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THE CENTURY MAGAZINE
everybody else's troubles, and to work with the Nut besides.
I 've seen her stand by his bed for half an hour coaxing him to walk up and down the porch with her. He never would budge for anybody else, but he moved for her. Sometimes she 'd get him to stop outside for a few minutes and watch the boys play "Sugar-Loo." Don't you know what "Sugar-Loo" is? Why, each fellow saves a little sugar from his tray and makes it into a pile, and they bet on which one gets a' ant on it first. Talk about gambling! I could
fierce. I 've heard cussing going on in as many as three languages at once. Well, after she come, Baker hit on the idea of a cuss fund. He's the one I was telling you about that was building the yoke for the Goddess of Liberty. Well, all the fellows fell into the plan of paying fines for swearing, and then blowing in the proceeds for eats. They worked out a notice and tacked it on the wall beside a little pasteboard box that they put up to hold the fines they had to pay. It said:
"He was a regular baby, one of those spoiled kids"
write a book on the number of different ways the doughboy has thought out to swap money.
Most of the fellows in here are just plain drunks or awols. Awols? Why, absent without leaves. You see, they come into the hospital, get operated on, and before the smell of ether is out of their hair they hook it for town. Then they get carted back here, and we got to get 'em well and punish 'em at the same time. Some job, I can tell you! I got two leg cases now that 's in wheelchairs, and if I ain't watching every minute, they get to racing on the porch, and there's a mix-up of plaster casts and splints that makes trouble for everybody.
But I want to finish telling you about Mrs. Merton. You see, before she come in to 8-C the language around here was
And when the box was full of cash, they 'd get Mrs. Merton to go out and buy anything she could bring back without the guards at the door getting on to it. I've seen her come in with her knitting-bag looking like a featherbed, but I sort er shut my eyes. She used to mend my clothes, you know, and do a lot of little things that I had n't had done since I left home.
Something was going on every minute those days. I remember one Sunday a chaplain brought us some hymnbooks and tried to start the fellows to
singing. He had n't been gone five minutes before they was singing all those sacred songs to rag-time tunes, and we had a free-for-all fight over who should have the books to learn the words first.
The only two patients that never took any part in the mix-ups was Merton and the Nut. The curious thing was that the boys hated Merton and liked the Nut. Have you ever noticed how a person always gives his real self away? Drunk or sober, sane or crazy, talking or silent, he stands for something, and you take his real measure in spite of what he does or says.
When Mrs. Merton went over to the hostess house at night, the boys used to tell each other what they 'd do to Mert if she never came back. But she always came, often before the orderlies got done mopping up the next morning. She 'd have sat by Mert's bed all night if we 'd 'a' let her.
Well, long about Christmas the boy took a turn for the worse. He began to run a fever and have pains in his leg, and the captain decided to open up his foot and see what was the trouble. The night before they was to operate the wound began to bleed, and I heard the surgeon telling the night nurse that he was afraid it was a loose piece of bone that had pierced an artery. The bleeding kept up something fierce, and by the time they rushed him over to the operating-room and got him back again, it looked to everybody like the boy was going to die. I posted out for his mother.
"It was her that started the boys to knitting"
She was as
Talk about your pluck! game as he was nervous. She just sat down beside that bed where she 'd been sitting for three solid months, and gathered him up to her, and comforted him like he was a baby, which he was. Every now and then she 'd make an excuse to slip out to the kitchen, where she'd lean against the ice-box, white as a sheet, and shake till it would make your heart ache. Then she 'd drink some strong coffee and put on that smile she always wore, and go back to hold on to him some more. His nerve, if he
ever had any, had gone to pot, and he hollered and cried and begged for morphine through the entire night.
When the captain saw him next morning he said the only chance he had to pull through was blood transfusion. You ought to have seen Mrs. Merton's face! She just jumped at the chance.
"Take mine!" she said. "I 'm lots stronger than I look."
"I'll have to make a test first," said the captain. "All blood is divided in four groups, and for transfusion, in order to prevent clotting, the patient and the one giving the blood must be in the same group. Is there any one else willing to volunteer?"
"Count me in," he sort of mumbled. Nobody paid any attention to him, and he went back to his bed again.
I and Baker offered, and then, to everybody's surprise, a strange voice spoke up from the end of the bed. If you believe me, it was the Nut! He was standing on his crutches, facing us, but not looking at the captain.
The captain pricked Baker's finger and squeezed out a drop of blood, then he pricked mine, then Mrs. Merton's, and went off to the laboratory. When he come back he said there was only one that was in the two group two, and that was Mrs. Merton's.
It was still as death in the ward except for Mert's heavy breathing. All of a sudden the bed-clothes went off Number Thirteen, and the Nut was on his crutches again.
