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Ross and Demelza were married on the twenty-fourth of June, 1787… It was not that he loved her but … if one overlooked her beginnings she was a not unsuitable match for an impoverished farmer squire… [and] there was now no mistaking that he found her desirable… [But] he wished he could separate the two Demelzas who had become a part of him. There was a matter-of-fact, daytime Demelza with whom he worked… This one he had grown to like and to trust… But the second was still a stranger. Although he was husband and master of them both, this one was incalculable with the enigma of her pretty candle-lit face and fresh young body – all for his carnal satisfaction and increasing pleasure… It was unsettling in the day, in moments of routine and casual encounter, to get some sudden reminder of the young woman who could somehow call herself into being at will, whom he took and owned, yet never truly possessed…
Winston Graham, Ross Poldark (Novel 1), Book 3, Chapter 1.


Chapter 1
A raucous cawing rose up from somewhere below on the beach. Startled out of his daydream, Ross swung his head round and looked towards the sound. There came then a whirring of wings, more furious screeching, and then a grey flurry of gulls appeared over the grassy rise of the cliff. Ross shaded his eyes against the noonday sun. What's upset them so, he wondered idly as he watched them swoop and wheel in the clear, summer sky. His mount shifted restlessly beneath him. "Easy, girl," he murmured. Leaning forward in the saddle, he patted the horse's neck.

As the cries of the gulls died away, he heard another sound – one which made clear the reason for the birds' agitation. A series of full-throated barks. Garrick, he deduced with a wry twist of his lips. Given the proximity of Nampara, it was a not unreasonable conclusion. The lumpish creature had obviously found new quarry to torment today. Ross silently wished the gulls luck and started to turn his horse around, to head back to Wheal Leisure and the work awaiting him there. It suddenly occurred to him that where his wife's sorry excuse for a dog was then there also might be Demelza herself.

He'd missed her this morning… had reluctantly foregone the last opportunity to enjoy her womanly charms before the day started in earnest. Today, maybe the next, they'd have enough copper for a consignment and so this morning, for the first time in more than three weeks, he hadn't roused her with kisses, hadn't pleasured her into waking and taken his own pleasure in return. Instead, he'd averted his eyes from her soft, inviting form and dressed noiselessly. A slice of cheese and a roll of bread had sufficed to break his fast, and then he'd headed for the mine. Yes, he'd missed her this morning.

With a light press of his calves, he turned his horse towards the beach path. The least he could do was seek her out. Bid her good day if she was about.

… …

Demelza walked out of the waves and onto the warm sand. Lifting her face to the sun, she breathed in the sharp tang of salt spray. From further down the beach there came the faint cawing of gulls. And a dog barking. Not being inclined to swim with her that day, Garrick had obviously found some other way to amuse himself. Pity the poor gulls, she thought with a quick grin.

She turned around and took one last look at the glittering sea. Another few minutes and she'd have to head home even though her thin, cotton shift was soaking wet. No matter. She could wring it out, walk a little way too before she put her dress back on over the top of it. The hot, summer sun would take care of the dampness and she was not likely to meet anyone. She had daydreamt just a bit too much this morning, gone swimming just now also. As a result, there was a considerable amount of work still to be done at Nampara. It should all be finished before Ross returned home else he'd be thinking she was as lazy as Ludlow's dog. Demelza's lips curved into a dreamy smile. Ross. Her husband…

Though she was in good spirits now, her usual sunny disposition had been dimmed that morning when she awoke to find him already gone. She'd become accustomed to waking to his kisses, to the warm, solid weight of his body on hers, and she had missed him. But she knew he was needed at the mine, now more than ever seeing as they were so close to finally making a return from it. Besides, it was probably no bad thing to be able to catch up on some sleep. Since their marriage almost four weeks ago, she had not gotten as much as she was used to. Her smile grew wide at the thought.

Hugging her arms to her chest she skipped back, away from the dying surge of water that rushed at her feet. Nothing could increase her happiness at present unless it was her husband himself.



A/N: Thank you to Mistress of Dragons for her helpful advice on horse-riding terminology :) I'm a complete novice so appreciate the pointers!