I looked at Daphne’s two brothers and confessed, “I was on tha Frederick City raid.”
They both looked at me expectantly, and I could see they wanted more information. So, I broke down and added, “We ended up having to put tha
quietus on some Yanks that had followed our units after tha raid, and I got whacked on tha head by a saber during tha ensuing fight. Yar sister took me to yar Uncle Jamison’s house in Martinsburg and nursed me back to health.”
Jonah was the first to ask, “What’s a quay-ay-tus?”
I turned a brighter shade of red, if that was possible, and explained, “It’s a term we use in my old neck of tha woods that means, we put a whipping on ‘em.”
Tom and Jonah nodded that they understood my explanation.
Tom gave me a raised eyebrow look, which meant he wanted more detail of what happened on the raid and the particulars of what happened to me.
I couldn’t think of anything else to say that was unclassified, which caused me to shrug and feign, “Well, that’s about all that happened.”
I glance at Daphne, who still had her fan covering her face from her nose to her chin, but whose eyes were looking at the ceiling with an exaggerated wide-eyed gaze that said, “Boy, that was a big fat lie.”
She sensed my scrutiny and, turning to me, gave me an innocent “What have I done wrong” look.
I gave her a narrow beady-eyed stare, which elicited batted eye-lashes and a bright Southern Belle smile in response.
She had me over a barrel and knew it.
I gave her a “please go along with me” look, which produced an “Okay, if I have to” petulant expression.
All our non-verbal communication took place in a matter of seconds, which Tom observed. However, being a faithful brother-in-law, he didn’t press me for more facts, but said, “Well, we’re certainly glad ya have recovered.”
I smiled broadly and let out a sigh of relief.
At that moment, Anna came to the door of the parlor and announced, “Dinner is served.”
The two Newcomer boys didn’t have to be told twice. They stood up immediately and waited for me to escort Daphne toward the dining room. It had been a long time since they had eaten at their Aunt Mary’s house, but apparently they remember it as being a real treat.
Our company waltzed into the dining room to the aromas that wafted from various covered bowls on a credenza and some open platters on the main table.
We were directed to our chairs by our hostess. I held Daphne’s chair for her to be seated, and Jonah did the same for his Aunt Mary. Once we were all seated, we joined hands, which included Anna and the servant ladies, and Tom gave the blessing. We all voiced, “Amen,” at the conclusion of the prayer and lit into the feast before us.
It was a very happy reunion of the family. I got to hear stories of Daphne when she was a little girl and her first dance, of Tom when he had his first fight with a town boy and got a black eye, and of Jonah’s first pony ride, which ended with a sore rump when he fell off. We all laughed heartily as each episode was replayed to everyone’s delight. In retrospect, I don’t believe I had ever enjoyed a more wonderful time.
When we had completed the meal, a very small glass was place in front of all the family members at the table and given to all the servants. Anna did the honors of decanting wine in each person’s glass. When all the glasses were filled, Mrs. Douglas raised her glass and toasted, “To Daphne and Jim and their new baby.”
She received a shocked look from all those present.
Mrs. Douglas took a small sip of wine and, smiling at our stunned expressions, announced, “I forgot to tell y’all, but I had a visitation from my long departed husband, William, last night and he said y’all will definitely have a baby born this year.”