I have set this story around the mid 19th Century in England and tried to keep the language and attitudes appropriate to the period as far as possible. This isn't intended to be a purely lesbian story, it's just the way Part 1 has turned out as I wanted to keep things to a readable length. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.
Julia lay in her bed and tried to concentrate. There was silence throughout the house and not even a faint whisper from the leaves in the trees outside her window in the sultry, humid August air to distract her. She fancied that if she listened really hard she could hear the soft breathing of her younger sister Elizabeth, asleep in the next bed and tried to pluck up the courage to take the first faltering steps to awakening her senses.
She closed her eyes and concentrated purely on herself. This journey had begun a few weeks ago when her best friend Charlotte had discovered a book while idly looking through her father’s library. The book was written in a strange that had been painstakingly translated in to English in the margins and preached a hedonistic lifestyle quite divorced from the strictly regimented and closed society of rural, middle class England.
This was a society where men and women were treated equally and their needs were on an equal footing. This equality extended to sex and much of the text described in great detail how men and women could achieve a sense of wellbeing through love making, each page elaborately and beautifully illustrated with the entwined figures and what she presumed to be the local flora and fauna.
Julia had hardly considered this before, as young ladies of her social class and age were expected to act with decorum at all times, and to use their modesty and accomplishments to win the hearts of prospective husbands. The whole process of marriage was a game, part ritual and part political in which the woman had precious little control and love was a long way down the list after duty, honour and expedience.
In the following days, she and Charlotte had read through the entire text and the revelations it contained. Every form of sexual union was celebrated, with none being taboo although the text warned against having children by close relatives which was said to cause weakness in the bloodline. At first Julia had blushed at the direct and straightforward nature of the book but she became increasingly fascinated with this alternative outlook on society.
Science was increasingly pushing at the boundaries of man’s knowledge and one effect of this was to shake the foundations of the religion that had always been accepted as the bedrock of existence. She began to question why she should be constrained in her behaviour and why her situation was so unequal in virtually all areas to her brother. She questioned why modesty and restraint were held to be virtues instead of the pleasures to be obtained from sex in a society that could celebrate such actions rather than censor them. Yet her current situation was built on a reputation that took her family generations to build and would take mere moments to destroy, and sensible of the effect her actions could have on her beloved family she could not embrace her new found knowledge openly but had to wait until the dead of night, like a thief.
There had been a lengthy chapter on the joys to be had by one self and Julia had read that chapter avidly this morning, making a pact with Charlotte that both of them would experiment tonight and meet the following day to discuss the experience. The chapter seemed to be aimed primarily at girls a little younger than Julia, who had recently turned sixteen, but her total lack of experience in this area seemed to make this as good a place to start as any as well as allowing her to dip her toe into this different and exciting world without compromising the life she was obliged to live.
She looked across to make sure her sister was asleep, silently slid back her bedclothes and removed her nightdress with a graceful movement. Julia looked at her slim, naked body and lay back on the bed, her long golden hair spreading out over her shoulders.
Even this was unfamiliar to her, as she had become accustomed to getting dressed with the aid of a ladies maid, her body hidden for modesty’s sake. Once more she closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to remember what was in the book. The overriding theme was to take your time and discover your body and what it desires – ‘each of us is different’.
Using the tips of her fingers she delicately traced a line down the side of her body, past her slim waist and the flare of her hips and onwards down her outer thigh. Julia liked this feeling, it was sensual rather than ticklish, especially when her fingers made the return trip over the more sensitive skin of her inner thigh.
‘Take your time’ she thought as she traced her fingers upwards over her flat, taut belly towards the globes of her generous breasts, deliberately skirting them and continuing upwards to the nape of her neck. She shivered slightly as her fingers found the erogenous zone behind her ears before skirting her breasts again and down towards her thighs.
Julia raised her legs and this time her fingers moved behind her knees and up the back of her thighs before veering away from her pussy and returning to the valley between her twin peaks. She felt hot and dipped her fingers in a glass of water she had by her bedside, allowing the droplets to fall on her heated flesh, running in rivulets down her sides and dampening the sheets causing new sensations as her fingers circled round her belly, spreading the cooling water over a larger area.
