Authors: Gian Bordin
An hour later, Helen stirred and opened her eyes. At first she was
disoriented. Then she saw him and raised herself halfway. "I slept," she
exclaimed. "How long?"
He sat on the bed and took her hands. She leaned against him.
"About an hour," he answered. "Do you feel a bit better now?"
She nodded, smiling, as he kissed the top of her head.
"I’ve talked to the landlady. She said that she might have an extra dress
or two for you. It would be good to have a riding coat, but I doubt she has
that. But she might have a suitable jacket."
"You asked her about frocks for me?"
"Weren’t you embarrassed?"
"Yes, but she was very nice… She also guessed that we’re running away,
and I didn’t deny it."
Alarmed, she withdrew her hands.
"I don’t think she’ll tell anybody," he added.
The anxious expression fled her face.
"Are you willing to go and see her? You need extra clothing, even if
simply to allay any suspicions."
"Yes. Should I go now?"
"She said you should come when you woke."
He retrieved a little string purse from his pocket and handed it to Helen.
"Here’s our money."
"How much may I spend?"
"As much as you need to," he replied, smiling.
She gazed at him, uncertain, and then got up, straightened her clothing,
and tidied her hair. At the door, she turned. "Will you wait here, please?"
"Yes, I will. Buy nice things if you have a choice!"
Somewhat uncertain, she answered his smile and left.
Half an hour later she returned, animated, her cheeks rosy, several pieces
of clothing draped over her arm.
"Look, Andrew, how beautiful! It goes with a corselet."
She held up a dress against herself. It was a French sack, dark blue,
enhancing the color of her eyes, with two double box pleats falling from the
neckband and merging into the fullness of the long skirt, the bodice shaped
to the figure in front, buttoned to the waist. Holding a matching bonnet to her
head, she pirouetted in front of Andrew. He caught her in a hug.
"You’re crushing it!" she exclaimed reproachfully, but returned his light
"And here’s an extra petticoat and blouse that I can wear over my own,
and this waistcoat will do nicely for riding." She held up a gray skirt and
white blouse and a dark gray long jacket. "And she also sold me a pair of
pumps to go with the blue gown. They fit. She said she could replace them…
It cost a lot of money, though," she added in a subdued tone, handing back
He put it back into his pocket and just smiled, pleased by her enthusiasm.
"Don’t you want to know how much?" she asked, disappointed.
"No, but you may model the things you got," he answered with a smile.
Dismayed by his lack of interest in the cost, she laughed embarrassed.
"Would you like me to?"
"Yes, I can hardly wait."
She removed her little russet jacket, and began slipping out of her
petticoat. "Turn around. I don’t want you to look at me like that."
"Do I have to? I love to see you."
"Only if you promise to stay where you are."
She slipped her petticoat over her head, lifting her proud, full breasts.
"You promised, Andrew!" she exclaimed, when she saw the desire in his
eyes. She put on the soft corselet and turned around: "Lace it up for me,
please, but not too tightly."
He did it and took advantage of it to kiss her neck, murmuring: "You look
gorgeous, my love."
She reached for the dark blue gown and opened the buttons in front.
"But you can’t wear this dress over my pants," he chuckled.
Disconcerted, she turned her back to him, removed them, and quickly
slipped the dress over her head. Then she put on the pumps and straightened
to face him again, slowly buttoning the front of the dress, looking at him
provocatively. The dress made her seem taller, accentuating her bust.
He was stunned by the transformation. In front of him stood not the lass
in the shielings that he had known, but a fashionable society woman.
"You like it?"
"Oh, Helen, you look so beautiful, like a lady."
"Do I? Will you take me like this to Edinburgh?"
"In this gown, I’ll take you to London to parade in front of the king."
"Mrs. Morgan said that the color suits me well… She’s pregnant, so she
doesn’t think that she’ll ever get into these dresses again… She asked me if
we were married yet, and I said no." Helen paused, blushing deeply. When
she continued, her voice was almost inaudible. "She said she would be
willing to ask the minister of their church to marry us tomorrow morning,
Andrew’s heart leaped in his chest. "But you said you needed more time."
"I know I said that, but I’m confused. My mind tells me one thing, my
heart another." She took three rapid steps and put her arms around his neck.
"I love you, Andrew, more than anything. I want to be with you forever …
be your wife. Do you still want to marry me?"
"Oh, Helen, how can you even ask. It’s my greatest wish."
Her lips searched his and he responded eagerly.
"Shall I tell her to arrange it?"
