¨Do you mean to quest alone, fair lady?” a man I had not noticed across the stream I visited daily inquired of me.
¨I do not mean to quest, sir, I only mean to ponder. These grasslands of the woods are as dear to me as home,” I responded with self-assurance, unknowing of his intention of searching the woods himself. ¨What brings you here?”
As I spoke, I noticed he removed his dirt rotten shirt, his chest covered with scars and battle marks as he glistened in the sun. ¨I came to find water to bathe in, the rest of the soldiers are still resting from our treacherous journey yesterday. ¨ As he said this his curled tendrils of honey colored hair escaped from his head and fell to his shoulders.
¨May I ask who you are, soldier?” I requested his honest response.
He gracefully walked to the edge of the stream where I was located and he held up a hand for me to shake. ¨I´m 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Morgan, nice to meet your acquaintance,” he shook my hand thoughtfully, his radiance beaming off of him like he made his own sunlight. ¨Can I ask what you are called, miss?”
It took me a while to take his presence in while I attempted to be cavalier and uninterested in his entirety. ¨Why, I´m just a simple baker´s daughter, our cottage is on the outskirts of the woods. You may call me Samantha.” I thought I was going to choke on the lies I told.
¨Samantha, eh? No surname? ¨ He motioned for me to sit down, so he could hear me better, or at least that is what I thought.
¨Just Samantha, I don´t think you need to know much else.” I nervously picked a flower from its roots, trying not to give anything away by looking Joseph in the eye.
¨Okay, Just Samantha, I must be going now, ¨ he looked thoroughly disappointed, yet utterly intrigued by something that I couldn´t understand. ¨Until we meet again. ¨ He touched my calf gently before climbing out of the water and back onto his horse.
¨Good luck with the next battle, ¨ I stood up, and turned to walk away. I felt a pinch of a dread to think of watching him go.
¨Wait!” Joseph called to me before I could make my way any further. ¨When can I see you again, Just Samantha? ¨
¨I come to this stream very frequently, ¨ I leaned delicately against the tree I was near. ¨If you strum up some luck, you might see me here again soon, Lieutenant.” I smiled flirtatiously and curiously watched him ride away on his charcoal black horse.
I went to the stream everyday at dawn for a week like I normally would, and Joseph hadn’t come in days. I was starting to wonder if he had died in combat or if he possibly had no interest in seeing me again. As another week drew to a close I decided that the stream was all just a bad memory. It was wrong for me to let a strange man turn my happy place into a mournful one. Although, I couldn’t help but think about him, I had never had a crush before. I always hated the idea of having a crush; I’ve seen what heartbreak could do to people.
I decided that the last Friday of the month of May would be the final day I searched for Joseph again. I didn’t want to run the risk of being a woman like my Aunt Mary Angela, forever waiting for her deceased husband to come back to her when he never would. I waited for what seemed like hours, and when I started to make my way back towards home, I heard my name in the distance.
“Samantha!” the voice shouted and shook with impatience. “Wait, Samantha!” It was Joseph; he was riding the same ebony black horse as he did before. His illustrious hair was blowing through the wind like an angel gliding through the sky.
“Hello, again, Mr. Morgan,” I tried to look surprised to see him; he couldn’t ever know how much I mourned his absence.
“I apologize for my truancy, my lady,” a beam that went from ear to ear shone across his face. “I really wanted to see you again. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped thinking about you.”
“Mr. Morgan, although I am flattered by your liking of me, I have to ask how you have such feelings even though we never exchanged vows of fondness?” I inquired of him more curious of his response than I was actually puzzled by his words.
He walked through the stream, over to my side and grabbed my hand. He walked me toward the tree close to the stream and leaned me up against it, keeping his right hand right above my head. “I am more than fond of you, Just Samantha,” his left hand gently stroked my cheek. “I think you’re one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever met.”
“Do you meet a lot of women?” I sarcastically asked him, both of us giggling as if we both wanted to hear the answer.
He cradled my cheek again, and put his fingers through my hair before he answered. “None like you,” he kissed my cheek, sending what felt like flames through my cheeks. “I want you to come with me.”
“Come with you?” I was very bewildered by what he meant. Where would he want to go? I thought to myself while he came up with an answer.
“Come back to camp with me, I never want to part from you.” He grasped my waist and pulled me in. The tenderness of his lips against mine felt like a dream, but it also filled me with guilt.
