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“Not far now,” she kept saying, but they did not seem to be aware of her.
When they reached the ward, etique nike jordans release dates tte required her to report to the sister. She was not in her office. Briony turned to her crocodile, which had bunched up behind her. They did not look at her. They were staring past her, into the grand Victorian space of the ward, the lofty pillars, the potted palms, the neatly ranged beds and their pure, turned-down sheets.
“You wait here,” she said. “The sister will find you all a bed.”
She walked quickly to the far end where the sister and two nurses were attending a pat nike jordans for kids ient. There were shuffling footsteps behind Briony. The soldiers were coming down the ward.
Horrified, she flapped her hands at them. “Go back, please go back and wait.”
But they were fanning out now across the ward. Each man had seen the bed that was his. Without being assigned, without removing their boots, without baths and delousing and hospital pajamas, they were climbing onto the beds. Their filthy hair, their blackened faces were on the pillows. The sister was coming at a sharp pace from her end of the ward, her heels resounding in the venerable space. Briony went to a bedside and plucked at the sleeve of a soldier who lay faceup, cradling his arm which had slipped its sling. As he kicked his legs out straight he made a scar of oil stain across his blanket. All her fault.
“You must get up,” she said as the sister cheap jordans sale was upon her. She added feebly, “There’s a procedure.”
“The men need to sleep. The procedures are for later.” The voice was Irish. The sister put a hand on Briony’s shoulder and turned her so that her name badge could be read. “You’ll go back to your ward now, Nurse Tallis. You’ll be needed there, I should think.”
With the gentlest of shoves, Briony was sent about her business. The ward could do without disciplinarians like her. The men around her were already asleep, and again she had been proved an idiot. Of course they should sleep. She had only wanted to do what she thought was expected. These weren’t her rules, after all. They had been dinned into her these past few months, the thousand details of a new admission. How was she to know they meant nothing in fact? These indignant thoughts afflicted her until she was al jordans most at her own ward when she remembered the men with crutches downstairs, waiti cheap nike jordans ng to be brought up in the lift. She hurried down the stairs. The alcove was empty, and there was no sign of the men in corridors. She did not want to expose her ineptitude by asking among the nurses or porters. Someone must have gathered the wounded men up. In the days that followed, she never saw them again.
Her own ward had been redesignated as an overflow to acute surgical, but the definitions meant nothing at first. It could have been a clearing station on the front line. Sisters and senior nurses had been drafted in to help, and five or six doctors were working on the most urgent cases. There were two padres, one sitting and talking to a man lying on his side, the other praying by a shape under a blanket. All the nurses wore masks, and they and the doctors had rolled up their sleeves. The sisters moved between the beds swiftly, giving injections—probably morphine—or administering the transfusion needles to connect the injured to the vacolitres of whole blood and the ye nike jordans llow flasks of plasma that hung like exotic fruits from the tall mobile stands. Probationers moved down the ward with piles of hot-water bottles. The soft echo of voices, medical voices, filled the ward, and was pierced regularly by groans and shouts of pain. Every bed was occupied, and new cases were left on the stretchers and laid between the beds to take advantage of the transfusion stands. Two orderlies were getting ready to take away the dead men. At many beds, nurses were removing dirty dressings. Always a decision, to be gentle and slow, or firm and quick and have it over with in one moment of pain. This ward favored the latter, which accounted for some of the shouts. Everywhere, a soup of smells—the sticky sour odor of fresh blood, and also filthy clothes, sweat, oil, disinfectant, medical alcohol, and drifting above it all, the stink of gangrene. Two cases going down to the theater turned out to be amputations.
With senior nurses seconded to casualty-receiving hospitals further out in the hospital’s sector, and more cases coming in, the qualified nurses gave orders freely, and the probationers of Briony’s set were given cheap jordans new responsibilities. A nurse sent Briony to remove the dressing and clean the leg wound of a corporal lying on a stretcher near the door. She was not to dress it again until one of the doctors had looked at it. The corporal was facedown, and grimaced when she knelt to speak in his ear.
“Don’t mind me if I scream,” he murmured. “Clean it up, Nurse. I don’t want to lose it.”
The trouser leg had been cut clear. The outer bandaging looked relatively new. She began to unwind it, and when it was impossible to pass her hand under his leg, she used scissors to cut the dressing away.
