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There's Nothing Preposterous About It

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"I was remonstrating with Major Ross about his dealings with that young woman and he..." announced Governor Phillip as he busied himself with his napkin.

"Yes?" prompted Deborah, noticing that he seemed to falter.

"Well... Well, he accused me of having an affair," he finished hurriedly.

"With whom?" inquired Deborah although she had already guessed.

"You," he said with a pointed look.

"Oh," Deborah's heart fluttered and not for the first time in relation to the topic. "What did you say?"

"Well I'm not sure I said anything. It took the wind out of my sails..." he answered.

There was a long pause in which they both became pensive.

"It was a revelation actually," he finally commented.

Deborah's heart actually skipped a beat this time.

"Yes?" she inquired with masked hopefulness.

"Yes...your behaviour the other night. You had obviously heard something and... as preposterous as the idea is, it has certainly affected you."

"It has not," she replied quickly. Not in the way you suppose...

"Oh it has, I know it has," he countered and their eyes met in a meaningful look.

"We need to nip this in the bud. I do not want your husband to return and have to-"

"No need," she cut in. Her husband had left her in this godforsaken place.

"...listen to nonsense such as this," he said completing his statement.

"No need. There's no need for that," she repeated avoiding his gaze. "I'm sure he will think it preposterous too."

Later that night...

"I do not think it so preposterous," said Deborah quietly, scared of her own boldness.

"What did you say?" asked the Governor.

"I said," repeated Deborah louder. "I do not think it so preposterous."

"Think what is preposterous?" asked Arthur Phillip, although he fully understood.

"You and I," she clarified, her cheeks reddening.

There was a long pause in which they simply stared at one another. For the second time that day, Governor Phillip was not sure how to answer.

"I..." he faltered. "I do not think it preposterous from my side, but yours..."

"Please do not say that," returned Deborah at once.

"You are married," he replied. "...and so am I."

"And we are here, in this awful place, together with neither of them," declared Deborah passionately. "You are an honourable man and I respect you for it but why should we be plagued with guilt and accusations for no reason?"

The sudden outburst took Governor Phillip by even more surprise and he remained speechless.

"Will you not speak?" asked his housekeeper after a few minutes had elapsed.

"I am in shock," managed the Governor.

"You should not be," said Deborah. "I think it only natural on both our parts that we should grow fond of one another given the circumstances."

"Of course I am fond of you," said Arthur treading carefully. "But we should not be any more than what we already are."

"How can you encourage the love of two convicts and not the love of a woman for yourself?" asked Deborah.

"The convicts are not like us," said the Governor. "They are sinners, uncivilised. We are not."

"Why do you care about sinning?" questioned Deborah emotionally. "When we are already in hell!"

At this she suddenly slumped to the ground and began to weep bitterly.

An extended period of time passed in which the only noise were her quiet sobs until the sound of footsteps on the wooden floor met her ears and Governor Phillip was kneeling in front her.

"I do not believe we are in hell," he said touching her arm gently. "For there are no angels in hell."

Deborah looked up suddenly, her eyes blurry with tears. The Governor's blue eyes stared back intensely. He raised her up to his level and took her in his arms. Deborah could barely believe it. If someone had told her a week ago that she would willingly be in this position she never would have believed them yet here she was.

"Do not cry," said Governor Phillip wiping her tears away and offering his handkerchief.

"I will not need to anymore..." she managed to say breathlessly. It was almost a question; did this mean what she though it meant?

Arthur Phillip gently tilted her head upwards to face him. Deborah looked searchingly in his eyes and found not only the reflected firelight but something more. Slowly, agonisingly, they leant towards one another. Neither sure of the morality of what they were about to do but both sure of their resolve to do it. Finally, their lips met in an extensively belated first kiss and all at once the idea of hell was far from Deborah's thoughts.