An image of George, Charlotte’s brother, formed in her mind and she tried to imagine what his tall, handsome figure would look like unclothed. Julia’s hands gently cupped her tits and she massaged the soft mounds gently, rubbing her thumbs across the area of her nipples, feeling them grow and stiffen beneath her touch. Her breathing deepened as she gently tweaked her nipples before pulling at them and squeezing them harder mixing pain with the pleasure until it was difficult to know where one ended and the other began but she knew was that she was experiencing something new and wonderful.
Julia lifted one of her breasts with its engorged and reddened nipple to her mouth and tenderly licked and sucked at it while her other hand descended in slow sweeping movements towards her luxuriant blonde bush, spacing her fingers as she reached her goal so that they spread each side of her virgin slit and allowed the palm of her hand to cup the prominent mound.
She began to rub in slow circular movements as the feelings of lust in her young body steadily grew but she was not ready yet, not quite aroused enough. She slid both hands under her tits again and pushed them together, squeezing them upwards and rolling her nipples between thumb and forefinger before descending again to her pussy, this time allowing one of her fingers to trail along the line of her closed lips, shivering with anticipation. Julia increased the pressure on her labia, expecting them to part but they remained tight shut. She needed to see what she was doing so she turned up the light in the oil lamp and took a small mirror from her dressing table and placed it between her knees.
The sight of her pussy in the mirror made her feel even more aroused and she gently slid both hands either side of her outer lips and pulled them apart, using an exploratory finger to rub along the emerging gap. Julia shivered again at the heightened sensitivity of this area, and needing more lubrication, put her finger in her mouth before returning to her sweet nether regions. She carefully traced around the outer lips of her hitherto untouched love hole, feeling more and more aroused, mixing the lubrication on her finger with the growing moisture in her pussy, all the while watching her reflected finger dreamily slip between her puffy outer lips.
Once her finger was wet with her love juices, Julia moved deeper and upwards, searching for the bud of her clitoris. She moaned as she found it, sending a jolt through her body, surprised by just how sensitive it was and made sure her fingers were thoroughly covered in her pussy cream before returning to it, just grazing it this time rather than rubbing it directly, letting out a low moan of sheer pleasure that she stifled in her pillow.
Julia explored every inch of her boiling cunt, moving to her inner labia, and putting an exploratory finger deeper into her hole. Her other hand returned to her clit, and feeling bolder, she now circled the erect little bud with her finger, soaked with the fragrant juices that were leaking copiously from her honey trap.
Julia’s breaths were becoming deeper, the pleasurable feelings became more and more intense as she looked at her juicy pussy, the surrounding hair matted, the lips parted like a flower in full bloom. The movement of her fingers became quicker and more intense as the pleasure grew, a small scream escaping her lips.
She shot a worried look towards Elizabeth who still slept on and buried her face in her pillow as she experienced her first shattering orgasm, her body rigid and clamping down on her finger buried deep inside her twat. How long she lay there she did not know, it felt like fireworks going off in her brain as waves of pleasure overtook her and she slumped back on to the bed.
Julia was elated but still wanted more, even though this had surpassed her expectations. George’s image came back into her mind, followed by that of Charlotte, beautiful flame headed Charlotte.
She tried to shut Charlotte’s image out but quickly scolded herself – her imagination must be allowed to take flight and nothing is taboo.
Her heated thoughts still surprised her though and she explored them further, imagining Charlotte and George both naked and waiting on her, their hands roaming over her tender young body. She imagined giving herself willingly, of George positioning himself between her legs while Charlotte bent her mouth towards hers for a kiss. Julia’s fingers ware busy again, tweaking at her nipples and ravaging her pussy, building herself up to another climax as great as the first before her fingers were flooded once more with her pungent, orgasmic juices. She panted as if she had just run a mile, her body covered in a light sheen of sweat. As her breathing slowed, and she descended from the tingling heights she slipped her night gown back on and fell into an exhausted, deliriously happy sleep.
The following morning, Julia was awoken as usual by her maid, pulling back the heavy drapes.
‘Good morning Miss’ said the maid cheerily. ‘I have your water for washing here and I’ll be back in a few minutes to help you get dressed’.
Thank you Maisie, replied Julia, dragging herself out of bed towards the bowl. This morning ritual was quite enjoyable in the summer but could be a trial in the winter when the room was cold despite the fire in the grate and the water was chill to the touch.