“They did me up on the quayside at Dover. nike air jordans retro ”
Now there was only gauze, black with congealed blood, along the length of the wound which ran from his knee to his ankle. The leg itself was hairless and black. She feared the worst and breathed through her mouth.
“Now how did you do a thing like that?” She made herself sound chirpy.
“Shell comes over, knocks me back onto this fence of corrugated tin.”
“That was bad luck. Now you know this dressing’s got to co nike jordans retro me off.”
She gently lifted an edge and the corporal winced.
He said, “Count me in, one two three like, and do it quick.”
The corporal clenched his fists. She took the edge she had freed, gripped it hard between forefinger and thumb, and pulled the dressing back in a sudden stroke. A memory came to her from childhood, of seeing at an afternoon birthday party the famous tablecloth trick. The dressing came away in one, with a gluey rasping sound.
The corporal said, “I’m going to be sick.”
There was a kidney bowl to hand. He retched, but produced nothing. In the folds of skin at the back of his neck were beads of perspiration. The wound was eighteen inches long, perhaps more, and curved behind his knee. The stitches were clumsy and irregular. Here and there one edge of the ruptured skin rose over the other, revealing its fatt nike jordans for men y layers, and little obtrusions like miniature bunches of red grapes forced up from the fissure.
She said, “Hold still. I’m going to clean round it, but I won’t touch it.” She would not touch it yet. The leg was black and soft, like an overripe banana. She soaked cotton wool in alcohol. Fearful that the skin would simply come away, she made a gentle pass, around his calf, two inches above the wound. Then she wiped again, with a little more pressure. The skin was firm, so she pressed the cotton wool until he flinched. She took away her hand and saw the swath of white skin she had revealed. The cotton wool was black. Not gangrene. She couldn’t help her gasp of relief. She even felt her throat constrict.
He said, “What is it, Nurse? You can tell me.” He pushed up and was trying to look over his shoulder. There was fear in hi nike jordans son of mars s voice.
She swallowed and said neutrally, “I think it’s healing well.”
She took more cotton wool. It was oil, or grease, mixed in with beach sand, and it did not come away easily. She cleaned an area six inches back, working her way right round the wound.
She had been doing this for some minutes when a hand rested on her shoulder and a woman’s voice said in her ear, “That’s good, Nurse Tallis, but you’ve got to work faster.”
She was on her knees, bent over the stretcher, squeezed against a bed, and it was not easy to turn round. By the time she did, she saw only the familiar form retreating. The corporal was asleep by the time Briony began to clean around the stitches. He flinched and stirred but did not quite wake. Exhaustion was his anesthetic. As she straightened at last, and gathered her bowl and all the soiled cotto n wool, a doctor came and she was dismissed.
She scrubbed her hands and was set another task. Everything was different for her now she had achieved one small thing. She was set to taking water around to the soldiers who had collapsed with battle exhaustion. It was important that they did not dehydrate. Come on now, Private Carter. Drink this and you can go back to sleep. Sit up now . . . She held a little white enamel teapot and let them suck the water from its spout while she cradled their filthy heads against her apron, like giant babies. She scrubbed down again, and did a bedpan round. She had never minded it less. She was told to attend to a soldier with stomach wounds who had also lost a part of his nose. She could see through the bloody cartilage into his mouth, and onto the back of his lacerated tongue. Her job was nike jordans retro 4 to clean up his face. Again, it was oil and sand which had been blasted into the skin. He was awake, she guessed, but he kept his eyes closed. Morphine had calmed him, and he swayed slightly from side to side, as though in time to music in his head. As his features began to appear from behind the mask of black, she thought of those books of glossy blank pages she had in childhood which she rubbed with a blunt pencil to make a picture appear. She thought too how one of these men might be Robbie, how she would dress his wounds without knowing who he was, and with cotton wool tenderly rub his face until his familiar features emerged, and how he would turn to her with gratitude, realize who she was, and take her hand, and in silently squeezing it, forgive her. Then he would let her settle him down into sleep.
Her responsibil nike jordans cheap ities increased. She was sent with forceps and a kidney bowl to an adjacent ward, to the bedside of an airman with shrapnel in his leg. He watched her warily as she set her equipment down.
“If I’m having them out, I’d rather have an operation.” ③

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