In the large University Hospital took the night guards

A nurse was on watch at every ward, and assistant guards were to watch over individual beds where it was specifically prescribed. For the time being, the nurses assigned to this service were gathered in the operating room; they prepared the necessary medicines, the ice packs, the drinks, the compresses, in short everything that could possibly be used during the night.

The guards stayed in the wide corridor and clapped until they were given precise details of their work.

The misery of individual sick people, their living conditions, as well as the personal affairs of the doctors and nurses formed the subject of discussion. The gruesome details of the most serious accidents were discussed with delightful zeal, and if one of these girls and women had described a terrible human fate in short words, and often interrupted by the exclamations of the others, another was there too, from her hospital experience knew to report something even more desolate, even more blatant.

Despite the deeply sad subject that prevailed in the conversation, there was sometimes a suppressed giggle, even loud laughter from this circle.

The head nurse had given the younger nurses the most important instructions for the night and now went through the corridor to go to her room. The nurses, although they were “worldly,” pressed themselves against the walls in silence and sometimes embarrassed, in order to let the worthy lady pass them in deep awe.

In no branch of service or administration provided by men is there such unconditional subordination to the person of the superior as in the female state budget of an ecclesiastical order of virgins.

The entire female staff of the clinic submitted unconditionally to the orders and orders of Nurse Domina, who, as the head of the institution, fully represented the dignity of “Mother Mother”.

The nurses left the operating room in which they had received the orders from their superior, and went out into the corridor to look for the guards who were assigned to help them with the heaviest work of the night.

Sister Coelestina from the sixth men’s ward received three assistants for her room alone, while Sister Theophila went with two tried and tested assistants to the diphtheritis department of the children’s ward. Almost every sister went away accompanied by a female guard, only Sister Clarissa made her way to the third women’s ward on her own. Nurse Domina was of the opinion that there was currently no case in the third women’s hall so severe that the ward nurse should not be able to deal with it alone.

The dark, slender figure of the young nun moved silently, almost as if floating, through the long, dimly lit corridors of the large hospital.

The gas light in the lecture hall was still burning at full flame. That was the negligence of the nurse who was responsible for cleaning and tidying this room. Sister Clarissa refrained from calling the man to do his duty, so she climbed into a chair and raised her arms to turn down the light. During this movement the nun’s veil, which covered her upper body, spread like a dark shadow; the light fell on her face, which was otherwise kept in shadow by the edge of the hood; involuntarily she put her hand over the tired eyes, which were deeply circled by the night watch, and looked away.

There was the skeleton on which the young anatomists used to make their first general studies of the structure of bones in the human body. Sister Clarissa had passed this apparition innumerable times indifferently, but now, in the stillness of the night, she gave a start. when she saw the gray and white skull so directly in front of her.

She turned the gas flame down, grasped the cross that hung on her prayer cord with both hands, and stepped quietly across from the skeleton.

“O you unfathomable God, where is the soul that dwelt in this body, is it with you? But what may this person have done wrong that his bones are not allowed to rest like the bones of others? I – a poor, humble maid of the Lord – will in a few decades only be a heap of bones, “she prayed,” O Holy Mother, give rest to my body and redemption to my soul. We are taken from the earth and we become dust again – we – we – but this one is not. His bones are prepared so that they do not disintegrate; they are fastened to one another with wire, and instead of the sacred tranquility of the cemetery they are surrounded by the noisy hustle and bustle of the academic youth who come and go in this room. What has he done wrong, what is the guilt that punishes itself so that the body cannot find rest,

The young sister’s beautiful, delicate face took on a deeply sad expression. She turned away from the skeleton and took a round, flat glass bowl from the catheter.

In the bowl lay a human face, detached from its head, without a lower jaw. The woman had died of cancer that had spread from the nasal bone to the frontal sinus. For this reason one of the professors had taken the face off the corpse in order to demonstrate the disease with this preparation.

The secret knife had carelessly cut through the cheeks from the corner of the mouth and the flesh was now there, bluish gray and shriveled. The eye sockets were deeply sunken and were darker in color. Sister Clarissa had taken care of the deceased, who had died six months ago. It had been a lovely, gentle young mother. She had suffered terribly; the thought of her children, who were born with the germs of cancer and, in her opinion, had fallen to the same sad fate as their mother, had made it difficult for her to die. The young nun had made the Protestant partake of the sacrament and then closed her eyes. These eyes, which she held here in her hand, prepared in alcohol and ether.

The sister believed in the resurrection of the flesh. She was taught this under those dogmas of the Church in which to believe is a requirement of bliss.

She considered herself a bride of the Lord and in the sick she cared for, she had mercy on the earthly body of him for whom her soul waited. With humble work and faithful prayer, she waited for the hour when the heavenly Bridegroom she would call to the wedding party. Through death, grave and resurrection, she hoped to enter into eternal glory. The sacred fire of a passionate faith filled the soul of this quiet girl, turned away from the world.

Every letter of the Church’s teaching was for her a pillar that one could not shake without endangering the whole temple that she had built for the Lord in her heart. The resurrection of the flesh – a sentence of the Article of Faith itself – was one of the pillars on which the doctrines to which it belonged were based. But how was this theorem to be combined with this artificial preservation of human remains that she had in front of her daily and hourly?

She clearly remembered that a young doctor had gone to anatomy with a photographer in order to photograph the head of the dead after the face had been removed down to the jaw and tongue. The parts in which the disease had done its work of destruction were marked red in the photograph, and the terrible picture had been explained to the students in the lecture hall.

In brooding thoughts, the nurse left the auditorium and went to her station to take the watch.

The rows of beds lay in the semi-darkness on either side of the room. The hard, narrow beds were covered with white. The clothes of the sick were white and clean. Between every two Beds were a large enough space to allow several people to move freely.

There was no soft pillow into which the sleepers’ heads could sink; no duvet blurred the lines of the resting bodies, which stood out high and mostly in unsightly lines from the mattresses on which they were only covered by a light woolen blanket. Incidentally, that was not a disadvantage, for it was warm in the hall; but many a patient groaned and could not sleep on these hygienically correct but unusually stiff pillows.

There were twenty women and girls in the room, but none of them were seriously ill. The head nurse had said that no death was to be expected in the course of the night.

The ward’s isolation room was empty.

The pale nun stepped comfortably to the various beds. She straightened the cushion here, smoothed the cloths there, put ice packs on the forehead of the feverish woman and held the drinking glass to hot, thirsty lips.

In general she did not have much of a helping hand, and her superior was right when she thought that a nurse was superfluous here. The nurses’ services had to be paid for separately from the house budget.

Around ten o’clock it was pretty quiet in the hall. Sister Clarissa knelt in the corner in front of the Virgin Mary with the little lamp and prayed hers prescribed number. The sick were calm, for the most part they slept.

Suddenly the nun on watch felt as if she heard the bell of the doorman. Should someone have had an accident somewhere and was taken to the clinic during the night? Sister Clarissa had seen it often, and she suspected it now too, but she did not leave her room to look.

“You don’t care what doesn’t come to you.”

This principle, which runs directly against female curiosity, is impressed on novices a thousand and a thousand times. With Sister Clarissa it had become flesh and blood; she remained calm in her devotional practice, although she could clearly hear footsteps and male voices in the corridors of the ward. In between there was sometimes a single, shrill, animal sound.

Some sick people straightened up. “Stay in bed, a sick person will be brought in, our room is full, we will not be disturbed under any circumstances,” – so she talked to her wards.

Some were frightened at the wild, inarticulate tones, others wanted to get up out of curiosity, but the sister gently and firmly brought everyone to rest and kept order in the hall.

Now a doctor appeared in the door. “Nurse Clarissa, you have someone in your isolation room, don’t you have a nurse?” He asked.

“No, Herr Doktor, there is nothing special to be done here,” answered she kindly.

For a moment the tall, elegant figure of the young doctor stood hesitating in the doorway. “That is very uncomfortable,” said he, “I think there is no other room in the house free.”

“Not in the women’s wards,” remarked a guard, who approached curiously.

“Well, then you have to manage Rath, sister,” decided the ward doctor.

He opened the door to the isolation room, and the nun hurried back into the room. She went to the bed of a good-natured-looking middle-aged woman who was a Convalescentin. “If something is necessary here, please ring the doorbell, Frau Schulz,” she whispered, “I’ve got work to do next door.”

