The Life and Times Of Ralf Wylde
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The Life and Times Of Ralf Wylde Chapter 1

Ralf Wylde was born into the peasant life and thus he has remained for all of his thirty-four years. He's accepting of his lot in life and even considers himself lucky. "It could be worst" he says, "I could have been born a female."
The laws set by those in charge don't make Ralf's life any easier, but they limit women's freedom even more so. Women can not marry without their parents' permission, they can not own a business without special permission, they can not divorce their husbands, they can not own propety of any kind unless they are a widow and they can not inherit property from their parents if they have any surviving brothers.

Ralf lives in a small village called Willow Creek, so named for the beautiful weeping willow trees that stand on the property surrounding the creek. All the homes in the village are two room frame houses where entire families eat, sleep and spend time together. The houses are either too cold or too hot, depending on the season, but they're always dark and damp.

Ralf's family consists of his wife Sarah, their two sons Raulin and Garath and himself. Ralf married Sarah when he was sixteen and she was one year younger. Sarah was rosy-cheeked and full of energy, an even match for her big handsome husband, but every year since their youngest son was born, Sarah's health has declined.

The villagers' daily life is spent trying to grow enough food in their gardens . . .

Or catch enough fish in the creek to survive another day, another week, another month, thus another year.

One summer morning, Ralf ran into his neighbor Anne Fenton. Anne was a large, good natured woman. She was married to Ralf's friend Jonathon. Anne and Jonathon had a daughter Olivia about the same age as his sons.
"Good morning, Ralf" said Anne, "I'm on my way to your house to ask Sarah if she has any clothes that need washing."
"You don't need to concern yourself with that. Me and the lads can do our own wash" said Ralf.
"It's no bother. What's a few more pairs of underdrawers going to matter" she laughed.

Later that day after Ralf had finished his chores, he saw Sarah coming toward him. He still got a catch in his throat when ever he saw her. She had always been beautiful, but even more so now.

"How are you feeling my love?" he asked, while holding her in his arms.
"I was feeling a little better this morning when I first woke up, but not for long" she said, "I believe I'll go back to bed for awhile."

Sarah got into bed and was soon sound asleep. She was getting weaker and weaker every day.

Ralf saw Anne coming in his direction and went to meet her.

"Ralf, can I ask you something?", Anne whispered.
"Yes, we're friends" he said.
"With Sarah being so sick, don't you miss . . . well you know?" she said.
"Sarah is my wife. I promised to be with her until we die" said Ralf.
"Sarah's the one who's sick, not you" said Anne.

"Come on in for a spell. Jonathon won't be home until supper", she said.
"Are you suggesting what I think you are?" asked Ralf.
"Yes, that's what I'm offerering" she answered.

Anne went into the house and Ralf followed her into her and Jonathan's bedroom.
"Come lay down beside me" she told Ralf.

"Are you sure?" he asked, "You know things won't be the same afterwards, don't you?"
"I know and it's alright" she assured him.

"It's been a long time since I . . . well, you know" said Ralf.
"It's been a long time for me too", she said.

"I don't want to wait any longer" said Ralf.
"You don't have to" Anne said.

And he didn't.

Ralf thought about what he had done and was torn between his love for Sarah and his lust for Anne.
Now that the old desires had returned, he would have to struggle everyday with himself to remain faithful, until his beautiful, trusting Sarah was taken away from him forever.

To be continued . . .

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