Index > Ongoing Stories > A Widow Meets a Dragoon

A Widow Meets a Dragoon

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sophiaunderwood (( This is a collaboration between myself and the player of Allan Gale, encouraged/facilitated by the player of the Elmsworth clan. ))

Allan Gale sits against a tree, his legs crossed under him as he reads Tom Jones for at least the third time. He idly flips through the book to find a part of the story he prefers and shifts to allow some more of the dappled sunlight to fall through the foliage onto his page. He is not in uniform today, simply one of his more everyday suits, rather the worse for his habit of leaning up against trees and rocks and sitting in damp fields.

It being an exceptionally fine summer's day, Lucy Fairchild walks along a favorite wooded path towards a field on the outskirts of town. She takes little notice of the ribbon in her bonnet coming loose, for she is too enraptured with the scenery. As she nears the end of the path, she hears a promising chorus of tiny peeps and her light brown eyes sparkle with wonder. She quickly looks over her shoulder to ensure she is alone, and being satisfied, hikes her crimson skirts and hoists herself onto one of the tree's lower branches to get a closer look at the nest.

Allan looks up with a slight frown at a noise, but seeing nothing at the moment, returns his attention to his book. It occurs to him that he might choose a place with better lighting and he rises, stretching his arms out and stamping his feet slightly, as a leg had fallen asleep due to his awkward sitting position.

Lucy precariously balances on the limb. Growing frustrated with her bonnet, she unties it and lets it fall to the ground, her deep red curls relaxing from the freed confinement. She moves up a further branch, searching for the nest and finds it, tucked safely in a small hollow of the tree trunk.

Allan moves away from his tree back towards the path and is about to move on when a bonnet appears mysteriously at his feet. Frowning, he picks up the article and looks around, then up. How on earth did a bonnet get into a tree. His question is answered by the scarlet skirts which show starkly against the green foliage. "Excuse me?!" He is rather alarmed by the sight of a lady in a tree, and wonders what on earth could have compelled her to climb it.

Lucy looks down toward the voice and sharply shushes him. She is a strikingly pretty girl of about three-and-twenty. She only catches the briefest glimpse through the leaves of her interruption, though he appears by and large your average gentleman. She quickly returns her attention to the hollow, which she observes with an enchanted delight.

Allan frowns a little, but waits obediently, turning her bonnet absently around in her hands. She would not, he supposes, have shushed him if she was in need of help or in want of conversation. He takes a step back to be out of her way in case she decides to descend, but hopefully close enough he can be of some help if she should fall.

Spying a bird flying in her direction, Lucy quickly ducks out of the way. She makes it to the lowest branch of the tree, but starts to lose her balance. "Oh!" she gasps in surprise.

Allan drops the bonnet and takes a quick step forward, not really sure how much he'll be able to help but holding his arms out anyway, figuring he could at least cushion her fall if she does lose her balance entirely.

Lucy tumbles out of the tree.

Allan half manages to catch her, stumbling a bit as she falls into him, but managing to keep them both upright. "I say! Are you quite alright?!"

Lucy is quite surprised to be caught. She was entirely prepared to hit the ground and would have shaken off such a short fall with relative ease. Her hands fall against the stranger's chest as she stables herself, and she turns her face up to his. A soft smile teases at her lips. "Why-- er, yes quite." She half chuckles. "It wouldn't be the first time I fell out of a tree."

He blinks, makes sure she is steady, and steps back rather quickly, flushing. He picks up the bonnet and brushes it off before offering it to her. "Perhaps you shouldn't climb them if you fall out of them so frequently?" He suggests, with a hint of annoyance. She had frightened him: despite the height of the fall, she certainly could have injured herself if she landed wrong.

She accepts the bonnet with carefree amusement in her manner and voice. "My, is it so very frequent to experience something a handful of times over the course of one's life?"

"One usually stops climbing trees at . . . say, 12 perhaps. 15, at the latest, I think," he points out.

