Man, the stuff that can happen in a few days! I have a lot of catching up to do. Lederhosen, I feel your pain. Back pain is a terrible mistress. Wulfe, I am truly sorry for your loss. You had put in a lot of time into that pilot. I'm glad to see you are back in the saddle.
Lt. Mark Jericho Lahoussoye Aerodrome Jan. 13, 1916
No one knows what got into Jericho upon arriving at Lahoussoye on the 10th. Almost 4 months of combat flying surely had taken a toll, even though he had not shown it until today. He had thrown a cursing fit to anyone who would listen. Most did not. Unknown to him, his friends Swany and Jim had asked the Major to give him some time off saying he was a danger to himself and anyone else who was in the air with him. The Major had reluctantly agreed. He called Jericho and Christian into his makeshift office at the new field. Jericho was told he had 5 days leave and Christian was to accompany him. Christian was to go because in the Major's words, "I don't think the civilian population is ready for the likes of Jericho."
And so it was that Jericho and Christian found themselves eating at Godbert's in Amiens. They had secured a room at the Hotel Belmont on the 11th. They had toured the Amiens Cathedral which Jericho had marveled at. He had never seen anything so beautiful back in America. The town itself was full of military types with the big push coming in the summer. Most were there to escape the war for a moment. Christian was a year younger in age than Jericho but coming from fine English stock he was years ahead of Jericho in sophistication and social graces. They made quite the pair. Their bond was known only to those who had fought together with complete trust in the other. Their lives in each others hands. It had been a nice change to tour and talk without the worry of death. This evening they were having a fine meal at Godberts. The cheerful patron had greeted them as they entered the lobby and finding out Jericho was American jabbered on and on as she led them to their table. They had just finished their meal and were waiting for the desert when a well dressed young lady, who had been sitting a few tables away, walked over to them and spoke to Jericho in French. They both stood up and Jericho looked at Christian as he was totally ignorant of the French language. Christian looked at the lady and back to Jericho and said, "it seems you two might know each other if you are the man who helped her out in Bethune a few months ago." Jericho looked at the lady. She was pretty but not beautiful and had the saddest eyes he had ever seen. "If she is the lady who's" he paused for a moment, "who's companion was a disrespectful toad, then yes, I am the same." he said. As Christian translated to the lady what Jericho said she smiled and leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "My, my, my old boy" said Christian. It seems the lady might be a bit fond of you." Jericho blushed. "Would you just shut up and ask her if she would like to sit down" Jericho said as he pulled out a chair. Camille, as they learned, sat down with the two officers. "So how did you two meet?" Christian asked Jericho. Jericho who did not take his eyes off Camille said, "I'll explain later Amigo."
The desert came and Jericho ordered another for Camille. As they all three started to eat their desert an Army Captain came up and spoke to Camille in French as he looked down in disgust at the two airmen. He especially looked down on Jericho who was in one of his only two uniforms and both were getting a little trail worn as opposed to Christian who was the picture of a British officer. Jericho did not like the man's demeanor at all as the Captain and Camille talked back and forth. As Christian could understand what they were saying he quickly figured out that Camille was this man's "date" for the night! "Jericho, she is a prostitute!" he whispered. Jericho snapped back still looking at the Captain, "I know that! Just ask her if she had rather stay here or go with him!" Christian asked Camille for Jericho and she looked up at the Captain and explained that she was "unavailable" tonight. The Captain looked again at the two airmen and told them in no uncertain terms that she was his for the night wether she liked it or not. Jericho stood up very slowly. Christian was not sure what to do but stood up also. Jericho looked at the Captain and said, "You need to pull in your horns Captain. The lady seems to like the company she has. So, why don't you be puttin' some yonder between you and me." The Captain glared at Jericho. "You little prig! Either you sit down now or I will teach you a lesson in manners!" Jericho took a step closer to the Captain and said "I came into this world covered in someone else's blood, I damned sure don't mind goin' out that way!"
Christian immediately stepped between the two and said to the Captain. "Sir, I can appreciate your situation but as you can tell this man is an American. I have been flying with him for three months and i can assure you, he is not bluffing! Now, as you know, as of a few days ago, prostitution is illegal in France now so that puts you in a bit of a pickle. So, if you please, you can let this one sail and find another or my friend here can be shot for striking an Officer. But, since he will not stop at just striking you, you will not live to have the satisfaction of seeing him shot! There is no gain for you here Captain." The Captain looked past Christian at Jericho and then back at Christian. "She's not worth it" he said in a huff and turned away. Christian looked back at Jericho and Jericho smiled. "That was some smooth talking there Amigo. I would have killed the SOB." Christian anwered, "I know, that's why I could not let it happen! Who would look after me back in the air." They both laughed and sat back down. Camille knew some english and her and Jericho were having a fine time when Christian said "It's getting late. You think you can find your way home Mark?" Jericho laughed. "I found my way from Mississippi to Montana, Canada and then France. I think I can find a hotel that's right around the corner."
With that Christian bid Camille and Jericho good night.
Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from either end. BOC Member since....I can't remember!