We climbed into the carriage and entwined arms as the first wedding attendees began pelting us with rice. John Lee flicked the horses’ reins and we were off to the hotel reception.
On the way I looked at Daphne very seriously and said, “I don’t have a farthing with which to pay for any of this. Do ya think tha merchants will allow me to pay it back on a monthly basis?”
Daphne looked at me in shock, which was an unusual emotion for her.
All I could say was, “What?”
For what seemed like twenty minutes, but was probably only twenty seconds, she stared deeply at me. It seemed as if she were recording every movement of my eyes, the rate of my breathing, every twitch of my facial muscles and the pigment of my face. Then in almost disbelief she uttered, “Ya don’t know, do ya?”
“Know what?” I asked in bafflement.
“I have a large trust fund that was bestowed on me when I reached eighteen. It was really given as a dowry of sorts to lure that Charles Town banker, who father and mother liked, to be a suitor. They made tha mistake of legally giving it to me without any limiting provisions. Once I had received it and read tha trust agreement, I summarily withdrew tha sum from tha bank that originally had it and deposited it in another bank of my own choosing. Father has tried to wrestle it back, but to no avail. That has been a bone of contention in our family ever since,” she confessed.
I just stared back at her in astonishment.
She slowly smiled and acknowledged, as if to herself, “And ya never even knew about it, did ya?”
Her eyes filled with tears that spilled down her cheeks. Then out of nowhere the phantom handkerchief appeared to dab at the tiny rivulets. Suddenly, she threw caution to the wind and lunged at me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me fiercely. She cried, “Ya do love me. Ya do love me and not for just my dowry.”
Her abrupt pounce catapulted me back into the seat and crushed the breath from me. I was forced to grab her by the shoulders and gently push her away a few inches so that I could breathe. Once oxygen was again allowed to enter my lungs, I stammered, “Of course, I love ya.”
Then in a more petulant tone, I uttered, “And, no, I didn’t know of any trust fund, dowry or whatever ya call it.”
“Oh Jim, I’m so glad,” she sobbed with her head buried in my chest.
It took a moment for her revelation to sink in. Her account of the trust fund and her action in taking possession of its capital explained a lot of the dissident undercurrent that I sensed in the Newcomer household. It also explained the defiant confrontation between Daphne and her father that spawned her excommunication.
I clutched her close to me and said, “Ya poor darling. I felt there was a deep fissure in your family, but I never realized how deep it was until now.”
I unclasped her arms from around my neck, and taking hold of her shoulders, I gently moved her back from me so I could look into her eyes.
She tried to avert her face and said, “Don’t look at me Jim. I must look a sight.”
“You look beautiful and I want you to look at me,” I pleaded.
Once Daphne had turned to face me, I said, “I really didn’t know that ya held any reservations about my love for ya. I never knew about any wealth that ya had or might have had. I just wanted ya.”
Thank goodness she was “cried out”, as we say down South. She brought the spectral handkerchief to her eyes once more, but she didn’t cry. Then she whispered, “I know that now. I know that ya love me and only me.”
I took her in my arms again and declared, “This wedding was truly a joining of us into a family, but it has also been a deepening of tha love we share.”
Daphne added, “Amen.”