A NOVEL OF TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
I turned abruptly and positioned myself directly in front of Ahab. It flabbergasted him that I had out-maneuvered him.
He shifted as best he could to get behind us again, and when he turned to go around me, I reached down and took Daphne’s hand and squeezed it. I glanced at her, and even in the semi-dark, I could see that she smiled.
I let her hand go and looked into her eyes. She must have seen the passion and the promise of romance that she had awakened in me. Her smile suddenly melted and turned in an instant to a look of acceptance, hope and desire.
I felt my legs almost turn to jelly. That this beautiful woman-child responded to me in such a way filled me with astonishment and a little fear.
We both quickly recovered and began the return trip to the house, although we walked a little closer together. Ahab trooped along behind us. If he were any judge of human nature, he could sense there was a change in the atmosphere.
Daphne suddenly produced her fan and created a rather furious current of air, hopefully, to sooth her ardor. Mine was just beginning to wane.
I cleared my throat and asked, “Do you have an occasion to visit Shepherdstown?”
She turned to me and smiled, “Yes, as a matter of fact I do. Our family has visited my aunt a few times in the last few years. She is getting on in years and we drop in to see if we can help. She is attended by her widowed daughter and a servant.”
“If I may inquire, what are their names? I responded.
“Mrs. Mumma is my aunt’s name, and Mrs. Douglas is my cousin’s name.”
The latter name piqued my interest. “Was your cousin’s husband kin to Henry Kyd Douglas?” I gently solicited.
“Why, yes.” She returned. “Her husband was a younger brother of Henry. He died a year ago in a boating accident near Hagerstown.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I know it must have been a shock to the family,” I replied.
“Yes, it was a tragedy and was a sorrow especially felt by my brother, Tom.”
We had reached the back door of the house. I gallantly put my right hand under her left elbow to guide her up the stairs to the back door, when suddenly I felt a hand of iron grip my right shoulder.
“You don’t touch Miss Daphne,” boomed Ahab in his baritone voice.