At least he said he thought he was Boulson's father if Boulson was tall and fair, with blue eyes, and a pepper-castor mark on his right arm, where a charge of dust-shot had lodged from a horse-pistol. There had, he informed me, been family misunderstandings about a foolish fancy formed by Boulson for a military career.
And that was what I meant when I asked the lady in the barouche at the Park gate whether she ever felt that shoulder now. And the man I dine with to-night is not called Boulson, but he has a charge of dust-shot the result of a boyish experiment in his right arm. "How long can you give us?" The man who asked this question turned his head and looked up through a maze of bright machinery.
She was one of those largely framed fair women who have strength, both physical and mental. She was carrying him across the tent when I heard the thud of a bullet. Nurse Fielding stopped for a moment and seemed to hesitate. She laid Boulson tenderly down on the ground, and then fell across him, while the blood ran from her cotton bodice over his face and neck.
Boulson meant to get on consequently I had had him before. I had cut his shirt off him before this, and knew that it was marked "F.L.G.M.," which does not stand for Boulson. Boulson's name was not Boulson; but that was not our business at the time.
And when the wounded came in we thought only of patching them up temporarily sewing, bandaging, and plastering them into travelling order, and sending them down to the headquarters at the coast. It was a weary journey across the desert, and I am afraid a few were buried on the way. Early one morning, I remember, they brought in Boulson, and I saw at once that he had come to stay.
And Boulson had gone off God bless him like the high-spirited Irishman that he was to enlist as a private soldier. And more to a like effect. Moreover, Boulson pulled through and was duly sent down to the fine, roomy convalescent hospital on the coast, where they have ice, and newspapers, and female nurses fresh from Netley. This second wound was, however, a more serious affair.
Later in the morning matters became more serious. The enemy had a gun with which they dropped six-pound shot into us. One of these fell on to the corner of our hospital where Boulson lay. It tore the canvas, and almost closed Boulson's career. Nurse Fielding was at him like a terrier, and lifted him bodily from his cot.
Linen marked A. de M.F.G." While I was busy with a sponge, Boulson opened his eyes and recognized me. "Soon got YOU back again," I remarked, with ghastly professional cheeriness. He smiled feebly. "Must get into the despatches somehow," he answered, and promptly fainted again. I took especial care of Boulson, being mindful of a letter I had received while he was recovering from his last wound.
"Theoretically," I answered; and, seeing that she had arrived, I made a shift to find her suitable quarters and get her to work. "Have you any serious cases?" she asked, while unpacking and setting out for my inspection sundry stores she had brought. "I have Boulson again," I answered. "The man you had in the spring." She buried her head in the case, and did not answer for some seconds.
While others came and went, Boulson seemed inclined to stay for ever. At all events he stayed for ten days, and made no progress worth mentioning. At the end of that time I was sitting at my table writing perversions of God's truth to the old gentleman on the west coast of Ireland when I heard the rumble of ambulance waggons.