May 18th, 1821

I think I met the man who was in my dream.

He is the son of the new gardener. Aunt Emeline did not keep the previous one for the reason that he was smiling too much and she thought it was suspicious, that he was possibly stealing gardening tools whose names she ignores. I think he was just really happy to be working outside, to have his hands in the ground, to look at flowers and feel the sun on his back, not have to talk to anyone, just be alone with his thoughts and the plants and the bees.

The new gardener is older and smiles a little less. I heard a maid say that yesterday, he and his son moved in the little house at the other end of the property, just where the fields begin. I can see it from my window. Emeline did not introduce me to them of course.

Early this morning I went to the kitchen to refill my water jar. The corridor was silent. The maids were outside washing tablecloths. As my foot touched the cold tiles of the kitchen, I saw a man standing over the table, his back towards me, almost perfectly still. Hector was laying on the table, next to a ham and drying dishes, his gray tail swaying slowly. The young man was caressing Hector’s head in a very gentle way, avoiding his ears. Hector closed his eyes. I stayed there, in my cotton nightgown, with the empty jar in my hands. I looked at the back of the man’s neck, his short dark hair, his long hands. He was not very tall. I wanted to see his eyes but did not want to interrupt this silent scene, his soft gesture, the beauty of his neck.

Hector looked at me, stood up, jumped off the table and came towards me. The young man turned slowly, following Hector with his eyes until they met mine. He jumped. I must have looked like a ghost with my white nightgown and tousled hair. He apologized for having come into the kitchen, said he was the gardener’s son, that his father was talking with aunt Emeline in the living room, that he was going to live in the little house and help with the garden, the pond and uncle George’s horses. I looked at his lashes, his beard and the perfect shape of his lips while he talked. I think he said something about Hector but I am not certain of it. I remember he stopped talking at some point, maybe he was waiting for me to move from the entrance of the kitchen so he could join his father in the living room. Maybe not. He just looked at me and smiled. His blue-green gaze was so deep I was afraid to fall into it. I looked away and regretted having done so. I moved slowly, almost reluctantly, so he could leave the kitchen and for a few seconds he did not move. He just smiled again and said “I hope to see you around. If you cannot remember the name of a flower, a plant or a fish, come find me”. I did not say anything, did not share my own hopes, did not find any words among all the ones floating in my mind that would sound right. I wanted to hear him say the names of all existing flowers, plants and fishes.

He left the kitchen, leaving a scent of thyme and tobacco on my thoughts.

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