Previous chapters: Part one
| Part two.
The next morning I
believe we both felt that we'd had our share of being idle and
although we took our time in rousing ourselves, we decided to
actually get dressed and take a turn around the town. Margaret cooked
breakfast this morning, bacon, eggs and fried bread (to hide the fact
that it was now a little stale) which we ate at the kitchen table
again. Then we decided to take a stroll to the Mitre Hotel for
“We're going to be
far too early,” Margaret said as she wrapped her scarf around her
neck and pulled her winter coat on.
“Then we had best
make it a slow walk.”
We headed to the park
first, taking our time and enjoying the scenery around us. While many
people had returned to work today, most of the shops seemed closed,
clearly taking advantage of an extra day off.
Everyone we passed,
even those who seemed to be working, had a ready smile and a warm
“Good morning” for us.
At we neared the top
of the hill in the park, Margaret noted that the park and indeed the
whole town, looked magical under its fresh covering of snow. Many of
the mill chimneys were active again since many businesses don't
recognise Boxing Day as a holiday but today the smoke only added to
the festive look of the town.
There were a few
people milling around in the park. Some children were making snowmen,
as we had yesterday and another group were having a snowball fight.
The adults seemed to be enjoying the view of the town for none of
them seemed in a rush to get to their destinations and most kept
glancing back over the town.
rubbing her gloved hands together so I looked around to make sure
that we were unobserved, then pulled Margaret behind a large tree
nearby. Opening my coat, I placed her hands around me so that the
heat from my back could warm her hands. My chest would have done just
as well but this way I also got to embrace her.
We stole a few kisses
while hidden back there but when Margaret's hands had warmed
sufficiently, we continued on our way.
Though we had missed
the morning service, we stopped in at the local church so that
Margaret could say her prayers.
I offered my own
silent prayer, thanking Him for my good fortune of late and, feeling
the Christmas spirit myself, slipped a generous amount into the
pauper's box on our way out.
With that done we
continued to the hotel, pausing to look in some of the shop windows
we passed since it seemed that many had gone out of their way to make
their windows look festive. Many shops had miniature, hand made
nativity scenes on display and it was interesting to see how each one
differed from its neighbour. Paper chains and ivy garlands were
draped around most windows and wreaths adorned almost every door we
We stopped in at the
bakers, one of the few open shops, and bought some fresh bread. The
baker greeted us with a hearty smile and threw in two free
gingerbread men that had been iced to look like snowmen. We thanked
him and continued on our way.
“I still find it
hard to believe that there was a time when people didn't celebrate
Christmas,” Margaret said as we walked. “This is all so lovely
that I don't understand why anyone would want to miss it.”
didn't know what they were missing,” I reasoned.
“If that's true, it
really would be a shame,” she said, tightening her grip on my arm
and resting her head briefly on my shoulder.
Those passing us who
might usually look upon such a public display of affection with
distaste, today only smiled at us, perhaps understanding the need to
show love at this time of year.
As we entered the
town square it seemed that we had interrupted a snowball fight among
some of the local children and as one hit me square in the chest, the
boy who had thrown it paused in fright for a moment. Then obviously
deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, he turned
tail and ran, his friends hot on his heels.
I was angry and about
to shout after them (what if they had hit Margaret instead of me!)
when Margaret's laugher caught my attention. It seems that she found
both my predicament and my annoyance amusing.
having fun,” she said as she brushed the snow from my coat.
“You call that
fun?” I asked. “They could hurt someone.”
“Yes, well you
thought it was rather fun yesterday, if I recall correctly.”
She had me there, but
I wasn't giving in that easily.
“You started that,”
I reminded her. “And besides, we were in the safety of our garden,
not hurling missiles at random strangers in the street.”
indulgently then reached up and kissed me softly, causing the last of
my anger to evaporate.
“Come on,” she
said, slipping her arm through mine again. “I don't know about you
but I'm ready for a nice pot of hot tea.”
We continued to the
hotel which was not far from the square and arrived just in time for
afternoon tea. They seated us by a window and we enjoyed watching the
world pass us by as the people outside laughed, joked and enjoyed the
snow and festive season.
“I wish we could do
this every year,” she said. “I've loved these two days on our
“And I, love.”
We both knew that we
would not be this lucky every year but a part of me hoped that we
could recreate this feeling of solitude some time soon. We had not
even had the luxury of a honeymoon after our wedding and now that I
knew what time alone with Margaret could be like, I was more sorry
than ever for that fact.
The mill would be
running as normal in another few months so I began to wonder about
the possibility of us taking a late honeymoon, perhaps visiting
Margaret's brother. It was too soon to voice such ideas to Margaret
in case I could not be spared from the mill but I was determined to
do my best and secure us a holiday in the coming year. Preferably
sooner rather than later.
When the tea,
sandwiches and cakes were finished, we paid the bill and set about
reapplying all the layers of clothing that we had removed when we
entered. Bundled up once more, we headed out onto the street.
The snow was falling
again, large fluffy white flakes drifting gently to the ground.
Margaret put her hand out in front of her, palm up and watched as the
flakes landed there and melted.
“Let's hail a cab,”
I suggested. Snow is very pretty to watch but I didn't much fancy the
idea of walking all the way home in it. “I find that I am somewhat
eager to curl up in front of a nice, warm fire with you once again.”
Margaret put her hand
down and nodded her agreement. I hailed the first passing cab and
after telling the driver our address, we climbed into the carriage.
Thankfully it was enclosed and we were somewhat sheltered from the
Though most surely
shocking to anyone who might have seen, I couldn't resist Margaret
any longer and removed my hat before I leaned over and kissed her.
She responded with equal ardour and by the time the cab slowed to a
stop, we were both slightly breathless and her lips were quite red
After I had paid the
driver, we headed inside and although all I wanted to do was have my
way with Margaret, I knew that the fires needed tending first.
I had built them up
this morning so none had died out but the range in the kitchen was on
its last legs. I stoked up the rear parlour fire also in case we
spent any time in that room, then I headed up to our bedroom to find
that Margaret had already taken care of the fire in there.
She was lying under
the eiderdown by the fire and as far as I could tell, not wearing a
single stitch of clothing. She had taken her hair out of its bun so
it lay fanned out around her head and I paused for a moment to admire
“Come and join me,”
'How is a man meant
to resist a request like that,' I asked myself? The answer was
simple; 'he isn't.'
To be continued...
Catherine Winchester 2011. All rights reserved.