Union Hospital Dec. 26th [1862]

My Dear Miss Stevenson,

If I had not been sure that you
knew better than I can tell you how little
time one gets for letter writing in this big
bee hive I should have reproached my
self with broken promises, but as you
probably have a very realizing sense of my
employments I will make no apologies
but tell what you were kind enough
to express an interest in, viz. How I like
hospital life & how I get on.

If I had come expecting to enjoy my-
self I should have paraded home again
a week ago as an all pervading bewilder
ment fell upon me for the first few
days, & when Miss Kendall calmly asked

me to wash and put clean clothes on some
eight or ten dreary faced, dirty & wound-
ed men who came in last week I felt
that the climax was reached & proceeded
to do it very much as I should have
attempted to cut off arms or legs if or-
dered to. Having no brothers & a woman-
ly man for a father I find myself
rather staggered by some of the perform-
ances about me but possessing a touch
of Macawber's spirit--I still hope to
get used to it & hold myself "ready for
a spring if anything turns up."

My ward is the lower one & I perade
that region like a stout brown ghost
from six in the morning till nine at
night haunting & haunted for when
not doing something I am endeavoring
to decide what comes next being sure
some body is in need of my maternal
fussing. If we had capable attendants
things would go nicely but sick soldiers
being mortal will give out, get cross

or keep out of sight in a surprisingly
successful manner which induces the
distracted nurse to wish she were a
family connection of Job's. I have old
McGee whom you may remember & a
jolly old soul he is but not a Mercury,
my other helper is a vile boy who gobbles
up my stores, hustles "my boys," steals my
money & causes my angry passions to
rise to such an extent that he was this
morning deposed & a mild youth much
given to falling flat with soap bowls
in his new-broomish desire to do well
reigns in his stead.

My chief afflictions are bad air & no
out of door exercise, bad odours are my
daily bread so to speak & in the course of
time I may learn to relish them, the
other matter must take its chance & if I
get hopelessly stupid by being roasted
& stifled they must turn me out to
pasture on the Heights, other people live
without & I must learn this also.

I find Mrs. Ropes very motherly
& kind, Miss Kendall the most faithful of
workers, too much so for her own good
I take the liberty of thinking, but now
that her friend is with her she some-
times consents to rest. The other people
are all more or less agreeable & friendly
but they might be archangels & I
not know it as there is no time for
conversation or merrymaking of any
sort. Our Christmas dinner was a
funny scramble but we trimmed up
the rooms & tried to make it pleasant
for the poor fellows & they seemed to en-
joy it after a fashion.

This is a very hasty scribble but half
a dozen stumps are waiting to be wet
& my head is full of little duties to be
punctually performed so I write to a sort
of mental tune that goes on all day--

Skinners broth, Marble's tea,
Blister Swift, & write for Lee,
Somethings wanting, so I see.

[This text appears at the top of page three, written "upside-down" to the main body of text and continues on the top of page two. ] Please tell the sister who sent it that the pear
[This text appears at the top of page two, written "upside-down" to the main body of text and continues from the top of page three.] was my water bottle all the way to Baltimore.

[This text appears in the white space at the top of the first page of the letter, written perpendicular to the main body of text presented on page one of this transcription.] Everything here strikes
me as very odd &
shiftless both within &
without, people, manners
customs & ways of
living, but I like to
watch it all & am very
glad I came as this is
the sort of study I
enjoy. If you find
a minute in your busy
life to send a few lines
to the embryo nurse
she will feel much hon-
ored for letters are our
only excitement. Very
truly yours,

L. M. Alcott

20 cm x 12.2 cm

From the Curtis-Stevenson papers