Romance Fiction posted September 25, 2014 Chapters:  ...3 4 -5- 7 


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A chapter in the book Enchanted Balcony

Enchanted Balcony part V

by Loren (7)


Closing words from the last chapter:

"I'm most sorry you feel this way, Mrs. Daulton, but you have misjudged my intentions. I've only come, at your daughter's call from the balcony -- nothing more. But to my disfigurement and what you call Camille's plainness and infirmities, I do not see anything ugly or shameful. Nothing to hide from the outside world, nor anything to be remembered by. True, my eyes in your observation might be impaired, but because of it, I've learned to see the world through the truer sight of the heart."

Chided, Rose Marie answered, "Yes, nevertheless, good evening." She started to leave, but turned back to them. "Camille, I know you are an adult and must make your own decisions. I can only hope they are the right ones." She turned again and left the room.

Beyond the balcony, a falling star streaked across the sky where it quietly dissolved into itself.



The music from the radio playing songs broadcast from the Stardust Ballroom in Savannah seemed to follow Rose Marie out of the room.

Camille shook her head, looking down at her hands and then back to James. "Mother is always telling me a lady should never be seen in public without gloves. That it's a matter of etiquette, as people are offended by rough and worn hands." There was a pink flush to her cheeks. "But it would seem they would be more offended by coarse and insensitive words."

"For which there are no gloves to cover?"

"Yes." She held up her hands, opening them in front of him. "Do my hands offend you, James?"

"Nay. What I see is but good honest dirt from your work with your plants. Covering them would only hide the truthfulness beneath." He paused. "There is nothing more lovely than truth, Camille."

"You've asked me not to be embarrassed by my mother's words," she bit her lower lip, "but how can you consider her candor just now as being beautiful?"

"I would consider her candor sincere and trust my heart's judgment as to its truthfulness. The beauty lies not in her candor, but in myself that I am able to take no offense and measure above it."

They could hear Rose Marie knocking on the Baxter's door on the landing below. Moments later a woman's voice invited her in.

"You're impossibly kind, James." Camille looked back at her hands and then over to her gloves she had placed on the hutch earlier when coming back from the funeral. "Do you have to leave just yet?"

"Nay. Besides, we've yet to finish the watering of your garden, and I think Gus is still in want of brushing."

The Andrew Sisters' voices quietly sang out from the radio:

"You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. But don't mess with mister in-between ..."

Camille smiled over the words. "Yes," her voice suddenly gay. "Gus and the flowers are still waiting, aren't they?"

They moved to the balcony. The Milky Way glistened like an evening bracelet carelessly tossed in the night sky. The air was sweet with the floral scent of the flowers, their colors adding a hushed iridescence in the muted light of the rising moon. The earthy smell of ferns, geraniums and begonias hinted of a distant, misted and rising primeval dell.

"Let's divide and conquer," James suggested. He bent and withdrew the Belleek cup for the pail. "I've already started the watering. "And dear Gus only looks half done. I'm sure he'd welcome your brush once again."

Camille laughed. "He does look a bit frightful. Like a wild, untamed lion from the deepest, darkest forest." She maneuvered herself into her chair and picked up her hair brush. "Come on up, Gus," she beckoned, patting her chest. "Beauty parlor time." Gus jumped into her lap and lay down. He began purring as she ran the brush through his tangled hair. The bristles rose and fell in undulant waves as it rode the knotted scars of his skin.

'"Tis a magical evening, Camille."

"Yes, yes it is. I don't remember it ever being so beautiful out here, James." She sneezed as some of Gus's fur tickled her nose. "Goodness, Gus, if we keep this up, no one will ever know where you begin and I leave off."

"'Tis a lot of fur." James answered, playfully fanning the air. "He's probably never been brushed before and must feel like a king. Here, let me dip the brush in the Brigadoon water; it will help keep the hair from flying about. "

She handed him the brush and he handed it back to her, moist with the melted ice water. After a while of relaxed silence, Camille said, "How odd."

"What?"

"We'll, I don't know, but come and feel his fur. It dried so quickly and it's so soft now, almost like the ermine collar on one of Mother's coats." She ran her fingers over Gus's back. "And it's like all of his scars are gone. "How did that happen? Come quick James and feel."

James came over from his watering. "Aye, it does. But on such a night such mysteries are not to be questioned, only welcomed." Their hands touched as they stroked the cat's pelt together.

The deep baritone voice of the broadcaster of the Stardust Ballroom drifted out to the balcony.

"And now ladies and gents, we're proud to play Glenn Miller's 'Moonlight Serenade'. Music to make dreamers and lovers of us all."

