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It is by no means difficult to picture how "happy were the hours they spent together, nor what warm and loving sympathy Ruth received for all she had undergone. She thought George kinder, handsomer, and cleverer than she had ever found him before; and he, too, declared that his little 'Ruth was lovelier than she had ever been in the old days. And it was true-Ruth's whole nature had ripened and expanded during these months of trial and separation, she was no longer merely a cheerful, pretty girl, full of energy, activity, and life, but a loving, tender, sympathizing woman. Her whole spiritual being had taken an upward growth, and she was far more fit than formerly to be a helpmeet to the intelligent, earnest-minded man to whom she was betrothed. Mr. and Mrs. Greenstreet readily agreed to keep Ruth as nurse till George should come to claim her as his wife, and late in September she returned with them to Bayswater.
Tom Grant did not neglect George's request, and an answer was received from him in due time, conveying an account of Mrs. Gregory's death, and the events which followed, enclosing also Ruth's two poor little letters, which had lain by all these months in George's old lodgings in Ar
T was not only in England, but in many other, and some of them far more southern lands, that the wonder3ful display of the Northern Lights was
witnessed on the 24th of last October. The many descriptions that have been written of it shew it to have been in some places gorgeous in the extreme. And indeed it was a rare treat to watch the beautiful white and green and pink rays shooting up into the zenith, till they ended in that wonderful arch of deep crimson which seemed to extend across the whole heaven, from north to south. During part of the time, there was in the east a lovely green silvery expanse of light, like a shining cloud.
Perhaps it was this, more than the rest, that reminded us irresistibly of another Light which we shall all one day see, perhaps at no distant day, coming "out of the east, and shining even unto the west:"
denby. But the intelligence had all been forestalled by Ruth's own detailed account of what had occurred.
It was Christmas Day, the sun was shining in Ardenby as bright as December's sun can shine, the air was keen, clear, and frosty, every object standing out in sharp and distinct outline. St. Andrew's magnificent spire was clearly defined in all its elegant proportions and glow of colour against the cold blue wintry sky, rising up from the houses, streets, and lanes with which it is surrounded, a perpetual poem wrought in stone, a never-tiring witness to the honour and glory of Him who is worshipped within its walls. Its glorious bells had been ringing out gladsome music in honour of the advent of the world's Saviour, and now they were inviting all, both far and near, to come and honour the infant babe of Bethlehem.
Amongst those who gladly obeyed the call were George Roberts and his wife, who had been married only a few days before, and were now coming with grateful, loving hearts to keep their Christmas feast with Him who has said, "If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." (Rev. iii. 20.) L. S. R.
a Light far more wonderful and glorious, and coming as suddenly and unexpectedly. And the thought arose, “shall we behold that light dawn with no more fear and alarm than we now feel in watching these displays of God's goodness in the north?" Let each ask himself the question; for alas, what should be hailed with joy and delight, as the signal of the coming of our best Friend, our divine Saviour, will rather be to many the cause of the greatest alarm and consternation.
Let us all, during this holy Advent season, make it our earnest prayer that when that Light shall shine forth, and "the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in heaven," we may, with all our loved ones, "stand gazing up into heaven" with no more apprehension and terror than we felt on the night when we watched the Aurora Borealis. H. A. W.
A WEEK IN A MILITARY HOSPITAL IN SÉDAN.
Extract from a Journal.
HE provisions of the treaty of the 6th not having been realized, the town of Sédan is declared in a state of siege. . . . The retreat
will be sounded at nine o'clock in the evening, and in case of an alarm, the inhabitants will be expected to light up their houses during the night."
This notice, signed by the Prussian commander, and dated Sept. 14, was one of the first things that met my eye on entering the Bouillon gate of Sédan. It was pasted on the wall, partly covering a proclamation of the Empress Regent, and an order about the conscription signed by Napoleon. There was another placard, to inform the inhabitants that they need only lodge, and not feed, the Prussian soldiers quartered upon them. A third notice, desiring all householders who had received a wounded soldier to give information to the police; and a fourth, giving the relative value of Prussian and French money, and signed by the Mayor of Sédan.
