The Woman's Side

September 20.
I’ve rented the house, sold the car, and paid that ominous installment on the mortgage. Actually! Then I drew a long breath of relief, packed four trunks with all our earthly possessions, and came on down here with Anne. Do you know, my adorable child kissed all her little chairs and her bed good-bye, and last of all hugged the porch pillars. For a youngster not yet six, she realizes things very vividly.

We are in the second-line trenches, thank you! — not the fighting line, but the supporting one, at least. I feel as if I too were at last a part of the Great War, only, as usually happens, this particular assignment is n’t what I planned. We were so eager and happy to come to D—, so as to be near Jack, that details of living seemed quite unimportant. He had found us a tiny three-room apartment, and we were to get our meals at a boarding-house at the corner. I decided to knit dozens of socks and sweaters, and to teach Anne to read and write.

To my first query Mrs. Smith gave the astonishing answer, ‘Dinner is at six. We don’t serve lunch.’ There is sometimes a providence in our disappointments. When I tasted the dinners, I was thankful they did n’t serve lunches! But as Elijah’s ravens were n’t immediately visible, I hunted out the nearest grocery and meat-store before I unpacked the trunks. In three days I knew that, to keep Anne alive, I’d have to get all the meals. The West has not yet learned the gentle art of keeping boarders. But on Wednesday and Saturday, when Jack came in and beamed contentment on us, I forgot that I’d been all the week cooking meals, trying to crowd everything into the drawers of one bureau, and taking Anne out to the park. Red Cross ambitions had faded into the middle distance. The problem of one small child was rampant.

You should see our ‘apartment’ — you with your Eastern ideas. My dear, out here they vacate two bedrooms and put up a sign, ‘Apartments for light housekeeping.’ An extremely elegant affair, where part of the second floor has been reconstructed, may boast a little kitchen with a real gas-stove and refrigerator. Such is ours. Not for worlds would I suggest to Jack that we are not satisfied and happy in our dingy little three rooms, with the torn wallpaper and battered window-shades. You know we’ve never talked to each other about there being any sacrifice connected with this war. We simply decided it was right for him to serve, and after we’d made that choice, all the other things to be settled simply fell into their places as subordinate. Of course, we had to give up the house, but we remind ourselves of how wonderful it will be to come back some day to its orderly beauty and charm — and forget about it meanwhile. D— and these three rooms seem home to me, with Jack only ten miles away; and so far as Anne is concerned, I have reckoned that a little less luxury and comfort will be quite wholesome. There is even a sense of achievement in being able to give up the flesh pots of Egypt without once looking back.

But can you picture an active child romping in three little rooms — no porch or yard to play in, her only outdoors sedate walks to a park six squares away? And she has no one but me even to speak to all day long. Trying for anyone! If you could see her patiently cutting out paper dolls while Mother cleans up, or gazing dreamily out of the window, or waiting hopefully a long hour on the corner because Daddy is expected this afternoon, you would realize how little there is to fill her hungry mind. Quite suddenly, I have decided to put her in school. I’ll find the right place somewhere, somehow. Supper-time! As ever,

October 1.
Do you remember Thaddeus of Warsaw batting about London? That is how I felt in this strange town, knowing no one, but appreciating myself immensely as I went a-questing. The exiled prince was a modest creature compared with me. Of course, you smile. But, Nan dear, that feeling helps to keep one up, just as having one’s hair neatly netted and one’s shoes smartly polished helps. Also, it gets you what you want.

I found my school, the only private one in town (imagine a private school with my income!); but as its enrollment was complete, the principal did not wish any more pupils. Really, Anne is to be admitted because she is a soldier’s daughter, and I am allowed to make payment each month instead of semi-annually in advance. Do I hear anyone suggest that patriotism does n’t count? It is a quite wonderful place. Even in the primary they believe in teaching the youngsters to love the Flag and to speak French.

