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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

The Parcel From Home

page 8

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.