"Well one must usually be quite the bore, I daresay," she counters.

He frowns slightly at her and makes a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat. "Why were you climbing the tree?"

Lucy gestures up into the tree, not having yet put on her bonnet. "There's a nest up in that little hollow. Three little birds just hatched." She turns back to him, a conspiratorial glint in her eye. "Do you want to see?"

He blinks again, then shakes his head slowly. "Nooo, thank you. I'll keep my feet on the ground, if it's all the same, and take your word for it. I'm sure they're lovely."

She cocks a playful brow. "Afraid, are you?"

He bristles a little. "No."

Lucy rolls her eyes a little. "Alright, then." She starts to amble down the path back to town, dangling her bonnet by its ribbon alongside her.

He huffs softly. "I'm not. I just don't want to fall. It's not the same thing at all. Oh . . . drat, where did I put my book?"

Lucy whirls around to face him once more, her expression full of mirth. "It's the same thing entirely!" She stops herself from laughing when he begins to look for his book.

"It is not! Fear is something to be overcome. Caution is /sensible./" He argues, frowning. He must have dropped it or set it down or something, but it's not at his feet where it should be.

"Well, you've quite lost my interest, sir," she jokes. "I vastly prefer the /other/ sort of sensibility."

"Sensibility is something else entirely," he mutters with exasperation, straightening and looking around with a puzzled frown.

"Nonetheless, it certainly seems something you could do with more of." Her eyes sparkle with amusement.

He huffs again. "I am perfectly sensitive! As much as any gentleman should be, I should think."

Lucy stifles a grin at his exasperation. "Well, you /did/ catch my fall, which though entirely unnecessary, is not without its merits." She lets her smile blossom a bit. "And considering you're having rather a sensitive reaction right now... I believe I shall deem you acceptably sensible." She tilts her head, her eyes dancing with playful spirits. "But no more than that!"(edited)

"Being sensible and having sensibility are not at all the same thing. I like to think I am sufficiently endowed with both sense and sensibility, but I find the former more important," he says, finally locating the novel tucked between two tree roots. "Here we are!"

Lucy follows him, albeit at a distance. "Well that is quite where we disagree." She catches eye of the novel. "Though I suspect you might perhaps have more sensibility in you than you like to let on." She smiles, eyes twinkling.

He blushes slightly again, pausing and turning to her. "I didn't say I had none, I just said I value sense more."

She nods, though it is apparent she is humoring him. "Ah... I see."

He makes a slight face at her. "I get the sense you don't believe me, Miss . . ." He hesitates, realizing they have never been introduced.

She wrinkles her nose a little, though it is in good humor. She did always enjoy being mistaken for a miss. "Mrs..." She drops into a little curtsy. "Mrs. Lucy Fairchild."

His eyes widen a little. So he might have just been touching another man's wife. Wonderful. Though really, what was a husband doing letting his wife wander around and climb trees? Not his business, he supposed. He swallows and nods with a slight frown and a very slight bow. "A pleasure, madam. Cornet Allan Gale, at your service."

Lucy's eyes light with excitement. "/Cornet/?! Are you a dragoon?"

"Indeed," he says, clearly somewhat pleased by her reaction, even if he does his best to hide it.

She slowly turns away from him to return to town. "How exciting..."

"May I escort you back to your . . . wherever you destination is, madam? If only to ensure you are not injured in your ornithological pursuits?"

Lucy laughs lightly. "You may. I suppose I ought to return to Mrs. Hatch's." She adds in way of explanation, "I am boarding there until I can secure my own residence."

He nods and wonders somewhat awkwardly if he ought to offer her his arm. He doesn't, simply falls into step beside her, absently admiring her bright curls.

"I've not ever seen you about town, Mr. Gale. Are you newly arrived?"

He nods. "I live in Template village, actually, for the time being. With an elderly relative. I'm helping him while on leave, though I expect I'll be returning to my regiment soon enough."