My landlady has been so kind, bestowing chow-chow (which I dislike intensely) upon me and taking in groceries in my absence, that I had to summon all my tact to give her notice. I explained how much we liked her house and her, how delightful everything was, how unwilling I was to leave, till presently I began to wonder why in the world I was going to leave. Just as breath failed me, she broke in with calm deliberation: ‘Well, Mrs. L—, I think perhaps it’s just as well. This apartment was never designed for a child.’ (Wherein one might imagine some hidden grievance of her own.)

And so, with mutual gratitude, we parted. Children are n’t wanted anywhere. It reminded me of indignant Father years ago vainly trying to find a place for a wife and seven children to board for the summer. ‘Children? Oh, no!’ they all said, ‘we don’t take children’ This was hospitable Virginia, too. ‘Heavens!’ he finally exploded; ‘if it wasn’t for the children, we’d never come to this forsaken spot. We’d go to Atlantic City and enjoy ourselves.’

I’ve just heard of a young married woman, with a six-months’ baby, who has followed her lieut. here. She is quite worn out looking for a place where they don’t shut the door on a baby. You see, it is n’t at all like the regular army, for whom the government always provided quarters. You simply scour the nearest town for a place you can afford. I have $105 a month for Anne and myself, and I am mad enough to spend $20 for her school. Take away that $20, $30 for rent, $10 perhaps for fuel, and see what is left for ice, gas, laundry, milk, food. No, it does n’t scare me; it inspires me. It is a challenge to fight. I’ll manage it yet. And I won’t go back to a stuffy unhealthy little apartment, and I won’t put Anne in a public school with colored children and the mentally depressed.

But oh, I am sorry for the little woman with the six-months’ baby — who could n’t manage it!

October 7.
We have cleaned house and settled. The neighborhood is unique. We are one square from the finest street in town, and on that you may observe the children’s ponies quartered in the front yard, and cows contentedly pasturing in vacant lots. It gives a delightful air of informality — a kind of neighborly friendliness. You can reach in and pat the ponies. But, oh! how different from my three-room section!

We are on the fringe of this neighborhood. Ours is a car-line street, at present much torn up because they are ‘improving’ it in some not easily discernible way. We have a straggly unfenced yard, but to have a yard at all is unique just now. At least, it is a place for Anne to play. Such a tiny funny little cottage — semi-detached, as the English say, with five rooms, or, to be exact, four and one half, for the kitchen is minute. Of course, as is usual with a furnished house for rent, it is very complete as to luxuries, such as ornaments and fine china and family photographs, and very lacking as to necessities, such as laundry-tubs and garbage-pails. But to have achieved it at all is a triumph. The comfort and joy and sense of home that this little gray house gives us you can only guess.

October 18.
We’ve been out to the cantonment and stayed, of course, to mess. It was in the nature of a mad dissipation for Anne and me. In the mess-hall the furniture might be called built-in. Picture a table of well-scrubbed boards a hundred feet long, more or less. You know everything that is n’t a yard or forty inches looks about a hundred feet to me. Each side of this is a board nailed firmly to supports two feet from the floor. You sit down and swing your feet over, or else you ascend and then descend to get on the tableward side. Of course, the men — and they were built for men! — can simply straddle them. Even this awkwardness, and the undeniable oleomargarine, took on a glorified tinge for us. To our surprise we were absolutely unnoticed; everyone was too busy to do anything but eat and run. Then we went over and inspected the quarters, each of the young officers eager to display to us how ‘nifty’ his little room looked. None of them are heated yet, and as October has been a cold month, I remembered with thankfulness the wool-wadded blankets I had started Jack off with. But, my dear, they’ve put the showerbaths in a separate building. Imagine the penalties of cleanliness when the thermometer gets below zero!

If I could make you feel the spirit under it all — a thing glimpsed on this little visit and better comprehended from things Jack has told me! You see them in all stages — the crude awkward young farmers making a joke of their mess-kits and banging each other’s heads sportively with the collapsible frying-pans; the alert ready soldiers who enlisted before the draft and have seen two months’ hard training in some older camp; the old-timers, sergeants of experience, who know enough to screen with tact the ignorance of their new officers.