I had driven more than thirty miles through beautiful wooded scenery; villages turned into large hospitals, and fields covered with the remains of the recent battles; knapsacks that had been cast away to facilitate a flight, bayonet sheaths, tin bottles, and many other signs of the despe rate conflicts which had been raging only a fortnight past: and now we seemed to be coming into a regular prison; for Sédan is completely shut in among hills, and enclosed a second time by its high fortifications, the river Meuse, and a moat. The houses are also lofty, and the streets narrow and paved with stone, and a drawbridge and sentinel guard the gates. But though crowded with Prussian soldiers, and a red-cross flag hanging almost from every house, to mark the presence of a wounded man, yet French vivacity, and an aptitude for deriving benefit from any situation, can never be entirely depressed, and within the walls all was life and spirit: the shopkeepers and market-women driving hard
up over three butchers' shops in Sédan, and a most profitable business it must have been; for, besides the enormous amount of carcases on the battle-field, which anybody might carry away, a live horse of first-rate quality, though in poor condition, was t be had for five, six, and nine francs, on account of the high price of hay; and halfstarved chargers were to be seen in all directions gnawing the trees or breaking into the gardens in search of food. It is so long since there has been war in our country, that it is difficult to realize what it would be were such a calamity to befall us. Our corn-fields trodden down as we were just preparing for the harvest; our cattle and sheep driven off to feed the troops of the enemy; the money that we had been saving for years to provide against a rainy day exhausted by the heavy burdens imposed upon us to defray the expenses of the war; our towns left a blackened heap of ruins; the richer people flying, to live in poverty in a neighbouring land; and the poorer ones compelled to encamp through rainy nights in an open field; our farms and country-houses turned into hospitals; our railways and canals destroyed; no post-office or bank open; no communication between one country and another; no gas; no coal; fathers, sons, and brothers hurried away from their peaceful occupations to serve in the army, and the women compelled to gather in the poor remains of the summer crops; all the necessaries of life selling for six times their usual value, and winter fast approaching; our trees and hedgerows cut down, anno seed to sow the land, to prevent a future famine. Yet this, and more than this, is the inevitable consequence of the declaration of war on the continent.
Truly, indeed, may we say, "From battle and murder, Good Lord, deliver us."
Though condemning the policy of the French Government, it is impossible not to feel the deepest sympathy with their wounded men, who were originally drawn by the conscription into the army, and did not enter it by choice, and who now, after lying for weeks on a bed of suffering, are returning, crippled for life and unrewarded, to their homes, or are taken as prisoners into Prussia, to subsist on the mercy of the conqueror. The Geneva Convention has attempted to procure some alleviation of the horrors of war by decreeing that all engaged in the service of the ambulances shall be neutral, and permitted to traverse unmolested any district in the hands of an enemy. This has enabled the French wounded prisoners in the hospitals about Sédan to be nursed by their own countrymen, and to receive the best medical advice from Paris. The same principle, carried out by a humane general, caused the Prussians to suspend the bombardment of the town of Strasburg while the surgeons, loaded with chloroform, passed through the gates; and it will probably permit the French Protestant Evangelical Ambulance to penetrate the lines of the besiegers and enter Paris, which it is attempting to reach from Sédan, now its exertions are no longer needed there, through Belgium, England, and the northwest of France.