"Oh..." Lucy is a little disappointed there is not a full regiment in the area. "I've never been in Template. Is it very far from Tyrhampton?"

"Not far at all, really. I find myself in town quite often." If only to speak to Eliza. He feels slightly guilty, as always, at the thought of her.

"How lovely. I should expect being tasked with the care of an elderly relative, you might wish to get out as often as you reasonably can!"

"I enjoy spending time outdoors," he admits cheerfully.

Lucy gives a curt nod of approval. "Why, you'd have to be dicked in the nob ((crazy)) not to!"

"I understand the appeal of indoor study as well," he shrugs slightly, his lips quirking the tiniest bit. He is saying it more to annoy her than because it's really true.

"And what pray tell is that Mr. Gale?"

"Well, for one, there are significantly fewer instances in which you are interrupted in your pursuits by ladies falling out of trees," he breaks into a small, playful smile.

"Oh, pish posh! As if this weren't the very highlight of your day." Lucy glances at him out the corner of her eye, highly amused.

"I will admit it has made my day significantly more interesting," he agrees cheerfully.

Lucy smiles and looks forward at the path before them. They are about halfway back to the village.

"Anyway . . . are you particularly interested in birds?" He asks curiously.

She shrugs. "As much as any other animal I suppose."

"In animals in general then," he clarifies with a slight smile.

"Well, I /like/ animals, so I suppose the answer is yes." Lucy folds her hands behind her back, the bonnet still dangling and now bouncing along the backsides of her legs.

He winces in sympathy for the article. "I was just wondering what motivated you to risk your neck in pursuit of observing a nest," he says casually.

"It wasn't so great a risk and I heard the birds and determined I should enjoy seeing them. Must I have greater reason than that?" Her tone is purely innocent, almost childlike.

He tilts his head and shrugs a little. "I suppose not, if you deemed it worth the risk."

She shakes her head a little. "You think entirely too much Mr. Gale. Don't you ever simply do as you like, without worrying over the risk? Even for the smallest of things?"

He chuckles, a hint bitterly. "Without worrying over the risk? Rarely. Do I do foolish things, despite risks? Frequently."

"Very well. I consider myself satisfied on that count, then. What foolish things do you do?"

He hesitates, guarded, trying to think of something he can reveal without jeopardizing himself too much. "I . . ." He pauses, lost in thought.

"You see, you cannot even let yourself enjoy a conversation with a perfect stranger whom you may not ever see again, and clearly is not disposed to judge you, without turning the risk over in your mind!"

"I can't help it!"

"Hmm..." She stops walking and looks at him appraisingly.

He also pauses and meets her gaze, blushing a little and looking defensive.

"Very well, perhaps you /cannot/ help it /now." She resumes walking. "But I daresay there was once a time when you had not learnt to be so very careful." The path begins to open into the edge of the village. "I should have liked to meet /that/ Mr. Gale."

He looks thoughtful. "I do not recall a time when I was insensible of the risks of actions . . . I think you are wishing to meet a very young boy, Mrs. Fairchild. As I say, I do ill-judged things perhaps, but it would be rather indiscreet of me to discuss them, would it not?"

"Do I seem the sort of person to place much weight upon indiscretions Mr. Gale? I did just let a strange man catch my fall out of a tree."

"So far as I could tell, you did not have much control over that," he counters.

"I climbed the tree in the first place didn't I? I may not have expected to fall. But you must admit it was an indiscretion."

"One must take into account the magnitude," he says, and winces slightly, thinking that perhaps even that was rather revealing.

"Aha!" Lucy is delighted at the admission. "So when he is good, he is very very good, and when he is bad, he is rotten?" She glances ahead to find they are practically upon Mrs. Hatch's doorstep. "It is much in your favor Mr. Gale that this is where we part." She flashes a bright, charming smile.

He blushes slightly. "Good day, Mrs. Fairchild. Have a pleasant afternoon and do endeavor not to injure yourself."
Posted 5 months ago

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