One young chap Jack was rather interested in because he showed such intelligence and effort.

‘How is it going?’ he asked him the other day.

The boy’s face lit up with real enthusiasm. ‘Fine!’ he said; ‘the army for me every time.’

Another youngster, who has been in four or five weeks, Jack is going to make a corporal. When he was told he was eligible at this early date, tears of amazement started to his eyes.

‘How can you do it so soon?’ I asked.

‘Well,’ he answered, ‘whatever I give that chap to do gets done and well done. He is the most dependable man in the company. ’

You see? Not cleverness or physical strength or military knowledge, but just character.

Of course, there are disappointments. Young Tom Travers, after six months in a training camp in Kansas, was shifted to a company here. He came fresh from gas and bomb practice, confidently expecting to teach a squad himself. He was put in charge of the laundry account. I think of this boy and I think of Jack, captain of an ambulance company and mired in military detail when his soul craves surgery. I know each will find his level soon. You can’t keep good men back when opportunity beckons. But think of this tremendous organization! How could it come out perfect, its first struggling year, and fit each man into the place where he can do his one best work?

We are very proud of our ambulance companies, chiefly, I think, because they have such pride in themselves. An inspecting colonel who is making the rounds of the cantonments saw them at drill. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’ve seen them all, and there’s only one other ambulance unit that can touch yours, and that’s the one at C—.'

You can guess that the men all heard it before the day was over. On the ground, at one side of the entrance to their barracks, is a great spread eagle, with the medical reserve insignia painted in color upon him, all done in cement. On the other side of the doorway the company number is emblazoned. It’s not the artistic ensemble, but the thought and care with which the work is done, that touches you.

There’s a marching song these Western boys are fond of, with this touching refrain: —

Good-bye, Ma! Good-bye, Pa,
Good-bye, mule, with yer old he-haw!
I may not know what the war’s about,
But you bet, by gosh, I’ll soon find out.
And, oh, my sweetheart, don’t you fear,
I ’ll bring you a king for a souvenir;
I’ll get a Turk and a Kaiser too,
And that’s about all one feller can do.

Saturday, November 10.
Sometimes I have moments of depression — only moments, my dear. They don’t come because of cleaning and cooking and washing and ironing. That is all part of the game — a game to learn, if I don’t know it well enough already. No! They come with the thought of France, and the vision of what Jack must see and do there. I have sometimes been so glad he is a doctor and not in the fighting line, because it is surely better to heal than to kill — even for one’s country; and yet he sees the grimmest, most terrible part of it all. He misses the fierce excitement of the attack, but gets all its tragic aftermath.

This news from Italy and Russia is depressing. I know perfectly well what it means for Anne and me. A year, or even two years, added to the long separation we have already reckoned. What a great girl she will be when he comes back! And oh, what a long, long time of hardship and danger and discouragement for him!

But I rarely look ahead. I keep my mind fixed on making this little home comfortable and gay, and try to think of the pleasant things that will happen this week. I’ve been married nearly ten years, and yet there is a wonderful thrill to Wednesdays and Saturdays, when Jack comes home to dinner. Saturdays he always brings two or three others with him, and we have a gay evening and a good dinner, with the best china and linen to refresh their too-much-disciplined eyes. The sense of the impending future colors all the present more richly. We have never enjoyed things together more than now. To get all the fun we can out of the next few months, so as to pile up happy memories — that’s my creed at present. If I can live each day now without weakening, I won’t falter when the hard time comes — the separation, and the long, long days of waiting and suspense. Courage is something of a habit.

