Returning from the coach, Kip spread the coverlet on the ground.
“Shall we eat first, or shall I sketch?”
“I am not that hungry just now. Sketch me. First, I need a drink of water.”
Instead of pulling water from the basket which had been poured into canning jars, she went to the stream. She squatted down as only one can do in pants, cupped both her hands and filled them with cold water. She sipped from them several times, shook the excess from her hands, and dried them on her trousers.
She was the epitome of simplicity and carefree countenance, Kip thought.
“This is a good spot where we sit. I believe I told you before that I am just starting to sketch portraits. You are my first commissioned work of art.”
“Who ordered it?”
“A fine gentleman who wishes to remain anonymous. You are perfect right there, and I will sit here,” Kip said, finding the ground and sitting cross-legged.
“Is this gentleman handsome?” Squeaks asked sheepishly.
“Now what kind of man would I be if I could answer that?”
“An interested one?”
“To me, all men are the same. Now, the female creature inhabits a different sphere. She will walk among flowers and through wisps of clouds, which make her soft, fragrant and porcelain in color. She reveals little of herself leaving the man in mystery. Her fan will be used to communicate with her gentleman.”
“I’ve heard of that, the fan language. Is it really true or were the maids teasing?”
“They spoke the truth to you. I’m slowly picking up the art of the fan by watching my riders as they wait for my coach when I am in a line.
“Tell you? Tell you, what?”
“A fan word.”
“Most of the time they are comments—not words. Let me see, what can I tell you? If the lady holds an opened fan with her right hand in front of her face; she is asking her gentleman to follow her.”
“I don’t believe you. I’ve never seen such goings-on.”
“I am not surprised at Stokes. You have my permission to ask his Lordship,” he chuckled.
Kip readied his supplies and opened his sketch folio to a large blank page. “I want you to look into my eyes for a while. I will be staring at different parts of your face. I say this, so it does not alarm you. We can talk if you do not move your head, and I will draw your mouth last. There we will decide on a smile or a more serious look. Are you ready?”
“Look at me. Stare into my eyes. I will draw down to your neck so move your arms however you wish.”
Kip placed the folio on his knee and withdrew the black charcoal from the box. He stared at her and began to draw the sweep of her hair.
“Can I ask a question?”
“Yes, Sweets, what is it?”
“The night that you let me learn to night-drive, the night you really kissed me, remember?”
“Of course, I remember.”
“You introduced me to the other drivers, and you told them if they got ‘caught out’ to take care of that privately; then you went on to talk about language.”
Kip put down his charcoal, laughing. “I would guess you want to know what ‘caught out’ means?”
“That would be to urinate. Wait. Hold that look. Where is my red charcoal?” He teased her.
“You had to say that with me there?”
Kip continued sweeping lines on his paper. “Look at me. Yes, but you must know that was a very proper way to mention it. There are other words we generally use.”
As Squeaks sat there staring at him, she felt as if she were in a lovely dream. How often she had wanted to stare at him and study his handsome looks. His strikingly green eyes were his most significant feature. “You have a Patrician nose; did you know that?”
“What do you mean, Patrician? Am I girlish looking?” He knew what she meant.
“It’s a feature that goes back to ancient Roman nobility, or is it Greek? It’s a perfect nose, I think. It is not large or too small, it has no bump or hook to it. It is slim and not wide, but not thin either. It is an aristocratic nose.”
Kip continued to stare at her, drawing. “So, does that mean I have nobility somewhere in my lineage? I would think everyone can say that.”
“Perhaps, or maybe you are just lucky.” His lips and mouth were perfectly shaped. All his features were handsome, from his ears to his brow to his chin. “If I were with another man at a restaurant and you walked in …”
“I don’t think I’m going to like this.”
“What do you notice first about the other gentleman. What makes one man jealous of another man and don’t say it is because I am there?”
“You sure are tough on me. Can’t we men have any secrets?”
“Men are fairly territorial. They need to protect what is theirs. Now if that is not a factor, I would think a man could worry if he was handsome enough for his lady. Did he have a nice build? Is his profession worthy of her?”
“Does intimacy enter a man’s jealousy?”
“Most assuredly. That is the number one factor, which is usually an unknown, and the most difficult to cope with. You gaze at me rather hard, Miss Squeaks. Must I pass muster, again?”
“I’ve waited to do this.”
Kip smiled. “I’ve waited to do this. Do you know I came home that night and drew you standing as footman? Remember, I asked you to look at me and smile. That is what graces my mantle.”
“Perhaps, I shall see your home one day.” Squeaks wondered what it looked like. “Let me tell you about your home, may I?”
“Yes. This should be interesting.”
“You are a single man, who I believe lives in a place where his stable looks better than his residence.”
“You are very nearly right with that.”