For a short time after the surrender of Sédan I assisted in one of the hospitals which had been established by this ambulance, the last which left Paris before all communication by railway with the capital was cut off. It was stationed in a pretty country villa containing about eighty men when I first went there, and about twenty or thirty under the same management in a neighbouring house; but their numbers were diminished every day, as the Prussians were exceedingly anxious to clear off the ambulances as fast as possible, and the day after I arrived a Prussian military intendant visited it to ascertain how many were fit to be removed. Two Roman Catholic abbés, a French Protestant pasteur, a French Protestant deaconess,
two professional infirmiers, and several young students who came as volunteers, were attached to it, besides the doctor and his pupils, a cook, and three French peasant girls employed in the kitchen and linen department. Most of the patients were severely wounded, and some had lain for days on the battle-field before they were rescued from among the heaps of dead. They were very grateful for every. thing that was done for them, and it was generally allowed that the French were far better patients than the Germans; but then the Germans were fretting and chafing because they were prevented from joining any further in a victorious war, while the French were rather anxious than otherwise to prolong their recovery to avoid being taken as prisoners to a foreign land. Many of the Germans were also most frightfully wounded in the body, and lingered in an utterly hopeless state for more than a week. The mitrailleuse and chassepot make most awful wounds, and had executed fearful havoc among their ranks; while the needle-gun used by the Prus sians had a much less ghastly effect, and from the Prussians firing low it usually hit their enemies in the leg, so that though a large proportion of the French wounded had lost a limb, there were a compara. tively small number of deaths.
Monday, Sept. 19. The gates of the town are closed at six o'clock in the evening, and as the officials connected with the hospitals outside the town (which are already overcrowded) have generally to sleep in Sédan, they are obliged to return by that hour every night, but they make up for it by being at the hospitals very early in the morning. Every cottage outside the town seems to contain a wounded man, so that there is no spare room to be found in any of them. People are not allowed to walk about the town after nine in the evening, which makes the streets very quiet at night. These regulations, and the number of Prussians in the streets, are the only very obvious signs of the town being still in a state of siege; for no invading army was ever more inoffensive than the Prussians. They pay for all they buy, though it is with
Prussian money, and they are very civil to strangers. The notices posted up almost every day are also phrased in courteous language. One day the inhabitants were informed that the loaded rifles picked up off the field were to be fired off the next day, so that they need not feel any alarm when they heard the sound. Another day the mayor was requested to make it known that no one (sans but) was to wander over the battle-field to pick up the remains of the military accoutrements, as certain persons had been authorized to do it for the garrison. Another day we were told that three of the gates were to be closed day and night, to lighten the labours of the garrison.
The second of these orders was not very strictly enforced, for I walked over the battle-field two days afterwards, and picked up a can that had belonged to a poor dead Zouave, and two cartouche boxes, and though I met a company of Prussian soldiers they made no remonstrance, nor did the sentries when I returned through the gate of Sédan with the spoil.
The most ignorant in the science of war cannot but feel astonished at Sédan having been chosen as the resort of the French army, or at its ever having been fortified at all. It stands in a valley commanded by hills on every side. It is supposed that the French generals, when they retreated into the town, had hoped that the enemy would not be able to drag his guns up to the top of a neighbouring height, which completely overlooks the country round; but he did so, and from that moment held Sédan at his mercy, and all was over for the French.
Tuesday. Our hospital having been a gentleman's country-house, still contains the looking-glasses over the fireplaces, and the gilded clocks almost universal in a French parlour or bedroom, and there are paintings and a few miniature portraits still hanging on the walls. All the rooms look to the front, and as the sun is playing on it all the afternoon, the heat is very trying to the patients, and the flies and mosquitoes most troublesome. A row of orange-trees in boxes are arranged before the door, and some of the beds are
carried on to the grass for a few hours during the day, which the men find a pleasant change, though they are always much afraid of being moved. The infirmiers are very powerful men, and carry them most easily, but are inclined to be somewhat rough in their mode of treating them.
