One Year Later
Arthur and Duncan paced the floor of the library as Eliza’s screams of agony reverberated throughout the house. “What is taking so long? I cannot stand it a moment longer,” Arthur declared, beside himself with worry. They had just returned from turning the last of his father’s hired men from the ledgers over to the magistrate to find Eliza had gone into labor with their first child.
“Imagine how she feels,” Duncan retorted just as nervous as his friend.
“That is the problem,” Arthur snapped. He had never felt so helpless in his entire life, and he had been through some terrible situations, but none compared to hearing the woman he loved in such pain.
He had immediately sent to the village to notify the Cole family. Emma Fielding, who had been staying with them over the last week, was upstairs with Eliza. The two had become like sisters and spent as much time as they could together. The doctor had been sent for but had not yet arrived. “Dr. Burns should never have returned to Scotland,” Arthur bemoaned. “We could have used another doctor in the village.”
“The good doctor would not have surrendered Scotland for all the gold in the King’s treasury,” Duncan replied. “I know. I tried to pay him to stay.”
Arthur chuckled. “Good man. If only you had been successful.”
The maids rushed up and down the stairs carrying pitchers of hot water and clean cloths. They could hear Eliza’s moans as Mrs. Philips instructed her to push and then the screaming would start all over again. Arthur drove his fist into the wall of the library. He felt as if he would be driven mad as the cries of his beloved ripped through his soul. The doctor came barreling through the front door and raced up the stairs following the sounds of childbirth.
When Arthur thought he could not take it anymore, the screaming suddenly stopped. Silence descended upon the house, and for a brief moment, he felt his heart stop in terror. Then the quiet was broken by the shrill cries of the newly born. Arthur’s lungs emptied in a rush of relief as his heart beat once more.
Duncan came over and enveloped him in a congratulatory hug, beating him about the back in joyous celebration. “Well done, my dear fellow!”
The crying stopped, and Arthur took the steps two by two. He passed Emma on the stairs and looked back to ask a question only to find she had been swept up into Duncan’s arms. He grinned as his friend leaned down to kiss her. “Well done, my dear fellow,” he echoed his Duncan’s sentiment. “Well done.”
Arthur turned and continued on to the bedchamber he shared with his wife. As he entered, he found her sitting up with their newborn baby at her breast. A soft downy crown of blonde hair poked out from beneath the blankets, as a tiny little pink fist rested on her chest. The sweetest of suckling sounds filled the air, and he breathed a sigh of relief once more.
Eliza greeted him with a tired, but contented smile. “Come and meet your son.” Arthur approached the tiny bundle in her arms in awed reverence. He could hardly believe that he had had a hand in producing something so small and precious. His heart felt as if it would burst from the myriad of emotions he was feeling.
Arthur carefully sat down upon the bed next to his wife and wrapped his arms around the pair of them. He traced the crown of fluff along his son’s forehead and smiled as he wrinkled his face. “Does that tickle, little one?” he chuckled. “What shall we call him?” Arthur asked Eliza, unable to look away from the precious face before him.
“I was hoping maybe we could name him after my father, Daniel,” Eliza answered.
“Daniel is a good name. I like it. How would you feel about making Duncan and Emma his godparents?” Arthur asked. “I just witnessed them kissing in the hall.”
Eliza grinned. “I cannot think of a more fitting couple than they.”
“Daniel Duncan John Huntley,” Arthur murmured.
“That is a lot of names for a little boy,” Eliza laughed.
“Yes, it is, but one day that little boy will grow up to be a man, and I want him to be reminded daily of what makes a truly good man. I want him to know he is more than his grandfather’s legacy, that he is the legacy of many good and better men than my father ever was. Men such as Daniel Bolton, Duncan Colborne, and John Cole,” Arthur explained.
“Then there is a name missing that he must have,” Eliza replied.
“What is that?”
“Yours,” she answered. “For you are the best man I know.” Tears sprang to Arthur’s eyes as he kissed his wife. When their lips parted, Eliza leaned down and whispered in their son’s ear. “Say hello to your Papa little one… our little Daniel Arthur Duncan John Huntley.”
Ah, before you go...
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