When a strange woman winds up in a humble household of local lord’s brother, he realizes that there is nothing holding the woman from leaving.
The pup screamed like its life was being threatened.
“What did it do to you?” She yelled hugging the pup crying in the corner. The pup immediately stopped crying.
“He wronged me at the field!”
“And how is it to know it hurt your pride? It hardly remembers it now!” She tried to reason with him, hoping this was not to happen again. She was about to put out next time he’d punished her instead of the dog or do it properly on the spot. This was insane.
“He’ll be punished nevertheless!”
“Thank you very much!” he was already aggravates, her little play only made it worse. “Why won’t you go back to my brother if you don’t like it here?”
“I don’t want to.” she whispered, hugging the dog stronger. It licked her face to make the sadness disappear.
Her crackled voice surprised him, his attention turned to her shadowed face.
The pup found itself on the floor when she rose.
“He’s bigger bastard than you!” she shouted and hurried outside the cottage, adding to herself quietly “You don’t have a cellar to hang your victims…” she made a shy try to smile, recognizing this little fact. She didn’t liked being put down there. “That indeed makes you easier to put up with.”
He was surprised by this strange outburst. He sat back on his chair, where the pup was already making space before his feet and scratched it’s back friendly.
“Wow!” he marked. “That’s the first time anyone has found him worse to bare than me.” He shrugged. “It’s usually me they put before my brother.” He was delighted by this little notion. Perhaps he wasn’t lost case after all?
In a way, this made things harder for him. So far it had only been that he’s the black sheep of the family and that in a way worked as a pass for doing whatever he pleased. Being that getting angry in the pub and trashing the place -not that he bare any interest returning there as the hangover had been terrible and he swore he would never get that drunk ever again- or pursuit for any girl in the village without actual thoughts of marring the gal.
This little remark brought the strange feelings back to his thoughts that he was actually tired of being the bad guy – the obvious reason why he was given this week girl, who couldn’t even explain, where she came from. He’s brother probably got tired of her weird understanding of the world and her refreshing ways of doing her duties. Of chores they found it irritating – all, who were taught the old ways would think her ways are wicked and against god, probably why he was so drawn to her way of life. It did make his life miserable at times too, but it was far more amusing to see others blown away when she spoke. But he had to admit she did make an effort to settle with their hard ways too, so arrogance was not the issue here.
He chopped the firewood. He had done this whole morning, it helped him to think and right now, he needed to think. Hard.
If she gives me seven warm smiles without asking, I’ll ask her to stay. He let the ax fall and searched her, but before he could find her, he stopped himself.
“What am I doing?” he belittled himself, right before her slender hand touched his shoulder.
“You want something to drink?” she asked.
He wasn’t waiting her to be right behind him. “You de…!” he choked. She looked like she hadn’t heard him, also this wasn’t the way to gather the seven smiles. Even weirder was she seemed amused. She had been doing laundry and had the piles of fresh sheets supported on her right hand. She was calm and had this funny look in her eyes.
“I’ll bring you something cold.” she added quickly and traveled back to the house, pup following her.
The dog had taken over watching after her. When he came back after two months, it was obvious, who was dog’s master now. He was mad at first, woman ruing a good investment, but he soon discovered she had taught him several very useful tricks and as there was hardly any visitors in this area of the county, she must of felt pretty lonely. He was actually pleased with her results and how the dog still looked interesting in learning new skills instead looking dead in eyes, something he disliked while living in the mansion, where he saw all those dogs, just following orders.
“You are so tight today and absent minded!” he suddenly heard. “Enemies can put your house on fire and you wouldn’t even notice them!” she laughed holding up the tunc filled with water. He grabbed the glass from her. She waited patiently while he goggled it all up in one sip and took it from him. “Are you all right?”
“Why do you ask?” He was reluctant to talk to her right now. Her worry was too much right now, especially now when he had just accepted he wanted her to stay. It’s not like she had anywhere to go back to. She missed the people sometimes, but she wasn’t eager to find the way back either. He promised himself, he will offer her to go searching for her people if she wants so before asking her to stay. It only seemed fair as she had given up so much unwillingly and lost everything, while she deserved more than he could ever give her. Support and economical independence, yes, but that didn’t seem to be the main what she was seeking.
“Akan?” He grunted, she gave him a smile. “You’re staring at me again.”
“I’m just thinking.”
“I can see that. Would you like to share what’s on your mind?”
“Eloise,” he paused, before continuing, “you ever wonder, how it would be if you get to go back home?”
