The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Parcel From Home
The Parcel From Home.
It's only an ordinary battered package—a tin (same as Mum used to get the tea in from old Withers, the grocer), sewn neatly into a canvas cover, and looking much the worse for its journey. My address embellishes the outside cover, Sister Millie's best round hand having been employed in the task. Poor old Mill. I bet she spent some time over it. She's a dear old kid, anyhow, and when I go home—but steady. I said it was only an ordinary, battered old parcel, and here I am getting sentimental over it already. I'll tear the cover off it, anyhow, and "see what's doing inside.
Yes I thought so, one of old Withers' tea tins. I well remember him—a clumsy old beggar, with side whiskers. Didn't I laugh the day my dog ran off with his best ham! I wonder who's looking after old "Rover" now; he was the best of dogs. But I suppose I'd better get on with this parcel-opening stunt. Ah! she's soldered down, but old "Bluey's" knife will soon fix that—("Are you there, 'Blue'? I broke your knife! What? I'm a bit deaf lately"). That's fixed it, anyhow. What's this on top? Preserved fruits from young Bill! I suppose that represents the kid's savings for a fortnight. I'll have to send him something if ever I get leave to Cairo again. And then, (as padding I suppose) a pair of socks, "with love in every stitch, from Mill." Really I don't think one appreciates one's sisters till one has lost them for a while. If Mill wern't my sister I'm dead sure I would be getting married as soon as I lob home. Halloa! the Old Man's had his finger in the pie, too—a pipe and three tins of tobacco. Good business. But how on earth did he know that I had taken on to a pipe—it seems to me that one's folk get to know a good bit more than he thinks they do. Now, I wouldn't be surprised after that if the Mater knows all about how I said good-bye to Clara—What's this?
"Sermons to Young Men," from Aunt Maud. "Hey, walad! taala hina, very nice book, backs-heesh". But, no, old Aunt's got a kind heart, and I may as well read the book now she's sent it. Now there's a small packet from Mum, a wee Bible and a wristlet watch. Gee! this sun does make your eyes misty, doesn't it? Everything seems blurred for the minute. But next thing up is a photo—whose is it? Why, it's a snap of old "Rover," and doesn't he look fat! He's a fine dog is "Rover"; did I tell you of the time he sneaked off with the ham out of old Withers' shop? But I think I did, so I won't repeat it.
That's all, anyhow—No, there's an envelope at the very bottom of the tin, and mother's writing on it too: "I suppose you'll like this best of all." What is it, anyhow?—a silver wristlet identity disc, same as I told them some of the fellows had. My number and particulars correct, too—that's a wonder. Who's it from though? What's this on the back? Whew! "To Dear Bert, from Clara." "Dear Bert," eh! She never called me that before, not even the night I said good-bye down by the river. Um—I wonder—But what did I tell you about old Mum knowing all about that. Dear old Mum: I can almost see her now and the look in her eyes when I left.
It's a bonzer parcel, anyway—Hang it.' I must be getting a cold; I feel as if there's a huge lump in my throat, and I'm going to choke. But there's a glorious sunset and the desert doesn't seem so dreary as usual. Did I say it was only an ordinary battered package? Well, I was wrong; it was a great big bit of "Home" packed into a small space and it would take all the battering in the world to knock it out of shape.