3 pages of a light hearted romance. Constructive criticism is most welcome.
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‘O, damn it!’
‘Look. Over there!’
‘The other way, John!’
‘Hell! A constable.’
‘You‘re darn right.’
‘What shall we do now?’
‘Let me think….’
‘Alright, but please hurry? He‘s heading this way and if he stumbles upon us, carrying all this merchandise, we sure as hell get busted.’
‘I think I’ve got it! Lissie!’
‘Yes, uncle Jason?’
‘Elisabeth listen, could you…’
While Elisabeth rushes to carry out the instructions received by her family member, Gregory, constable by profession, continues to struggle through the dunes under an unforgiving burning sun, sweating like a workhorse and swearing like a sailor.
‘That ten-times cursed lieutenant! Sending me here! On a day such as this! And how he tells you! “ Gregory my boy, you’re the fittest of the regiment, so you go patrol the barrens today. I got word that there are smugglers again.” And me the silly ass going like “Yes sir, thank you, sir!”. Of course I dare not to say no! Damn coward I am!’
Full of self-pity and ditto blame Gregory comes to a halt in the shade of some trees, puts a hand in his pocket, extracts a red with white dots handkerchief and starts dabbing his damp forehead. More or less satisfied with the achieved result he subsequently wipes the dripping inside of his cap. Then, all of a sudden, he hears, loud and clear, a female voice coming out of the thicket beside him, expressing a certain amount of agony.
Although constable Gregory is almost 25, he can still remember vividly the tales his granny told him about evil and dangerous ghosts wandering on the moor, luring innocent travellers to their downfall. So it is fully understandable that his voice trembles when he calls out: ‘Who’s there? In the name of the law, show yourself!’ but except for some rustling coming from the bushes zero happens.
Which leaves constable Gregory no choice than to venture, with loud beating heart and ferocious nodding knees, into the thick growth of shrubs.
‘For the last time! Show yourself!’ Gregory calls out again. ‘ Or I’ll shoot!’ he adds, fumbling at the holster of his service weapon. That the revolver is not loaded is somewhat regrettable, but it makes the gesture no less impressive. A fact proven by a girlish voice resounding from the undergrowth.
‘Don’t fire, dear constable! I’m coming out!’ and there comes Elisabeth tottering towards the not a little relieved Gregory who, after he has recovered from his astonishment, brings up the question which burns his lips. ‘Heavens, what has happened to you, Miss?’
‘O constable, you can not even imagine how happy I am to see you!’
‘The feeling is mutual, Miss.’ assures Gregory truthful. Because, after the endured emotion, Elisabeth is clearly no threat at all. She rather looks like an angel to Gregory. Except perhaps she obviously limps and clearly is in need of his support. Which he gladly provides, grabbing her firmly around the waist and leading her out of the bushes.
‘Are you hurt, miss?’ he asks when she is sitting on the grass beside the path.
‘I sprained my ankle.’ explains Elisabeth. Her face marred by a painful grimace.
‘O my!’ sympathizes Gregory. ‘ Shall I give it a massage?’
‘No, no, thank you. That is very kind. But if you don’t mind carrying me?’ A request that Gregory only too readily accepts.
‘There is a small lake over there, in the middle of this bush.’ points out Elisabeth. ‘There I can rest my foot in the water. That is, if you can carry me that far.’ This last assumption, however well-intentioned, makes that Gregory puts himself in to posture. Tightens his uniform-belt, stating:
‘If that’s all!’ lifting the girl in a jiffy from the grass.
‘My God, constable! You’re quite strong!’
‘Please don’t call me constable. I’d be honoured if you call me Gregory, miss.’ Gregory replies while he wades trough the thicket.
‘Mine is Elisabeth. But everyone calls me Lissie.’
‘Well, Lissie it is. If you don’t mind of course.’
‘Not at all, const.. Gregory.’ answers Elisabeth timidly smiling at her saviour. Something she might better not have done. For it hits Gregory without warning and baffles him completely. A state of mind you should avoid while performing such a delicate task as transporting a beautiful young lady through the woods. So it is not surprising at all he bumps his head against a low-hanging branch, stumbles in a rabbit hole and eventually, after some other minor accidents, still a little out of whack, deposits his precious load on the banks of a small natural pond.
Where Elisabeth, without hesitation kicks of her clogs and lifts her skirts. Dipping her shapely lower legs, with a sigh of well-being, up to the calves into the cool water.
While Gregory somewhat embarrassed, tries hard not to stare at all that beauty.
‘Did you know…’ Lissie starts the conversation.