But, oh, Nan, I’d be ashamed not to be doing my share. When I think of those wonderful Belgian and French women, or read Viviani’s message in our Second Liberty Loan appeal, everything we can give seems only too little. Our men have the easier task; their land is not ravaged, their homes wrecked; they can defend us with the sure conviction that we are safe and protected meanwhile. And we women live in ease and plenty in comparison with those over there. When I think of little children starving, I am absolutely ashamed of myself for having so much. I think of this war as chiefly for the children, that they may be safe and sheltered and gay—that children may never again be touched by such agony and suffering. Of course, I try to keep all the shadows from Anne, but sometimes she feels hidden things very vividly. She broke upon me yesterday with this — out of a clear sky: ‘Mother, if the Germans should win this war, I think I’d feel safer up in heaven with God! ’

November 20.
Did you know that finance can be a matter of deep and absorbing interest to others of us than the Hetty Greens of life? In extreme youth, I never cared much for mathematics; but when there is a personal side to a problem, it has a new appeal. There is a certain zest in finding out into just how many parts you can divide $105. Lordly sum! It looked large to me, and perfectly adequate. Moreover, last month I came out even, or rather $2 ahead. I forgot that the milk company had failed to send in their bill, and that there were no charges against me for fuel. In the generous and magnificent glow that comes from a sense of sufficient funds, I spent $1.88 for theatre-tickets, and was even mad enough to buy a pair of shoes for Anne and gloves for myself. Last night I sat down and figured up, and the day of reckoning has surely dawned. It is like a puzzle that won’t work out: rent $30, fuel $11.50, school $20, laundry $6.50, gas, electricity, and ’phone $5, milk $8. That leaves $24 for food and all incidentals; but owing to my extravagance, there wasn’t $24 left. You know you can’t let the incidentals devour the food-supply. So with a penitent heart I drew $10 from my tiny bank reserve, and like the knave of hearts, vowed I would steal no more.

Seriously, Nan, I’ve realized the truly poor as never before, and have faced straight the shadow that dogs their footsteps. The fear of sickness! They know they can get along if the worker of the family does n’t fall ill or lose his job. Now, I am all right so long as I keep on my two feet. Oh, of course, you say at once that I can always draw on you or Jim. I know it. And I won’t, unless I am actually down and out. Nevertheless, it is a very real comfort to know that I have you two there like a solid wall at my back. And that is something that the poor do not have. I know too that, if I were practical and sensible, I should save money instead of spending my whole income just living. Of course, that would mean giving up Anne’s school, or else giving up this little house, and boarding. No sacrifice on my part, but a very big sacrifice for either Anne or Jack. I won’t do it. For as long as he is in this country, I’ll make a home for him, at any cost. Whatever the future holds, we’ll squeeze the present dry. Sounds American, does n’t it? But I have a canny eye on the future, too. He is captain now, you know, and can give me a little more money to manage on next month. I’ll probably buy a Liberty Bond!

December 20.
I must tell you the great news. The luck is with us. The government is stretching out long tentacles, feeling for the surgeons even in the ambulance section. Each company is asked to send one officer for a month’s special intensive work in fractures. So, of course, Jack goes. The suspense is thrilling. It may be Philadelphia or New York, or somewhere in the dear East, and I shall see you again very soon. For, of course, Anne and I go, too. Jack wants me to go to Aunt Clara’s and have a month’s rest. Picture it!

January 28.
I had only time to send you my cousin’s address when I found it was to be Chicago. My dear, I am no unspoiled child of nature. As between country and country town and a fair-sized city like Chicago, I’d choose Chicago every time. Things are so easy. I simply waved my wand (i.e. advertised), and found at once a charming furnished flat, and here we are having the most idyllic time. Of course, I loathe flats ordinarily, but this is the month of January and a fuel famine is on. So I look abroad over a waste of apartment houses, graciously pitying the people who must live in them, and at the same moment hug to my heart the happy vision of that warm sunny little place that is our temporary home. But for Anne we might be a newly wedded pair. To have Jack come home every evening makes me foolish with delight. He has been so happy. ‘ Why I have n’t thought surgery for six months,’ he said to me the first evening; ‘it’s like water to a thirsty man.’

