Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 5)

This is a sequel to chapters already posted.

The next day, at breakfast, Jeremy promised Rebecca to introduce her to the mysteries about that truly Canadian icon, the canoe. She confessed that she had never even seen one in the flesh let alone been in one. (He decided to keep quiet about that myth that making love in a canoe would make her a true Canadian!)
“Let me tell you, Rebecca, this will be one of the most romantic excursions you have ever taken. I won’t tell you much about it, I’ll just let you experience it.
Now let’s be practical. First of all your gear. The shorts and blouse you’re wearing should be great. The running shoes we bought for you are right too.” (He did think the make-up was perhaps a little too perfect for the Muskoka waters, but he did not mention it. After all the fauna they might come across would not complain.) You’ll need a sunhat, and indeed she had one—a Tilley, which she considered quite smart.
After breakfast he took her hand and led her down to the dock where, earlier that morning, he had tied up a bright red canoe. He decided that he would not expose Rebecca to paddling bow on her first experience, he would have her sit on a cushion in the bottom of the boat leaning on a back rest against a thwart. He would take the stern and the paddle. She would be facing him for the whole trip, a thought that pleased him immensely. He helped her into her life jacket and donned his own.
He climbed down into the stern of the canoe and leaned well forward so the bow did not rise too much. He instructed her to get in gently, not to put her feet on the gunwale but on the keel. (He was soon to learn the lesson of not using technical terms with a novice.)
Rebecca didn’t really understand what he was jabbering about but she wanted to please. She lowered her feet confidently to the first part of the canoe that she could touch (which, of course was the gunwale) and gave a little jump off the dock. The canoe behaved predictably, flipped over and threw them both into the water.
It was only waist deep on him but up to her chest. Jeremy recovered his footing first and watched in amazement as the water boiled at Rebecca’s location and she rose from the water like an avenging shark. Her new Tilley was floating nearby. Her hair was dripping, her make-up smeared, and her fury flaming.
“You dirty little shit,” she howled. “You did that on purpose! I hate you! I hate you!” With that she wadded forward a couple of steps,, raised her fist and started beating his broad chest with ferocity while repeating, “Hate you, you miserable bastard. Hate you, garbage scum.” He simply surrounded her with his arms until she really couldn’t swing her fists any more, and he held her close until the fire in her burnt out. By this time she was crying. Jeremy was holding back on the laughter that was welling up within him. He took a sodden handkerchief from his pocket, gently wiped off the mascara and eye shadow, and took off most of the lipstick. He ran his hands through her wet stringy hair and shook some of the water off. Her sobs gradually trickled away and she looked at him with questioning misty eyes. He held her at arms length. “My heavens,” he exclaimed, “you’re beautiful, positively beautiful!”
He pulled her into his arms again. “I love you, Rebecca. I love you… Will you marry me?”
She jerked her head up from his chest in amazement. Her teary face started to smile though rather hesitantly. “Jeremy? Did you ask me to marry you? Do you really want to marry me?… Jeremy, I’m not a very good catch.”
“Yes, I really do. I know we could make a good marriage.” He surveyed the scene of two very wet people standing in the water beside an overturned canoe. “Maybe this isn’t the best place to discuss the details.”
Without more ado, he lifted the canoe over his head, drained it and set it down on the water right side up. He arranged the backrest and the cushion just so, then lastly picked Rebecca up, as a male dance might pick up a ballerina, and lowered her into her position on the floor of the boat. Finally, effortlessly he hung onto the dock and swung himself into the stern.
“Now,” he said, checking her over, “we’re both wet, but it’s a pretty hot day. We can go back to the hotel and change or just let our clothes dry on us. It’s your call.”
She looked at him ruefully, “I’m a mess already. If I go back to my hotel room I won’t come down again. To hell with it. Let’s carry on. It’ll give me more good reasons to hate you.” But she said the last without too much conviction.
He untied the painter and started paddling, an easy and practiced stroke with a “J” twist at the end to keep to course. They went between two small islands. She could see the sand and pebbled bottom but the canoe did not scrape. It glided so smoothly through the water stirring up hardly a ripple, the motion and the silence was like spreading butter over burnt toast. Everything came up bright and smiling. Except for one thing. She wished he hadn’t asked her to marry him. She would have to come out and level with him.
She trailed her fingers thoughtfully in the water. “Jeremy,” she almost whispered his name, “I’ve got to tell you I’m just not the woman for you. You see, I’m really rather a bitch. I’ve got a foul mouth when my temper ignites and it’s always close to the fire. All my life, I really haven’t given a damn for any one else but me. I even ignore my only and lovely daughter most of the time. I don’t have many talents except my ability to seduce men. You see I’ve led what a century ago you would have called a courtesan’s life. I’ve been a kept woman… kept by quite a few men. But I love them and leave them. I’ve been married three times officially and none of those worked out. I have had one night stands, one week stands, one month stands—none of these very satisfactory. Eventually we tire of each other and go our own ways. Yes, usually quite amiably. I live now on the alimony from three exs. My tastes, particularly in clothes, are expensive. I have no money saved up. I’m a disillusioned whore.”
She looked at him. He was smiling inscrutably. “You know, I’m not marrying you for your past; I’m marrying you for our future,” he said softly.
“You seem very sure that we’re going to get married?”
