The Yellow Flower by Cycy Smith

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SUMMARY: A young man makes his way home after a long absence but tragedy awaits.

He had an image of her in his mind, a pretty, laughing girl in a yellow dress. She was dancing, spinning round and round so the skirt of her dress flew up around her like the petals of some exotic flower. It was the image that he had brought into his head all through the past three years, whenever his work was hard or he was cold or tired he held her picture in his head and remembered what it was all for. They had grown up together and since childhood they had known that they would one day marry. It was a small village, the place where they lived, with not many opportunities for young men. He had left three years ago to find work that would allow him to make enough money for them to buy a house of their own and now he was returning, his savings in the purse around his neck. Three long years, but the prize at the end was more than worth it, for when he returned he would finally get to marry her and they would have a home together and eventually a family.

Jack shouldered his pack and walked on. It would take him four days to reach the village where he had grown up, it would be faster if he had a horse but he was loath to spend his hard-won money on something he could do as well without. He walked from dawn to dusk, finding an inn when it began to get dark. After his years in the city, unloading ships, the walking seemed a welcome rest and he enjoyed the journey, admiring the scenery along his way. The weather was good and he made the best of it, enjoying the sun on his face again after three years in the city where the sun never seemed to shine as brightly as it did at home. At night, when he reached an inn, he enjoyed his meals in the common room with the other travellers and spent the evenings talking and drinking with them. There were many interesting stories to be heard and news to be told. He met people from all over the country and each had a tale from the places they had seen. Gossip was a common currency the width and breadth of the country and wherever he went he was recognised as a stranger by the inhabitants, who immediately asked after news from other places. He enjoyed these meetings and was careful never to be rude or impatient; he still remembered how it had been when he lived in a small village such as this and how each stranger was a source of great excitement.

As he walked he imagined his homecoming. Mary would be in her parents' house, sitting at the fireplace and cooking their supper. He would burst through the door and take her in his arms and then he would sit down to supper with her family and tell them all about his travels. Somehow in his imaginings he was always clean and well-dressed, his clothes, now dirty from travelling, would be spotless and his hair well brushed. He skipped over petty details, such as how he had managed to get so well groomed, and greeting his own family, and the next picture in his mind was of their wedding. He would stand with her in the village church and finally say out loud the words he had already said so long ago in his heart.

He could not remember a time when he had not known that he and Mary would get married; they had never even spoken about it because they had not needed to.

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