Wednesday. This morning sixteen soldiers left our hospital for the railway at Libramont, more than thirty miles distant. They were conveyed in the heavy lumber. ing ambulance waggons, lined with straw, upon which they lay at full length, for as yet only two of them had been able to walk without assistance, or to sit up on his bed for more than a few minutes. One had been shockingly wounded in the face by the bursting of a shell, an eye and his mouth only remaining. He was twentythree years of age. Nearly all the others had lost a limb. Each was given a railway-rug and a clean shirt from the stores of the hospital, for they had left their knapsacks on the field of battle, and owned nothing but the clothes they wore. They were also loaded with cigars, chocolate, and great slices of bread and jam before they left, as they might probably get nothing more to eat before the next morning. Hospital diet is at the best of times rather monotonous, and particularly so when there is a difficulty of procuring even the necessaries of life. The patients had a great craving for "confitures," and would always have preferred such things to the meat of the half-starved, sinewy cattle, which was all that could be purchased round Sédan : but the boxes sent by the two Societies in London contained perfect luxuries; essence of coffee, and condensed Swiss and Irish milk, which made unexceptionable café au lait; Liebig's essence of meat, and the preserved Australian beef and mutton, which was far more nutritious than the Sédan fresh beef. The clothes which also arrived were most acceptable, as the patients were generally admitted almost shirtless, their own having been torn to pieces by the bullets, and then partly used in the dressing of their wounds. It was, therefore, no small part of our occupation to supply them, by making two torn shirts
into one, and to contrive slippers out of the remains of old coats. Their shoes had been worn out before the last battle, when they disencumbered themselves of all extra accoutrements to facilitate their flight. It was sad to see the very little property which those who left the hospital had to take away, and the pains they took to collect it before they went. The Protestant pastor gave each of them a little tract, such as "The Soldier before Sebastopol," -being an abstract of the life of Hedley Vicars; the "Life of Henry Havelock," "The Zouave," "The Soldier and the Emigrant,"
The Heritage of a Soldier," "The Soldier's Companion," &c., or a French copy of one of the four Gospels. There were, however, only two Protestants among all the soldiers who were admitted. The Roman Catholic priests wrote letters for them to their own friends, and were most kind and attentive to their bodily welfare: they also read a prayer to them occasionally; but I fancy no other religious service was held in their wards. I only saw one soldier, and that a Zouave, who seemed to feel any gratitude for their solicitude for his spiritual welfare. But for some years it has been the policy of the Government to discourage anything like a religious feeling among the soldiers in France.
Thursday.-The weather has become too cold for the soldiers' beds to be moved out of doors, which deprives them of the only change they have to look forward to during the day, and some of them consequently grew very low-spirited. Many have never been able to be moved, and one of these who has lost a leg seems very ill to-day. He can eat no solid food. I observe that the orderlies grow tired of their duties much sooner than women do, and those patients we have now have been long recovering, and the orderlies are evidently weary of them. I heard this soldier calling as I passed his room this morning, so I went in to see what he wanted. He had no water within his reach, and as there was none in the ward, I called to an orderly whose business it was to supply it, to ask him to bring some from the yard. He came up to the soldier, and asked him if he was thirsty then. The soldier said No, but
he should be soon. The orderly answered, "Then wait till you are," and was going away in another direction, but on my desiring him again to bring the water, he did so. Another would give a man with one arm his dinner on the wrong side, and never wait to see if he could reach it. The volunteers are much more assiduous, and in the most praiseworthy manner take the roughest part of the work, filling up their time with scrubbing the floors in true Dutch style, so that the boards are scarcely dry from one cleaning before they are scrubbed again.
Friday. The poor man who was so ill yesterday died this morning. I had brought him something out of Sédan which I hoped might excite his appetite more than the hospital fare, and when I went into his room, which was small, and therefore shared by only one other man, I saw his face was covered by his railway-rug, and I asked the other if he was still asleep. "He is dead," was the man's brief reply, and I found he had died during the night. The Prussians at first buried all their dead prisoners with military honours, but the deaths have long been far too numerous for this rule to be carried out, and he was quietly interred the next day in the neigh. bouring churchyard at Balan. The same evening, at ten o'clock, a fresh importation of invalids arrived from one of the hospitals that was being closed in order to enable the medical and nursing staff to proceed to Paris, where they expected to be more required. Two of the new patients are Turco, one of whom can speak no other language but his own barbarous Moorish, so that no one in the hospital, except his companion who knows a little French, can speak to him. He sits on his bed nearly all day, crouching under his railway rug in the attitude of a New Zealander with his mat. His black eyes are devoid of any expression, and his white grinning teeth are a strong contrast to his dark skin. He is not much wounded, but the other, who is wounded in rather a painful way, screams dreadfully whenever the doctor or the dressers go near him. Some of the French also cry like children when the doctor attends to their wounds, but