“He feels as if he’s been ambushed by a flowering shrub.”*

*From: Alias Grace (1996), by Margaret Atwood:

“Simon paces along the shore, picturing to himself what the Major must be doing – a racecourse, a bawdy-house, a tavern; one of the three.

Then he thinks, inconsequentially, about taking off his shoes and wading into the lake. He has a sudden memory of dabbling in the creek at the back of the property, as a young boy, in the company of his nursemaid – one of the young millhands turned servant, as were most of their maids then – and getting himself dirty, and being scolded by his mother, and the nursemaid too, for allowing it.

What was her name? Alice? Or was that later, when he was already at school, and in long trousers, and had gone up to the attic on one of his furtive escapades, and had been caught by the girl in her room? White-handed, as it were – he’d been fondling one of her shifts. She’d been angry with him, but couldn’t express her anger, of course, as she’d wanted to keep her position; so she’d done the womanly thing, and burst into tears. He’d put his arms around her to console her, and they’d ended by kissing. Her cap had fallen off, and her hair came tumbling down; long dark-blonde hair, voluptuous, none too clean, smelling of curdled milk. Her hands were red, as she’d been hulling strawberries; and her mouth tasted of them.

There were red smears afterwards, on his shirt, from where she’d started to undo his buttons; but it was the first time he’d ever kissed a woman, and he’d been embarrassed, and then alarmed, and hadn’t known what to do next. Probably she’d laughed at him.

What a raw boy he’d been then; what a simpleton…”

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