The Extended Epilogue
“Mildred, will you bring me the wash bin,”
Abigail called to her lady’s maid when she
entered the large suite of the bedroom.
Mildred, who had insisted on taking the trip along with her mistress, did as she was bade before returning to her tasks for the day. First Mildred went about opening the long wall of doors that opened out onto a veranda.
In her mind, Lady Gilchrist did seem a bit pale that morning in bed, and a fresh breeze might do her some good. Before she was even able to push back the sheen curtain of the first set of doors she heard the sound of Abigail being sick in the basin.
Mildred turned to the lady with concern.
“Are you alright, m’lady? Should I send for a doctor?”
“No, thank you,” Abigail said as the wave of nausea finally subsided.
“Let me have someone bring up Lord Gilchrist in the least, ma’am. I don’t believe he has left the house yet,” Mildred said as she went back to letting in some air for her mistress’s sake.
Abigail could already hear the sound of insects singing on the warm breeze that blew in. The sun had scarcely risen and already the day was hot and sticky.
“No, please don’t bother him. I assure you I am fine.”
“Well you don’t seem fine to me,” Mildred said, placing her hands on her hips. “Why on earth would you be trying to empty your already barren stomach if you were fine?”
“Because,” Abigail said, realizing her lady’s maid was much too young to have any idea what was actually happening, “I am not barren.”
She waited for her meaning to sink in with the maid. It did take a few seconds of thinking before Mildred’s face lit up and she squealed with joy.
“Oh, how wonderful, m’lady. Does Lord Gilchrist know? I bet he was just beaming with pride.”
“I haven’t told him yet,” Abigail confessed. “I only realized myself halfway through the voyage. I didn’t want to tell him then. Plus it was easy enough to hide with seasickness.”
Abigail placed a hand on the small round bump at the base of her torso. It was barely there at all really. They had only just settled into their new lodgings on the plantation. She was planning on telling Colton, but just waiting for the right moment.
That moment came two nights later. Colton had finally finished his tour of all the property and buildings on it. They were sitting on the porch drinking a warm spiced wine as the sun was slowly sinking over the fields before them.
“It is quite beautiful here,” Abigail remarked.
“Terribly uncomfortable heat, however,” Colton retorted casually.
“How long do you think we will stay?” Abigail asked slyly.
“Not long at all. I am hoping to organize a boat back to England before the end of summer. We should be home in time for the holidays,” he said looking to her.
“Unless that is not what you want?” Colton questioned, seeing a different look in Abigail’s eyes.
“I do agree, it would be nice to be home for the holidays. I am afraid that we may not be able to leave quite so early though.”
“And why would that be, my love?” Colton asked with affection in his voice.
He would have been happy to stay if Abigail wanted it. He didn’t particularly like the heat or the chafing way his sweat-soaked clothes rubbed against his scarred body, but he would stay as long as his wife wanted.
“I have found myself in a condition that won’t allow for traveling for some time,” Abigail said, looking over her husband’s face.
Mildred might have thought that Colton would be
happy at the news, but Abigail wasn’t entirely in agreement with that assumption.
“A condition?” Colton asked, looking his wife over.
As far as he could tell she looked to be in good health. She had been very sick on the voyage over and because of it lost a significant amount of weight. He wondered if perhaps she wanted more time to recover before stepping back onto a boat.
“I’m going to have a baby, Colton,” Abigail said softly when he didn’t catch her meaning.
Colton sat stunned next to his wife for a few moments. He wasn’t sure he had heard her right. She was going to have a child, his child.
“You’re going to have…we are going to have…here?” Colton managed to stammer out.
“Well yes. Apparently this little one doesn’t have any qualms about heat.”
“I hope you won’t mind terribly,” Abigail added timidly.
“Mind,” Colton said with a hearty laugh before standing to pull his wife into his arms.
“I promise you, I don’t mind at all. In fact, quite the contrary, I couldn’t be more excited.”
He leaned his head down and kissed his wife wholly on the lips. He cared not for the servants who passed by after the day’s work. Let them see. Colton loved this woman with all his heart and he would be damned if he didn’t make sure the whole world knew it.