I am at a complete loss. It is a wonder that I am able to hold this quill in my hand. For I am trembling and truly do not know what to think of what happened tonight… I’ve been kissed! And not by just any man, but by none other than John Edington. I’ve known him since I was old enough to make mud pies in my father’s cherry orchard. I never thought that John would ever forget himself in such a way.Truth be told, I have never taken him very seriously. I’ve always thought of him as a bit of a prankster, a witty knave. He’s been ever so silly and foolish around me. He’s even at times called me his princess and himself my fool. There have been several occasions when I believed he thought I was put expressly on this earth so that I might laugh at his jokes.However, last night made me change my opinion. The kiss he gave me had quite a toe curling effect. It left me quite breathless and flushed. And if I had not known that my corsets weren’t tight, I would have sworn that I was about to swoon into a faint. It was like having sun stroke right there in the middle of Uncle Frederick’s house. But outside it was cool and a full harvest moon shone down upon us from the open bay window.
John was very brazen about it too… First, he innocently brought me glasses of rum punch and we exchanged the usual polite banter that one does. You know, about his latest craze for steam inventions, especially horse less carriages, and how he’s mad about anything that smells of grease and made of iron. And he politely asked me what I planned to do after Christmas, now that I’ve graduated from Miss Ella’s Finishing School.
It was then I sprung upon him my good news, about my uncle’s decision that I should go to Washington D. C, with him and Aunt Lucinda. And how we planned to be gone almost an entire year and stay with my cousins in Virginia. Thus giving me an ample opportunity to mix in polite society and meet eligible gentlemen.
Now that I reflect upon the events leading up to our kiss, was it my imagination or did the twinkle in his hazel eyes go out when I said that? And could it be his smile diminished a bit? What I’m mean to say, dear diary, is could it be that John Edington is carrying a torch for me?
No, it couldn’t be true! As I said, he’s known me all my life. Until now he has never given the slightest indication that he thought of me in that way. I mustn’t develop flights of fancy over this.
But mind, tonight I did look rather nice. The new evening gown, the one mother helped me order from Frisco, is made of the loveliest evergreen satin. It’s lined with rich dark velvet and yards upon yards of the prettiest lace you ever did see. It makes a most delightful swishing sound when I dance. And the bustle in the back trails becomingly down like a rippling fountain in a river of satin and lace. I adore it, and felt like someone in a fairytale wearing it. And I received several fulsome compliments from other gentlemen present, too.
I had Betsy, my aunt’s maid, help me with my hair. She swept it up in that new style that those Gibson ladies wear. And for a bit of Christmas cheer, she entwined a small garland of white roses in it. I don’t mean to boast, dear diary, but I do think I looked a pretty picture.
Now back to the kissing… When I was becoming a little bit tipsy, John asked me for a waltz. And waltz we did, right into the alcove, where hung a fresh bough of mistletoe. A bough, I must add, I do not remember hanging there.
Thank heavens no one spied us behind the red drapes. It makes my cheeks flush, thinking back upon it. I am afraid I made quite a cake of myself, hanging onto him like I did. And was it my imagination or did he forget himself too? I mean, when he wrapped his strong mechanic’s arms about my waist, was he… Could it be possible, that the reason he did so was because he forgot himself as well?
Dear diary, as you can see, I am most befuddled by all this. Yes, I am absolutely, quite splendidly at a loss as to what has come over my childhood friend and myself.
December 24, 1910
John has come to fetch me for an afternoon Christmas Eve ride. Papa told him that I might go for one in his new steamer. You see, John is doing quite well in his fruit canning business. Only the very well-to-do can afford such a luxury as a horse less carriage. And there is an increasing demand for his fruit back east. There has been quite a lot of talk of his expanding business.
Papa told me he thought John was the wealthiest young man in our entire county. And he gave me a queer look as he said it. Just before I was to leave he kissed me on the forehead, told me what a splendid daughter I was, and said that any man who won my hand in marriage would be a lucky one. It was truly most peculiar.
When John finally arrived, both Papa and Mama greeted him warmly, as if they hadn’t seen him in years. And that also was strange. It must be noted that yesterday, when I was out visiting the shops, I had the distinct impression he had paid them a call. For when I came home I saw his favorite wool cap hanging on the umbrella stand. But when I remarked upon it to mother she gave me this mysterious little smile. It was as if she knew what had transpired between John and I last night.
My cheeks heated under her penetrating gaze. And I pretended that I wasn’t all that keen on seeing him this afternoon. Such foolishness, when in fact I am counting every tick on our grandfather clock until I do!
John was so courteous and correct with me when he helped me into his automobile, very much the gentleman. I had to ask him what was wrong… I had some difficulty reconciling this handsome beau in his long duster and automobile goggles, with the jokester who used to put toads in my lunch pail.
He simply said that he wanted to make certain that I was comfortable and pulled out a heavy tartan blanket to put over my lap. He was ever so thoughtful. And he didn’t crack one joke when I almost tripped getting in.
I pulled the veil of my hat over my face and made certain it was tightly bowed. I did not want it to fly off during the ride. The hat is the new white one I had trimmed with holly and little red berries made out of silk and lace. It has a broad band of red velvet ribbon running around it for trim. The milliner told me it was the most fetching one she’d made this season. And from the wink John gave me when we took off, I’d say he was right pleased by how it looked on me.
He informed me that his steamer could go up to the unheard speed of twenty miles an hour. I must say my heart tripped a little bit at the thought. He promised, however, to keep it down to the more stately speed of five. Apparently my father wouldn’t let him take me out unless he did… Papa was afraid that it might overheat if John put it at full throttle. Even so, it was thrilling and we had such a merry time! To be truthful, dear diary, we always have such good times together. I just never realized how much we enjoyed each other’s company before.
He took me up into the nearby hills of Los Gatos. It was not a very long drive and I was almost sorry it ended, that is until I saw the view… Breathtaking, we could look out at the entire valley.
Below I could see all of Santa Clara County laid out at our feet. We spotted my father’s orchards and John’s canning sheds, as well as a few of the brick buildings of our town, including Uncle Frederick’s bank. And off in the far distance we could see the salt marshes leading out to the bay and the Pacific Ocean. It all looked so lovely. I was so happy he had brought me.
We sat on the blanket and ate the chicken and potato salad my mother had cooked for us. John brought out a jug of warmed apple cider, which he had strapped to the boiler engine to keep warm. And for dessert, we had some of his housekeeper’s lemon pie. It tasted delicious and I told him so… Taking my hand into his, he gazed into my eyes and replied that it did not taste half as heavenly as me. Drawing me into his arms, he kissed me. It was sweet and tender, and warmed me all over.
As he bid me goodnight, John told me that he was going to bring me a present tomorrow. I asked if it was going to be a very small one? He laughed, and told me that I was a minx, and that if I didn’t behave myself he was going to replace it with one of his famous toads. That made me laugh! He’s such an adorable fool.
Oh, I do so hope his present is the kind that is found in those darling silver heart boxes, the sort Mr. Miller’s jewelry store sells. I must now confess, dear diary, I no longer desire to go to Washington D. C, or any other place. I’d much prefer staying here in this lovely valley with my John. You see, I do believe he is going to ask me to marry him. And as I am very much in love, I will simply will have to answer, Yes, John. And live happily ever after a princess with her loving knave… All because he daringly kissed me under the mistletoe.
Author’s notes: I live in Campbell, California and been up into the nearby mountains and seen the view the young lovers enjoy. I am the published author of a new Regency romance series: The Honorable Gentlemen. The first book in the trilogy, The Spinster and The Earl, was released by Lachesis Publishing (Canadian), and is currently available.