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The Spike or Victoria University College Review Silver Jubilee 1924

(3) The End of it all

(3) The End of it all.

Salonica harbour lay shining in the sunlight of the early afternoon. In the foreground, close along the quay were the fishing boats, their sides curved down to the centre like the ships of classical tales. Anchored near were several small Greek transports ready to discharge their loads of little Greek soldiers and to swing out their hundreds of little packhorses. These one would meet later as part of the unending line of the Greek army passing through the stony streets, on their way out to the frontier. Farther out lay the ships of the great nations—warships of Britain, France and Russia placed at intervals all over the harbour and among them transport after transport, their black decks filled from end to end with troops.

At the landing stage opposite the end of Venizelos St. were to be seen the motor launches from the warships and the boats from the transports edging their way among the Greek boatmen and landing British, French and Russian officers and seamen to join the crowds in the streets along the front.

Leaving this crowded quay a man and woman set out in a small boat to take some Red Cross luggage to a hospital ship lying far out. The day was particularly lovely and the scene impressed the woman afresh with its extraordinary interest and grandeur—the great harbour filled with its fleet of ships and the fine old Turkish town rising up from the shores to the hill top and made more picturesque by the delicate minarets springing up out of the crowded masses of old buildings. Thoughts of the great empire to which she belonged were in her mind and all the excitement of being in the midst of great and stirring scenes. They drew nearer the hospital ship—a beautiful thing with its long white hull on which stretched a band of bright green interrupted with a red cross.

Coming up to the gangway was an open barge towed by a small launch, and then one noticed that something was being carried with difficulty at the top of the gangway. The bright colours of a Hag showed up and brought some cheery remark to the man's lips. But the remark died away and both were suddenly silent as they saw what the burden was that was being carried down the long steps and placed in the barge with the page 33 Union Jack over it. Four men stepped into the barge and sat at the sides, one of them a priest, and the little motor launch pulled gently away across the sunlit water. One knew that there had been no fighting and that this was just one more soldier dying of disease by the way, after all his keenness to go to the front and all his dreams of the excitement of doing his bit.

Their eyes and their reverent thoughts followed that barge until it was lost among the shipping near the quay, and the sunshine and the glory of the scene went away with it, leaving only the aching thought of the pity of it all.