They stand together in the Dutch interior of my mind the late afternoon shadows gloving their faces. The musty smell of old books fills the study and the worn curtains stir at the open window. Now his beard catches a shadow filters it softly down her hair. She lifts her head and smiles at him. Tall and lean, his feet shifting slightly, at last he dares. His words begin their maiden voyage moving quaintly into light to touch my 17th-century ears: "I'd like to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage."

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