"I want to see Kanook."
"No, you saw him yesterday."
"I want to see Kanook."
"I told you no."
Robert sighed. Refusing her was like breaking a leg. You could only do it so many times. He turned around to the mansion, the snow crunching underneath his feet.
"You are so difficult. I like you."
He nodded, pleased with the unusual comment, and proceeded on. Though if anything could be usual about her he would be surprised. Ever since he brought her to the estate that
November she had his undivided attention.
However, that made people talk, and talk was what they do best. Soon the giddy gossips of girls were all about Mr. Parker’s mysterious guest. Many thought this was a hideous scandal with some foreign woman because no one has seen the girl, only heard of her.
But not of her baby. The horrifying detail that this child was pregnant was kept to the utmost secrecy on penalty of death, or fatal injuries.
Scowling to himself and wondering how long he could keep this up Robert trudged up to the stable. Inside, with the smell of manure and hay, was a young man probably of seventeen years. The withered but warm coat covered most of his dark Indian skin, while the cold froze his thick ebony hair in short choppy waves. He looked up as Robert came in and stopped brushing the horses. Though it was preposterous to have such a feeling for a person with no connections or money, Robert was jealous. This mere stable boy captivated many of the young ladies, though they won’t admit it, with his strong, silent, and unintended charm. This charm had also taken one who he wished all to himself, the girl.
Robert need not say anything, Kanook simply bowed and walked out of the stable to where the girl waited for him.
"Ah! Kanook!" She displayed a breath taking smile for him. And though he rarely smiled, he did. How could anyone resist her?
“Come on Kanook! I want to walk!” She pranced up to him through the snow. Even though she carried a baby her agility was astounding.
“If you wish.” Kanook bowed.
“Rin!” Robert quickly said before she could frolic away.
“I’ll see you at dinner,” she answered his unasked question.
“No, Rin. You will come to tea,” Robert firmly stated.
“But Robert! I will have tea with Kanook,” She complained.
“You have been out in the snow for half an hour now, it is not good for the baby. You want a healthy baby don’t you?” He said hoping that she will change her mind.
“The baby does not mind the cold. I don’t either.”
“But you need food,” he said desperately. Robert did not want to be without her for so long. He did not want her to be with Kanook for so long. “What will you eat?” He asked exasperated. But all she did was smile mischievously and wrap her arm around Kanook’s and stat to tug him towards the woods.
“Tea, Rin!” Robert called after her. Knowing that she heard, he turned to the house.
The icy crystallized forest loomed hauntingly above the little girl. But Rin weaved in and out of the barren tree trunks as if it were a game. Kanook trailed behind her letting her skip this way and that.
Soon they reached a tiny opening with a single, lonely, snow covered bench. Kanook strode over to the bench whipping all the snow off with two strong swoops. The bench was clean as it was yesterday. Rin picked a brittle brown leaf from a sad looking tree. Twirling it between her figures, she sat down.
“Tea time Kanook,” she said as if it as music.
“As you wish, Rin.” He pulled off a poor, thin glove. Rin smiled and crushed the leaf letting the dead pieces flutter to the white ground, tainting its pure surface. She clutched Kanook’s dark callused hands in her tiny mittens. “The baby will like you Kanook.” She pulled his hand to close to herself with surprising strength. Rin cupped his hand to her face. “Oh, I am hungry.” She smiled showing her perfect untainted teeth.
It was no surprise when Rin did not show for tea. This made Robert very upset. She never did seem to get enough food. He heard his office door open, Rin never cared for formalities.
“I am ever so sorry!” She cried running to his side. “You must be ever so angry at me, I know you like to have tea with me. I am sorry.” She hugged him, her round belly pressing against his leg. He cringed at its touch.
“Four hours,” his voice was cold and hard.
“It was pretty outside, Robert! You must walk with me!” Rin offered excitedly and oblivious to his scolding.
“You mustn’t be out for that long,” he said in a low voice trying to keep his temper in check. “For all I know you could be frozen!” His tone was harsh, but he softly pushed her away.
“Frozen?” her eyebrows furrowed at this word.
Robert sighed. “Frozen, dead, surrounded by snow, covered by ice,” he quickly explained, not in the mood to indulge her curiosity.
“Dead.” Rin would now repeat that word throughout the day to remember it, along with frozen. “I will have tea with you to-marrow. I promise.” She hugged him tighter, nuzzling her face into his shirt. He didn’t argue for that was what he wanted.
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