I woke the next morning and didn’t move, but just looked at the vision of loveliness cuddled up next to me. A strain of long black hair lay across her cheek and obscured her face, so I gently reached up and pushed it off her cheek, trapping it behind her ear. With that accomplished, I had an unobstructed view of her beautiful face. For a few moments, I studied her features and tried to memorize every facet of her countenance.
After a while, she stirred and moved to where she could drape her arm across my chest. In a sleepy voice she said, “Are ya awake?’
I put my arms around her, pulled her closer to me and answered, “Yep.”
She raised her head and looked at me with one eye closed. Then she declared, “I’m starving. Ya want some breakfast?”
I laughed and replied, “Always.”
She yawned and said, “Well, I guess we better get up.”
We leisurely got dressed and went downstairs to the right parlor, which is where breakfast is usually served. I pulled the doors open and was astounded when a crowd of people began clapping. I turned to Daphne and she began to laugh.
Almost on cue, the whole herd of people said, “Congratulations!”
I gave Daphne a bewildered look and asked, “Did ya tell ‘em?”
Enjoying my comical expression, she teasingly said, “Of course not.”
I stammered, “Well, how did they know?”
She put her right index finger to her chin and looked at the ceiling as if contemplating a most important question and said, “I wonder?” Then, acting as if the answer popped in her head, she snapped her fingers, looked at me and laughingly said, “It must have been the boisterous exclamations that emanated from our room last night.”
Everyone had been watching and listening to us. When Daphne answered my question, the whole room began to laugh. I got a sheepish grin on my face, turned a bright scarlet, and after a moment, joined in the laughter.
Then everyone came forward to shake our hands. There were John Lee, Anna, Ezra and the ladies that waited on Mrs. Douglas, Willie and Daphne. Apparently the word had gone out late last night, or early this morning, because Jonah and Jeremy Sage and their father were in attendance. Even Major Mosby and Sergeant Kirkland had come to bestow congratulations. And last but not least, Al Madigan accompanied by Hattie Gray came forward to wish us well.
When everyone had congratulated us, Mrs. Douglas came to us. She hugged Daphne and tearfully said, “Y’all stay here as long as ya like. It’ll be wonderful to have the patter of little feet in this house again.”
Daphne produced her phantom hanky and began to cry. Then she said, “Ya been like a mama to me. I love ya so much.”
That really got to Mrs. Douglas and she began to cry also.
I just stood there, like a bump on a log, not knowing what to do.
Major Mosby came to my rescue and stated out loud, “It would be a sin to let all these vittles get too cold. How about someone asking the prayer and let’s eat?”
For the first time I looked at the dining room table, it was laden with a huge amount of eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, and ham steaks.
Daphne reached out and grabbed my hand. She motioned for me to continue the gesture. I did so and each person grasped the hand of the person next to them until we had a completed chain of fellowship.
Mrs. Douglas looked at Major Mosby and asked, “Sir, would you return thanks for us?”
He nodded and said, “I’d be glad to.”
We all bowed our heads and Mosby prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of life and for the new life that we celebrate today. Please bless this food so lovingly prepared and freely given. Also please bless the families represented here and give them traveling mercies as they make their way back home. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen”
All of us repeated, “Amen.”
Then Willie Douglas added, “Bless the Lord and Holy Ghost and bless the one that eats the most. Amen”
This brought an abundance of laughter and a reprimand from Mrs. Douglas.
Then we lit into the vittles like a bunch of starving wolves.