We Ve Rather Failed

"We've Rather Failed"

Who: Rupert & Christiane
IC Date: May 1940
OOC Date: Feb. 7, 2008
Where: Arras Hospital, France

What: Rupert and Christiane mourn the inevitable fall of Arras.

Arras Hospital (16 4)
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The Grid-----> > > > > THE GREATEST GENERATION < < <


Arras Hospital is a relatively modern facility. The building was built about ten years ago, when the old hospital no longer served as well as it should, so the house still retains some of that freshness of new paint and new gear. Upon entering, there's a large waiting hall and a receptionist meeting the clientele. Hallways leading off of this area goes to various sections of the hospital.

It is currently dawn.

Sub-Rooms :
1. Balcony

Contents
Christiane

Out <O>

Rupert has connected.

Rupert is sitting up in bed, writing in his diary. He looks remarkably well, considering how short a time he's been here and how badly his legs were messed up when he dragged himself into the hospital. He's wearing the coat of his officer's service uniform over his hospital pyjamas for some reason.

Rupert's Desc
This man is of average height, fairly slender, and looks unremarkable in every way. He has lank brown hair, watery blue eyes, and a weak chin. His face in general is round and soft, almost childish, lacking much in the way of angles and cheekbones. He does, however, have a prominent adam's apple that tends to bop up and down when he speaks. He can't be a day over twenty-five, and his baby-faced appearance makes him look even younger than that. He's been trying to grow a moustache to butch his face up a bit, but so far with limited success.
He is wearing army khakis with a 2nd lieutenant's lonely pip on the collars, a brodie helmet and a service pistol in a holster by his side. His uniform is neat and clean, his helmet unscratched and his boots polished. He doesn't look like he's seen a lot of action.

Christiane emerges from the staff's preparation area. Her hands and face are washed, and she looks as fresh as one can here. She walks slowly down the rows of beds, checking th eboys, occasionally stopping to exchange a smile or brief moment's chat with one of the soldiers. Her conversation switches easily from soft French to accented English.

Christiane's Desc
A woman of about forty years, in the autumn of her life, but still with a quiet strength about her manner and a spring in her step girls half her age might envy. Only a few lines have etched their way onto her fair-skinned face - made from smiles and laughter - and her shoulder-length hair is still more light brown than gray. She is of average height and weight, with a face that is pleasant but unremarkable. The most arresting feature she possesses is her eyes. They are a deep gray, just a few shades too stormy for blue, and hold a look of intelligence and compassion, mixed with a quiet sadness of one who has seen much hardship over the years. When she speaks a trace of a Belgian accent lilts her words, though its been softened by years in the Arras region of France.
She's wearing a dress of plain gray wool. The skirt is long but not too cumbersome, as the dress is made to be worn for work rather than fashion. A thick white apron is tied across the front of it, to catch whatever manner of blood or other medical nastiness she has to handle and a pair of sensible brown shoes are worn on her feet. The sort of shoes one wears when they do a lot of walking and want to stay as comfortable as possible. A scarf of pale blue, embroidered with tiny cherry blossom-like flowers, is the only spot of real color she wears. It's tied about her head like a kerchief, keeping her hair back and out of her face. A gold wedding ring adorns the third finger of her left hand.

Rupert looks up from his diary, spotting Christiane making her rounds. His weak face is serious and unsmiling, and he continues to write, pale blue eyes flicking between the paper and the nurse's face. There's something queer about him, as if something were bothering him.

Christiane's gray eyes rest on Rupert as she nears him, her sympathetic, assessing gaze not much different from the one she's been fixing on the other men. If she notices something off about him she gives no sign. But she does stop to linger beside his bed. "You are looking better, Lieutenant," she says, with approval.

Rupert glances up, murmuring, "Yes, quite", without meeting her gaze. He stares at the diary in his hands for a while, not writing, his watery eyes dark with some concealed emotion. Finally, he looks up, speaking in English in favour of his maimed French, "I am sorry." Guilt lies heavy on his weak-chinned face, as well as sympathy and pity - not for him, but for you.

Christiane smiles, with a touch of relief, when he speaks to her in English. Less painful for both of them. She regards the young lieutenant with some sympathy of her own. "Whatever are you sorry for, Lieutenant?" she asks softly.

"I am sure that you have heard, about the evacuation." Rupert puts down his pen, looking at you a trifle sadly. "I'm afraid to say that we've rather failed you, madame." He sits there stiff-backed, clad in his servive uniform with its polished buttons and golden braid like it were an armour against the obvious shame on his face. It's clearly not proving to be a very effective one.

Christiane nods, pulling up a chair beside Rupert's bed and sitting. "I have heard," she says simply. Her expression is somber, but there's no blame in it. Just sadness, and tiredness, and a terrible sort of resignation. "Things are very bad. Both of us, we are positions to see that clearly. Too clearly for our liking, perhaps." She reaches out a hand to lay it on Rupert's shoulder. It's a comforting, rather maternal, gesture. Most of the soldiers are nearly young enough to be her sons. "You did what you could. But this…this is beyond what those like you can do."

Rupert doesn't seem ruffled by the physical contact; in his world, women are divided evenly into ethereal, lethal unapproachable creatures and nurturers; for better or worse, he seems to have accepted you into the second category. "It is not over yet." He doesn't sound convinced by that, not even a little. He adds, somewhat more insistently, "We will return."

"What will come, will come," Christiane says. She tries not to sound fatalistic about it. She's good at keeping up a front of unruffled competence around her patients. But not good enough to keep the grief out of her voice with the Nazis marching closer and closer to her doorstep. "Do you have wife, Lieutenant Orm-Herrick? Children?"

"A wife? Goodness, no." Rupert blanches at that; not as if the prospect were unpleasant, but rather unthinkable. He looks wistful for a moment, before adding, "Most of my sisters are married, though. I have a few nephews, wild little bounders." Apparently, that's to him the next best thing to a family of one's own.

Christiane has to smile at the way Rupert blanches, though she does not laugh. "I have two daughters," she says. She knows he's met at least one of them in the cafe and, luckily, lived through the experience. "The one thing I wanted for them, in this world, was to live in peace. To never see days like these. Perhaps we've both failed."

"It isn't you or me who made this war, madame." Rupert puckers his brows, as if rethinking his more or less automatic answer. "Or was it? Sometimes, I wonder. Is it the politician, the statesman who raises the banners and sends the men to war? Or is it the cry of the mob, the impassioned pleas for action in the newspaper, the general mood of the people? Some have said that our statesmen were too slow in raising the banners." He shakes his head, "I suppose it's a strange old world, when their desire for peace has caused a greater war."

Christiane sighs, thinking on all of that. "The world is very strange, and not for you or I to comprehend, I think. I suspect if we looked back we would find many mistakes, by many men and women, that led us to this place. All we can do is try to make the best of it. You can't save France, Lieutenant. I'm not sure even God can save France now. Do what you can for your men. We have not seen the worst of these days, I fear. You will be in my prayers."

"France is not lost even if it is occupied, madame. And that, thank God, is still far from a certainty. Your armies have retreated South - I am sure that they will return one day, and we along with them." Rupert doesn't sound that certain of it, putting on a good face of it for you. He offers her a brave nod, his smile rather fragile, "I will also think of Arras. I hope we meet again in gentler times." And with that, he goes back to scribbling in his diary.

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