(A Christmas Tale Countdown series, Part 3; see Part 2)
Ebenezer lived with his great-Aunt Maisey, who professed every day she would leave everything to Ebenezer if he continued to mind her. He liked the old biddy enough but wished she wasn’t so robust. He wouldn’t mind if she were feeble and in bed most of the time. Instead, she tended to flit about and meddle in everyone’s business, as she was now doing in his. The two of them were in the drawing-room drinking tea together, although his mind was on Elizabeth.
“Darling boy, how preoccupied you look today. What is on your mind, sweet son?”
“Dearest Auntie, you don’t need to dote on me so. I’m just thinking . . . “
“There you are again. Off somewhere, tell me.”
“If you must insist, I’m trying to think of a present to give a girl I’ve taken a fancy to. I don’t want to be trite and simply give a trinket or bauble.”
“Who might this young lady be?”
“I’d rather not discuss that now. My mind is on what to give her . . .”
“Well, as I once was young and irresistible, I know that I loved to hear birds singing. Certainly, you know this, my music room is filled with a variety of birds.”
Ebenezer was immediately thankful for having an eccentric aunt who collected birds from all over the countryside. He had an idea. “You are a great aunt indeed. I shall take your advice and magnanimous gesture of allowing me to gift a bird or two from your wide selection.”
Aunt Maisey was flustered as she didn’t expect him to quickly take her word or from her collection; she was hoping to reminisce a bit more about her youth. But she didn’t want to displease him either, so she said, “Oh . . . I recommend you take the two turtle doves. They make such beautiful music.”
Horace found himself once again knocking on the door of Elizabeth Harding’s family residence.
“It’s you again. Hmm, I see you have a cage of pretty turtle doves. Another gift, is it?” The same pudgy woman had answered the door and looked at Horace expectantly.
“Yes, madam, I’ve come to bring another gift to your niece, Elizabeth.”
“I shall be happy to fetch her.”
Horace’s hands trembled ever so slightly when Elizabeth’s hand lightly brushed his as she took the cage of turtle doves from him.