“Your house is two levels but only two bedrooms. It is devoid of nearly everything except a bed, kitchen, and a few items to rest upon. You have old furniture for the apostles to sit when they visit. You have never brought a woman to your house. You have a nice wardrobe for your clothing finery. A charwoman comes in weekly to sweep the dirt from the floor, change your bed linen and finish washing your dishes. She takes your laundry home when she leaves. You keep two tins of boot polish all the time. You have more shoes than I do. I believe you to have saved for and purchased real Wellington boots. I see you’re smiling.”
“Proceed. I am enjoying hearing about myself.”
“Your loo is outside. You have a post office box in London proper, and you collect your post rather than having it delivered. Your address is part of your image. By looking at your face, I cannot tell if you cook or eat out. In your bedroom, you have one nightstand and one oil lamp beside it. You do not have indoor gas lighting, but that doesn’t bother you, as your best fares are at night. You like to whistle when you drive. Now you are laughing. Tell me where I am right or wrong.”
“Oh, I cannot do all of that. You must still find me mysterious. I will say I drew the line at an outdoor loo. It is inside. And I do not whistle while I drive, except for whistling for my horse, but I do not do it for entertainment. I will say that I have three tins of boot polish. I have black and brown boots. As you see today, I am wearing the brown boots. Do they look polished to you?”
“Why … the leather is blinding when the clouds pass.”
“You should know I would not be caught dead with worn leather boots. I am ready to add your mouth. Perhaps, I shall kiss it first.”
Kip crawled over on his knees and leaned in to kiss Squeaks.
Squeaks burst forth with laughter as he reached her lips. He sat back on his ankles wondering what was causing this moment of amusement.
“Miss Squeaks, you take my romantic attentions too lightly, I fear.”
“It’s not that. You tricked me. What a novel joke.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Now, stop that. You know very well what I mean?”
“I wish it was true, but I have not an idea at all.”
“Your sketch, silly.”
Kip looked down and was shocked. He pushed the folio off of his lap, wanting it away from him.
“Kip, now stop playing. That sketch of yourself is exactly how I just pictured you in my mind. How did you do that? I would like to have it. If you wanted me to have your portrait, you could have given it to me. I would love to hang it in my room. This charade wasn’t necessary, but it is funny.”
Kip staggered to his feet aghast. “How did I do that?”
Squeaks held up her hand for him to take it and sit beside her. “Kip you look awful. You have gone pale. What is happening to you? What is wrong?”
Lowering his body next to her, keeping his distance from the sketch, he said, “I did not knowingly draw my own face.” He stared at the portrait. Squeaks became quiet. She didn’t have words, as she felt he was telling the truth.
“Can you read minds, Kip? That is exactly, and I do mean accurately, the way I see you. Could you see the image in my head?”
“If I did, this is a first. This doesn’t make any sense. I looked down every so often to see what I was doing, and it appeared as I saw you. I have no gift. I hope they don’t still hang people for witchcraft.” The near accident came back to his mind and how he thought of Mary. Mary, Mary, you are making this happen? “Are you sure this is how you see me?”
“There is no doubt. Perhaps, you do have a gift. You said you were new to portraits, and you stared at me, and I stared at you. Should we try something else? Are you afraid to know if you are gifted?”
“I do not believe in such things. What do you wish of me?”
“I will sit as before, but I will not look at your eyes. I will look away. I will imagine a vision and hold it. Perhaps you can see what I see by looking at me again.”
Kip hesitantly pulled his folio back to him. “This cannot work. But I will try.”
“I have a vision in my mind now. Do not see my face, but look deeper.”
Kip sat for a minute trying to force himself to reveal an image. “This isn’t working. It cannot be that.” Mary’s image swirled through his mind.
“Give it more time, Kip. Try again. Concentrate. I will be quiet.”
Kip put the folio aside. If he could see her vision, he could tell her. He would not have to draw it. “I think I am guessing. I feel like you are seeing Warrior.”
Squeaks gasped. “That is right. It may have been a guess, but how did you think of it?”
“I do not remember thinking. I was thinking about not thinking when I saw Warrior. Actually, that isn’t the truth. I believe I can tell you now. I was clearing my mind, and an image of my sister seemed to rush past my consciousness.”
“You don’t think …”
“I don’t know. Something allowed me to know of the impending danger with the runaway carriage.”
“Let us try this again. This time, I will envision something you have never seen. Give me a moment.” On the wall in her bedroom was a small painting of her in her mother’s arms as a baby. Her father was standing behind her seated mother. It was crudely done, but it was something Kip would not know about. “I have it. Now concentrate and so will I.” Squeaks conjured up the picture as she would see it from her bedside.
“Oh my god, something is forming. Don’t say anything. Hold the image.”