"Say, the kid 'll need her to look after him," he says kind of wild-like. "Go on and try me."
"Get back in bed, Harding!" said the captain, taking a step toward him. "We will manage this without you."
"But you don't need to," Harding kept on, like he was talking to just anybody. "It ain't right to let a woman do this when all us men are here."
I looked at the captain to see if he wanted me to shut him up, but the captain shook his head. It was just the barest motion, but the Nut caught it.
"I know what 's the matter with you all," he says, his voice getting higher and higher: "You all 'low I am daffy. But my blood 's as good as anybody's, and it's mine to give. You ain't got no right to keep me from doin' it."
His hair was all tumbled up, and his eyes were shining like a cat's in the dark. Every patient in the ward was looking first at him and then at the captain, waiting for the lightning to strike. But the captain was watching him not like a superior officer, but like a doctor.
"Harding," he said in that nice way that made everybody like him, "I want you to control yourself. We appreciate your offer, but we can't take it. Get back to your bed."
But the Nut hitched himself along from cot to cot till he was up close, then instead of blustering, like he had been, he begin to beg low and fast:
"I ain't crazy, Captain," he said. "I been fakin' to git out of the court martial. You see, I was in seven hospitals
in France, and I been in three over here. The thought of being shut up ten more years in prison was too much for me. But I'll stand my trial sooner than see that lady let in fer a thing like this. You take my test, Captain; it can't do no harm just to try me."
He stood there begging and pleading, and holding out that big red mit of his, and there was n't a fellow in the ward that did n't want to shake it.
Well, the captain made his blood test, and found it was in group two.
"If I let you give your blood, Harding," he said, "it means that I think you are sane enough to make the decision." "Yes, sir," says the Nut, as eager as if he was asking for a pardon.
"And you know," went on the captain, "what you are up against if the medical board passes on your sanity?"
Harding gave a quick look at Mrs. Merton and nodded his head.
She was kneeling beside Mert's bed, her face as white as it 'll ever be when she 's dead. Every now and then Mert would cry out, but the cries was getting weaker all the time.
The captain had gone over to the window, where he stood staring out through the heavy wire netting, like he was trying to make up his mind.
"If they don't decide soon," Mrs. Merton says to me, "it 'll be too late."
I did n't know the Nut heard her, but he did.
"Tell him I ain't crazy," he said, catching hold of the nurse's arm. "Honest to God, I ain't. I'm naturally backward, and I ain't never had no learnin', but there ain't nothin' the matter with my senses." Then he turned to the captain. "Can't you ast me questions some way to prove it? Can't you do something quick? Else 'n she says it'll be too late."
The Captain looked him straight in the eye, but he did n't answer, and the Nut went on:
"I can't think of nothin' to prove it to you lessen I go like the birds."
"What birds?" says the captain, and I could see the boys exchanging looks from cot to cot.
"Where I come from," says the Nut. "I growed up on a shanty-boat down in the Florida everglades. The only thing
I ever could do right good was to go like the birds and the varmints. Want to hear me?"
I can see him now, that big lop-sided fellow, standing there on his crutches. making sounds likes all the birds you ever heard in your life. First it was a wild turkey, then a partridge, then a deer; then he'd imitate one of those old green turtles, and follow it up with a screech-owl. He could show how they went when they was mad and when they was glad and when they was courtin', and all the time he was doing it he was watching the captain's face like a hungry dog waiting for a bone.
"That 'll do, Harding," said the captain. "I am convinced."
After that no time was lost in hustling him and Mert on to wheelingtables and getting them over to the operating-room. I was detailed to take the Nut and stay with him till it was time to bring him back.
I never saw such a change in anybody in my life. He talked a streak to Mrs. Merton, and kept on a boosting her up right up to the door of the operatingroom, where they stopped her.
"You rest easy in your mind," he says to her the last thing. "I been mean in other ways, but I got clean blood."
Well, they painted his arm with iodine and then give him a shot of cocaine. That was all. Then they made a slit just inside the bend of his elbow. Gee! it was a hole, pretty nearly two inches long. Then they yanked out a vein and inserted a glass tube.
It made me sort of sick, but the Nut lay there a looking at it like it belonged to somebody else.
Then Mert was wheeled in, looking more dead than alive and scared to death.
"Brace up, Kid," says the Nut. "It ain't nothin' after the first prick. You 'll make it all right."
Then they opened up Mert's artery, stuck in a tube, and connected 'em up.
"Fifty cubic centimeters," says the captain, calling out the measure of the blood.
Mert was moaning weaker and weaker.
"One hundred cubic centimeters," said the captain; "two hundred."
