Surprise and Delight

Photo by Emre Kuzu on

It was atypical to find a woman of such low social stature, like herself, under protection. Her grandmother says Abigail can only attribute this to the man in the picture.

It all began decades ago in a humble dwelling in East London. She was brought to England in 1638 by her parents, who were fleeing cruel religious persecution of Christians in France.

 All she knew was what she had heard from her parents. 

Her last memory of Poitiers is of her strolling through the expansive fields listening to the bleating of goats, then shouting erupted, horrid screams, and the smell of fresh blood flooded the village air. She begins to run, falls, and someone drags her off the ground.  

As a child, she was well pleased living in London as it was a massive and gay city. A great many faces and finery enticed her from among the crowds. Those sweet innocent childhood days transformed through time and space; she changed too. 

It was the latter end of August, and she woke to the sounds of the busy commune around her. The sun’s rays pierced defiantly through jeering gaps on the ceiling. She began to breathe hard, and her face felt gritty. The air was old and reeked of condensation and ancient stone. 

She hears him.  

He walked in, nervous moist breath settling on his mustache. It is obvious. He had met with success in life. But not even the elevation of his prosperity and all the joy considering his success procures him a restful night’s sleep. Reflections of his beautiful tenant kept him waking. 

He gently knocked and turned the doorknob. 

“Dear madam,” he began softly, “I love you above all, and I have done more than enough to persuade you of it.” 

She could see a world of tenderness behind his eyes. He sensed a tinge of uncertainty in her look. It was with great restraint that he confined his passion. 

If there ever existed a man truly valuable for strict honesty, it was him. If there was ever a woman who rejected man of merit over trivial and frivolous pretense, she was her. 

He had become a victim of her rejection, but on that dawn, it all changed. 

He requested the maid to dress her. 

As she walked towards the foyer, Abigail heard the hooves of horses on the cobbled stone outside. As they rode in his carriage, an awkward silence occupied the air between them. When they alighted, she recognized the sign of a recently established American photographer’s studio. 

Her heart palpitated, and she quickly wiped the cold sweat that trickled over her brow. She sat on the low stool, and he sat beside her. The photographer asked them to sit dead still. After all, engagement portraits are a serious affair. 

But as soon as he went behind the daguerreotype, she burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter. She thought the photographer resembled a swamp creature! 

“Flashing a big ol’ toothy grin is classless,” warned the man behind the camera.