Six Years Later
1847 July: Grimsby, Upper Canada
From far away out on the lake a flock of gulls spotted us, for they flew over the beach squawking and flapping their white wings. It was a sunny, breezy, Sunday morning and Robert and I had gone out riding. We ended up at the Forty Mile Creek and, tethering our horses to a tree, strolled on the sandy shore.
“It appears they are welcoming you back, Cousin Margaret.” Robert said, as he pointed at the birds, while his golden hair blew in the wind gusting from the lake.
“You are such a romantic, Cousin Robert. The birds don’t know me from Eve. It’s likely my red dress they are after.” I looked up at the birds, needing to hold on to my bonnet with one hand. Indeed, I was happy, just like the gulls, to be back—it had been six long years—since I last visited Grimsby. This time only Elizabeth and I had come over, although not without a chaperone. Mamma had made sure that one of her distant cousins, Aunt Clara, accompanied us.
“Romantic! Who me? From what I’ve heard, you’re the romantic one!” Robert said sounding much mature than the young twelve year old I had walked on that same beach the last time.
“Oh! And pray what have you heard?”
“That more than half the birds in New Jersey are in love with you!”
“Well I can’t help it if they keep coming to my window ledge, can I?”
“Why don’t you catch some one day and make a good meal out of them? I love bird stew.”
“Never! Oh, you’re so cruel, Cousin Robert.” I grabbed his arm and tried to twist it playfully behind his back. He shook himself free and ran ahead. I followed in pursuit. He looked back and seeing me falling behind, slowed down, I believe purposely, for even at eighteen he had strong long muscular legs that could have outrun the best sprinter, let alone poor me. I reached him, grabbed his jacket collar, and pulled his face closer to mine. He had mischief written all over his countenance.
“I demand you take back what you said about killing and eating those poor creatures,” I said, breathless and in mock anger.
“All right, all right. I’m sorry for even saying so, let alone doing it. Now will you release me or are you going to strangle me right here on the beach?”
“There, that’s better,” I said, letting go his collar and hitting him lightly on the shoulder.
“Thank you your highness,” he said making a curtsey to me, in the noble way, with a bow and a wave of the arm.
“You are forgiven, sire.”
We had run quite a distance along the beach, and I was feeling hot in the high-collar buttoned-up dress. Although, I was then only seventeen, I had filled out. Mamma thought I had developed a bit too much and wouldn’t permit me to wear a low-cut dress. I felt thirsty, and looking up at the embankment, I spotted the same Lake House Tavern in the distance.
“Look Cousin Robert,” I said, pointing to the tavern.
“Yes?” he asked with a quizzical look.
“Goot any money gov’ner?” I asked, doing my best to mimic a poor cockney.
“Yes, I do. But why?” Robert still looked puzzled.
“Last time we were ‘ere m’lord, you didn’t ‘ave any.”
At last the penny dropped. He burst out laughing.
He recovered to say in his best English accent, “Well, m’lady, I have found a buried treasure chest. You only have to command me to escort you to that establishment.”
“I command thee.”
“It shall be done.” He extended his right elbow to me, and we walked on the path towards the tavern.
I stumbled, having stepped on a loose rock or something. Robert, turning swiftly, put his arm around me to support me up. My breasts pressed on his muscular chest. At that contact and from his closeness, a pleasant sensation flowed through me. I felt faint and could not withdraw, which I should have done. Neither did Robert step back. We simply stood there in a trance, in the cuddle, looking into each other’s eyes, savoring the moment.
Finally, I regained my composure. “Let’s go, there are people watching us,” I whispered.