Brandon's Surprise

His bride, Marianne, lay in the swaying grass, staring up at the clear sky. Colonel Brandon, sat down beside her feet. His long legs were bent in front of him and he rested his arms on his knees.

"The sky is beautiful, today, do you not think?" Marianne asked, a smile upon her sweet face.

"Yes. Beautiful." He did not look at the sky, there was no need. He knew by the look in her eyes that it was a glorious day. He reached for the foot closest to him and played with a ribbon on her slipper.

"Will you read to me, my love?" she said, still watching above.

"If you'd like." Brandon reached for the book, near her head. Golden and soft, a few curls lay on top of the binding. He gently removed them. As if they might break, he put each one beside her face. His fingers brushed at her skin and she shifted her eyes to look at him. Every trace of her was lovely. How was it that he of all men, could have her for his wife?

Taking hold of his hand, she placed it on her cheek. She sighed and closed her eyes. He ran his fingers back and forth along her jaw and ear.

"Your hands are so coarse," she whispered.

He stopped moving not wanting to bruise her. She was right his hands were very coarse, a soldier's hands but her face was as delicate as fine silk. "Shall I read to you then?" he asked, wondering if he should remove his hand.

"Yes, please."

Reluctantly, he slipped his hand away and took the book. He searched through the pages looking for something to read.


"Yes, angel?" he asked, looking from the book to her.

"Might I have your hand while you read?" she smiled at him shyly as if they had not been married for over seven months.

"You may," he said, smiling. He gave her one of his hands and she took it in both of hers.

He looked back at the book and again tried to find something to read. Finally he found the words of Romeo when first he met Juliet.

Brandon knew in his own heart, no Romeo could have ever loved so dearly as he loved the woman that held his hand, but still the words would bring a smile to her face and so he read, "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night, like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear; Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows, As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows."

As he read Marianne held onto his hand, rubbing it softly. Finally she placed it on her stomach and held it there with her hands.

He stopped reading and look at her, then to the skyline. He wondered if someone might come by this way and see his hand. Such a passionate gesture should never be seen in the open air.

"Please, do go on, my love. You are very nearly finished with, Romeo's, speech."

"Marianne, if someone should, come this way…" he glanced at his hand still pressed ageist her middle.

"Leave it there a moment longer, please." Her eyes pleaded with him as if it was the most important thing in the world.

"Very, well… Now, where was I? Oh yes. 'The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand, And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand-" Brandon stopped speaking. There was a movement under his hand, a flutter within his wife.

"Marianne?" he whispered. He could not form the question now bursting in his mind.

Slowly, Marianne raised herself up, so that her lips were at his ear. "Yes," she said, "yes."

Brandon threw down the book and took her face in his hands, "Did my heart love till now?" he said, finishing the sonnet, "forswear it, sight… For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night."

Marianne's eyes filled with tears as he leaned forward and kissed her, sweetly.