Celia, worn, at death’s door, held her newborn daughter Elizabeth who was clean, warm, and sleeping peacefully. She looked at Elliott, who had collapsed in the arm chair next to the bed while Solomon, Orlando, and Camille conferred, while Mary and Catherine Gjaltema scurried about cleaning up the mess Celia had made, while Dunham paced without, holding and comforting little Henry, growling dire warnings to everyone involved forbidding them to let Jack die.
Elliott was worn, exhausted, his face tight and haggard, his head now flopped back on the chair, his red eyes closed. Never mind it was five degrees without, he was drenched in sweat from having sat behind Celia through the entire delivery, played with her hair, sopped her face, fed her ice and sugared snow for hours, and kept her face cool in the room with the blazing fire.
“Elliott,” she croaked, her voice hoarse from screaming. No, thirty-nine lashes from her father’s cat hadn’t taken a peep out of her, but what God had done in making woman suffer for Eve’s sin was worthy of screamed curses.
He raised his head slowly. When his eyes focused on hers, she said, “We leave for Ohio when the forsythia buds. Make ready.”
He sucked in a deep breath, sat up slowly, took her hand in his, and kissed it. “’Tis only a few weeks, Madam. Are you certain of this?”
Her eyes stung, but now not because she was in pain. It was also painful to speak, but she had so much to say.
“Elliott,” she croaked, a tear streaking down her cheek, “take me home. Please.”