Continued from here. Oh, and I’ve changed Mr. Bailey’s name to Mr. Baecker. Sorry!
“Miss Southerland?” It’s Edwina’s surname, and I hesitate, wondering if I should correct him now or tell him the whole story later. If things go well, my own surname won’t be mine for much longer anyway.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Baecker.”
“You look younger than I expected.” His gaze drops from my eyes to my body. He’s assessing me, as if I’m a pony he’s considering.
“I assure you, I have no lame legs or obvious deformities.”
He blushes, and I bite my tongue. This is no way to begin. “I apologize, Mr. Baecker. When I’m nervous, my tongue gets away from me…”
He smiles a bit at that. “I’m a little nervous myself. Perhaps you will walk with me? I have asked for a room at the boarding house for the next few nights.”
I don’t mean to stiffen, but I do.
“For yourself, only,” he says hurriedly. “The minister, he comes to town not until Sunday afternoon.”
This is not how I imagined a wedding proposal. And believe me, I’ve spent more than a few hours imagining one, ever since I left home. Wouldn’t that just have been the cat’s meow — if I’d sailed off across the Atlantic to find work, only to be swept off my feet by some on-board knight in waterproof armor. Rich, of course. Rich enough to send for my parents and my younger brother and sister and settle us all on a lovely farm somewhere, with ponies. I’d read somewhere about wild ponies in America.
That was the dream. Not too likely, though, when I spent the whole crossing with my head in a bucket. My second dream came after I spent my time in quarantine and the agent found me a job at the MacLean house. I mean, how could a girl not dream? There I was, pouring the coffee, while the young Mr. MacLeod’s school friends sat around tipping their flasks into their cups and discussing Laurier and the possibilities of immigrating west and the new provinces coming and the land out there.
The dream was this: it would begin with an incidental brush of his hand against mine while I poured. A spark would fly between us. I would stand across the room, rubbing my hand, and he would look up to meet my eyes. He would smile slowly, the understanding dawning that I was no different than him despite my uniform and my coffee pot.
I used to drink in their conversations, so I could sound like one of them.
Ha. Look where that inclusion would have left me. Bleeding on a bed with Mrs. MacLean hysterical and the young man nowhere to be seen.
If you’d like to read the whole story: