All the pews were filled with women and older men. Younger men stood at the back of the church and around the outside walls. Once Mrs. Douglas and Willie came in the church door, some of the older men got up to give them their seats. Daphne was following the Douglases, and as she came to my side, I adroitly took her arm, turned her around and proceeded out the church door. I looked over my shoulder in time to see Mrs. Douglas give us a very grim look.
Once outside I ushered Daphne up the street at a leisurely pace. She took my right arm, and with my left hand, I enclosed her hand where she gripped my arm. We didn’t look at each other, but just enjoyed the love that seemed to flow like a gentle current of electricity between us. After about a block of slow meandering, I stopped and we turned, smiling toward each other.
I asked, “How have you been?”
Her smile widened and she softly uttered, “I have fully recovered.” She brushed back hair that covered her forehead and the lump that had resulted from the runaway carriage was gone.
I smiled and said, “Thank Heavens for that.”
She gave me a grateful pat on my arm and then, taking on a frightened look, she declared, “Apparently, you haven’t been idly biding your time in the interim since we last set eyes on each other.”
I gave her a bewildered look and then realized she meant the run-in with the Yankee cavalry at the bridge and in town. I turned bright red and confessed, “I did have some problems with some Union cavalry.”
“Problems?” she questioned. “I believe it was more than problems. If I heard correctly, you exposed yourself in the middle of German Street and had a shootout with three Yankee troopers.”
“That isn’t what happened,” I quickly rebutted. “I had the help of eight townspeople, who assembled and participated in the termination of the Yankee menace.”
She fixed me with a disapproving stare and, in a low voice through clinched teeth, interrogated, “You were the only one in the middle of the road, were you not?”
“Where did you get such a talent for questioning? You sound like a prosecutor or a judge,” I rejoined with a half-hearted smile on my face.
“Jim Hager, don’t try to change the subject,” she rejoined, and then burst into tears.
“Oh, Daphne, please don’t cry,” I pleaded. “I can’t stand it when you cry.”
Just then someone shouted my name. We turned and saw a person on the church steps motioning for us to come back.