George VanArsdale
Ithaca, NY
July 13, 1863 - Monday

George worked on his last full day at the smithy. He was saying goodbyes to the horses when Hiram came and said, "Trouble's here."


"Yer girl. She's out front lookin' fer ya."

"I don't want to see her."

"Don't be like that, George. Ya can't just off and leave her cryin'. That's not gentlemanly."

George sighed, put down the curry comb, and went out front. Clarissa was pacing, fidgeting, frowning. She quickly switched to a brave sad smile when she saw George. "Dear George, I brought you something to remember me by." She held out a white cloth bundle. George took it and unfolded it. It was a lock of Clarissa's hair, tied with a pink ribbon.

He said, "Is this the same handkerchief?"

"Yes, the same one I dropped, and you so gallantly returned to me. I cried my tears on it after you left our house yesterday." Her tone and demeanor suddenly changed from one of sadness to one of whispering conspiratoriality. She took George's arm and led him around towards the back of the smithy, off the street. "And something else, George..."

Out of sight of passersby, no longer in line of sight from the church, Clarissa pulled George close and kissed him. "I am not wearing any drawers under my petticoats." She held George's arm with one hand, and lifted her skirts with the other. She lifted her leg so George could see her bare knee and thigh. She continued lifting her skirts...

"Clarissa, stop!" He forced the hem from her fingers. "This is wrong. I will not." He held her by the shoulders at arm's length. "Go home, Clarissa." He walked away.

"George VanArsdale! You come back here!"

George kept walking.

"You cannot leave me this way!"

Inside the smithy, Hiram said, "Sounds like that went well. Ha ha ha! Toldja she was trouble."

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© 2019 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.