I’m working on a novella this week. How does this work? My hero is a poor curate who oversees a mission called Pilgrim’s Rest.
“Do you think they can make home before dark?” Doro Bigglesworth had come up beside him, shutting the door to Pilgrim’s Rest.
“Perhaps. Perhaps the Lord will supply them with help along the way. Did you finish tidying up?”
“I rinsed Mrs. Grigg’s crocks at the well and left them on the table,” she told him.
“Excellent. I’ll fetch them for her on the way home.” He bowed to her and offered his arm. “May I accompany you home, Miss Bigglesworth?”
As he expected, she dipped into a curtsy as grace as that of any duchess. The formal ritual had become something of a game with them.
After enjoying her assistance for several months, Ben had begun escorting her to The Starr every week. Five times; today would be six. He knew the precise number because he treasured each one. He had offered from the beginning, of course, like the gentleman he was, but she demurred. He would look around after seeing to the guests, and she would be gone. He couldn’t say precisely what changed, but he looked up one day to meet her intense gaze, and, when he offered, she accepted his escort. Lately he no sooner left her at her lodging one Wednesday afternoon, than he began looking forward to the following one. The pleasure of her company had become Ben’s one indulgence, one he couldn’t bring himself to forego.
Glimpses of sun warmed what had begun as a dreary December day when they reached the road. “Shall we stay to the road or wander through the parkland?” he asked.
“My dear Mr. Clarke, are you asking me to stray through The Stray with you?” An impish grin accompanied the silly pun, though local lore would have it that the name derived from folks doing precisely that from the time the land surrounding the springs was pulled from the Forest of Knaresborough and set aside for the use of all.
He grinned back. “Shall we?” A familiar flicker of guilt fluttered through him as soon as he said it, but he chased it away. Surely, he did penance six days a week. He could enjoy this small pleasure on one of them.
The woman who had become the light of his life sobered. “It will take less time if we keep to the road. I don’t want to keep you from your work,” she said. Her earnest face and respect meant more to him than he could say. But at her words, his heart sank. He had hoped…
Just then the clouds moved off, sun glistened off the trees in The Stray, and her eyes gleamed. She was teasing! He felt a smile rise from his heart to bloom on his face. “That sun is calling to us, Miss Bigglesworth. How can we refuse the invitation when such an afternoon will be scarce now that winter approaches?”
“The paths all lead to Low Harrogate eventually, I believe.” Her widened grin told him she planned to enjoy their walk as much as he did.