I read several stories from Jessie Pope’s Love – On Leave in the library yesterday, but copied another likely-looking one for future reference and enjoyment. It’s called Boy Blue, and I think it’s my favourite.
The heroine is Hazel Harwood, who ‘possessed good looks, good humour, and a very impressionable heart’. ‘Impressionable’ is definitely the word for it. She is taken to visit some wounded soldiers in hospital, and Pope’s description of the girl’s erotic thrill when she enters a room full of damaged men is quite remarkable:
For a moment Hazel felt dazed. She had never come in touch with them before; the atmosphere, charged with endurance and heroism took away her power of speech, and brought a quick colour to her cheeks.
Am I misreading this, or does Hazel get an orgasm simply from entering a room full of disabled soldiers?
She starts talking to a nice one (“Ginger”) whom she likes (‘A subtle sympathy drew them together.’) She gets separated from him in the course of the afternoon, but never mind – she is soon talking to ‘a well-proportioned… Colonial, with a strongly-marked, handsome face, a square chin, and a sad look in his fine dark eyes.’ In five minutes, ‘Hazel’s regret at Ginger’s inaccessibility had vanished.’
After the concert she gets letters saying how nice it was to meet, and assumes they are from the well-proportioned Colonial. She replies, expressing her affection. When a meeting is arranged, however, the correspondent turns out to be “Ginger”. She is disappointed at first, and about to give him his marching orders, but then he smiles, and she sees his dimple, and remembers how a Tommy had told her that “Ginger” ‘ did give the Jackos ginger, not ‘arf, on the Peninsula.’
No girl, the story suggests, could resist a man with a dimple who had given the Jackos ginger, so very soon:
A wave of colour swept into her white cheeks as she met those keen grey eyes of his fairly and squarely.
‘Yes, Ginger, of course I will, ‘ she said.
What a wonderfully adaptable girl! In these days of peace we might be tempted to call her a bit of a slapper, but in wartime, she’s a patriotic heroine.