A man in a white gown, with rubber gloves and a white cap, was holding a sponge soaked in concentrated ammonia under the Nut's nose, but the Nut was n't noticing him. He was looking anxious at Mert.
The color had begun to come back into the boy's face, and his lips was turning from purple to pink.
"Three hundred cubic centimeters," called the captain, and the Nut's eyelids begin to bat.
The captain told me and an orderly to lift the foot of the operating-table.
"Four hundred," says the captain, bending over the Nut. "Work your fingers, man, as long as you can."
The Nut sighed like he was about all in, but he kept on working his fingers to show he was still game.
"Four-fifty," called the captain.
I looked at Mert. It was like a miracle; he had not only come back to life, but he could smile.
"Five hundred. That 's all," snapped out the captain as the Nut's big hand made a last effort to give the signal before it fell limp on the table.
We hustled 'em both back on the wheeling-tables and got the sheets over 'em, and just as we started into the corridor a nurse ran out and said:
"Only one of them goes back to the prison ward. The kid goes up to 4-C. Captain's orders."
Mrs. Merton, who was bending over Mert, straightened up at that, and her quiet eyes was on fire for once.
"You wait here!" she commanded, like she was a brigadier-general. I don't know what line of talk she handed out to the captain, but a minute later, when she came out of the operating-room, she handed me a slip of paper. "Take both patients to 4-C," it said.
So I wheeled the unconscious Nut up to 4-C, and the other orderlies and Mrs. Merton brought up the procession, and I hustled on back to 8-C.
What became of them? Lord, how do I know? You never hear what becomes of anybody out here at the base.
Mert and the Nut may both be serving time out at Leavenworth for all I know. But one thing 's certain, the Nut 's never going to lack for a friend as long as Mrs. Merton 's living.
Democracy's Crusaders in Shan-tung
By NEWELL MARTIN
"The progressive partition of China went slowly because of the wealth at stake. It was sufficiently obvious that whatever outsider could annex China could rule the world. Russia hoped to get all of China for herself, but England, France, and Germany could not agree to that nor with one another. The survivors are at last ready to agree."
N the Fourth Crusade, in 1202, the pious knights of France, England, and Italy, with such serfs as could be spared from the farms, set out to free the Holy Land. They were under the special blessing of Pope Innocent. We need not remember his number. He has been known for some time as the Innocent of the Fourth Crusade. Unfamiliar with the practical side of crusading, he was easily maneuvered by Henry Dandolo into a hole, or dilemma, where he had to admit himself a failure or connive at Dandolo's crimes. One of the declared objects of the Fourth Crusade was "the establishment of right everywhere." In seven hundred years we have invented no new formula.
The crusaders dawdled too long in Dalmatia, setting Fiume "in order," a task still unfinished. Then, as now, French and Italians fell into deadly dispute about the occupying of Dalmatian cities. Some of the knights began to hear that relatives, embusqués, at home, were making love to the wives, estates, or jobs of the absent heroes. Some had borrowed from the Jews for equipment; the interest was running against them. There was no cash to be had out of the Holy Sepulcher, and it looked as if they might get home with the Croix de Guerre just in time to be served with foreclosure papers. Some were sick with the various fevers that used to beset crusaders, and all of them were sick of sutler's pork.
Dandolo, Doge of Venice, more than eighty years old, but as cunning, unscrupulous, and obstinate as Satan, became their generalissimo. The Mo
hammedans of Damascus and Bagdad having sent him a huge cash bribe to induce him to divert the Crusaders from their ideals, he told the chivalric knights of the wealth and weakness of Byzantium, and under his lead the Crusaders turned away forever from their holy quest and besieged, assaulted, captured, and sacked the metropolis of Christendom, Constantinople, then the City of Churches, and repaired their private fortunes, but not those of their serfs, and sold Christian girls to paynim Saracens.
Venice carried off the lion's sharethe British portion, so to speak-of the booty. Part of it was the four bronze horses which stand to-day in perpetuam rei memoriam above the portal of St. Mark's, one of Christ's premier churches.
Other good things came in. Historians believe that Innocent and Fulc of Neuilly, the two great preachers of the crusade, were justly charged with profiteering and embezzlement.
Chinese marvel at the Fourth Crusade, and ask whether the name of "Crusader" is not now an insult.
Italy and devout France regard Innocent, Fulc, and Dandolo as having written some of the brightest pages in Europe's annals, and worship their memory. Unpicturesque, unbarbarous countries like China and America have to content themselves with such drab heroes as Washington, Franklin, and Confucius. Michaud, a fervent admirer of these French and Italian miscreants, says that "the Cross was for them a sacred tie, which united all their interests. No one listened to those who persisted in raising scruples." In hoc