Civil War Transcendence, part 356

As we rode around the block to the hotel, I leaned close to Daphne’s ear and whispered, “That money that ya have in tha trust is yars.  Just because we got married doesn’t entitle me to it, no matter what tha Virginia dowry laws say.”

She looked up at me and said, “If ya say so.”  Then she kissed me full on the lips and didn’t care what the passing populace of Harpers Ferry thought about it.

After we unclenched, she nestled in my arms, but it didn’t last long before we were in front of the hotel and had to vacate the carriage. I waved at John Lee as Daphne and I bounded up the stairs to the hotel front porch and entered the lobby.

As she headed up the stairs, she notified me, “I have to change into my dress for tha gathering in tha hotel dining room. Could ya see if tha musicians have arrived, and if so, get ‘em to start playing?”

That we were having musicians at this get together was another jolt to my nervous system. I nodded like the village idiot as she hurried up the stairs and thought, “When did she have time to do all this elaborate planning? I know she already had a lot of tha wedding paraphernalia, but still this took a lot of work.”

It was made clearer when I entered the hotel dining room and found Daphne’s aunt, Mrs. Douglas and my rescuer, Hattie Gray busily distributing food to the tables that lined the dining room walls.  Apparently, Mrs. Douglas had already taken charge of the celebration, because the musicians had already begun to play. I took a moment to observe the instrumentalists. There were a banjo player, a guitar picker, a fiddler and a pianist. Where the ladies had procured the piano was a mystery to me, because it had never graced any of the rooms of this hotel.

I yelled, “Ladies!”

My outburst startled both women, but once they turned to see who had been so boisterous, they broke out in big grins.  Hattie quickly placed a plate of cookies on a table and rushed to greet me. We hugged and I asked, “When did y’all get here?”

Mrs. Douglas also approached me, but she just presented her hand, and we followed the social etiquette of the day by formally shaking hands. Hattie blushed and extricated herself from the hug and backed up to put a space between us.

“We just got here ‘bout half an hour ago. We’s too late for tha wedding, but thought we would help out at tha celebration,” Hattie explained.

Looking around the hotel dining room, I remarked, “Looks like y’all are doing an excellent job.” Then I probed, “How’d y’all get here?”

“Mr. Throckmorton gave us tha use of his carriage,” Hattie answered.

“Really?” I answered.

Just then a gaggle of guests began to arrive, and I was thrust to the entrance of the dining room to shake hands and receive laudatory expressions for marrying the most beautiful woman in the region. I was blushing from ear to ear and trying to give evasive answers to the numerous questions about the abruptness of the wedding and where Mr. and Mrs. Newcomer were.

Finally, I heard applause from the lobby and deduced that Daphne had come down the stairs in her celebration dress. I had been awed by the beauty of her white wedding gown at the church, but when she entered the dining room to take her place beside me, I was struck dumb.

She had parted her hair at the crown of her head and combed it so that it fell straight down to the top of her shoulders, emphasizing her perfect face.  Since she was never one for excess makeup, she had deftly applied a very light blush to her cheeks and had slightly reddened her lips.  Her bare neck was adorned with a necklace of emeralds that highlighted her deep green silk dress. The top of the dress covered her shoulders and continued downward into full length sleeves. However, from the insides of the sleeves the dress plunged downward and then straight across a top of her chest revealing a hint of cleavage.

She saw the effect she had on me and smiled coyly at my imbecilic gaze. To keep the crowd moving, which had stopped to gaze at her, and to bring me back to a coherency, she took her place next to me and extended her hand to a person in line.

“Thank you so much for coming. Jim and I really appreciate it,” she gushed.

The crowd kept coming in the door for what seemed like an hour, and I swear that a few men went through the line more than once just to view her somewhat revealing dress.  However, she paid then no attention. Periodically, she would glance slyly at me and smile.  More than once I had to take a few deep breaths to keep control.

356 virginia reel

Finally, everyone had been greeted, food had been consumed, and drink had been distributed.  The musicians suddenly stopped and made the announcement to grab a partner. Everyone rushed to take Daphne’s hand, but I said, “She’s my partner for dancing tonight boys.”  As the honored couple, we took the floor, and remembering the 19th century dances from my reenacting days, we began the celebration with a Virginia Reel.

The night’s celebration continued with dancing, a toast by Tom Newcomer, who gave his regrets that his parents couldn’t attend due to a family emergency, and the continued flow of town folk expressing wishes for our happiness.

Toward the end of the evening, we were awarded with the appearance of Caleb and Joshua Throckmorton, along with their mother, the sister-in-law of Mr. Throckmorton, who was the banker in Shepherdstown, Virginia.  We had a great reunion with a lot of wild and exaggerated stories being told of our confrontations with the Gill gang. All the hyped tales got me to thinking about the highwayman that I had asked Colonel Daniels to recover from the Newcomer barn.

When the crowd began to thin down, I pulled Caleb aside and asked, “How did ya know about tha wedding? We only planned it this morning.”

“Uncle Elias Throckmorton sent a rider to tell us about it and said we needed to attend. The rider told me to tell ya that Uncle Elias apologized for now being here, but to give ya his congratulations,” Caleb commented.

I smiled, nodded my approval and remarked, “That was very nice of him. Daphne and I really appreciate it.”

Finally, we informed what was left of the celebratory gathering that we were retiring for the night, and after more handshakes and well wishes, we climbed the stairs to our rooms.


About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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