Daphne rushed into my arms, and we held each other for a long time. As usual, I had to disentangle myself from my beloved to be able to breathe properly, because she nearly crushes my ribs when we hug.
However, during the time we were clinging to each other, I experienced the most rapturous feelings of love and belonging. Here I was, with the most beautiful wife in the world, in our first home and starting our life together. It was pure ecstasy.
Once I got my breath back, we walked hand in hand through the cottage. It was a four room structure. The front door opened into a living room with a cozy fireplace on the right side of the room along an outside wall. A door on the left side of the living room led to a bedroom where the crib was located. The back of the living room expanded into a small dining room that had a door way to the left that led to a very small kitchen. A door off the kitchen opened to the very small backyard with a path to the outhouse. The total square footage was about 500. The rooms were painted white except for the bedroom, which was painted a robin’s egg blue like the front door.
We both reveled in the fact that this was to be our home, and in our eyes it was the equivalent of the Taj Mahal. After looking the place over, Daphne immediately began surveying the house for what furniture was needed and where it would go. I just enjoyed watching her excitement in her analytical furniture considerations.
I finally had to say, “Darling, I believe I need ya to get back to Ferry Hill. I’m gonna walk to tha school house and see how it has weathered since we quit having classes.”
She let out a sigh and admitted, “I guess yar right. Besides, Cousin Mary will want to help me gather the correct furniture for our home.”
I must have had a shocked expression on my face because Daphne came to me and said, “What’s wrong?”
I responded, “That’s the first time that I knew what Mrs. Douglas’ first name was.”
“Oh! Well, now ya know,” Daphne exclaimed.
I took her by the hand and we sashayed out the door to the carriage that John Lee had parked and so patiently waited, which allowed us to enjoy the cottage.
John Lee grinned and for the first time allowed himself to really be affable, when he observed, “Ya know, y’all look like a couple of chillren that just had their first dance together.”
We both laughed heartily and I said, “John Lee, ya hit tha nail on tha head.”
I continued, “Please take Daphne back to Ferry Hill. I’m gonna check out tha school house, and I’ll walk back when I’m through.”
He nodded and turned his back to allow Daphne and me to kiss. I helped Daphne in the carriage and said, “See ya later, Liebchen.”
She grinned from ear to ear and returned, “See that ya do.”
John Lee flicked the team’s reins and off they went.
I turned and walked the two blocks to my old schoolhouse. The door was unlocked, and I entered the abode where I had spent some of the most rewarding days of my life. I had helped young people to develop mentally, and hopefully, physically and spiritually as well. It seemed that many a day had passed since the Yanks attacked us at Ferry Hill and turned my life with Daphne upside-down. In fact the whole region had been affected.
Letting out a sigh, I pulled out the chair from my desk and saw that it was as dusty, as were all the rest of the insides of the structure. I made a note to bring a bucket, rags, broom and paper, plus pens and ink. I might need some wood also, because I would need a fire during my work.
I walked to the door and turning around longingly, taking a good look at the schoolroom.
Exiting the door, I gently pulled it shut and walked toward the back of the building to see if there was any debris that needed to be cleared. As I neared the back of the structure, I heard a voice say, “He’s back from Harpers Ferry with a brand new wife, Daphne Newcomer no less, and they’re both staying with tha Widow Douglas at Ferry Hill.”
“Should we attack ‘em there?” uttered a second voice.
“No. Those servants would fight us to tha death if’n we tried. Let me think on it. I’ll come up with a plan and let ya know,” said the first voice.
“Alright. See ya later,” said the second voice.
I could hear the two men go their separate ways. Sneaking around to the back of the building, I couldn’t see one of the men because he had already made his way to the front of the schoolhouse and turned so he was hidden by the building. However, I could make out the other man as he walked away from me, across a small lot, toward German Street.
I smiled because he looked awfully familiar.