“Oh I’m sure alright. Though I guess I’ve got to convince you. I’ll begin working on that.”
They rounded a point and glided into a tiny bay. He kept the canoe close to the shore so there was an ever-changing close-up view of tiny life scurrying through the undergrowth, of fronding ferns and swaying tree branches. All was green, silent, pungent and beautiful. It was enveloping them in a warm and safe, private cocoon.
She regarded this strange man who had come into her life from nowhere who, in a few swift strokes, changed her whole world.
“Jeremy. Darling Jeremy. I don’t know what you have done to me. I have never felt this way about any other man—or any other person. If this is love I’ve never known it before. It’s a very nerve-wracking experience. I’m not even sure it is entirely pleasant. I don’t know that I’m in control of myself any more. But I will say this. This is strong and powerful and I can’t ignore it. But will it last? Will I continue to love you when this euphoria has blown away? Or will I call it quits like so many times before?”
They came to a tiny straight between two blocks of verdant land. The canoe actually bottomed out on the sand and Jeremy had to step out and push the boat through. Rebecca was captivated by the experience.
Jeremy picked up the thread of the conversation. “Rebecca, I love you. I think we have something going for us that is unique and overwhelming. But we can only know for sure what we have in the here and now. We have hopes and faith,” he winked at her, “but we cannot know. Those who are unwilling to take risks are stuck in the present moment forever; those who do, soar with the eagles or dig with the gophers. I’m for soaring!”
The canoe hit another shallow spot and glided to a stop. Jeremy moved forward on his knees until he was kneeling in front of Rebecca. “Rebecca, will you marry me?”
She ruffled his hair with her hand and then leaned forward to kiss him on the lips. “I guess I haven’t got much choice.” She kissed him again and lingered on this one. Eventually he got out of the boat and pushed it into deeper water. “My aim in life from now on is that you will never regret this choice.”
They eventually reached home base, both in a euphoric state. They went separately to their rooms, dressed in fresh clothes for the evening. Rebecca looked at her hair in the mirror in horror, but devised a less formal style, which suited her remarkably well. It made her look younger and more vulnerable. Jeremy thought it was delightful. They met at their table in the dining room and had a late but gourmet meal with a bottle of champagne to celebrate their engagement.
They finished. He took her hand and led her into the parlour. She was surprised.
He sat her down at the baby grand piano and took his harmonica from his pocket.
“Do you think we could make beautiful music together?” he asked.
“Jeremy, I don’t know but we can sure try.” She ran her fingers over the keys in a fast scale up and down. “This is a pretty good instrument. What do you want me to play?”
“Give me an ‘A.’” She did and he tried it with the harmonica. A little fiddling around and he was satisfied. “Well let’s do some oldies from the 60s & 70s. We probably will remember the tunes. How about ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.?’”
“Oh Beetles. I know that one. What key?”
“Try B flat.”
They set off together and discovered they had the same rapport as they experienced on the dance floor. At one point, he put down his harmonica and gestured to her and she took off in a positive flurry of notes. They were having a ball.
Shortly other guests at the hotel began drifting in and either listened or, in some cases, sang. They went on for an hour or so and the exhilaration they experienced was contagious. When they finally decided to leave they got a genuine round of applause.
Arm in arm, they climbed to the top of the staircase. Her room was to the right, his to the left. He soundly kissed her good night and turned to the left.
“Jeremy,” she called out peremptorily.
He stopped in mid stride. “Yes?”
“Tell me truthfully. Are we really going to get married.”
“Rebecca. We are really going to get married.”
“I don’t want a big showy wedding. I’ve tried that three times. I couldn’t face my friends and their snide looks again. Could we just have it very soon before a Justice of the Peace?”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do that. But we could do a very small ceremony with my minister. Would you object to that?”
“Not if you want it that way.”
“I’ll make arrangements as soon as we get back to town.”
“Does that make it that we’re almost as good as married now?”
He was puzzled. “You could put it that way. We’re as good as married now.”
She grabbed his arm and pulled him up short. “I don’t want to let you out of my sight. If I wake up and you are not there, I’ll think this is not real.”
“Oh, Rebecca. I only ordered separate rooms to please you.”
She smiled archly. “My place or yours?”
“Yours. I gave you the nicer room.”

7 Responses to “Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 5)”

  1. charles kirby says:

    So this is what else happens in Muskoka ! Interesting outcome from a ‘dunk in the lake’. I guess the moral is: if in doubt, don’t take a canoe.
    Next ?

  2. Silvana Ness says:

    The suspense is getting serious. Will he really marry her or is he a fraud? You make him sound so likeable and sincere – we would all feel let down if he weren’t.

  3. Victoria says:

    Hmmmm…’s almost too good to be true. I wonder if she will get her come upence…
    Loving the suspense :)


  4. Jack Long says:

    Are there really women with Rebecca’s past still looking attractive and acting so seductively and are there men Jeremy’s age who are as easily seduced as he is. I suppose there are,
    I hope he wakes up, .I’m starting to feel sorry for the poor love starved guy.
    The music parts came off as being quite authentic. Good work.

  5. John Crossley says:

    Keep going Lyman, it’s getting more interesting all the time.

  6. katy grass says:

    good fun, but memories long gone in my mind. sad. xoxox katy

  7. Geri says:

    The suspense is killing me! It is such fun though, when I open up my computer and see you have the next installment. Thank you Lyman, for a weekly treat!

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