A Love Story by Maureen Richards
by Maureen Richards
Sitting quietly on a rocking chair in the corner of the old farmhouse kitchen, resting her weary bones, Beatrice warmed her cold calloused weathered hands, near the log burning stove. The candlelight fell gently across the room, catching a glimpse of her ageing frame.
Although time had fetched its cruel grooves of life experiences onto this beautiful face and the long hair that once hung like ebony silk now grew with strands of silver and gold was drawn neatly back into a bun held with a pretty clip. She could still turn heads. Her eyes, the deepest ocean blue, still held the charm, kindness and love that once captured the hearts of many a young handsome soldier, hadn’t changed at all with time.
As she sat, her eyes closed and the warmth flowing around her like a thick woollen blanket, her thoughts led her back to the many bitter sweet memories that this time of year held for her …
There he stood by the kitchen range, his uniform pristine, the gold buttons glistened in the early winter sunlight breaking through the small leaded window. How dashing he looked, his thick brown hair groomed and his brown eyes had a twinkle of devilment. His face framed with a beard well trimmed and clipped. His smile, “Oh, his smile” sighed Beatrice. How perfect. How handsome. Although he had the air of an officer, she also knew his gentleness, his love, his devotion to her. Her man, her soldier!
They were too young, everyone said, but they were in love. They knew this was True Love, deep strong and lasting a life time. In secret they got engaged. This sealed their love. They knew things were changing war was looming. Soon he would be called for duty. Their stolen hours of love spent in each others arms would sustain their parting. His orders arrived, he had to go.
At the station along with hundreds of families and armed forces Beatrice was held tightly in his arms. His body trembled, he couldn’t speak. Beatrice stifled a sob from deep inside her. Why must there be wars? All this emotion, the wrench from loved ones arms. All so young. All so brave! Finally, as Beatrice looked deep into her dearest Edward’s eyes she whispered, “bring yourself back to my arms and our ‘Love Child’”. He was ecstatic, their stolen hours of love had borne fruit. This gave this handsome soldier a feeling of completeness. He was so proud, he would be the perfect father. His darling Beatrice would be a perfect mother and in the meantime, she had a little of him with her until his return. Oh! How they wished war was over so they would be together a complete family.
The months trickled by. How she missed him! His letters from the front encouraged her, as no doubt her were to him. Her family were wonderful, their love and support helped her to cope. Her time was near for the birth of their ‘heavens blessing’. She longed for Edward to be with her at the baby's arrival. He tried desperately to get compassionate leave but the intensity at the front had increased in magnitude.
Many a soldier longing for home and peace knew this would only be achieved by determination and bravery.
Holding her beautiful baby girl in her arms she gazed at her all night. She was adorable, thick brown hair like Edwards and deep ocean blue eyes of Beatrice. Her new grandparents were so proud. With just a glimpse of this new arrival, their hearts were bursting with joy. If only Edward as here, Beatrice would ask him to name her. They hadn’t decided, not knowing whether a boy or girl. At that moment baby stirred. Cradling her close baby was fed. Beatrice cuddled baby all night.
She watched the candle flicker its light around the room gradually diminishing with the hours.
Suddenly a voice she had longed to hear whispered “My darling Beatrice, she is beautiful. Please call her Edith my little Edie. I am proud of you. She has the beauty of her mother. My Beatrice, I love you”. His face gently brushed hers as he left a gentle kiss on her lips. She watched as he walked towards the kitchen range still alight keeping the room warm. He turned and smiled, blew a kiss, then was gone. Had she imagined it? Her dearest Edward here with her?
Thew next morning Beatrice announced to her parents her baby's name, Edith and repeated what she had heard from Edward, “ my little Edie”. After that special night Edward’s letters stopped coming. Beatrice grew more worried every day that passed. Her parents could only support her and pray. Days turned to weeks, weeks into months, little Edie flourished. Beatrice was such a good mother, loyal, attentive and so protective. How she loved her! But Beatrice parents could also see their daughters heart breaking longing for news of Edward, they saw the sparkle in her eyes grow dim. This perfect mother slowly dying inside. She always put her baby first, she was the reason for living. Beatrice worked hard on their farm and any spare time she spent making bread, cakes and pies, depending oon supplies and sold them in the village store, they were a great success.
Little Edith’s extended family adored her. Grandparents took her for walks and visits to relations daily, her little life was idyllic. But at night when the house was still and silent Beatrice waiting for Edward’s return.
Occasionally she would see him standing, as she remembered by the kitchen range smiling at her. So young, so handsome. Held out his arms to her, but she couldn’t leave with him, she must stay with her little Edith. She promised love and protect her forever. This she did. This was how they found her sitting in her rocking chair near the kitchen range. Her heart broken but a gentle smile remained upon her lips.
Many times on the cold winter’s nights villagers reported seeing Beatrice sitting by her kitchen range warming her hands, in her old rocking chair waiting for her Edward’s return from war. She never did leave the old farmhouse or broke her promise to little Edith.
How she loved them both, so completely.