Romance Tale

Emily Hart

© Copyright 2016 by Emily Hart   


It's good for a woman to be able to recognize true love and weed through the faithless, as I learned at a young age.

Some years ago a much older man expressed a romantic interest in me. We saw each other almost daily, and each day he brought some token of his affection -- flowers or candy -- in hopes of winning a response from me. Each day I ignored him and his romantic gestures, until at last he unwittingly caught my attention and interest. He had something I coveted desperately. On that day, when he begged me to talk to him I said "Yes" I would -- if he let me read his Reader during the bus ride to school. How could I resist such a temptation? A third grade reader was a treasure to a first grader who was sick of the inane activities of Dick and Jane and their dog Spot.

Each day I let him sit beside me on the long bus ride, if he brought his reader and put it into my eager hands. During the ride I read and my third grade suitor looked on adoringly. It was a perfect arrangement. On those days he forgot the book I refused to speak to him. The seat beside me was offered to someone else. He seldom forgot. He even let me keep the Reader over the weekend. I let him keep my favorite kitty handkerchief -- the one in which I took my milk money -- two cents for white, three for chocolate.

The following Monday he returned the handkerchief to me. Tied up in it was a ring. "An engagement ring," he explained and asked me to marry him.

I replied that I didn't want any old ring, but if he brought a book with a lot of pages, like grown-up's books, then I would marry him.

He promised to bring what I demanded and looked as ridiculously happy as Charles Hamilton did when Scarlett O'Hara gave him permission to get her dessert at the Wilkes' barbeque. The next day my would-be fiancé kept his promise and broughta book he had taken from his parents' bookshelves. I proudly showed it to all my friends and enemies.

When my teacher saw my betrothal present she flashed stark shades of white and livid shades of red in such rapid succession her face had a checkerboard appearance. She snatched the book from my hands and dragged me to my fiancé's classroom where she informed his teacher "One of your boys gave this book to one of my little first grade girls!"

His teacher turned pale and swooned. She recovered herself quickly though, and took hold of her student's ear and pulled him along to the principal's office. My teacher and I followed in procession. There the principal was shown the book and told that a third grade boy had given it to a first grade girl.

My ardent swain turned cowardly cad and cried, "She told me to give it to her!"

Now it was my teacher's turn to swoon. The two teachers and the principal turned to me. "You told him to give you this book?" the principal asked me.

"I just asked for a book with a lot of pages. I didn't tell him which one to bring. I read all the stories in his reader already," I explained.

The principal was momentarily overcome by a sudden spasm of coughing. "I'll return the book to your parents," he told the boy. "Next time ask them before you take a book."

Then he pulled a book from his own bookshelves and said, "This book has a lot of pages," and placed Little Women in my hands.

I blissfully hugged the thick volume to my heart, stuck out my tongue at the faithless coward and turned my back on him forever. I never did understand what the tumult was all about, or why one book caused such furor. Years later, when I read Lady Chatterley's Lover I thought it was dreadfully boring.

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