Her cheerful smile that had followed her the whole morning was wiped away in mere second. She nodded.
“Yes.” She felt the need to add something to this empty sentence. “Sometimes… Well, I know I can’t really get back, so I don’t really think about it much. I wonder if my parents are alright, my sisters and Bella, our dog, but…”
“How much do you remember from the journey here?” he continued not letting her brush the conversation away like she usually did.
She staid silent. She had thought hard on how she got here, but nothing came up that could help her back in her world.
“There is no way back.” she whispered, so curtain of it her knuckles turned white. She felt like being interrogated. Did he want to get rid of her now? “If I’d know the way, would you think I’d stayed here for so long?”
Her face turned pale and Akan knew it had to be the result of his flushed cheeks. He felt suddenly so angry he couldn’t hide it. He wasn’t angry at her, but at himself not thinking this thing properly through before coming to her. Of chores she wanted to leave.
“I didn’t mean it like that…” she whispered apologizing. “I didn’t… ” she didn’t know how to explain it. She had thought of escaping this god forsaken world for months and now she had blurted it all out, in time when she had already accepted staying here. This was so wrongly timed.
“Would you really like to go if given the chance?” he asked calmly, ignoring her babbling.
She took a seat on the billet he used for making firewood. “I don’t know…” she answered. “I haven’t given it much thought.” She was obviously lying, but hiding it so well he couldn’t make the difference. “It’s all so different now, I don’t know if I’d…” she fell silent for a moment, like realizing suddenly, where the conversation led, or at least where she thought it was going, but she had to make sure, so she used her sharp voice once more. “Why do you ask these things? You wish to send me away?”
He shook his head. “Why would you think that?” he sounded hurt. “I ask if you want to go home and you immediately assume I’m to send you away.”
“Well?” she wasn’t about to give up. It seemed she had taken the hold of the situation and he didn’t like it one bit.
“I was thinking…” her beautiful sharp eyes took his attention to themselves and he lost his thought. “Never mind!” He took the ax and waved her away from his way.
She rose, but the smile was gone from her lips. She observed him chop few logs. He only meant good, she knew and it would be wrong to leave him with the expression she didn’t appreciate it. He was about to make an offer she couldn’t refuse, or could she?
Two arms wrapped themselves around his chest, the cold tunc against his abdomen.
“I have no reason to seek the way back home.” She whispered, resting her head against his back. “It was natural for me to go, but now I would be leaving too much behind to start again.”
She was crossing the lines of a good taste but she didn’t care – there was no one to see this and she was sure he won’t be telling either. She had thought long on this, on how it was actually God’s doing to take her from her parents when she reached the time of finding her own way and lead her here, where she felt home for once.
But he wasn’t responding to her sudden emotional outburst, but just stood there. This wasn’t right anymore and she was about to pull back, when his stiff fingers suddenly captured hers and didn’t let her to take hers away. He turned slightly, afraid of what he’d find, not her worried face. Her eyes were slightly wet, which she brushed quickly dry.
“You wouldn’t lose anything important.” He promised. “If you do wish to go, you won’t be leaving anything important behind.” I will come with you, he told himself.
She didn’t know what he meant, but this notion only angered her, how could he think so little of himself?
“Oh! I forgot the meal!”
He reached down to kiss her, but she had already pushed herself away, eyes clear as day and pup dragging her from the light yellow apron she was wearing.
“I’m coming!” she almost sang, running after the dog that was eager to be fed hearing the word food mentioned in the conversation.
They almost didn’t say a word during the whole meal, he ignored her and she accepted that. This was going too fast for him, he was yet at the seven smile step in his mind and wasn’t ready for what had just happened. After eating he headed back to chop wood while she took time for the little green garden not far from the house.
The sun was golden now, covering everything with it’s beams, bringing out all the flying particles in the air, making them shine and sparkle. He thought it was about time to finish up for the day and stretched his back.
He watched her work with her fork when something suddenly caught her eye, taking it way over the field, where the forest was. She burst in laughter and looked in awe, when showing towards one very happy dog followed by a very angry fox. Just before the fox was to reach their borders, the pup turned and the situation was totally opposite. But he couldn’t keep his attention on them, he was observing her lucky and calm face filled with happiness.
“One.” He counted gladly and smiled in amusement. He had caught the first of the seven smiles and now he knew what they had to be to count – not the ones a horny youth searches from their lovers, but these, peaceful impressions of happiness she felt while being around this place.