A Romance in Tears, 1913, a short story by larkinwilliamson. Date added: 2011-11-20. Times viewed: 1132.
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- Intro: M/F, adult theme, A stirring romance of a young couple during the 1913 Great Flood.
Luther held his gray wool cap tightly down over his ears as he walked up the hill away from the flood waters. He was just 18 years old...stuck in the middle of the most devastating flood to ever hit Cincinnati Ohio. He headed for high ground on his way home from working at the saw mill. Even the ground on the hill was soggy. The entire Ohio River Valley was flooded. Devastation and lost people were all around...gathering on the hill.
Luther had one thought in his mind...he needed to find Mary. The crying of women and children along with the shouts of men...faded into the memory of he and Mary kissing last summer by the calm....sleepy river. She was sternly forbidden by her father to even speak to Luther. John Harvel was a very successful jeweler and his daughter was not to mingle with peasants such as Luther McLidden.
The young hard nosed Irishman and the determined society princess were not about to let anything stand in the way of love. It was an Indian summer day in October of 1912...Mary had driven her buggy to meet Luther in the meadow near the old Cane Mill. She was wearing a beautiful red dress that her father had purchased from Paris.
Her large flopping hat was pinned to her hair to keep it on during the ride. As Luther helped her from the buggy...she said,"Do you like my new dress?" Luther gave her a pecking kiss on the cheek and said in his thick Irish accent,"Oh lass...ya would look fine in sack cloth to me."
Mary giggled..saying,"Perhaps a reddish sack cloth...with a bit of lace." They walked hand in hand across the meadow to the old mill house. Luther guided the horse and buggy behind the building where he had already prepared a pile of fresh grass and a bucket of water for the horse.
He opened the large squeaking wooden door...bowed and said,"Me lady...step into our Castle please." Mary smiled and walked in the large room and stood by the large, broken in half, mill stone. Luther retrieved a white woven basket from the buggy that was covered with a red and white striped table cloth. He handed the table cloth to Mary and she spred it over the larger piece of stone.
Mary then set out baked chicken and rolls along with a bottle of wine she had stolen from her father's wine closet. Luther convinced her to remove her large hat and he placed it gently on a barrel by a broken window. They ate their lunch and sipped their wine while talking of plans to run away to California. The old abandoned mill had been their meeting place all summer long.
They had met there secretly...talked...kissed and Luther had even touched her knees the last time they met. He had laid his head in her lap....she stroked his curly red hair as he softly touched her calves and then all the way to her knees. She decided to stop him when she noticed that something came up in his wool trousers.
This time...Luther could see and feel a change in Mary's mood. Her eyes sparkled in the light of the window and even her smile was different. She told him that she wished for him to turn away and close his eyes. Luther did as she said while laughing at her silly game. She hummed an old Waltz song as Luther tapped his foot from his obvious impatience.
Mary then said softly,"You may turn and open your eyes my love." Luther turned and first saw her red dress and unlaced boots laid upon the mill stone. He swallowed hard as he saw Mary standing in her undergarments. He could see her beautiful body beneath the thin lacy,cotton slip. Luther stared and grinned...it was as if he were frozen in the moment. Mary giggled and said,"Well sir....are you going to look all day or are you going to kiss me?"
Luther took a step...then another...then a few more and stopped in front of her. He nervously reached his hands out and touch her soft, milk white shoulders. Mary smiled and leaned forward to kiss him. He embraced her and ran his fingers up and down her curves. She kissed his neck as she unbuttoned his blue shirt.
He pulled the straps of her slip over her shoulders and down. It fell to her ankles like a cloud falling to the ground from heaven. He buried his face in her soft auburn hair and whispered,"Sweet Mary....I love you more than my life....more than my very soul." Mary kissed his shoulder and said,"I love you the same....I do so love you Luther McLidden.
Mary took Luther's hands and led him to the table cloth covered mill stone. She sat first and pulled him to her. They made love as the breeze blew in falling leaves through the broken out window and swirled around them like colorful angels. It felt to Mary as if the old mill had come to life....grinding and vibrating the building.
Luther was crying out as if every nerve and muscle in his body was being consumed with fires of pleasure! Mary screamed as the dam began to give way and flood the valley with a trembling, quaking rush of relief! Luther collapsed on her as they kissed away tears of satisfaction.
They had met at the old mill house a few more times over the winter and made love by the fireplace. The day after Christmas...Luther proposed to Mary and gave her a silver ring he had made from a coin. She told him that it was more beautiful to her than all of the jewelry in her father's store. Not another man in the world could even touch the shadow of her handsome red haired Irish lover....she was going to have him...hell or high water!
It was February 14th. when Luther had last seen Mary. He scanned through the people as he walked up the hill to a large gathering. Men were arguing with a country store owner who had locked his doors. Luther made his way through the crowd of babies crying in their mother's arms and angry men.
