“Shamus, if you’re going to the fair you’d better get going,” his mom called to him from the house.
“Going, ma,” he replied and finished putting the milk pail away. He patted his milk cow on the back on the way by. She snorted and went back to eating her hay.
He walked up to the house, noting that the sparrows eggs had hatched and the parents were teaching their young to hunt for bugs. The sun was just barely peaking over the trees.
He rinsed his hands off at the pump, gathered his rucksack, kissed his dear old ma on the cheek and headed off to Dingle.
“Don’t forget me flour, boyo,” she called after him.
He acknowledged her reminder with a wave.
It was at least a three-hour walk to the fair in Dingle and he had meant to get out of the house before sunrise, but O’Leary had wanted that last pint at the pub.
He walked through fields, over small hills, through cool gurgling streams, and finally came up on the road to Dingle. Road being a fancy word for cow path.
A red-haired girl rode a donkey up a head of him, not moving very fast. She seemed not to be too interested in keeping her beast from eating the grass along the path’s edge. In fact, she didn’t seem to be in any sort of hurry.
He bid her good morning and she gave him a kind smile that lit up her face and gave her clear blue eyes happy crinkles. A winsome lass, to say the least.
He asked her if she was going to Dingle, and she said yes, with a little blush. Shy, he thought.
“You can ride with me. My donkey will carry two.” She offered.
Well, Shamus wasn’t one to let the grass grow beneath his feet in the area of wooing, so he agreed, and climbed up behind the pretty lass.
At first, he tried to be polite and keep his hands lightly on her hips, but they climbed a small hillock, and he started to slip. So he grabbed on tighter.
She didn’t seem to mind, so he left his hands where they were. A short while later, to his great surprise, she reached back and patted his leg, in a companionable manner, all the while talking about digging clams and fishing off of the coast. Her pat turned into a caress at some point, and he responded and well, the rest of the trip became most amusing for them both.
They arrived at the fair in Dingle, laughing at some silly thing Shamus had said. He dismounted and took her hands to say goodbye, when a large fellow trotted up.
“Hey, keep yer hands off my woman. We’re to be wed this morning.”
Shamus looked at the girl, and she sadly shook her head. Not denying the claim, merely commenting on her opinion of it.