And so our four weeks have come swiftly to a close. It seemed fantastically unreal that we should have to go back to D—; we were surprised at our own reluctance. After this taste of his own work, Jack was like a balky horse at the thought of the military harness of the ambulance company again. And then to-day the impossible happened! Our first week in Chicago he had put in an application for transfer to some surgical service; but nothing had come of it, and the other men in the class were inclined to chaff him for his belief in some change. On this, our last day here, he went to work with railroad ticket and trunk-check in his pocket. Just before work began, the director glanced up and said casually, ‘Oh, I’ve a wire from you from Washington, Captain L—.’ A little stir

of curiosity and interest ran through the class. He is transferred to surgical service at Camp C, and leaves to-morrow for the new work. Anne and I will join him as soon as he can find us a place to stay. Are n’t we really the luckiest mortals?

What an odd lot of experiences I am accumulating! We are actually living in a little hotel, née boarding-house. Of course, it must be cheap, or we should n’t be here, but the food is amazingly good. Our table is strictly military in personnel, except for an elderly female to whom we all try to be nice so that she won’t feel out of it. The town has a main street three blocks long, a few shops, and many movingpicture theatres. Everyone is engaged in the lucrative business of taking roomers and taking in the army, and they rather strike you as looking on the war as a sad affair, but, for all that, beneficial to Little River. Business is certainly booming.

It is n’t because of the cramped conditions and inconveniences that I am sometimes shaken into a sudden consciousness of the strangeness of our life here. They are accidental and temporary, and do not touch the spirit. But there are trivial racking little occurrences that really distress me. One Sunday evening Major B— came in a little before seven for supper, and was challenged by the dining-room maid for being late. She mistook her victim. He turned on her with fire, and rebuked her importinence in a tone that brought the shamed color to her face. Only the day before, another maid had peremptorily ordered three of the boarders who work in Little River to get their breakfast at a cafe, because ‘we are short of help and I can’t do it all.’

You wonder that such things can be? Poor creatures! They themselves are often harried and hustled beyond patient endurance. The landlady is an unamalgamated Swede, who works in the kitchen with the grim determination of feeding sixty boarders and employing as little help as possible. The only thing which she regards with interest and devotion is the Almighty Dollar. One maid, a slip of a girl hardly 17, left her because she would not work for a mistress who swore at her. The good old soul who cleans our rooms said to me with tears in her eyes, ‘I don’t mind the work, hard as it is; if she were only a little kinder, I’d stay on.’

In the head of such a house as this, a little dignity and poise, a little tact and consideration, might make a real pleasure out of hard necessity. It is so easy to smile, so little trouble for us to make our beds and win Lena’s quick gratitude for the trivial help. It is the spirit of unkindness to others which chafes and distresses me and makes life here seem unhomelike and strange.

Of course, none of these things happen to me, and I feel sure that none ever will while I stay here. I hate to have them happen to those helpless to protect themselves. Yet when the landlord opened my door yesterday to put on the window-screens, it fell to me to explain to him the necessity of knocking. He seems a simple soul — and a bully. His attitude toward Jack is that of a well-disciplined schoolboy — perhaps a German schoolboy — toward an all-powerful master; and to me he is scarcely less docile. To a harmless and well-meaning civilian I have seen him boisterously overbearing.

Why do any of us stay, you wonder. My dear, there is no other place to go. There are practically no houses to rent. The only real hotel is financially inaccessible to the likes of us. So we live on at the Gladd House — is n’t the name a delicious joke? — and try to breathe wholesomely in an atmosphere of loud and thoughtless incivility.

April 7.
I feel as if I had lived here for years and nothing new would ever happen to me. And yet the people here are a continual source of surprise. There is the prosperous owner of the Élite Laundry, who constantly talks shop to his wife at meal-time. It is difficult now to get even enough girls to help in their greatly increased business. They shake their heads over the shortage of labor and deplore the war as inconvenient and disturbing. The owner of a millinery shop is anxious to sell out, and scolds at the unreadiness of investors who have put their money into Liberty bonds and hesitate before such a giltedged opportunity as she can offer. A young married woman discusses the kind of car she wishes her husband to buy her this spring, and thinks young couples should not be forced to pay an income-tax. It seems as if the war had barely ruffled the consciousness of such Americans as these. I look at people absorbed in the business of getting and spending, unaware of these tremendous times, and they seem grotesque and unreal, shadowy caricatures of men and women.