The store owner was brandishing a shotgun and yelling nervously for the men to stay back! Luther calmly walked up to the man and said,"Put the gun down sir...if ya don't...they're sure to kill ya....babies and wee ones are crying from hunger and cold....no shotgun will stop the gentlemen from easing their hurts."
The crowd became silent as Luther reached to take the gun. He slipped it from the man's hands as the man hung his head and cried. He took a key from his coat pocket and opened the door. An old man stepped up first and said,"You'll be paid for all that we use...every penny...just mark it down."
Luther got himself a small bite to eat and continued looking for Mary in the crowd of people. Every hat on every lady was a target of his eyes. He climbed up on the roof of the store and could see the miles of destruction. He could even see the top of the old Cane Mill house where he and Mary met so many times.
He looked up at the cold clouds of March and prayed,"Help me find her....Lord I need to find the only treasure I've ever held in my hands." He climbed back down and checked the entire population of the hill three more times before darkness fell. Five bonfires were lit and the people huddled around each one. Luther would take a torch to the edges of the water to see if it had receded.
It was three days past when the water had gone down enough to get off of the hill. Luther piled into a boat with other man as he convinced them to take him to the eastern part of the city. On the way...they rescued a young boy and a dog from a debris filled willow tree. Had the dog not been barking...they might have been found far too late. Luther gave the boy and dog each a muffin he had stowed away in his coat pocket.
Luther and the other men were sickened by the floating bodies they saw. Arms and legs jutted out from mud covered rubble. Luther got out of the boat near where Mary lived. The few houses that were still standing were leaning or half washed away. He cried out for Mary while lifting boards and removing brush. He cried out until his voice was a hoarse whisper.
Luther fell to his knees by what use to be her home. He had already searched there twice. He took off his hat and looked at a lock of her hair that was tied with a piece of lace. Mary had pinned it in the inside front of his hat. He touched her hair and cried,"Mary...come to me...please Mary...come to me.
People were coming into the camp...so hungry...so cold and so lost. Mary had already cried so many times for the sorrows she witnessed and horrific stories told. She was making her way back to the tent when she caught a little boy from the corner of her eye. He was wearing a wool cap...far too big for him. She suddenly lost her footing on the board...slipped and fell in the mud.
She cried out to the little boy,"Where did you get that hat?" The little boy looked at her but didn't say a word. She screamed at him,"Where did you get that hat?" She started crying as she stepped through the thick mud towards the little boy. A man reached to help her...she smacked his hand away and stumbled to take the hat from the little boy.
People who were walking with him scorned her as she desperately looked inside the gray wool cap. She saw the lock of hair tied in lace and collapsed. A man jerked the hat from her hand and gave it back to the boy as Mary cried,"Where did you find the hat....please...where?" The boy nervously said,"On...on...on..a board...by...by the Vine street school."
Mary begged him,"Take me...show me...please take me where you found it?" An old man stepped up and said,"Miss....there's nothing at Vine street...it's covered in five feet of mud...we are the last of the folks.....the only ones left there are the body collectors and men with guns."
Mary stood up and said,"I don't care what you say...I will go to Vine street and I will find him!" A woman tried to stop her but Mary jerked away and plodded through the mud. She held the laced lock of hair tightly in her hand and cried. She hadn't walked a hundred yards when she saw a woman wearing Luther's coat. Mary fainted.
The dim lantern in the tent came into focus as Mary began to wake up. She was covered in blankets and heard the voices of nurses and people who were being taken care of. Mary looked up at the white canvas and thought of Luther as her tears rolled from the corners of her eyes. She slowly turned to her side and sobbed.
The little boy who was wearing Luther's hat came and stood by her. She sniffled and reached out her hand to take his. The little boy softly said,"I...I...got to tell you...uh..uh..the hat...uh..uh..he gave it to me." Mary squeezed his hand as she propped up on her side and said,"Who...who gave it to you?" The little boy pointed behind her. Mary turned and cried out in joy! It was Luther...grinning from ear to ear.
He bent down to her and she hugged him so tight that he could barely talk. The little boy giggled as Luther gave him a cinnamon drop and shewed him away. Mary kissed and kissed and kissed him. Luther chucked,"My sweet Mary...are ya gonna kiss every freckle on my face?" Mary put her hands to each side of his face and said,"Every little one on every inch of you!"
A nurse standing by...blushed and smiled as the hugging and kissing continued. Luther explained that he told the little boy to say he found the hat in case someone accused him of stealing it. He had also given a woman his coat who was wet and shivering. They were together again and that was all that counted in the world to them.
Luther and Mary did move to California. They loved the weather and the beautiful beaches. They even didn't mind the earth quakes. After all...it just reminded them of making love on the old mill stone...before the 1913 Great Flood.
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