‘Good morning Elizabeth. Did you sleep well’ she said to her younger sister who was stretching and yawning in the next bed.
‘Fine thanks. I have Latin lesson today with Reverend Greene’ she said screwing up her face.
‘Julia, who was the last person you heard talking Latin, apart from Reverend Greene of course?. I don’t think I have heard anyone speak it in everyday language except to try and impress those who don’t understand it’.
Julia smiled, watching Elizabeth begin her morning ablutions and wondered what she would make of the book. She wished it had a title but it just appeared to be a collection of notes that had been arranged more or less into a complete work. Elizabeth carefully washed beneath her nightclothes over the swelling buds of her breasts. Julia noted that her sister had changed enormously in the past year from a little girl of thirteen to a girl on the verge of womanhood. In many ways she was quite unlike Julia who was all blonde hair, pale blue eyes and generous curves, the quintessential English rose, while Elizabeth was dark haired like her father and of a slim, athletic build, an accomplished musician who obviously hated Latin.
Her beauty, like Julia’s, came from her mother’s side with her fine bone structure and well proportioned features. Lady Creswell expected all her daughters to marry well and was already busying herself with potential suitors for Julia.
‘You have a streak of rebelliousness in you. I like that, it shows you are thinking for yourself and you are most definitely growing up’ Julia announced.
Elizabeth flushed with pride at this. ‘I will try my best to please the Reverend for Mama’s sake but I swear I shall not speak a word of the language in public for as long as I live’.
Julia laughed at her seriousness but further chatter was brought to a halt as Maisie returned with clothes for both girls and helped them as they got dressed. This particular part of the ritual irked Julia who waited patiently while Elizabeth was dressed and went down for breakfast.
‘Why does this have to be so awkward Maisie?’ she grumbled as she fiddled with her clothing beneath the nightwear. ‘All of us women are made in the same way’.
‘How do you know someone won’t come walking in miss’, said Maisie looking shocked, ‘and you standing there naked as the day you were born’.
Julia looked at Maisie who was a little older than she was, a plain girl but with a good strong figure and a generally happy demeanour. ‘Would you be embarrassed?’ she said.
‘It ain’t right miss for a lady such as yourself’ said Maisie uncomfortably, helping Julia into her underclothes.
‘In your family you must have seen your sisters as they do not have ladies to help them dress, so why is it any different to me?.
Maisie looked at her with incomprehension. ‘It just is miss’ she said.
Julia sighed to herself and stayed silent as Maisie finished helping her into her dress, tying the cords at the back. The onward march of womanhood and civilization itself usually foundered on people such as Maisie who were totally unable to see beyond what was immediate, familiar and comfortable she thought to herself, and after thanking her maid, she joined the rest of her family at breakfast.
As usual, there was food of every deion laid out on plates and in steaming tureens on the sideboard. Julia helped herself to a plateful and, after kissing her father and mother, sat at the table. Elizabeth was there with Edward her older brother, who with his blonde wavy hair, blue eyes and fine figure was a favourite with the local girls at the balls that were held from time to time in the area.
At the foot of the table was Cassandra, the youngest at twelve. There was something about Cassandra that unnerved Julia. She tried to decide if it was her dark eyes or the way that when she spoke to you it seemed as if she had a window into your soul. Then there was Cassandra’s vindictiveness, in stark contrast to the rest of the family. Cassandra would never let a perceived slight or anything she regarded as unfair pass without exacting some kind of retribution, and this could be vicious as at least two members of the household who had been dismissed would attest. Both Julia and Edward had crossed her in the past and both had been left with the undeniable feeling that they had come off second best but as she was her father’s favourite she appeared untouchable.
‘What do you intend to do today, Julia? enquired her mother.
‘I need to visit the Thompsons’ she replied, as Albert has broken his arm and to look in on Marion’s new baby. I thought that I would call in at Charlotte’s on my way back’.
‘Excellent’ said Lady Creswell dabbing the side of her mouth with a napkin. Make sure that you have milk for the baby and provisions for the Thompsons as they can ill afford the loss of Albert’s income’.
‘I have already asked Cook and she has promised to have them ready for me before I leave’.
Lady Creswell smiled at her daughter and hoped that at least part of the reason for her calling on Charlotte so regularly was to acquaint herself with George who was heir to the vast estates of Lord Rainham. Julia was a beautiful girl and still only sixteen but Lady Creswell was determined to see her installed at Rainham Park sooner rather than later.
