V

"I'm not going and that's final!"

David ducked and a porcelain figure exploded against the wall behind him.

"Now look what you made me do!" wailed Celicity as she sank to the velvet-lined love seat with a sob, her anger dissipated as quickly as it had come.

David took a few cautious steps toward her. "There, there," he soothed. "It'll be all right. If your father wants you to finish at the Ladies' Academy here, we can both take a later boat." His voice was soothing, but his eyes were troubled and bewildered. He never understood her moods. She didn't want to wait any more than he did, but when he had suggested going against her father's wishes, she had gotten mad at him.

"No, you must go now," Celicity insisted. "You know your cousin can't wait much longer. He'll have to find another partner, and you'll lose your opportunity. I can join you in a few months."

"But what about our wedding? You want to be married at sea!"

"Oh, ..." Celicity's sobs renewed at this reminder. "But you...must go..."

"Oh, I know," muttered David in frustration; then in excitement: "Oh! I know! We'll hire a small boat out after you arrive and have it take us out a little way from shore for the wedding."

"That would be wonderful!" Celicity's sobs ceased, and her face brightened. "Though I suppose it won't be the same."

"Well, it will have to do. Just how your father got wind of our plans, I will never know."

"Probably Jennifer, that wench."

David secretly agreed with his fiancÚ's guess, but he had been brought up to refrain from speaking ill of people, even servants.

"I hear that Gerald finally asked Susan's father for her hand," he offered in an attempt to change the subject.

"Really? It's about time. He's been courting her for ages now! I was saying to Beatrice just the other day that if he didn't get up the gumption to ask soon,..."

David gave an inward sigh of relief. The storm had blown over, with a porcelain angel the only casualty. But was she ever beautiful when she was angry! He smiled slightly at the memory of her flashing green eyes and the flying brown locks which had strayed from the large bundle atop her head. He had known from the first moment he saw her, scolding a boy whose ball had rolled through her flower bed, that he had to marry her.

Their plans had been formed when his brother offered him a share in his new lumber business in America. It was too big for one person to manage, and Steven wanted to marry, which would take even more of his time. Celicity thought elopement romantic, and had always wanted to be married at sea; her father had other ideas. David was grateful that Mr. Taylor liked him. After his initial anger at their plan to elope, he found the whole situation humorous, remembering his own hot youthful blood, and had said that Celicity could still marry David. "But you will finish at the Academy first, and then you can marry him wherever on God's green earth you please." He would hear no argument on the issue of school, and Celicity had resigned herself to a few more months in England, much to David's dismay.

After letting her talk for a while, David turned the conversation back to their travel plans.

"You will need an escort for your voyage," he said.

"Oh, bother, I suppose I shall," she said with a frown, then smiled. "I know who to ask: Stuart!"

"Yes, of course!" David agreed. In fact, he'd already planned to suggest his best friend. Stuart had been wanting to visit the colonies for some time, and as the three of them often went places together, he would be the perfect escort for Celicity. "I shall ask him this evening. I'm sure he'll do it. In fact, he's probably at the Ox Head Inn now." He stood up.

"Oh, must you go so soon?"

"Yes, I must. I need to see the tailor before he closes, and I will ask Stuart on the way." He gave her a light kiss on the cheek, and she squealed.

"Off with you, you naughty boy," she said through her giggles, and he departed.

Chapter 4
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