“I believe it is a picture hanging on a wall. You are looking at it from below, as it is hung over your head. Let me concentrate on the picture. It is in a dark frame, most probably walnut. Sitting in a kitchen chair, there is a woman holding a baby. The man behind her with his hand on her shoulder appears to be a young Clyde Dorset, your father.” With that final word, Kip fell backward, utterly spent.
Squeaks hurriedly moved to him. “Kip, what can I do? Your eyes look unfocused. Does your head hurt?”
“Give me a second. I feel totally exhausted. I couldn’t keep myself upright. It is starting to recede. Where was I? Oh, yes. How close was I to your vision?”
“Kip, you are gifted. Your words told me more than I saw. I didn’t consciously remember the frame color or the chair coming from the kitchen. You looked through my eyes because you spoke of the perspective from which I see it every day. It is across from my bed, over my head by quite a lot. I do not think I can reach it from standing on the floor. This is incredible. Nothing like this has ever happened before?”
“Never.” Kip felt, if he was developing a gift, it was being given to him by Mary. But why?
“Are you strong enough to try it once again, for good measure?”
“Yes, I would like to. If this turns out to be a real gift, I wish to keep it quiet until I figure out what is going on with me. This time, do not envision anything specific. Just have random thoughts with images, but do not stand on one.”
“All right. I guess you can start anytime you want.”
Squeaks turned to Kip and looked at him but thought of a day in her life. She rose and washed, dressed, ate, and went to find her father. She brushed the horses and helped her father harness them. Later, she would walk some of the horses in the paddock along with the other lads.
“No, I cannot see anything clearly. Will you do me a favor tonight?”
“If I can.”
Kip laughed, preparing to have his face slapped. “At 9:00 p.m., if you can, make ready for bed, strip down until you are naked, and stand in front of your mirror. Hold that vision. I will try exceedingly hard to conjure what you are seeing.”
“Are you serious?”
“Only if you don’t hit me.”
“Since I do not have a full-length mirror, I will do it.”
“You will have to try this on others. Perhaps it is just me.”
“Oh, I hope not. I do not want to know what you are thinking. That would never work for us.”
“What happened to my kiss?”
“I hope I do not see me kissing myself.”
This time, he placed Squeaks on her back, and he rested on his elbows looking down at her. Her hair was spread around her face. He wanted to drown in her big, light blue eyes. Kip looked at her beautiful skin, impeccably arched brows, perfect pixie nose, and lips that he wanted to kiss until he died. He leaned toward her mouth and kissed her simply and gently, then backed away from her to see her face again. Quietly, she laid there smiling, looking directly at him.
“You are not trying to see how much I love you, are you?”
“A bit ago you said you think you loved me. Why are you sure now?” Kip wondered.
“Can’t you tell me?” She asked.
He smiled broadly, “No. I do not want to wander in your mind if I find I can. Nevertheless, are you saying you know you love me?”
“Yes, I am.”
Kip wrapped his one arm around her body as he plundered her mouth over and over. She brought her hands to his face and held him there to look at him. Kip rolled on his back and brought Squeaks on top of him. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and penetrated her lips repeatedly until she forgot all concerns and yielded herself, passionately.
I must stop this.
“Do I please you enough?” she asked.
“Far beyond what I thought it would be like kissing you.”
“I’m not sure what I can do for you.”
“What do you feel like doing to me?”
She sat there and blushed for a moment.
If you can’t say it, just picture it,” Kip laughed.
He unbuttoned his shirt, pretending that was what her thoughts were telling him.
Kip wished he could let her feel how much she pleased him.
“Sweets, allowing me to kiss and touch you is your precious offering.”
Kip pulled her shirt from her trousers and unbuttoned the top three. Exposing her cleavage, he slid his hands underneath, climbing her ribs. Slowly, they found the swell of her breasts, and Kip watched her eyes close. He felt their fullness while the nipples pebbled. Flames ignited in both of them. Kip removed his hands and pulled her up hard against him, nestling himself in the apex of her thighs.
Squeaks gasped, emitting a small unexpected moan. Her eyes opened to him staring into his face. “I … I.”
“I know, Sweets.” He took her mouth again, making love to it while his hands reached under her shirt. Once more, her eyes closed as did his. Kip felt tears drop onto his face. He reached for her head and licked them from her cheeks. “I need this very essence of you, Sweets.”
“I never thought it would feel like this,” she whispered. “There are other sensations at work here. I guess you know that, though.”
Kip smiled. “Yes, I know. We are merely at the beginning of what I hope will last a lifetime.” Kip found control and ceased his actions, but his chest was still pounding from the interminable pleasure and patience.
She placed her hands on his hairy chest and saw his eyes close immediately. A great sigh and smile came from him. She retracted her hands back.
“I don’t know what I am doing. I think I should talk to the women again.”
“I think you should talk to me. I love what you are doing. You can’t tell?” He buttoned her shirt.
“Have you been with many women?”