Then the recollection of the Army people here comes over me with a sense of relief. I never think of them as commonplace, however they seem outwardly. The Cause has set them apart in a common sacrifice, and there is a strong sense of kinship. There may be a little jealousy of someone’s quick promotion, some little bickering and divergence among them, such as come to folk too long associated in the unnatural atmosphere of a hotel; but that is all really superficial. They all recognize the hidden bond. When newly arrived little Mrs. Lansdowne told us with singular naïveté that this was not what she was accustomed to, the smile went round the circle. Pray, does she think we have always lived in a garret? But in spite of our superior recognition of her pretty Southern helplessness, everyone had a sympathetic sense that a lieutenant’s pay must be stretched to tenuous and impossible thinness to provide clothes and food for four. She brought two children with her. So everyone is relieved and glad to hear that his captain’s commission is coming.

These Army women don’t complain. I have yet to meet one who is not a thoroughly good sport. They know well enough why they are in the struggle, and the knowledge is a kind of wholesome and sustaining spiritual food. They stiffen to their heroic best. One mother — and she hates sewing — makes all the clothes for herself and her little girl. The Southerner, too, has risen to the occasion and taken half a house for the summer, and plans to do all the work for herself and her family. We ’ve never known her to do anything but dress herself prettily, read novels, and take the children to the movies.

And the men? A few nights ago a major in the field hospital said to me ruefully, ‘I’m held here doing work a $30 clerk could do as well.’ He had given up a big practice in New York to go to the Front, and he is to all appearances considerably farther from the Front than he was six months ago.

The economic waste of it all strikes one forcibly. The Medical Reserve have put aside their busy civil life and gone freely and gladly into the service, in overwhelming numbers. From no other ranks have men come in such high proportion. The money sacrifice in itself is unimportant. But all these men have spent six years, and many of them far more, in highly specialized training to fit themselves for an exacting profession. Conceive them at a military camp. One man serves as a kind of headquarters adjutant, whatever his military title may be; another has charge of the hospital exchange and sells cigarettes, candy, and puttees; a third is in command of the laundry; others, who for years have done operative work themselves, are now assistant internes in the base hospital. Surely just here lies the reason why many more medical men hesitate to join the service. Those who went in to heal wounds are kept busy tying red tape or doing desk-work instead of scalpel work. Meanwhile the greatest battle of history is raging, and these men whose help over there is so badly needed are all on the wrong side of the water.

How does Jack look on it all, you wonder. I fear he is much like all the rest: he wants to get over and get into it. For our first two weeks here he was an animated Image of Gloom. They put him in the contagious ward first, by mistake, then the nose and throat. I confidently believe he risked courtmartial for neglect of duty! But after ten years of surgery — please consider! And now at last he has charge of a surgical ward, and is like to stay there some months. The new work waked him up; here, at least, was something he could do. They have averaged a death a day this past month, and Jack is bound he will reduce that percentage and is working tooth and nail over his cases. He is trying a new solution too, that Dr. M— is using for shock over in France, and it is really doing wonders. Fancy these fine husky chaps dying of an empyema, after pneumonia, in a base-hospital here, before they’ve even had a chance to go over the top! There’s a kind of silent enduring heroism about it that does n’t mean warmedals and the Roll of Honor, but brings a catch in your throat just the same. All the officers who know call them a sandy lot. But why need they die? says Jack to himself. It’s not the operative surgery he wanted, but it is a very definite demand for skill and care. And certainly it is as high-hearted a service to save men in an American hospital as on a French battlefield.

