December 1916This title sounds rather egotistical, with so much of the first person singular contained in it, doesn’t it, dear reader? Well, as a matter of fact, it is dualistic, as it concerns my eye as much as myself; and if he did not exist I should not be able to write this at all.
I must inform you that I am the possessor of a lonely eye. It isn’t my fault entirely. You see, I am blessed with a slight dint upon my countenance, and before the dint was graciously bestowed upon me a twinkling (not wicked) eye adorned the spot where the aforesaid dint now is. Ergo, I have one eye left, all on his own; but he is nevertheless a good and faithful optic. He is deeply attached to me (I don’t mean physiologically only); and I to him. We often have little talks together, though we have to call in a mirror to help us so that we can see each other. Sometimes he betrays that my temper is out of joint by blazing truculently. Now and again he shows that my emotions are affected, by allowing a few drops of salt moisture to make their way past him. Very often, however, I catch him indulging in this sloppy practice himself, and on enquiring the reason he says that he is grieving for his lost brother, and he has a horrible feeling that his poor brother has been captured as a souvenir, and that he is at present bumping up and down in a German’s haversack. My lonely eye teaches me many things.
Last night, about eight o’clock (I was not in an amiable mood, as the doctor had seen me that afternoon, and this particular doctor possesses some extra long forceps), I remembered that I had a message to give to a chum in the main building. So, reinforcing my trousers with an extra safety-pin, and girding my eyeshade about my noble napper, I ventured bravely forth. As a start I nearly fell down the balcony steps. That did not improve my temper. Then I nearly broke my leg on a confounded dustbin. That did less to soothe my irascible frame of mind. I went on a little further. One of my slippers disengaged itself from my foot, and I only noticed it when I trod upon something which possessed the disagreeable quality of being sharp.* I am afraid I muttered something that sounded German, but is nevertheless an expression in plain English. Suddenly I crashed into a tree with tremendous force – and learnt that it isn’t only love that makes the world go round. I felt like breaking out with a torrent of forcible solecisms, but then my lonely eye asserted himself.
“Now,” he said, “what’s the use of showing your temper? Keep that vile temper of yours under better control, or you’ll be losing me also. You nearly ran me into a branch, and you make me blaze so that it is a wonder I am not burnt up.”
My lonely eye and myself once had a talk on the wonderful things that surgical skill has done. Then I mentioned to him that it would be very advantageous to me if he were removed from his present quarters and affixed into the centre of my forehead. “Or,” I went on, “if you were placed at the end of one of my fingers it would be extremely profitable. I should be able to stick my finger over the fence and see the football match for nothing.” My lonely eye shed a tear or two, and begged not to be moved from his old home; he preferred to remain in the old rut alongside the one that his brother used to occupy.
I could tell you much more about my lonely eye and myself, but there is not room. I might tell you that my lonely eye and I have seen a lot in our time, and have been in some tight corners, but when we leave the hospital we intend to settle down in a nice little home with another pair of eyes to look after us – a pair of hazel eyes. If you suspect that this pair of eyes does not belong to such a strong sex as my lonely eye and myself, you are not far wrong.
*Note by the Censor: Why were you out without your boots on?
PTE. LABAN COWLING (Lincolnshire Regiment)