U. Umbrella

Elaine buttoned up her coat against the cold and quickly slipped her kid leather gloves onto her hands, clapping them together softly once she had done so.  It would never do to bang them together like a man, as much as she wanted to.  No, “One Must Always be aware of One’s Place in Society and Behave Accordingly” as Elaine’s  teacher often said.  She could picture the old lady in her head pointing a gnarled finger at Elaine as she so often had during Finishing School.  Elaine never could quite follow the rules even though she tried hard.  She really did.  It’s just that it didn’t make sense to her and what didn’t make sense, really didn’t seem important.

God forbid, I do something to draw attention to myself like perform a little dance with my umbrella to warm me up.  No, because then people would know I was cold and “Ladies Should Dress Accordingly and Never Be Cold”.  Oh, I hate this weather.   What I would give to wear trousers like a man!  She giggled at the thought of  what her old teacher might say if she saw Elaine in trousers.

A whistle blew heralding an incoming train.  Well, thought Elaine, if I can’t change society, maybe I can make a change for me.  She climbed aboard the train and made her way to the second compartment.  A quick glance through the glass door revealed a well dressed middle aged gentleman sitting by the window.  Elaine quickly touched her hand to her hair, drew a deep breath to calm her nerves and opened the door.

The man looked up and smiled, transforming his rather stern face to that of a man who looked at least, five years younger.  “Hello, Miss Cloud!  What a lovely surprise.”

“Why, Mr Harris, this is a coincidence.  I do believe this is the third time this week we have met in this very same compartment!”

“A coincidence indeed Miss Cloud.  Come in and sit down please.  I would offer to take your coat but I daresay you will still need it on even inside in this unbearably cold weather.”

“Oh, Mr Harris.  You’ve no idea how I detest the cold.  Give me sunshine and I’m as happy as a lark in spring.”

“Well there is plenty of sunshine in Australia, my dear, and I shall be glad to experience it.”

“Of course Mr Harris!  Your trip to Australia.  Please do tell me all about it.  I would so love to hear of your plans.  Tell me sir, will you be travelling there alone?”

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