The rest of breakfast passed with the usual light chatter and Julia was soon collecting parcels of food and a jug of milk from the cook and heading along the dusty road towards the cottages housing her father’s tenants mounted on her favourite bay mare. The sun was warm on her face with a light summer breeze as the mare broke into a gentle trot, its hooves rhythmically beating a tattoo, as she gazed upon the landscape, turned gold and brown as the harvest time neared. She could see many workers in the fields, some on her father’s land as a part of the duty they owed him and some tending their own smallholdings on which they would grow much of their own food, sowing and reaping different crops in time with the seasons.
As she neared the cottages, she passed small children playing on the verges and women making and mending or busy with the housework. Julia knew all of her father’s tenants by name and exchanged pleasantries as she rode towards the Thompson’s cottage towards the far end of the street. As she slowed by the front door, Jim, the Thompson’s eldest boy at 15, arose from the plough he was hitching to his horse and held the mare while Julia dismounted.
‘Good Morning miss, what brings you here?’ he said brightly.
‘I have some milk for the baby and some provisions to help out while your father cannot work’.
‘He don’t hold much with charity miss’ said Jim rubbing his chin.
‘It’s not charity, its good sense’ said Julia firmly. ‘My father has always put the welfare of his tenants high on his list of priorities as you well know’.
This was true, the Creswells had always had the reputation of fine landlords and their tenants enjoyed some of the best housing and land in the neighbourhood. Yet even this did not seem to be enough in the past few years, as the steady stream of folk leaving the countryside for the towns in search of a better life working in the burgeoning factories and mills threatened to leave the great estates undermanned. The old order was changing, the new landowners were the newly enriched industrialists as the gentry slowly disappeared either through their own mismanagement or crippling death duties. These new owners did not share a love of the land or its people or the principle of noblesse oblige, the unwritten bond that bound the landlord and his tenants together. Julia could only wonder at what the future held for the heartland of England.
‘Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. He’s right grumpy today’ laughed Jim as he tied the mare to a fence post and stood aside to allow Julia to enter the cottage. Julia was aware of the quick movement of his eyes as he took in her figure and smiled to herself as she entered the doorway into the small front room.
Her conversation with Albert and Marion was short but pleasant. True to form, Albert had at first declined the provisions she had brought, but his objections were half hearted and mainly for show as his wife thanked Julia warmly and graciously accepted the present. There was much chatter about the baby Maud and the care of young infants that had Albert thinking that even with his broken arm he would far rather be pushing a plough up and down the field than listen to these two women. Unfortunately for him, he decided to voice this opinion and was rewarded with a scolding from Marion on the subject of manners where she scarcely seemed to pause for breath for a full five minutes.
A short while later, Julia bade Marion and a distinctly chastened Albert goodbye and turned the mare in the direction of Rainham Park.
As she neared her destination she urged her mount into a gallop, impatient to meet Charlotte and spill her news, wondering what delights her best friend had experienced and whether they were the same as her own. Charlotte was waiting for her as she reached the impressive wrought iron gates to the estate, flanked by large Romanesque pillars carved from the local stone. The pair rode back to the house, dismounting and handing their horses to the groom before heading into one of the less formal gardens with a swing at the back, slung between two large oak trees.
Charlotte sat on the swing, idly kicking her feet while Julia sat in front of her stretched out on the grass.
‘So how was it last night?’ said Julia, her eyes ablaze with excitement before launching headlong into a long and detailed explanation of her own exploits. Charlotte listened wide eyed but grew more nervous and fidgety as Julia’s tale drew to a close.
‘Your turn now’ she said at length.
‘In truth there’s not much to tell’ said Charlotte quietly. ‘Oh Julia, I wanted to do something but I couldn’t get settled, I didn’t feel comfortable’.
Julia felt let down and even betrayed in a funny sort of way.
‘You promised’ she said, ‘and you have listened to my story with nothing to tell of your own’. ‘You even have a room to yourself whereas I have to share with Elizabeth and there is no-one within a distance where they could possibly hear you’.
‘I know’ said Charlotte, embarrassed that she had broken her promise.
