John could hardly believe what he was hearing. “But she’s so refined!” he gasped at his friend across the shining wood table at which they sat in the Bull and Arms public house, rural Devon.
“I know,” Michael returned seriously. “I know. It makes no sense to me, either. I dread to think how her father would react if he knew. He’s got a reputation to protect.”
“She just wants you to watch, right? She doesn’t want you to do anything while she goes?”
“No, fortunately, watching is enough to satisfy her. She just sits there and does whatever she has to do. She looks right into my eyes as she’s going. She smiles at me. Seems completely relaxed about it.”
“She’s so prim. So posh,” John sighed in disbelief. “I felt quite nervous around her. Not just because she’s pretty. She’s made me feel common. I suppose I am common compared with her.”
“We all are. Her family goes back centuries in this village. She’s practically aristocracy.”
The woman under discussion was Brenda Gordon-Phillips, the 38 year old daughter of a local landowner. In appearance, Ms Phillips was everything one would expect for one of such noble English stock; tall and slender, as white as paper, a blushing, regal face, fiery red hair; the rosiest of English roses.
“Still,” John exhaled, “I did warn you when you left London. Devon is a very strange region. These people aren’t like us. I’ll be glad to get back tomorrow.”
“You’ll visit again, though?” Michael asked desperately.
“I guess so.”
“You must. You said you would.”
But before John could say anything further, a pale hand was placed on Michael’s shoulder, Brenda’s.
“What are you city lads talking about?” she asked in her broad accent.
“Nothing,” Michael answered with a start. John shrugged, as if to agree.
Brenda nodded thoughtfully. “Well, if you wouldn’t mind me interrupting nothing, there’s something I’d like you to come and help me with, dear.”
Michael glanced nervously at his friend and then stood up.
“We won’t be long,” Brenda assured John with a smile.
And then the two of them wandered off, calmly, in the direction of the pub bathrooms.