Back at the Front

The sun started to rise on the Sixth of July. It was a bit foggy, but, not a bad day.  Four days until he would probably be killed, but about a week since he had made hay with Anna. So all in all, pretty OK.

“So, better or worse?”

“Hmm?” Evans looked at Captain Kestel.

“You defended White Beach a year ago. Do you think this will be Better or Worse?”

“Well, last time I did get hit by an artillery shell,” Evans stroked his chin, “On the other hand, I met the most beautiful woman.”

“Incorrect.”

“Excuse me?”

“That would be illegal,” Captain Kestel undid her hair and fluffed it, “For I am the Most Beautiful Woman in All the Land… I think… Yeah, there aren’t any Duchess’s right now, and I am the only female heir to a Duchy. Though, Duke Newacre is getting pretty old, and third in line is Lady Brianna, so, probably two years tops until I am only Most Beautiful Woman in Medway. Probably the only way your wife could be more beautiful than me would be to for her to be awarded a Duchy. Wait, where was Anna born again?”

“Silesia.”

“Then definitely no for two reasons. One, legally, women from Ethslin are more beautiful than women from any other country. Which is a bit weird, I’m not really sure why that is a law, but, it is. Two, Duchies can only be awarded to natural born citizens. In theory, if you were awarded a Duchy,  she would become about a rung of beauty below me. But, you would first have to be commissioned, probably through some act of extreme gallantry. Then you would need to rise through the ranks until you are a General. At this point, you will probably get a Viscountship. Then, you need to do accomplish some sort of great victory on the battlefield. Then, if you are really really lucky, the Oligarchs might deem you important enough to maybe get a Duchy. And I would still be more beautiful than her.”

“Can you get stripped of your title somehow?”

“Excuse me? Lady Demetria?”

The two turned to look at the newcomer. It was Polly. Captain Kestel nodded, “You may speak.”

“I’m the soldier you borrowed a blanket from about six months back Lady. Would you have a moment to spare for a word from my Commanding Officer?”

Captain Kestel nodded. Polly signaled back behind her, and Captain Stoddart stepped out. He approached Captain Kestel and bowed, “It is an honor to be in your presence Lady Demetria Kestel of Medway. I am Lord Winston Stoddart the Third of Halsey.”

Captain Kestel did a half curtsy and responded, “To what do I owe the pleasure Lord…” She looked up and scrunched her eyebrows, “Sorry, I do not remember. Is your father still alive?”

“And my grandfather, so I will not be Lord Halsey for a while. Just Lord Winston for now.”

Evans and Polly walked out of earshot to give the two privacy, “I didn’t know Captain Stoddart was noble.”

Polly nodded, “He doesn’t like to bring it up. He says he’d rather be judged on his own merits.” She sighed, “He does brag a lot about how smart he is though.”

“Yeah, plus, he really loves talking about rocks.”

She laughed, “Oh God, there have been a few times where he has run out of the mine, pulled me off watch, and shown me some sort of rock thing.”

“Yeah,” Evans smiled, “First platoon meeting, he gathered us all to talk about some rocks he found. Taught me a valuable lesson that I still use to this day. You can ignore everything an officer says that isn’t a direct order.”

“Polly!” Captain Stoddart shouted, “Polly! Back to the mine!”

“See ya later Evans,” Polly smiled, turned, and followed Captain Stoddart back to the entrance of the trench system.

Evans walked back to Captain Kestel. He started to salute when she grabbed his hands and started bouncing. The Captain had a huge smile on her face, “Guess what just happened?”

“Uh…”

“Winston asked me to dinner. Tomorrow night,” She hugged him, “I’m so excited! And he is so great, he is smart, funny, cute-”

Lieutenant Colonel Strummer cleared her throat, the three exchanged salutes. “Captain Kestel. Two things. First, I need your Company Fitness Report in a two hours. Second, I am fine if you two are friends, just try to be more discreet about it. Always salute in public and no touching.”

Captain Kestel nodded, “Yes Ma’am. I understand. And my report will be on your desk in an hour.”

The Lieutenant Colonel nodded, did an about turn, and walked off.

Evans smiled, “Well, Ma’am. I guess we will have to be more professional Ma’am. Might I assist you with your report Ma’am?”

“No Lance Corporal, I have tasked Lieutenant Gates with preparing the report. Since, as a poor peasant farmer, I would not expect you to know how to read. And kneel when I’m talking to you. Also kiss my hand.”

Evans snapped, “HA! I’m not allowed to touch you. I win Cap.”

“You have got me there Corp,” She laughed, “I am really excited about tomorrow. Just think about how romantic that would be? I go off to war and meet my husband, a handsome young nobleman. The newspapers would go crazy.”

“Can you imagine what’s going to happen when you get pregnant Cap? That would probably frontpage news for all nine months.”

“Good thing I will not have to worry about that for a while. It will probably the hardest battle I will ever have to face. And I will not even have you to help.”

“What do you mean I won’t be able to help you Cap? I’ll follow you to the end of the world. Especially if the end of the world means shooing reporters. And I’m sure Anna will help too. She’s feisty.”

Captain Kestel smiled, “If you are serious, I could probably find someone on my staff after the war for you.”

“Well, if we both survive this war, I might just have to take you up on that. I’m pretty sure Anna would hate my other plan of moving back to Halton and farming,” Evans laughed, “Being the wife of a poor farmer or being able to see her favorite celebrity every day. I wonder which she’ll choose.”

“I keep hearing about Anna, and I still have not met her.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure meeting you will be like what happens whenever anyone else meets you. Except, since she isn’t military, she won’t get excited to me and then pretend to be normal around you.”

“Do people really act different when I am not there?”

Evans nodded, “Once, when you were sleeping, I got a runner from Battalion, and she asked if she could have some of your hair. And I’ve heard a lot worse than that Cap.”

“James,” Captain Kestel shrugged, “Never tell me about those things.”

“Is that an order Cap?”

“Yes Evans. Yes it is.”

 

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