On July 28th, Miss Nightingale and Aunt Mai left for home, travelling as Mrs and Miss Smith. With her was a Queen’s Messenger, a one legged sailor boy, a Russian orphan, a large Crimea puppy and a cat which died on the journey. She spent the night with M.Mohl [Mary Clarke] and continued on alone to England. The following day she went to the Convent of the Bermonsey nuns, where she spent all morning in prayer and meditation. In the afternoon she took a train North and in the evening walked up from Whatstandwell station to Lea Hurst.
There was so much work for her to do, her reforms were just beginning. Could she one woman achieve her goal. The memories of the squalor, and filth, pain and suffering would be with her for the rest of her life, is this not the strength she needed to carry on.
PUNCH – Poem on her quiet return from Crimea
When titles, pension, orders, with random band are showered,
`T is well that gave with blessings, she still should walk undowr`d,
What title like her own sweet name, with the music all its own?
When order like the halo by her good deeds round her thrown?
Then leave her to the quiet she has chosen; she demands,
No greeting from our brazen throats, and vulgar clapping hands,
Leave her to the still comfort the saints know, that have striven,
When Florence returned from the Crimea, she was very much in demand, and received many invitations, but refused them all. Although very tired, she still wanted to continue with her work. Florence contacted Lord Panmure and Sidney Herbert, but it was August and they were both on holiday, neither of them wanted to be disturbed.
An old friend James Clarke wrote to Florence, that Queen Victoria wanted to meet her, and hear of her experiences in the Crimea. Not only officially, but privately. She was to stay at James Clarke`s house Birk Hall, not far from Balmoral, and would be commanded from there to go to an official interview with the Queen.