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The last letter.... ep 2
“I saw you and you looked remarkably like my mother, with dark hair and sapphire eyes. You looked flustered when you ran away and I was curious so I asked around, is that Okay with you Rose”
I was startled by the way he spoke to me like we had never spent a day apart in our entire lives. Over the month we started to see each other more and more, we were just friends. One morning Father and mama sat me down and told me that the ungrateful Americans had declared War on England that they were going to fight for independence. Father was so angry I could tell it was best to leave him in mama’s care. I wandered, I do wander allot don’t I? , In and around the forest. I reflected back on the month. Beth and I kept in regular contact, she never became jealous of my friendship with Henry as I made sure to see her just as often, maybe even more so, and she had even got engaged to be married, oh how things were changing. Men were going off to fight in the war against the Americans, how one nation can tear another apart. Luckily father was too old to fight and could stay with us, and John and George too young at 15. So our family stayed just the same as it was before. Mama says I become prettier by the day, she says she spots many lads with eyes on me as I walk with her through town, I am lucky, father is kind enough to let me and mama off on our own, many fathers don’t, they don’t trust their daughters to behave respectfully but mama and father raised me well. Too well I used to say. As I walked arm in arm with mama I began to feel faint, then I began to feel ill and tired, the last thing I remember seeing is Mrs Jefferson straightening her petticoat and then the blackness came.
I woke up in Dr Greens Office. Mama had been crying, I could see the tear stains, I went to sit up to tell them I was fine and it was just that my bodice was too tight when Dr Green began to speak, Even he, my friendly ever smiling Doctor I had know all my life, was welling up.
“Rose, I have some bad news, we found a lump on the back of your head, we believed it was after effects of your fall but now believe it to be a blood clot of the brain, unfortunately it is fatal, and you have roughly one and a half months to live.” His usually calm voice broke on the last word and he turned to console mama as she wept for her only daughter, the beautiful English Rose. As we walked with Dr Green back to the house we discussed possible treatments, there were none, mama and the Dr also discussed the best way to tell everyone. Oh Beth, how would I tell her, Henry, Henry, I never managed to tell him that I was falling in Love with him, We hadn’t touched for more than a second or two the whole time I had know him, yet I loved him. Telling Father, George and John was one of the hardest things I will ever have to do. We sat at the family dinner table and I wept as I explained that I would never live to see another Harvest. I saw father cry as he had never cried before. His was a face of utter horror and grief at the thought of losing his Rose, his baby girl. Mama prepared a simple dinner that night, Bread and soup, and we ate in silence, Father didn’t even tell his tales of The History of the Kingdom nor did he complain about the Americans. That night I did nothing but blow out my candle and let sleep take me.
I woke the next morning to a silent house; I slipped out of my night gown and into my day dress before walking down the stairs, I could sense the tension in the kitchen as I walked in. As I sat down mama came behind me and asked if I was Ok, she looked dreadful as if she had stayed up half the night. She said that I needn’t go to church today as she would double her prayers and that I was to go and visit Dr Green. I told her I was fine, ate my breakfast of oats in peace before gliding out the front door before anyone could stop me. I had arranged to meet Henry at our place, the place we like to be, our hill. I stomped up the gravel path and could see him, he gave me his cheeky grin, and he looked so smart in his new suit. We wandered for awhile before coming to our spot, the place that we had first met; I sat again on the ground and tried not to get myself muddy as well as trying to gather my thoughts. I sparked Our Conversation off. I had to tell him before it was to late.
“Henry, this past month has been amazing, I have never had anyone except Beth who I can truly call my best Friend. That has changed. I...I..Think that I’m in Love with you.” I left that statement hanging there for a while and didn’t look at him, instead I stared at my shoes. After what seemed like a lifetime he lifted his hand and turned my delicate face towards him. The touch lasted for only a few seconds before he dropped his hand, where he had touched me it burned.
