Taking my life in my hands, I admitted, “I went to Martinsburg to see about a place to house the spy we captured, and I ended up repulsing a Yankee patrol just north of here.”
Daphne’s eyes widened, and she seemed to have trouble comprehending what I had said. She stared at me for a moment, took a gulp and said, in a bewildered voice, “How did one lead to tha other?”
I offered, “Since it is a long story, and it is so late, why don’t we wait until tomorrow for me to explain?”
She gave me a knowing look and said, “And let ya come up with an outlandish story? Not on yar life, Jim Hager! Y’ar gonna come clean tonight!”
She grabbed me by the hand and hauled me into the left parlor. I thought that I would be given the Third Degree in private, but I wasn’t that lucky. Every person who had to endure her worry-wart ways over the last ten hours considered it their just compensation to have an explanation of what I had been up to; plus, if there was to be retribution carried out against me, they wanted to witness that, too.
Over the next hour, I was subjected to an interrogation that would have made Perry Mason proud. When she had extracted every detail of the day’s event, she looked at the collected audience and declared, “Do ya see what I have to contend with?”
Many muttered affirmative sounds came from what, for all practical purposes, was a jury impaneled to render a verdict of guilty that my actions had caused her excessive worry.
Finally, I had enough and abruptly stood up. All members of the ad hoc jury cringed when they saw my facial expression. I said in a very clear and distinct voice through gritted teeth, “I’m going to bed.”
Then I stormed out of the room.
As I climbed the stairs to our temporary bedroom, I heard Daphne enter the hallway and head up the stairs as fast as her 19th century accoutrements would allow, calling, “Wait on me Jim. Wait on me.”
I disregarded her voice and, once I had gotten to the second floor, went immediately to our room and shut the door.
She burst into the room a moment later and cried, “I was scared to death. I thought ya might have been killed. I’m sorry, but ya have been shot, hacked with a saber, and lord knows what else, while we were courting and since we been married. I’ve had to nurse ya back to health both times and it tears me up to see ya near death’s door. I died a little each time that ya have been hurt. Now we got a baby on the way, and I wonder if she will ever get to see her papa.”
You could have hit me with a sledgehammer and I don’t think I would have been anymore stunned. My jaw dropped open, and I gaped at her like a goofy goat.
She put her face in her hands and started crying into the phantom handkerchief which had suddenly appeared in her hands.
I stumbled toward her and took her in my arms.
She grasped me desperately and sobbed into my chest while I stroked her back and said, “There, there, liebschen. I’m not gonna get killed.”
Slowly I took her by the shoulders and moved her back so I held her at arms’ length, I asked with a big grin on my face, “We’re gonna have a baby?”
She smiled through the tears and said, “Uh Huh.”
I looked at the ceiling and shouted, “I’m gonna be a father.”
Daphne laughed despite herself and said, “Yeah, ya are.”
I pulled Daphne to me, picked her up and danced around the room with her in my grasp, yelling, “Wahoo! Wahoo!”
Daphne began to laugh, and we finally fell onto the bed.
I looked down at her and said, “I am so sorry that I have been so unthinking about what ya have had to deal with, in regards to my having been the subject of so much violence. I promise that I’ll do everything I can to stay out of harm’s way.”
She pulled me down to her and kissed me so passionately that I thought I was going to pass out from the loss of oxygen.
When we broke from the kiss, I suddenly asked, “How long have ya known?
She laughed and said, “Today was the first time that I was really sure.”
Then I got a puzzled look on my face and asked, “Ya said SHE while ago. How did ya know it’s gonna be a girl?”
Daphne took my face in her hands and said, “A mother just knows those things, ya big lug.”