We met, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, at destiny's divining. How it came to be, I currently can not understand, scarcely remembering the time or place of such a moment as I lay awake, enveloped by the lonley, quiet shadow of night.
And yet, there was never a clearer memory in my mind, each second unfolding for me over and over again with the crispness and clarity of a winter's dawn.
She was a goddess today, of such beauty to rival that of the great Aphrodite. She was a centerpiece to whatever the surroundings might be; each person a landscape wrapped around her, every sound a harmonious melody to any of her movements.
"Mr. Hartley." She had regarded me with the eyes of a Queen, the courteous nod of her head a graceful curtsey. How fortunate was I, my name formed by her soft, satin lips!
There was a moment of pause for my own reply - it took me so long to gather my feelings, heightened by her waiting gaze. How foolish I felt, no longer a man but a frightened boy silenced by the sight before him. My eyes wandered - a rose bloom at her cheek, a delicate, precious curl draped carelessly over her porcelain neck. I had to focus, had to capture such a moment as this, a moment so easily lost by my nerves.
"Miss. Morris," was the simple answer. What more could be said?
"How do you do?"
"Fine, thank you." What an understatement! I was flying on the wings of joy, elated by her willingness to remain and engage me in an exchange. "How are you?"
"Fine, very fine," She nodded, each of her movements a dancer's flourish. "I am off to the shops. Where are you headed on this pretty day?"
How her words were birdsong to my ears! I could listen to her speak both day and night of any subject. "I am headed to the shops as well. Perhaps ... I shall be permitted to escort you?"
A smile! - The glowing, radiant expression of acceptance. Her delicate arm slipped tentatively in my own, the warmest eyes briefly looking to my face with open curiosity, only to flit away in a flush of embarrassment.
I could still smell her floral aroma now, hear the gentle flutter of her slippers on the cobbles, the swish of her gown, the sigh of her breath, so near. We talked as we strolled - not only was she beauty, she was brains, trained as a proper woman with an independent, inquisitive flair that opened her avenues of intelligence. She was very unlike all the ladies I had met before, the girls I had engaged my heart. In a few words, she captured my fullest attention and impressed upon me the broader image of the woman behind her rich, stained glass eyes.
It was a forever we walked, and yet, it was not long enough. At her stop, she was finally drawn from my side. My heart had heaved a contented sigh as I watched her leave at the arm of a giggling lady-friend, who was all whispers and curious glances. And, meanwhile, I had felt like skipping and dancing all the way home like a ridiculous fool.
With such glorious memories fresh on my mind, I lay still in the shadow, Miss. Emily Morris filling my every thought.