Many times they'd walked this path; enough times that they had observed it thoroughly enough to take the opportunity to study each other. She'd often come on the pretext of talking religion with the Reverend—the reed of a man from who, in reality, she wanted more. He was not old—certainly not past thirty-five—nor was he young—certainly not less than twenty-seven.
She herself was twenty-three, unengaged and uninterested—except when it came to the Reverend. She knew with conviction he felt the same way—and not because of any childish assumptions; his friend had told her upon her prompting for days on end.
For the months she'd known, she'd been longing to ask him the one question that would decide everything, namely her happiness—she already knew the answer, just as she knew what she wanted it to be. And, finally, she asked it.
"Do you practise celibacy?" The Reverend turned to her, stopping in their walk.
"Yes, why do you ask?" She hesitated, debating whether or not to tell him; of course, she would be so relieved, free of the speculations that plagued her ever so often. "I ask because-because…your celibacy is…problematic." She watched the Reverend redden—having clearly understood her implication. "For-for what?" he asked, and she sighed, turning herself to face him entirely, clasping her hands in front of her. "You know the answer," she said shortly. "I want you." The Reverend was very still, trying not to move instinctively. His eyes travelled back and forth, scanning the empty, sun-splotched garden and graveyard beyond for people.
She tilted her head back so she could look up at him, and he bent slightly—the only motion to convey what he wanted. "I don't mean to lead you away from your beliefs, trust me, but does the church require celibacy? Are you happy this way?" He considered for some moments; the church required nothing but belief and reasonable abstinence, it was only thought---albeit, strongly—that officials should be celibate.
"No," he said carefully, failing to address her other question. "No, it is not required." Why the hesitancy? he asked himself; he knew how he felt. "And no, I am not happy this way," he admitted slowly. His next action would have been enough of an answer: putting his arm round her waist, holding her head in his hand, pulling her to him. She responded by leaning into him and placing her hands delicately on his shoulders.
"Will anyone think any less of you now?" she asked, looking up at him.
"If they do, it doesn't matter."