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This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, its rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
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A Casualty

Published by Susan on 07/26/2003 (2173 reads)
That boy I took in the car last night...

As I am sitting down to my midday meal an orderly gives me a telegram:

Hill 71. Two couch├ęs. Send car at once.

The uptilted country-side is a checker-board of green and gray, and, except where groves of trees rise like islands, cultivated to the last acre. But as we near the firing-line all efforts to till the land cease, and the ungathered beets of last year have grown to seed. Amid rank unkempt fields I race over a road that is pitted with obus-holes; I pass a line of guns painted like snakes, and drawn by horses dyed khaki-color; then soldiers coming from the trenches, mud-caked and ineffably weary; then a race over a bit of road that is exposed; then, buried in the hill-side, the dressing station.

The two wounded are put into my car. From hip to heel one is swathed in bandages; the other has a great white turban on his head, with a red patch on it that spreads and spreads. They stare dully, but make no sound. As I crank the car there is a shrill screaming noise. . . . About thirty yards away I hear an explosion like a mine-blast, followed by a sudden belch of coal-black smoke. I stare at it in a dazed way. Then the doctor says: "Don't trouble to analyze your sensations. Better get off. You're only drawing their fire."

Here is one of my experiences:

A Casualty

That boy I took in the car last night,
With the body that awfully sagged away,
And the lips blood-crisped, and the eyes flame-bright,
And the poor hands folded and cold as clay --
Oh, I've thought and I've thought of him all the day.

For the weary old doctor says to me:
"He'll only last for an hour or so.
Both of his legs below the knee
Blown off by a bomb. . . . So, lad, go slow,

And please remember, he doesn't know."
So I tried to drive with never a jar;
And there was I cursing the road like mad,
When I hears a ghost of a voice from the car:
"Tell me, old chap, have I `copped it' bad?"
So I answers "No," and he says, "I'm glad."

"Glad," says he, "for at twenty-two
Life's so splendid, I hate to go.
There's so much good that a chap might do,
And I've fought from the start and I've suffered so.
'Twould be hard to get knocked out now, you know."

"Forget it," says I; then I drove awhile,
And I passed him a cheery word or two;
But he didn't answer for many a mile,
So just as the hospital hove in view,
Says I: "Is there nothing that I can do?"

Then he opens his eyes and he smiles at me;
And he takes my hand in his trembling hold;
"Thank you -- you're far too kind," says he:
"I'm awfully comfy -- stay . . . let's see:
I fancy my blanket's come unrolled --
My feet , please wrap 'em -- they're cold . . . they're cold."


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