Charlotte felt miserable. In truth she had persuaded herself out of doing anything as she was sure that Julia’s courage would fail her but now she was left with the appearance of being weak and indecisive. This feeling was both unfamiliar and uncomfortable to her and she resolved to remedy the situation as soon as she was able.
‘I promise I will keep our pact’ said Charlotte quietly.
Julia looked at the hurt in the eyes of her best friend and her heart melted.
‘It makes a change that I have proved to be bolder than you’ she said with a hint of laughter in her voice ‘and I find it most agreeable’.
Charlotte was about to reply but further discussion was halted by a maid scurrying across the lawn bearing a letter on a silver tray. She curtsied to Charlotte, who took the letter from the tray, and withdrew immediately.
She opened the letter and read it together with the card it contained and her features brightened.
‘There is to be a summer ball in Leighton hosted by the Windleshams’ she announced. ‘I expect your parents have received an invitation as well’.
Julia hurried over to look at the letter and read it excitedly. The Windlesham’s social events were famous in the County for their size and splendour and were invariably a highlight of the season.
The two girls were soon planning dresses, dancing partners and all the paraphernalia that surrounded such an important event in their lives.
‘We must practice the latest dances, the Windleshams are certain to have brought the latest fashions from London’ said Charlotte. ‘Seeing as you are feeling so superior at the moment you can take the part of the man’.
‘Come’ she said standing up and Julia took her place next to her, lightly taking her hand and with a light hum the two of them began the intricate, formal dance.
Charlotte was concentrating on her line, and Julia admired her slim, lithe, pert breasted figure with her striking, flame red hair, emerald eyes and milky, unblemished skin. Julia’s part in the dance was simpler and she acted as a perfect foil for Charlotte, allowing her to perform the graceful turns with ease. As they changed direction, Charlotte stumbled and Julia steadied herself and caught her in her arms. Memories of the previous night flooded into her brain, her face just inches from Charlotte’s……close….too close.
The surroundings appeared to become indistinct, she was focussed on that gorgeous face and nothing else, the blood pounding in her ears. She brushed Charlotte’s lips with her own, scarcely realising that she had done so, as if some external entity controlled her movements.
‘Julia, you mustn’t’ whispered Charlotte yet her body remained inert in her arms without even a token attempt to break away.
‘You are truly beautiful my love’, whispered Julia and holding her girlfriend with what she supposed was a manly embrace, crushed Charlotte’s lips with a kiss.
‘Not here’. Charlotte’s voice trembled and the two of them half walked and half ran through a stretch of woodland towards a building positioned near the centre of the park. Julia recognised it as a folly, a miniature of the Pantheon, the ancient Roman temple originally built for the ancient pagan Gods before becoming a Christian temple. The two girls mounted the steps and entered the shadowy recess beyond.
‘Julia, I’m not sure…’ began Charlotte before her mouth was once again entwined with her best friend’s, her lover.
Julia pinned Charlotte lightly against the wall, her kiss more urgent, more passionate than before. She let her tongue pass between her lips, searching, probing. The body that she held stiffened and then yielded and her tongue danced with Charlotte’s sending waves of pleasure through her senses.
Julia was relishing her dominant role and lightly ran her fingers over Charlotte’s body, eliciting a positive response as she searches the erogenous zones around her neck and ears. Further exploration was frustrated by the thick material of Charlotte’s dress so Julia boldly reached down and began to unbutton the front down to just above her waist. She eased the garment from Charlotte’s slim shoulders and with a firm movement pushed both the dress and the undergarment down, revealing her pert, firm breasts each one topped with a large pink nipple that stiffened in the cool shade of the folly.
Julia ran her hands lightly over them, lightly teasing the erect teats in the way that she had aroused her own the previous evening. She was rewarded with a low moan from Charlotte.
‘Oh that feels heavenly’ she gasped. ‘Your deion from last night hardly does it justice’.
Julia squeezed the nipple and Charlotte squeaked with pleasure.
‘Oh please carry on, it’s giving me the most delicious feelings, I can’t explain it’.
Julia bent her head to take the engorged nipple into her mouth. When she had first seen this illustrated in the book it had seemed a strange sight to see someone suckling like a baby and yet now it felt the most natural thing in the world.
She let her tongue circle the firm flesh before sucking it into her mouth and nibbling very gently on it. Charlotte’s sighs emboldened her further, and she took the other nipple into her mouth, working her hands at Charlotte’s dress, loosening the laces and pushing it further down her body until she eased it over the gentle flare of her hips and the garment slid to the floor.
