Desert Isle Keeper
Lady Ann's Excellent Adventure
Set in 1802, Lady Ann’s Excellent Adventure is a perfect gem of a short story, full of verve and joy and I simply fell in love with it. The Earl of Evesham is merrily tooling his new curricle through the streets of London when he spots a young woman perched in a tree. He approaches her after convincing himself that this hoyden couldn’t possibly be his reputed-to-be decorous affianced bride (sight unseen), only to discover, to his dismay, that she is none other than the very same Lady Ann. Thus begins the story that is a time out of time, when the ordinary cares of daily life are set aside to indulge in a last fling before destiny wrests them back into the reality of their predetermined future.
They introduce themselves as Will and Annie, obviously well-born but not divulging their true stations, choosing instead to be lulled into thinking of themselves as ordinary people bent on enjoying life’s simpler pleasures. Of Will, Annie thinks:
All the men in her life had always been overly conscious of her rank and expectations, and had either treated her with kid gloves, or with strict regimens and rules. It was so unusual to have a man indulge her not because of who she was but just because he wanted to.
For one entire day, Will and Annie share their thoughts as they share their amusements. As the sun traipses across the sky, the pair go from a balloon ascension in Hyde Park to the wharves of Southwark to the shops at Ludgate Hill to the 360-degree panoramic painting of London at Spring Gardens to a public masquerade, endlessly talking and always discovering the beauty and the wonder in the other.
This is romance at its finest; that first slide into recognition, leading to increasing awareness, thence to awe and delight and tenderness. There are no villains, no arguments, no black moments to distract from the development of that intricate web of caring. That such a fully-realized romance can be built within the confines of a short story shows the author’s consummate skill.
Lady Ann’s Excellent Adventure is a new piece by Ms. Hern, and I give it a solid A.