‘Pardon?’ Gregory startles, ripping his eyes away from Lissie’s disclosed limbs.
‘… that, a long time ago, a beguine disappeared here? No footprints, no trace, nothing. They only found her clothes. Right here on this very spot where I am sitting now.’ relates Lissie, clarifying her words, by tapping the soil beneath her.
‘They say the devil took her! No one comes even near the place ever since!’ Lissie continues.
‘No one?’ Gregory can’t help whispering. Suddenly granny’s horrifying story about the moors springs to his mind.
‘Except myself.’ brags his companion. ‘ I come here often!’
‘Aren’t you afraid?’
‘Not a bit! You see, I always carry a sacred rosary in my basket. A present of my late mother when she returned from her pilgrimage to Lourdes. These beads protect me from whatever harm may come my way.’
‘Is that so?’ reacts Gregory, not in the least convinced. Too often, in his capacity of constable, he has seen how vicious the world can be.
‘Wait, I’ll show it to you. It’s gorgeous.’ Lissie laughs. But then, bewildered: ‘ Where is my basket?’
‘My wickerwork grocery basket.’
‘Haven’t noticed any basket.’ replies Gregory, shaking his head in denial.
‘O dear!’ utters Lissie. A touch of panic in her voice. ‘ I must have left it near the road! Please Gregory. Be so kind and try to find it for me?’
‘That means I have to leave you alone!’
‘I’m not afraid.’
‘But I am!’ confesses Gregory. ‘ I would never forgive myself if you disappeared without a trace!’
‘Oh, you men! You’re all the same!’ sneers Elisabeth. ‘ I come here almost every day and never ever something has happened. But if I go home without my groceries. I’ll never hear the end of it!’ at the thought alone tears blur Elisabeth’s delightful eyes. Which causes Gregory’s objections to melt away like gingerbread in hot coffee. A moment later he is on his way in search of the lost object.
It seems Gregory is born under a lucky star. After barely five minutes probing around in the thicket, he finds the desired object lying lazing under a bush. After brushing off the ants he cheerfully returns to the one who, on such short notice, already captured his heart.
‘Lissie! Lissie!’ he calls from afar, nearing the pool. ‘ I’ve got it! Here is your bask….’ he stops. Smitten with terror. There is no Lissie! The spot on the bank of the pond where he left Elisabeth sitting is empty! No, not empty he realises, over there, a little further next to some high rising weeds, are lying, in a messy heap, the clothes Lissie was wearing.
‘Oh Lord! Please let this not be true!’ he prays, totally bewildered, dropping to his knees beside the abandoned garments. To Gregory’s professional insight it is all too clear. Lissie has vanished, the way the beguine did!
Then suddenly, in the middle of the small lake, with an enormous splash, scattering drops of water all over the place, emerges Lissie. Gasping for air.
‘I think I broke my record!’ she cheers.
Poor devastated Gregory is so happy to see her again that, without hesitation, he runs in to the armpit-deep pool and squeezes Lissie firmly to his chest. ‘ Oh Lissie! I’m so glad you’re still here!’
‘What do you mean?’ Lissie utters, a bit overwhelmed by this, rather unexpected, expression of literally breathtaking joy.
‘You see, I thought you were… just like that beguine.’ Gregory sets off explaining but then he takes a good look at Lissie and his jaw drops.
Elisabeth, in her turn starts wriggling uncomfortably in his embrace.
‘Gregory, could you please let go of me?’
‘What? Oh! By all means.’ wheezes Gregory. His eyes bulging and face fast reddening. ‘ You’re naked!’ he mumbles, taking a few steps backwards and gallantly gazing the other way.
‘Of course, I am! I never swim with my clothes on!’ laughs Elisabeth and wades to the bank where her garments are waiting.
Gregory can’t help himself, having a quite longish peep at this Venus rising from the waters. The consequences are immediate. Because that what defines Gregory as a man also rises to become a, not to be missed, bump in his pants.
And surely, exactly at the height of the event, Elisabeth turns around noticing at once his embarrassing state.
‘O my! Is that because of me?’ she asks pointing to his lower middle.
‘You’re so beautiful.’ stammers Gregory trying to cover up the protuberance in his trousers.
‘How sweet!’ Lissie smiles. Quickly stepping up to him, subsequently gently caressing his now tomato-coloured cheeks. Pressing her lips on his mouth.
‘Come on,’ she whispers in his ear. ‘I know a spot where the moss is nice and soft.’
So after a while, under the guidance of the amazingly skilled Elisabeth, Gregory ends up wandering along the path of love into the seventh heaven.