Ten Years After
Ten Years After By C. B PYPER T ia almost ten years since the war ended To most of us it has become merely a dream, a dream of trenches and lave and hospitals, a dream that has ended with the healing of the wounds, the passing of the terrors, the resumption of quiet, normal life. But there are many for whom It will never end, many In some of tht rooms they are playing cards; In others gossiping In groups. One Is weaving straw baskets; one painting with - pen on velvet a third embroidering. On the beds and tables are magazines and the ubiquitous packages of cigarettes; it is just like old times. A sister looks into one of the rooms, gets a cheery greeting, smiles and goes out again. In other rooms are men whose wound, do not heal, and j confined to bed, some helpless of I Is la of whose fears persist That Is something something we others forget peihaps go not know. a In St Boniface hospital there Is a ward devoted to returned soldiers, a place filled with memories of war. To step Into it is to step back ten years, to reopen the past to see that the dream continues. It Is different from other wards; it has the old, unmistakable atmosphere of the war-time war-time war-time hospital, with Its smell of cigarette,. lta figure. In dressing I gowns ai.d pyjamas, its little acti- acti- vuiea, aim gunaiij kiiu Kiuumiig aim fellowship. It Is almost an anachronism anachronism In these limes. The patients there are some 140 of them are receiving treatment for the effects of the war. There are wniinda to la re-opened, re-opened, re-opened, bullets to be extracted, amputations to be performed. performed. It Is a placi of operations. operations. A little group standing at one of the doors separates in the corridor to let an orderly pass with a stretcher on wheels "that's Jock; he was on the table this morning " They are going "on the tablo" continually; continually; It seems almost Incredible with the war so far awsy. Here ia a man with a wound still infected, which is lining his system with poison; It has to be opened and drained. There Is another who had carried a piece of shrapnel in his knee for years; it had begun to give trouble and had to be extracted. extracted. It was located by the X-ray X-ray X-ray and marked- marked- be was brought to the table and the incision was made; there was no shrapnel there. It had moved silently to another hiding hiding place and had to be located again, Another has a great scar the whole length of his thigh; It is open and bleeding In the centre, still exuding poison. On the other thigh is a simila- simila- scar, happily healed. There Is a great hole In his shoulder, another on hip; he has 13 wounds In all. He was lucky, he nays; two shells burst beside beside him and spattered him witli shiannel, but not a hone was broker- broker- A tall fellow lying on his bed In his dressing gown while he eats his s in a lis ' Iunch cheerfully has Just had a teg I amputation, the thlM since he got , Li. . . J T T hl.1a 4h?a will An4 Ilia nuuitu, 1,Q wit.ma n.,. the trouble. It was his own sug the gestlon to the surgeon to take it off above the knee. His Job Is walling for him till he gets out of hospital. hand and foot, some in pain, soma suffering mental torturs. They lie there hour after hrur, day afttf d., week after week. Ten years since the war. and they are stilt suffering. Those that are able to get about lunch In little messes, half a dozeu at a time. The others have their lunches brought to them. Lunch, over, the hands reach r -ii -ii for the cigarettes and matches. There are the old phrases, suddenly strange and familiar at once "pay and allowances," allowances," and things like that, once well-known well-known well-known to most of us. They discuss the treatment they are getting, the system under which, they are admitted to hospital, their pensions, allowances and stoppages, Admission to hospital often mean financial loss. One man who n lost a eg was earn'iif $100 a montli and drawing $60 pension. On en terlng hospital, he lost, of course his "civvy" pay, and had his pen slnn raised to J100, but stoppages for hospital fees brought It (low a to tM. Now he Is getting $9o, instead of $160. There are other cases like that It. seems hard luck. ten years after tho war. when world Is . going on uncaring, the wv forgotten. There are apparent anomalies to be discussed. A man with one lea Is drawing a pension, and when out of hospital, is able to earn soma thing to support his wife. As lo i as he lives she will he provided for, but when he dies, she will have neither pay nor pension. The pen sion will end with his life. Ha thinks thak is a peculiar arrangement arrangement The world outside is concerned with usiness and pleasure, with money-making money-making money-making and spending, waf and wounr- wounr- forgotten Here there Is pain and money-losing; money-losing; money-losing; the war still weighs heavily and wounds r ever-present. ever-present. ever-present. These are the un lucky ones, the ones who, ten years after, are etill making the sacrifice. A recent report on the treatment of returned soldiers said there wa too much of a tendency to look up a man's history, Instead of sending him to hospital first and looking up his history afterward. Perhaps there is too much of a tendency all round to forget the -eturned -eturned soldier altogether, to forget what wa owe him and what he is paying. Perhaps, Perhaps, where we once promised t be generous, we have been less than just.