Joseph Morgan didn’t know who I truly was. I lied to him. I wasn’t a simple baker’s daughter from the rural part of London. I was engaged to marry the son of the King, Daniel I, his son being Daniel II. I didn’t love Jonas; at least I didn’t feel the way I felt with Joseph when I was with Daniel.
“Please come away with me, Samantha,” he stroked my hair and caressed the small of my back.
I couldn’t say no to him, the words I was about to say completely poured out of my lips before I could even think. “I’ll follow you where ever you go, Joseph,” I tightened my hand around his neck and he smiled down on me. “Meet me at dusk, I need to pack my things and escape before my father arrives home.”
We exchanged goodbyes and I went rushing back to my father’s nobleman manor. I had never been so reckless in my life to just elope with a man I barely knew. All I knew was that I had to leave right before sundown, before my father came home from his duties for the king. This was my only chance to escape my already planned fate with a man that sent my heart racing.
When I finally arrived at our manor, I rushed up the steps into my home. As I ran quickly for my bedroom, my handmaiden, Griselda startled me with a statement of information. “My lady, this letter came for you from the prince himself,” she curtseyed in respect. “Would you like to read it now, or do you want me to hold onto it for safekeeping?”
At a loss for words for the perplexing situation, I barely knew what to say. “Give it to me, I’ll read it.”
I ran for my bedroom and tossed the letter, a few books, outfits, and hair pins into my satchel and snuck out my window, thirty feet from the ground. I barely made it. As I reached the last of the final acre of my father’s manor, I finally caught my breath, and walked the rest of the way to the stream in the wood.
Joseph arrived about a half an hour after I did, and he was almost surprised to see me. “You came.” He said blatantly, excitement filling up in his bright eyes.
“Of course I came,” I giggled. “Didn’t I say I was going to come, Mr. Morgan?” I crossed my hands over my body sarcastically with a devilish smile.
“Call me Joe, my lady,” he kissed me passionately. Joe had a way of making me feel like I was the single star in his vast sky. “It is going to be a long way back.”
Our ride back to his homestead was romantic and alive with scenery. I had never come that way before. I never even know the summer could be so rich with vegetation. I felt so alive while riding on the back of his horse with him. I never wanted our journey to end.
When nightfall arrived, we decided to stop and make camp for the night. I had never camped in my entire life, but I was fascinated about what it might be like.
“Come to the water with me,” Joe motioned me over to the small body of water to our right.
I removed my dress to be more suitable for the water, mortified by never being to vulnerable and exposed around a boy before. “Have you swum in this stream before?” I asked him, trying to distract myself from the discomfort.
“Indeed, Samantha,” he replied, pulling me closer to him. “I want to know more about you, won’t you tell me?”
“Do you love me?” was all I could manage to say, the anticipation of the answer bottling up in my head.
He smiled and blushed intensely before answering. “Aye, I do,” he laughed again. “Do you love me?” he asked unsure by my unexplained feelings.
I felt my eyes widen as I answered his undying question. “I do, I really do.” I made eye contact with him.
The next morning, we made it back to his homestead at noon, where the rest of the soldiers made up camp, awaiting orders from the king. It was a beautiful body of land, but I felt out of place. I had never seen such a group before.
“I must go on an errand, Samantha,” he waited for my response, obviously hoping I wouldn’t get too upset. “Please wait here for me, the other women will show you around.”
“Why can I not make the journey with you?” I was frankly irritated. Though I tried not to make it obvious.
“It’s secret military business, my love,” he kissed my cheek. “I’ll be back at sunrise.”
As soon as he left, my curiosity took control of me. I stole a man’s uniform hat, jacket, and horse, and followed Joe into the woods. I had to see what was so secret that he couldn’t tell me. I followed him through mazes of vines and unmarked trails. I kept a steady distance, close enough to see him, but not too close to where he could see me. Hours passed before I finally noticed that he arrived where he wanted to be.
He sat down on a large boulder, as if he was waiting for someone to arrive. His posture was assertive, and he fluffed out his magnificent hair gracefully. He looked like an angel. I couldn’t wait for him to wrap his large arms around me again.
As soon as I thought this, a mousy haired woman arrived to his location and sat on his lap. She kissed him and whispered flirtatiously into his ear. This can’t be real. I left my entire life behind for him. I began sobbing into the lap of my dress to drown out the sound. I had to make a run for it and try to make it back home, forget he ever existed. I rummaged through my bag for the map of the land and noticed the letter from the prince was missing.