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Observations of an Orderly
Some Glimpses of Life and Work in an English War Hospital

written by "Muir, Ward, 1878-1927"
...ially before dawn on a wet morning, when the bugle sounding parade had dragged us from warm beds; or in an afternoon thaw after snow, [Pg 34]when the corrugated eaves wept torrents in the twilight, and one's feet (despite the excellence of army boots) were chilled by their wadings through slush. Meanwhile, however, the new recruit had nothing to complain of in the aspect of the housing accommodation which was offered him. Merely for amusement's sake he had often "roughed it" in quarters far less comfortable than these bare but well-built huts—which even proved, on investigation, to contain beds: an unexpected luxury. "I'll put you in Hut 6," said the Sergeant-Major. "There's one empty bed. It's the hut at the end of the line." Thereafter Hut 6 was my home—and I hope I may never have a less pleasant one or less good company for room-mates. In these latter I was perhaps peculiarly fortunate. But that is by the way. It suffices that twenty men, not one of whom I had ever seen before, welcomed a total stranger, and both at that moment and in the long months which were to elapse before various rearrangements began to scatter us, proved the warmest of friends. Twenty-one of us shared our downsittings [Pg 35]and our uprisings in Hut 6. There might have been an even number, twenty-two, but one bed's place was monopolised by a stove (which in winter consumed coke, and in summer was the repository of old newspapers and orange-peel). The hut, accordingly, presented a vista of twenty-one beds, eleven along one wall and ten along the other, the stove and its pipe being the sole interruption of the symmetrical perspective. Above the beds ran a continuous shelf, bearing the hut-inhabitants' equipment, or at least that portion of it—great-coat, water-bottle, mess-tin, etc.—not continually in use. Below each bed its owner's box and his boots were disposed with rigid precision at an exact distance from the box and boots bene...

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