The woman nodded understandingly, and Nurse Clarissa scurried out.

When she entered the small, extremely simple room next to the large hall, she saw a stretcher standing there on which a female figure could be recognized in dark outlines. The two porters left and the policeman who had led the transport was left alone with the doctor, the guard and the nurse.

“So there is no way you can explain who this person is?” Asked Dr. Schlueter the officer.

“Doctor, I found her in a barn, completely decayed, unconscious, without food, no one was with her. The police station sent me here with her. The owner of the barn will be able to provide some information, the police have already sent it for him. ”

“If we are to admit the patient, I have to know who is paying for her,” replied the doctor. “All vacancies are occupied by the city’s poor and without asking my boss, I am not allowed to take in anyone whose papers are missing.”

“Send for the poor council. Doctor, the police can’t let a terminally ill person starve to death on the street. ”

Doctor Schlueter saw that. “I want to keep it for this night,” he said hesitantly, “we have to find out more tomorrow morning.”

“At your orders, Herr Doktor,” answered the policeman, turned around and left the quiet house of suffering and pain with booming steps.

Sister Clarissa had tried repeatedly to approach the lifeless figure, but a terrible smell, like that of a decaying corpse, had always scared her off the stretcher. In spite of this, the terrible tones that sometimes came from the wide open mouth of the unconscious showed that there was still life in this black, shapeless mass.

The doctor retreated with an exclamation of disgust as he bent down to see what the injury or illness was.

“I can’t examine her until she’s bathed,” he said. “Jahn, you have to help the sister. It does not matter here whether a man or a woman is touching; if you can’t finish, get another guard. ”

Without wondering further, the guard slung the stretcher’s strap over his shoulders; Nurse Clarissa took hold of the other end and the doctor followed them to the bathing room.

While the nurse turned on the water pipe, Jahn tried to remove the sticky rags from the human body that lay in front of him.

When his limbs were completely immobile, he took a pair of scissors and cut the stuff in strips from the body of the unconscious.

The nun had meanwhile made up the bathroom and turned to the guard to help him. She had been in the clinic for two years and had endured some bloody and some repulsive sights; but as she now bent over the stinking body of this woman with scissors in hand, she uttered a low scream and sank down on a chair, half passed out.

It trickled out of the clothes like a dark liquid, down the stretcher onto the stones of the floor. But not blood and mud, but slurry-like dirt and heaps of vermin covered this figure and these clothes. – Doctor Schlueter recognized that the task of this bath was done by women and ruthlessly rang the bell for the head guard of the next men’s ward. When the latter appeared, he withdrew himself, for the air in the small, hot room was beginning to become unbearable.

The two men tore off the remains of the rags, put the barely recognizable woman’s body in the water, worked it with soap, carbolic and brushes, and the sister collected the dirty pieces of stuff in a sack that was later burned in the boiler house. Then she cleaned and disinfected the room, cut the hair of those bathed close to the scalp, and the two guards renewed the water in the bathtub several times before they rubbed the now terribly screaming and raging person and tied them to the stretcher.

The head caretaker turned to the merciful maiden with pity: “What, pious sister, you didn’t think that when you went to the monastery that something like this – please allow me – would come your way?”

Sister Clarissa tilted her face low over the stretcher. “The harder the work, the greater the mortification of earthly man and his sinful natural feelings,” she answered. “In our breviary it says: You should be like a corpse.”

“My daughter wants to go to the monastery too, but if they have to live there after such a breviary, then I’ll think twice about whether I will allow it, “growled the man. Then he and Jahn took hold of the stretcher, and the sad train slowly moved back to the third women’s ward.

Dr. Schlueter was now fetched again and the two guards left when they saw that the unfortunate woman seemed to be reasonably calm on the warm, dry bed.

“The police seem to have sent us a nice subject,” he remarked as he entered, “I really felt sorry for you, Sister Clarissa.”

The patient roared like an animal.

“For God’s sake,” cried the doctor nervously, “the whole ward is in an uproar, make an injection of morphine as soon as possible.”

The nurse took the little case out of her pocket, filled the syringe on a wall cupboard, and knelt by the bed to look for a suitable place on the emaciated, brownish body to take the sting.