The spirit with which he takes up his task is the spirit I see everywhere. They may chafe inwardly; outwardly they face each day with a heartening smile. And seeing these men of forty, who have already won success, putting it all by with cheerful courage and taking up their round of petty duties, do you wonder that I am out of patience with the Gifted Youth? The Gifted Youth is twenty-three. He has a complete education — chiefly in languages; he has a fine spirit and a sensitive soul. Consider his feelings on being thrust into barracks with uncongenial Italians and Swedes, men intellectually beneath him! There were even rough soldiers, who swore. This, too, is undoubtedly an economic waste. He disliked drilling, shrank from the vulgarity of the men, would have preferred a job as interpreter, to use his ready French and German. Finally he proved his superiority by refusing to obey some slightly irregular order of his lieutenant. More than this, he told his fiancée and one or two sympathetic friends all about it. The story came finally to the wife of an officer and to the officer himself. Then there was plenty of publicity. Captain and lieutenant both received reprimands for the irregularity. My chap — he had been corporal — was reduced to the ranks. The major who settled things debated long the question of a court-martial, and chose this lighter punishment. He plans soon to have a long talk with the boy, entitled the ‘Spirit of the Service,’ and then transfer him to another company for a fresh start. Can you guess how ill-used and unfairly rated this Gifted Youth considers himself? And all for a little matter of disobedience. It is so easy to lose sight of the big idea we are all working for, when you are unhappy and uncomfortable and have had the luck against you.

How many people I ’ve seen, ready to do their duty provided their duty is what just suits them! The best thing about most of these boys in camp is that they take the small dull tasks and dignify them by a fine accomplishment, and to the tune of a merry whistle.

April 25.
I was playing a bed-time game of parchesi when the news came. Somehow I ’d got the feeling that we’d stay on here for months, and had settled down mentally. I live so little except vicariously, experiencing myself Jack’s hopes and depressions, or swayed by the emotions of the tremendous days we are going through. But I feel as if it is always a big exciting life, though nothing happens to me. On this evening something did happen to me. My sudden joy when Jack opened the door on an unexpected Friday night quieted when I saw his face. Because of Anne he scribbled a little note, ‘ Base-hospital unit of 35 men recommended to-day for over-seas service, by wire. I am one of eleven for surgical service.’

Queer how you go on finishing your play and sending your child to bed, with all the blood in your body thumping in your head, and all yourself an eager cry to know more. We don’t know more and shan’t till the final summons comes. He is to go soon. That is all. So we are getting ready. Jack is sitting up nights over his empyema report, and I am singularly idle trying to make the most of the last flying days. Every fine day Anne and I take a jitney to camp, and spend our time in and out of Jack’s tiny room. The officers’ quarters and many of the hospital buildings look down on a lovely little lake at the very end of the cantonment. We dig trenches in the sand, launch fleets of ships in the lake, or, if the day is cold, cross a tiny stream on a single plank and take a bracing walk through an oak grove on the hill beyond. Through the day we see Jack only at mess; at five he is at last free for two hours. It is worth all the time of waiting to have him at the quiet end of the day. Anne goes home a tired and happy little girl.

I have much leisure to think over these two happy months past and wonder about the future. Little things keep jumping up in my memory. There was that Sunday afternoon when Jack came in to Little River at four, and we had time for a long walk and talk before supper. ‘The War has brought us even closer together, has n’t it?’ he said. ‘Did you ever think that we might be at home, merely making more money and buying more beautiful pictures and rugs, and now, in spite of the lack of money, all the really beautiful things are coming to us without any effort on our part?’

Perhaps it is that one’s sense of what is really beautiful has grown so sharp and clear, has pierced beneath the surface-pleasant. I remember so well my old idea of duty as of something very ugly and disagreeable, a calamitous necessity. And now the life I find myself leading is n’t merely the only right one: it brings pleasure and deep enjoyment.

The only question in my mind is, how I can help most after he goes. The important thing, Jack thinks, is n’t what you are doing in the service, but that you are doing it well. After the War is over, the only lasting regret any of us will have will be not to have helped our utmost. I knew a girl at home too capable to waste her time knitting socks, the duty of the commonplace person, so she is still wondering to what lofty task she can consecrate herself — and doing nothing. I dread following in her footsteps. So perhaps when he sails I shall just go on knitting — and loving Anne twice as much, to make up for what she misses.