Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday, November 03, 2013 -

Caroline's Secret Obsession

by Leland Mays
Published: Sep 24, 2013
Words: 22,759
Category: general
Orientation: M/F
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Caroline's Secret Obsession

Knock on a stranger's door, and you never know what may unfold. Take, for example, an incident that happened to me in autumn of the year 1884. At Laurel Street, in one of the finer neighborhoods in Stamford, Connecticut, I opened the gate in a picket fence and walked up a flagstone walkway past well-manicured grounds. Arriving at the portico of a fine old Colonial-style home, I lifted the heavy bronze knocker and rapped several times.

A maid, well into her middle age, answered. "Yes?"

"I wish to speak with the master or lady of the house."

"Your name?"

"Arthur Whitlock."

Her eyes brightening, she said, "Yes sir, this way please."

She led me into the parlor and, to my surprise, reached out and took my derby hat I held in my hand. As mine was a brief, formal visit, it was a breach of protocol to take a man's hat. However, I let it pass. Almost at once there appeared in the doorway a handsome lady in her forties, bedecked in a stylish floral print day dress, all poufs and pleats and gathers, that covered her from neck to ankle.

"Arthur Whitlock?" she smiled.

"At your service, madam. I'm calling because my ..."

"Yes, yes, of course," she smiled effusively as she took my hands. "I'm Lydia Delaney. It is a pleasure to meet you, young man. A pleasure! Now, you are just in time for dinner."

"Dinner? Well really, I hadn't ..."

"Oh but I insist!" declared Mrs. Delaney. "My husband Henry will be here shortly. In the meantime, let me introduce you to ..." here the lady paused, her eyes twinkling, "...our Caroline."

Still holding one of my hands, she led me across and down the hallway into a library. Near a brick fireplace, in which burned a cozy fire, sat a young woman at her knitting. Only when she looked up, smiled, and then rose did the full effect of her presence manifest itself.

I gazed in awe at a creature the likes of whose beauty falls upon a man's eyes only a few times in his life. Caroline's hair was a thick auburn mane, massed in the back in the style of the day. Her long-lashed eyes were deep azure. From her brow came her nose in a straight classical line, like a modern day Aphrodite. The girl's white, lace-covered blouse, with a raised collar enclosing her long graceful neck, accentuated the rose blush on her cheeks.

"Caroline, dear," gushed her mother, "this is Arthur Whitlock. Mr. Whitlock, may I present our daughter Caroline."

Pleased that such an exquisite flower had bloomed here in Stamford, I gave a slight bow as the girl curtsied. When she extended her soft hand, I placed there a gentleman's kiss.

As was the custom, I turned to the mother, on whom one would lavish praise for rearing this angel. "Mrs. Delaney," I smiled, "your daughter is as pretty as a picture. May I offer my congratulations to you and Mr. Delaney. Both of you must be proud."