A Meeting With Her

He stood outside Barstell's Tea-House in the rain for what must, his feverish imagination insisted, have been hours upon hours. She finally arrived as he reached to light his third pipe-bowl with trembling hand, glancing nervously up and down the dim street for any indication of his family; or indeed, of any of their numerous acquaintances. His trysting-mask would only benefit him so much if one of them were to catch his silhouette just so in the lamplight.

"I'm so glad to see you. Let me help you inside."

"I'm sorry; I was kept."

They slip inside, claiming a small table well away from the main room, reluctantly shedding a layer of soaked-through clothing and ordering tea. At last, he ventures, "This can hardly continue indefinitely, you know."

"I know. It pains me to say it, but I have spoken with my family on the matter."

"You didn't."

"There is no future for us, not like this. It was all I could think to do. Unless your mother and father can be convinced, unless a formal courtship can be arranged, we are squandering our lives on a deception."

He stood, livid with frustration. "I will ask them. I would do anything. But you already know what their answer will be."


A Complex Statue