“Rose, “he started to say “I.. didn’t think I would ever meet someone like you, i’ve had many romantic interests but no one as special as you, you laugh and chatter like you would with any of your friends, you don’t sit in silence and wonder how best you can make your self look, I think I’m in love with you to.”
We sat and stared into each other’s eyes, not touching, just looking for what seemed like hours. The people in the village below were beginning to venture home. I didn’t want to leave but I knew that mama would be worried sick, I got up and smiled, it was my first proper smile since the dreadful news. As we walked back down the hill, and as he talked to me I decided that I wouldn’t tell Henry, I couldn’t hurt him like that, not yet anyway. As we parted he lowered his head and gently pressed his lips to my cheek, my insides were on fire. All I could think about was how I had found somebody I loved and how in a couple of week’s time I would have to leave him soon.
When I got in, Mama and Father were sitting hand in hand at the dinner table, they had supper already laid out for me. As I sat Father told me that he knew about Henry, I had made to secret of him, and that it would be unfair for the lad not to tell him, I bowed my head and wept, the tears willingly running down my porcelain cheeks. I explained that I was in Love with him and how I would tell him soon. I went upstairs and sat on my bed and watched out my window for hours, watching father round up the sheep and cattle and John and George, who we hadn’t told yet playing with some girls in the fields. I must have fallen asleep at the window because I barely remember mama coming in and helping me to bed before blowing out my candle and retreating to her and fathers room.
The next day came much the same as yesterdays, I came down the stairs to be greeted by My breakfast, Father told me I was not to help out on the farm anymore as it might bring on a faint. I loathed this new order that I knew I must obey, I was only allowed to be near the horses when Beth or someone else was with me. Beth, hadn’t taken the news well, I sat on the fence and remembered her face as I explained that I would never witness her marriage and that I was to die soon. She wept into my shoulder and for once It was me comforting someone else. I held her as she wept for me; It saddened me that she had been reduced to this, her happy sprit crushed.
As I sat on the fence post, Henrys hands pulled me to him, He held me in his embrace for minutes before letting me go. Today there was something different about him. He looked into my sapphire eyes before kissing me squarely on the lips. My first Kiss. He brushed a stray lock of hair behind my ear and continued to kiss me for what seemed like minutes. We were breaking the rules of courtship but I didn’t care. We stood foreheads together getting our breath back, I could feel the ripples of desire coursing through him.
“I love you Rose”
“I love you Henry”
Another part of me died that day as I walked through the fields of Heather with Henry , arm in arm, for I knew that I could never truly be his.
As I slowly walked home with Henry, I knew Mama and Father would be proud of me; I had found a respectable young man and had done nothing except kiss him. Even I was proud of myself. I would never betray my marriage views, even if I didn’t live long enough to see them fulfilled. I knew Henry wanted me, but I refused to give myself to him. He thought he would marry me one day, even though he hadn’t made a proposal, I could see it in his eyes. We had kissed passionately on his bed at his home but I would never let him go further than remove his shirt.
The next day I knew my time was near, I could feel it, Mama became weepier and father became a less frequent sight as if he did not know how to behave around a dying girl. I would faint frequently and would be reduced to bed arrest for hours on end. I had tried to keep the facade up with but it was too tiring and eventually I told him that he would have to come to the house to visit me as I had been struck down with Flu, Father liked him, He would guide him up to my room before leaving us for a couple of hours and then coming up and asking him to leave. I lay on my bed, the sweat dripping down the bridge of my nose was making me itch, and I had just about enough energy to wipe it away. Henry came in and winced as he saw me in pain, His eyes were bloodshot as he sat beside me and took my hand. The candle light cast gruesome images upon my walls. My usually perfect hair was tangled and clumped from not being able to wash, My sapphire eyes were fading in brightness and Henry did not say a word as he kissed my sweaty face all over, he whispered to me that everything was going to be all right, I tried to tell him. I tried, that night I could feel myself fading away and by the end of the night, the blackness came and I died.