters want to get settled once and for all. It will soon be four months since we left. We have had no mail since before we left France, but we live to hope. After we get into our own hospital I mean to turn over a new leaf and be a real good correspondent.

I am having a very quiet night duty. We are not at all busy just now, though one or two of the sisters who were sent to other hospitals in the city have been working pretty hard. There are 94 patients in my ward, but they sleep well and there is not much treatment as they are able to be up during the day and look after themselves. They are mostly sunstroke and a few surgical cases. I do seven dressings in the morning and that is the hardest work of the night, so you see I have a snap just now. It is quite different to the work we had in France. Taking it all through it seems just like one grand holiday since we started, and I am glad we had the chance to come to this part of the world.