Camille and James paused to listen as Frank Sinatra's voice filled the airway:

"I stand at your gate and the song that I sing is of moonlight. I stand and I wait for the touch of your hand in the June night. The roses are sighing a Moonlight Serenade."

"Dance with me, Camille," James whispered, his hand laying tenderly on hers.

Camille blushed. "I've never danced. Not since I was three and got polio," she whispered back, her eyes finding his.

"Then it's high time to start again." He rose and gently picked up Gus to set him on the ground. His eyes found hers. "Dance with me, Camille."

"James," she hesitated, "I ... don't think I can. My brace ..."

"Nonsense, I will help you." He picked up her hands lying in her lap. "Arise my Queen! Raise your chin. See, there is a string attached to the very top of your head. It is lifting you. You are weightless, graceful as the ballerina you have always wanted to be."

She rose and came into his arms. He held her in a light embrace, one hand on the small of her back, the other gently held up, curving into hers. In a small imperceptible circle they danced. Their feet whispered across the floor, no ignoble hesitant thumps from Camille's metal brace. The sway and rhythm of their bodies were fluid and unhindered.

The music continued in the background:

"The stars are aglow and tonight how their light sets me dreaming. My love, do you know that your eyes are like stars brightly beaming? I bring you and I sing you a Moonlight Serenade"

"Oh my," Camille breathed. "I'm dancing." She giggled the laugh of transcendent adolescence. "I'm actually dancing, James." She nuzzled her head into his chest. "I've never known anything so wonderful."

"Have you ever ridden in a horse-drawn wagon, Camille?" James asked over the music.

She shook her head. "No, never."

"Would you like to?"

She looked up to him, child-like anticipation brightening her face. Her eyes sparkled. "Oh yes, yes I would."

"Well, before I came up, My Lady asked that I tell you it would give her the greatest pleasure if she could draw you around the park."

She slightly pulled away from him. "She asked?" James nodded and she went on, snuggling back into him. She smiled. "Of course she did; but tonight?"

"Yes, indeed tonight, Camille."

"But what about Mother?"

He held her tighter. "As the bench only holds two, she will need to run along back. It would be most tiring, I'm sure." He withdrew his hand from her back to raise her chin, their lips almost touching. "We'll only be a short while. Besides, I'm sure My Lady would find it most unusual -- a woman with gloved hands running behind her."

Camille laughed. "Mother did say I was an adult, able to make my own decisions; but they had to be right ones of course."

"She did indeed -- right ones -- of course. I heard her with my own two ears."

"Then I think it only wise and good not to perplex My Lady with a gloved woman running behind her." She failed to suppress another giggle, but managed to say with resolve, "We shan't tell Mother; it will be our private..." She paused, searching for the right word.

"Moment?" He helped.

"Yes." She smiled. "Our own private, enchanted moment." She pulled away from him. "But first I must grab another carrot from the vegetable bin. I'm sure My Lady will need fresh nourishment for such an adventure."

"She is always most pleased to work for carrots, Camille."

Within moments, Camille had a carrot in one hand as James held the other, leading her down the stairwell, past the Baxter's apartment. Camille's braced leg was hesitant with a dull thump as she passed.

Moving down the steps, the music from the radio followed them into the street and spilled over the balcony's balustrade:

"Let us stray till break of day in love's valley of dreams. Just you and I, a summer sky, a heavenly breeze kissin' the trees. A love song, my darling, a Moonlight Serenade."

My Lady had finished her dinner of Timothy Grass wetted with Brigadoon water to quench her thirst and looked over as they approached. She gave a nod of approval as she watched Camille walk over with a carrot in her hand.

"Break the carrot in half," James prompted. "It will make it easier for my Lady to eat."

Camille broke the carrot in half; and, with hesitant but open palm, fed it to the waiting mare. "Her tongue is so soft and gentle," Camille said with wonder in her voice.

"Aye, 'tis. Now let's get you up on the bench.

My Lady gave another nod of her head, watching as James lift Camille up into the wagon. He then came around and stroked her muzzle and bent to remove her hobbles. She nodded again as he swung up into the driver's seat next to Camille.

Camille glanced up to the balcony to see Gus balanced on one end of the railing, watching them. The two doves, on the other end, seemed undisturbed with the presence of the calico feline.

"Walk on, My Lady," James called out with a gentle, awakening slap of the reins across her back. His beloved helpmate quickly obeyed and moved forward into the Atlanta night.

To be continued ... but anticipate the next two chapters to be the closing segments.





Recognized


"You've got to accentuate the positive" lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Thanks to those readers who continue to follow along.
As always, edits are always welcomed.
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Artwork by CammyCards at FanArtReview.com

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