“Fleurette,” Robert W. Service

Fleurette

THE WOUNDED CANADIAN SPEAKS:
My leg? It’s off at the knee.
Do I miss it? Well, some. You see
I’ve had it since I was born;
And lately a devilish corn.
(I rather chuckle with glee
To think how I’ve fooled that corn.)

But I’ll hobble around all right.
It is n’t that, it’s my face.
Oh, I know I’m a hideous sight,
Hardly a thing in place.
Sort of gargoyle, you’d say.
Nurse won’t give me a glass,
But I see the folks as they pass
Shudder and turn away;
Turn away in distress…
Mirror enough, I guess.
I’m gay! You bet I am gay,
But I was n’t a while ago.
If you’d seen me even to-day,
The darnedest picture of woe,
With this Caliban mug of mine,
So ravaged and raw and red,
Turned to the wall—in fine
Wishing that I was dead….
What has happened since then,
Since I lay with my face to the wall,
The most despairing of men!
Listen! I’ll tell you all.

That poilu across the way,
With the shrapnel wound on his head,
Has a sister: she came to-day
To sit awhile by his bed.
All morning I heard him fret:
“Oh, when will she come, Fleurette?”

Then sudden, a joyous cry;
The tripping of little feet;
The softest, tenderest sigh;
A voice so fresh and sweet;
Clear as a silver bell,
Fresh as the morning dews:
“C’est toi, c’est toi, Marcel!
Mon frère, comme je suis heureuse!”

So over the blanket’s rim
I raised my terrible face,
And I saw–how I envied him!
A girl of such delicate grace;
Sixteen, all laughter and love;
As gay as a linnet, and yet
As tenderly sweet as a dove;
Half woman, half child–Fleurette.
Then I turned to the wall again.
(I was awfully blue, you see,)
And I thought with a bitter pain:
“Such visions are not for me.”
So there like a log I lay,
All hidden, I thought, from view,
When sudden I heard her say:
“Ah! Who is that malheureux?”
Then briefly I heard him tell
(However he came to know)
How I’d smothered a bomb that fell
Into the trench, and so
None of my men were hit,
Though it busted me up a bit.

Well, I did n’t quiver an eye,
And he chattered and there she sat;
And I fancied I heard her sigh–
But I would n’t just swear to that.
And maybe she was n’t so bright,
Though she talked in a merry strain,
And I closed my eyes ever so tight,
Yet I saw her ever so plain:
Her dear little tilted nose,
Her delicate, dimpled chin,
Her mouth like a budding rose,
And the glistening pearls within;
Her eyes like the violet:
Such a rare little queen–Fleurette.

And at last when she rose to go,
The light was a little dim,
And I ventured to peep, and so
I saw her, graceful and slim,
And she kissed him and kissed him, and oh
How I envied and envied him!

So when she was gone I said
In rather a dreary voice
To him of the opposite bed:
“Ah, friend, how you must rejoice!
But me, I’m a thing of dread.
For me nevermore the bliss,
The thrill of a woman’s kiss.”

Then I stopped, for lo! she was there,
And a great light shone in her eyes.
And me! I could only stare,
I was taken so by surprise,
When gently she bent her head:
“May I kiss you, sergeant?” she said.

Then she kissed my burning lips,
With her mouth like a scented flower,
And I thrilled to the finger-tips,
And I had n’t even the power
To say: “God bless you, dear!”
And I felt such a precious tear
Fall on my withered cheek,
And darn it! I could n’t speak.
And so she went sadly away,
And I know that my eyes were wet.
Ah, not to my dying day
Will I forget, forget!
Can you wonder now I am gay?
God bless her, that little Fleurette!

–Robert W. Service

Published by Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s writing showcases her voracious lifelong love of books. She reads over 120 new books each year, especially historical romance, fantasy, and space opera, and incorporates these genres into her erotic fiction. Her first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. When not writing, Victoria conducts research in libraries and graveyards, lectures about writing and selling erotica, and speaks at literary conventions on topics such as paranormal romance, urban fantasy, erotic science fiction/fantasy, and the empowerment of women through unconventional means. Her daily writing blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and author interviews. She also guest blogs for Heroes & Heartbreakers and The Criminal Element. She lives in Philadelphia.