“I spoke to Harold last night.” Flo saw something like a plea in his eyes. “He gave his blessing, that I might court you. I – Flo I am an honourable troll. But if I might – oh just for a moment – please – if I might hold you in my arms. Not to offend against purity, nor to rush what isn’t yet ours to take; just to hold you, Flo.”

She nodded, shy, and he stepped across the room to her; gently, gently took her into his embrace. In silence they stood; he with his arms about her, resting his cheek on her pink hair. “Flo,” he whispered, cradling her; “Flo I love thee so”.

“As I do thee.”

All of him wanted to kiss her brow, kiss her cheek, find her mouth with his mouth, cover her in a passion of kisses.

“Flo,” he said softly; “do you want me as I want thee?”

“Need you ask it?” her reply was little more than a murmur. “Yes, Eb; I do.”

He thought he’d better let her go; and found resolve somehow to move on from this embrace. He stood back from her, his hands on her shoulders, his eyes beseeching hers.

“Flo, can we get married quite quick?”

And now she was laughing at him. “Ardour!” she smiled. “Oh, my!

“First things, first, Eb. Your mother. My mother. We must give them both a little time to plan and enjoy. Your father is passed on, Dorcas told me. Mine is also. Eb, let’s not rush this. We shall have years and years and years, God willing, to enjoy each other’s embrace. Let’s enjoy this blossom time, for it’s so fleeting. Take a moment to get to know each other, discover who we are as well as recognising we are meant to be together.”

He was nodding his assent, but she read a certain desperation in his look, and smiled at him.

“Not too long Eb. Only just long enough. Now, come – let’s take our walk up through the wood. There can’t be so much time left before we have to go back. I want to know you; what your thoughts are, how you see things, who you are.”