Daphne entered the room holding the clothes that I had been wearing when she absconded with me from Harpers Ferry. She brought them to me and laid them on the bed for me to begin dressing. I couldn’t help but smell the fresh washed aroma that emanated from them. Something came to mind immediately that I hadn’t contemplated previously. I was now swathed in bedclothes. Who had undressed me and put me in this temporary apparel? I flushed red as a beet and glanced at her with a questioning look.
She must have read my mind, which she was forever accomplishing to my amazement and anxiety, because she let out a deep hearted laugh.
I tentatively asked, “Did ya?”
Between laughter and giggles she answered, “What do ya think?”
I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t think of anything to say. Finally, I was able to radiate some semblance of dignity and return, “Daphne Jane Newcomer, you are a stinker.”
This triggered another round of laughter that caused her to grip her sides and take a seat on the side of my bed. I have to admit that, after a bit, I smiled, chuckled, and finally joined in the hilarity.
With tears running down her face, she was finally able to stammer, “Ya should have seen yar face.” Then she had another round of mirth at my expense.
I laughed too. I could just picture my discomposure. We gradually ceased our merriment just as Ahab and Bessie came into the room to see what all the amusement was about.
We looked at them and began to laugh again. They looked at each other, shrugged and left the room.
I looked down at the black civilian clothes I had been wearing since their purchase in Shepherdstown. I suggested, “I guess ya better vacate tha area so I can get dressed.”
“Nonsense,” she exclaimed, “I have two brothers. I have seen tha male anatomy before, besides ya might have problems with yar balance while dressing.”
Looking at her with a serious expression, I firmly stated, “Ya might have viewed yar brothers without clothes, but ya haven’t …” I stopped without finishing my statement. I just pointed at the bedroom door and commanded, “Get.”
She laughed, and with an amused expression, left the room.
I readily got undressed and put on my drawers. However, it took me a few tries to get on my socks and few more tries to don my trousers which, thank heavens, already had the bracers attached. I was sweating by the time I got on my shirt. Daphne must have been listening at the door, because she entered just as I reached for my boots.
‘I’ll help with those,” she informed me.
Then she proceeded to put a boot on my left foot and helped me to pull it up as far as it would go. Next, she acted as a crutch, so I could stand up and stomp my foot into the leather sheath. While I was still standing, she draped a boot over my right foot, and I was able to seat it in the buckskin scabbard.
I was somewhat light headed, but was feeling better due to the exercise.
Even though I had bracers, I ran a black leather belt through the belt loops I had sown on my trousers during one of our many nights in camp. Then I jammed my Navy Colts in the belt, and with Daphne’s help, slipped into my black coat. Lastly, I donned my black wide-brim hat.
I turned to Daphne and said, “I want to thank ya from tha bottom of my heart for taking care of me, for washing my clothes, for feeding me, and most of all, for loving me.”
I opened my arms, and she glided expertly into my embrace. We remained in that position for a few moments. Then we unclenched and kissed. We broke contact just as Uncle Jamison entered the room.
With an excited and cheerful tone, he blustered, “I understand that y’all are leaving for Harpers Ferry.”
We both nodded.
Turning to Daphne, he lied, “Well, I am glad that ya chose my home for tha recuperation of Lieutenant Hager.”
Turning to me, he further lied, “I wish ya all tha best in tha defense of our country, Lieutenant.”
I nodded and said, “Thank ya for allowing me to use yar home for tha healing of my wound, sir.”
I didn’t offer my hand, but simply gave a short bow and walked out to the stables with Daphne close behind.