A Russian Summer

by James Keogh


When I did finally get out of bed, the only thought I had was, 'how could I get to know these neighbours and their friends?' Before bothering with breakfast I strolled around outside the house next door. Not too close, I did not want to be caught snooping, although there was nobody about. I saw no one inside. Perhaps they were even later risers than myself. It was after breakfast, when it was almost eleven o'clock, that I was simply compelled to try again. This time I was sure I spotted the young lady, but I was too scared I might draw attention to myself, and hurried away.

For the rest of the morning, or at least the brief time until lunch, I kept wondering over and over how I might introduce myself to the neighbours. More importantly, how I might meet that youth with the short dark hair. I could not help imagining who he might be and where he came from. Who were his friends and why were they all visiting yesterday? Whilst all these many various thoughts invaded my head and I attempted to think up some plan, fate stepped in to provide the solution.

Whilst I had been wandering around thinking and planning my mother had received a letter from our new neighbour. This letter was not well written, was on poor quality paper, and sealed with a wax seal like that used by the post office, or on cheap bottles of wine. The letter was a request addressed to my mother to be received by her at our home. Our new neighbour was apparently a princess, but as my mother had guessed, from a family with financial difficulties. Nevertheless, it would be rude and quite simply not possible to leave the letter without response. The difficulty for my mother was that she was uncertain how to reply. My father was absent for a moment, and she had no one with whom she might seek advice.

When I appeared, it seemed to have resolved the issue. She was delighted, and instructed me to put on suitable clothes and call on the princess, to explain, in person, that my mother would always be pleased to receive her and that she was welcome to call, perhaps tomorrow at one o'clock. I should also say we, that is my mother, would be pleased to offer any service which was in her power, to aid the princess.

This rapid, unexpected, turn of events both delighted me and struck me with fear. A door had suddenly opened, but yet, it was only a jar. A way to formally meet our noble neighbours although I was still some way off from discovering who was the young man I so admired. Still, I was pleased and excited, one step at a time, I thought. The art of seduction lay in its subtlety, it was not to be rushed. Yet what did I, a sixteen year old boy, know about love and romance? Nothing more than could be divined from the pages of classic literature, which was certainly no guide for today.

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