“I don’t know of your relative term of ‘many,’ but I am experienced.”
“Have you been with many women when it was her first time?”
“No, I haven’t, but I know what to expect. Please don’t have that on your mind. I will not ask for your virginity.”
“Well … suppose … I might …”
Kip kissed her deeply and sensually.
Catching her breath, “If you keep kissing me like that I might have to insist.”
Kip rolled his head from side to side, laughing. “Sweets, do not ever, I mean ever, think you have to offer yourself to show me you love me. What you are thinking is only part of you. I will want all of you, your heart, mind, body and your soul one of these days. I want you by me for life. What you are embarrassed to talk about is making love. Yes, it is pleasant beyond words, and a part of marriage I would not care to live without, but I could if you could not. Do not feel you have to prove anything to me. Promise me that.”
“I can promise you I will not do that to prove my love to you.”
“You sound rather vague.”
“Well, there you have it!”
“There I have what?”
“Perhaps, it is a good idea to talk with the women. Not about the act itself. I will control all of that. You need them to tell you how normal you are for a woman in love.”
“Well, stop kissing me then. I’m feeling all funny inside.”
“I can’t help myself.” Kip pleaded.
“That is how you make me feel when you kiss me the way you have today. I can’t help myself. I have no idea where the brakes are. I don’t want them.”
“What is it that you think you cannot help but do?”
“Never mind. Can we have our lunch now?”
“I think the timing is just perfect to have our lunch. I’ll check the leads on the horses while you place the food out for us.” Kip remembered thinking how he loved the idea of her being raised without restrictions and proprieties. He was having second thoughts on that now. Neither had the will to control their passion. She was soaking in desire, unhindered. They had better marry soon.
Squeaks smiled to herself as she watched him walk toward the horses. He was not coping very well with what he had started. She placed the food out and waited for him to return. He was smiling, too.
“Do you want roasted chicken or a beef sandwich?”
“I’ll take the chicken.”
Squeaks handed the cloth wrapped chicken to him.
“Why do they geld horses?” She asked out of nowhere.
“To subdue them. They are lust-driven, mighty powerful and strong otherwise. And you don’t want them trying to mate with the horse waiting at the next coach. Wait a minute. What are you trying to say?”
“Oh nothing,” she laughed. “How many women have you been with in your young life? I’ll tell you if you tell me. I think we are supposed to not be embarrassed to talk with each other about lovemaking, is that so?”
“You are a brat. I have never made love to a woman.”
“Stop it, Squeaks. I will paddle your backside if you continue this.” He snickered.
“What do you mean then – you have never made love to a woman?”
“Surely, or maybe not, you know there is a difference between having sex and making love. You know men have needs, do you not?”
“I haven’t understood a lot about that. And I do not know the difference between having sex and making love.”
“You will never know that difference as you will never have just sex.”
“And the needy part?”
“Can I finish my chicken?”
“You have been driving for over one year, correct?”
“You have trained me on a few new things which tend to be known more by independents.”
“I have, I believe.”
“I have ten years more experience with a coach than you do. Who would you say is the better driver sitting here today?”
“That would be me, of course,” he smiled.
“Because, Sweets, I am a man.” Kip thought she was throwing down the proverbial gauntlet. He was going to have some fun with her.
“Is that your same declaration for saddle riding?”
“What do you mean?”
“I am the better rider, but not because I am a man. I am an excellent horseman.”
“Pray tell. What do you see?” Kip asked with a sparkle to his eye.
“Wait and see.”
“I guess I will have to.”
“I would practice if I were you.” Squeaks countered.
“I need do nothing of the sort, Madam Horsewoman.”
“I will hate embarrassing you in front of your friends.”
“My friends? What do they have to do with this?”
“Wait and see. Tell them to practice, too.”
“You are really piquing my interest now,” Kip smirked.
“So that’s what it takes to arouse you?”
“Please don’t use that word. Miss Sweets, I think you are jesting with me.”
“I think not. You will have a month to practice.”
“To practice what exactly?”
“Your skills as a coachman and horseman.”
“Are you in earnest?”
“I am hoping I will be,” Squeaks replied. “I want to have a derby. Can we saddle-ride after we finish eating? Also, I need to find a bush. I did not bring a jar with me.”
“We can empty a water canning jar,” he mentioned, still scratching his head over whatever she was talking about.
“Yes, that will do.”
“I will guard the coach, but not listen.”
They packed up their belongings. Kip carried the folio, and the coverlet and led Warrior after having a final look at his gaskin area. Squeaks managed the empty basket and Soldier.
Squeaks had no idea where the coachman derby idea came from. She blurted it out to tease Kip, and it caught in the wind and carried on. She would speak with Lord Stokes. Perhaps, he could suggest a way to withdraw this challenge or indeed let there be one. The more she thought about it, the more exciting an idea it became.