February 26

t seems that months of diligent patience and the distraction of having to carry my new family from one place to the next over hundreds of miles, (admittedly for the reason I seem to be the only one with sense in this turbulent time), has at length been rewarded. Since we have arrived nearby to the city of Nashville, I have had not a moment's peace between long days spent searching for a suitable residence for the Hegwood's and myself, and seeing that where we currently reside at the Black Horse Tavern provides every sort of comfort required. I do not reproach Mrs. Hegwood for her occasional and often extravagant needs and my having to satisfy them, only I wish them not so frequent in nature.

Today, to our collective joy, Mr. Hegwood was finally able to be removed from his bed and placed in a comfortable chair by an open window. The day was a beautiful mild one, with a gentle breeze completely devoid of the sharp bite I have been so accustomed to. It feels as though we may be very close out of this dark winter, and of that I could not find more pleasure. The good weather and warm sun put all in a generally fine mood, and Mrs. Hegwood was gracious enough to allow me an evening to do with as I pleased, as she would tend to her husband. I took the opportunity to go down into the Tavern with Abigail to enjoy some society, if not limited and at times not entirely desirable. We had stayed some time, taking occasional turns about the room and about the bit of green just around the Tavern before we retired to the small front porch of the building on comfortable chairs to watch the sun dip below the horizon and listen to the few birds brave enough to continue to chirp. Guests of the Inn and Tavern came and went with very little notice from either Abigail or myself, until at one point I found myself pulled from my daydream by a voice dearly familiar to me. I quickly looked to the stairs of the building to see the tall straight back of the Doctor, talking merrily to the Tavern keep. He had made no notice of me, perhaps for the best, as I felt my face flush dreadfully, and immediately my hand went to cover the portrait of his that hung at my breast. Abigail took quick notice, and I saw a knowing and impish smile cross her face. Of course she knew everything, for she has traveled about all over with me these past few weeks, and to fill the time we have talked of nearly everything I have written in these pages. To her credit, she said and did nothing, but gave me enough vexatious sideways glances to put my heart mind in no small amount of stress.

The Doctor went inside carrying a box under his arm, still chatting in such a blithe manner I was almost convinced I had mistaken him for someone else, but there was very little mistaking his carriage and voice, and I knew it to be him, even if he was uncharacteristically energetic. I made no move to follow him, only reaching across to grab Abigail's hand in mine. "My dearest friend," said I, "grant me the strength to get through this evening, for I fear without you I may not!" She patted my hand in a motherly way and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "My dearest Miss Waterman, think of what you have made it through until this point. One accidental, and if I may say fortuitous, meeting with your favorite will certainly not do you in." I quickly hushed her as the Doctor stepped out onto the porch again, seeming to take in and relish the evening. I attempted to act composed and indifferent, rising slowly and as silently as I could to make a retreat into the Tavern, but was betrayed by the rustling of the silk of my garments. The Doctor looked over, unaware it seems he was not alone, and entirely bewildered could but stare for a few silent moments before giving me a hasty bow, which was returned by myself and Abigail. I could just manage to squeak out a "Good evening, Doctor" before being overcome with a dark blush that the diminishing light was so good as to conceal. The salutation was returned and I was invited to follow him inside and enjoy some amusement, his ease returning and cheerful countenance putting me instantly in a more comfortable temperament. He and I played multiple rounds of 'Shut the Box' as well as 'Beggar My Neighbor'. The evening was passed with great levity, and the time was very much neglected by myself, and Abigail as well, though I can be at least partially sure she made a point of ignoring the clock entirely for my benefit.

Towards the end of the evening, the stifling heat of the small room inspired the Doctor and myself to take a turn about the property, enjoying the quiet evening and the lovely stars above, and for my part the entire lack of bitter cold. Even though the sun had sent long ago, the night still carried its gentle warm touch, and small breaths of wind tugged at my hair, and pulled my feather back and forth. I spent the majority of the turn explaining to him my unexpected presence in the area of Nashville, retelling the condition of Mr. Hegwood and our traveling southward to escape the conditions of the north. He said very little during the time, but did assure me my letters and gifts were received. Said he after a pause "I also took notice that my package was delivered safely to you, as well," looking pointedly at the miniature which I still wore. I could produce no suitable response, and smiled awkwardly with a mumbled "Indeed, very safely." We turned our direction back to the Tavern, and I stopped on the pathway, internally debating with the bravery of my tongue. The Doctor, confused, waited patiently before I quietly asked "Would it be too bold of me to admit to you, Doctor, that you were very much missed in your absence?" He was silent as we began to walk again, and said only "Indeed, that is very bold." Nothing more on the subject was said, and we returned to the Tavern having neither gained nor lost any idea of his feelings.

Guests soon started to drift back to their various locations of residence, be it nearby or in the Inn itself, and few people were left. The Doctor played a few more card games with various gentlemen, and I began to grow tired, and made my farewells and gave my thanks to the Keep for his hospitality towards Abigail and I, bid the Doctor farewell, and let him know where he may find the Hegwoods and myself, should he need to, and departed to my room. Abigail watched me the entire time in the mirror as she took down my hair and helped me out of my clothing. I gave nothing away to her, though I knew she wanted nothing more than to know my thoughts of the evening.

I sincerely hope she does not tell Mrs. Hegwood, for the last thing I could possibly tolerate from in the current state of my mind is dear Mrs. Hegwood's prattling on about the interaction, and Mr. Hegwood taxing himself worrying for my heart. I shall, for the moment, keep the entire incident to myself, until of course the Doctor comes to call, as I do hope he will soon.

1 comment:

  1. Such wonderful news, my dearest Emily.

    I was beginning to fear I had lost my friend to the wilds of Tennessee, like some thing too good for this world and reclaimed by the fairies.

    - Miss Liebert

    P.S. Mama sends her love