Read The Rose of Sebastopol Online

Authors: Katharine McMahon

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Literary, #Historical

The Rose of Sebastopol (57 page)

BOOK: The Rose of Sebastopol
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
he back of the square old house
had French windows overlooking a stone terrace. Rosa went right up and pressed her face to the glass. “Shutters again,” she said. “I told you. They’re not here.” Then she banged on the window.
“What are you doing? We should go. Someone will come.” I tried to pull her away but she hammered on the glass until I thought it would break. Finally she gave up, raced down to the river, kicked off her boots, unrolled her stockings, threw them to one side, and waded in.
“Rosa, what are you doing? Mind you don’t cut your feet. Why are we here? Surely this is private...”
When she was halfway across she turned back, her skirts scooped up in her hands and her white face full of pain. “My house. This was my house. Father’s room where he used to read was that one at the end.”
I turned to look back at the blinkered windows and dusty paintwork.
“When he died the house was inherited by some nephew so Mother and I had to leave even though he only comes north once a year to shoot and he isn’t pleased to see me then, I can tell you. At other times I can’t get back inside however often I come. I have to do it all in my head. I open the front door and stand in the hall, I smell the floor polish, I see his hat on the stand and his stick against the wall, and I bang open the door of his study but I can’t get any further. I can’t see him because he isn’t there.”
We stared at each other. Her grief was intolerable, because by now I knew her so well that her pain had become my pain. She turned away and began kicking up a storm of spray until she was a blur of flying hair and water droplets.
For a while I chewed my lip and wondered what to do. Then I went over to her boots and placed them neatly side by side, shook out her stockings, which were still warm from her legs, and rolled them up. Finally I took off my own shoes and stockings and dabbled a toe in the river. My feet were pricked by sharp stones and the water was surprisingly cold.
She laughed as she plunged towards me and seized my hand. Then she pulled me deeper and deeper and clutched me tightly to her chest while the water rushed past, dragging the hems of our dresses. Our wet cheeks collided and our hands were gripped together as she led me in a wild dance until all I could see were sparks of water, the swirling sky, and her delighted, hungry eyes.
BOOK: The Rose of Sebastopol
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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