Madeline slipped down the stairs as moonlight dripped in the windows. “If my parents knew,” she giggled, putting her gloved hand to her lips to ensure laughter did not escape.

She stopped to look at herself in the hallway looking-glass. The candle flicker revealed her deep-set eyes, trim chin and slightly up-turned nose. She was so giddy with excitement, she need not pinch her cheeks to make them rosy against the porcelain of her skin.

Mr. Harbinger’s note came by the afternoon’s mail: “Come to me, my sweet, at midnight. To where we first did meet.” She quickly burned it lest anyone from servant to sister see it’s contents.

She heard the mantle clock chiming the quarter hour – in fifteen minutes she would be in Mr. Harbinger’s arms sharing another sweet kiss. Like the one he stole two weeks ago as they walked in the garden.

She checked the fit of her dress. Layers of chiffon and velvet ribbon in shades of blue that matched her eyes. The very one she wore when first introduced to the handsome gentleman from the City. She blushed to think of the compliments he would whisper in her ear, his lips so close.

“He will think me naught but a silly country girl,” she thought. At sixteen, she was a breath away from womanhood. “Nothing like the sophisticated ladies of the City.”

But he confessed he was sick of their idle gossip and talk of gowns and scandals. She overheard him talking with her brother. He liked the purity of the country air, the sturdiness of the manors and their masters, and the sweetness of the women. She was almost sure he was looking directly at her whilst he spoke the last.

Then, the kiss, that sweet like honeysuckle meeting of the lips – parting slightly – her heart like a caged bird within his hands.

She wondered if this tryst was as scandalous as those partaken of by the City ladies. Unchaperoned, alone in the melting moonlight, she shivered in anticipation.

Dear Mr. Harbinger. So handsome in his frock coat and top hat. Dear Mr. Harbinger. Awaiting her this very moment as the mantle clock hands crept toward midnight.

She took once last glance in the mirror – the perfect image of a youthful country miss dressed for mischief and love. Slipped out the doors to the garden, and quietly called his name.

Yves asked folks to “take a walk” and write from another perspective. I ignored her excellent list of possibilities, hopped into my personal “way-back machine,” and found myself in the English countryside. Watching Madeline make a midnight creep out into the fresh country air for a tryst with her dear Mr. Harbinger. Taking just a few independent steps towards . . .

For mlmm Sunday Prompt: take a walk.

image: Eleanor Frances Dixie by Henry Pickering