"Yes, Helen, please do."
Quickly she sauntered out of the room. His head was still spinning from
the sudden turn of events.
We’ll get married!
He could hardly believe it.
Helen returned soon and said that dinner was ready and that they were
expected in the dining room on the ground floor.
"May I come like this, Andrew?"
"I would be very proud if you came like this."
She hooked her arm into his and they walked down to the dining room,
her face radiant. The landlady greeted them with an approving smile and
showed them to their table.
It was apparent that Helen was intrigued, almost embarrassed to being
served attentively. Initially, she struggled a bit with the cutlery, but copying
Andrew, she quickly managed. The meal was simple, but tasty. They drank
a bottle of light claret. Not being used to wine, Helen got giggly. By the end
of their leisurely meal she could hardly keep her eyes open any longer. The
strain of the long ride and the excitement, aided by the drink, was taking its
toll. She tried to stifle her yawns. Andrew suggested that they go upstairs.
Once back in their room, he asked almost timidly: "Helen, may I sleep
with you in the same bed?"
"Yes, Andrew, but I’m too tired and too sore to make love."
"That’s fine. Just holding you close is more than I dared hoping a day
She let him undress her like a child. He opened the buttons of her dress
and helped her out of it. Then he undid the laces of her corselet. Without
even looking at him, she literally fell under the covers, turned to the wall, and
within a few seconds was asleep. He put her clothing carefully over a chair,
undressed himself, and lay at her back. He folded an arm protectively around
her, cupping one of her breasts. She snuggled up to him. For a long time, he
experienced the full intensity of the softness of her skin, the subtle shifts of
pressure on his body as she breathed, the euphoria of his happiness, being
pleasantly aroused, until sleep transported him away too.
In his dreams he heard Helen’s stifled cries and was suddenly wide awake.
She was sitting up, trembling, and sobbing silently. He put an arm around
her, rocking her gently back and forth, crooning her name. After a while her
sobs subsided, and they lay down again.
"I love you," he whispered. She mumbled something in response without
opening her mouth and snuggled up to him again.
* * *
Thursday morning, after a late, but hearty breakfast—Helen’s first chocolate
drink—Mrs. Morgan informed them that she had arranged with the minister
for the wedding to take place at eleven in the morning, but that the minister
wanted to talk to them half an hour earlier. She also told them that she and
her husband would serve as witnesses. While Helen blushed, Andrew
When the landlady was out of hearing, Helen whispered: "You know, she
told me yesterday that you seemed to be a very nice and considerate young
man and that I would surely be happy with you."
"Is that the reason why you changed your mind about marrying me?"
"No, you silly. I knew that myself. What other man would find it all right
when his wife tells him that she’s too tired to make love?"
"Oh, such lame excuses won’t count anymore once you’ve promised in
front of the minister to obey me." He winked at her.
"Then I won’t promise to obey you." It was now her turn to wink.
Their intention was to stop at the inn after the ceremony just long enough
to change into riding gear and leave town right away. Helen wore her new
blue gown. She had again borrowed Andrew’s long white silk stockings and
a pair of his underdrawers, which she found intriguing and practical. While
in Italy, he had adopted the habit of wearing them. The bonnet completed her
outfit. Andrew had put on his good spare clothing which the landlady had
tidied up early in the morning.
While Helen packed the saddle bags and folded her new clothes into a
cloth bag obtained from Mrs. Morgan, Andrew visited the local goldsmith
and bought two gold wedding bands. When he came back, they finished
packing, got the horses saddled, and settled the account with the innkeeper.
Shortly after ten, they walked up to the church, just two crooked streets
away. The minister received them in his sanctuary off the little side-chapel
where he conducted weddings and baptisms. He was an elderly man with a
kind face. His relief was obvious when he heard that they were both over
twenty-one. He instructed them about the responsibilities of marriage and the
duties of bringing up their children as good Christians. After several
attempts, he finally posed the question that had seemed to be on his mind all
along, whether the bride was with child. He was somewhat disconcerted
when Helen answered firmly "no", but then praised them for their abstinence, elaborating at length on the sin of intercourse prior to marriage. A sly
smile fleetingly crossed her face.
The minister then explained the ceremony. By that time, it was close to
eleven, and they all entered the side chapel. Two old women knelt in the
second to the last row of seats, praying. They sat up, sticking their heads
together and whispering, when the minister led Andrew and Helen to the
front, where Mr. Morgan and his wife were already waiting. The latter
smiled at them, while her husband looked somewhat embarrassed.