Julia giggled, amused that Charlotte’s slim legs were encased in voluminous bloomers that extended down to mid calf. She led her deeper into the recess of the building towards the love seat and knelt before her, eased her thumbs into the bloomers and drew them down slowly to reveal Charlotte’s long legs, sheathed in pure white silk stockings and her bright red muff of pubic hair, the same colour that adorned her head.
Julia gently eased her back on to the seat cushions. ‘Now I will truly show you what you missed last night’ she whispered.
‘Someone may come and see us’ whimpered Charlotte but there was no way Julia would give up now. She gently pushed Charlotte’s thighs apart, the red folds of her outer labia becoming visible though the flame bush. Julia ran her fingers along the inner thigh, feeling a slight shiver of anticipation from her lover as she lightly brushed the sensitive skin, her motions unhurried as she circled her prize.
Charlotte’s eyes were closed and she was lightly chewing on her bottom lip as Julia teased her, her body arching as she willed Julia’s caresses to give her release.
Her body stiffened with a jolt as Julia ran her fingers over the lips of her pussy using her thumbs to gently prise them apart. She could already see juices beginning to leak from her hole and breathed in the heady musk of Charlotte’s arousal.
Her fingers moved deeper and upward, searching out the erect button of flesh that was the centre of her passion and grazed it lightly, smiling at the noises of sheer pleasure coming from her friend. Julia steadily worked her fingers in and around Charlotte’s pussy, feeling her excitement building as her love pit became wetter and wetter. With a cry, Charlotte thrust her hips upwards and clamped her thighs around Julia’s hand as she shook with her first orgasm. As she relaxed, Julia parted her creamy thighs again and looked lovingly at the open pussy in front of her. Her heart hammered as she remembered the next sequence of pictures in the book. It had all seemed so distasteful back then and Julia had been sure that she could never commit such an act on a man or woman but now she felt so aroused that anything seemed possible.
She ran her fingers through the soft pubic fur and lowered her head, planting a light kiss on Charlotte’s outer labia. She poked out her tongue experimentally to taste the pungent juices, finding them salty but not unpleasant before parting those sweet lips and running her tongue from the bottom to the top of her slit.
She fastened her lips around the erect clitoris and sucked it gently, swirling her tongue around the bud. She felt Charlotte’s hand on the back of her head, stroking her hair and driving her tongue deeper into her pussy, her cries becoming louder as she neared her climax. Julia inserted a finger as well, flicking her tongue in and out of her juicy cunt, sending Charlotte over the edge, filling Julia’s mouth with her sex juices as her hips bucked wildly, smearing her orgasm over her face.
They lay together for a while before Charlotte finally broke the silence.
‘That is the most wonderful feeling I’ve ever had’ she whispered. ‘To think it was with another woman as well, truly the thought had never entered my head’.
‘Nor mine before last night’ replied Julia. ‘I did not admit that earlier for fear of
The two girls looked at each other and laughed.
‘So now it’s your turn’ said Charlotte firmly. ‘It would be most unfair if I had all the fun’.
She stood up and slowly disrobed Julia, becoming more excited as her body came into view. Her breasts were a little larger than Charlotte’s, her hips a little wider, more feminine somehow. She looked into Julia’s crystal blue eyes and kissed her soft, sensual lips, her urgent tongue seeking its soul mate. Julia lay on the seat and let Charlotte run her fingers and her tongue all over her body, willingly parting her thighs to give her access to her moist pussy.
The feeling of Charlotte’s tongue on her clitoris surpassed anything she had experienced the previous evening and she was soon writhing with abandoned pleasure as she was pleasured by her friend,
her orgasm swiftly rising in her loins as Charlotte’s tongue lashed back and forth along her boiling slit. With a cry she came, harder than she had come before as Charlotte buried her middle finger deep into her snatch and squeezed her erect nipples to heighten the pleasure still further.
The two girls lay together, their heavy breathing gradually subsiding as they returned to their senses, A sound, some way off startled them and they quickly rose and helped one another into their clothes.
‘We best get back to the house before we are missed’ said Charlotte. Julia nodded and after one last lingering kiss they left the folly and retraced their steps through the wood.