Aphrodisia and Melatiah fell into a swoon of love. Minutes melted into hours, which flew into days, and, ultimately, years. Slowly, Aphrodisia earned back Melatiah's trust. She had deserved it. Melatiah loved her, and decided that she should be forgiven. He knew he wouldn't regret it. He was sure he wouldn't be able to wait any longer to become Aphrodisia's husband.
Kneeling down on one knee, he gazed into the glowing eyes of his beautiful wife.
"My word, Melatiah! What are you doing?" But Aphrodisia already knew the answer. She giggled with joy and jumped happily at the thought of being the wife of Melatiah. Over the last five years, she had watched him buy slaves stitched together with the strings of sadness, and set them free -- for the hope that they escape to a happy life. She watched him put his heart into each slave -- to give them something, anything to hold onto in their hard lives. Something to keep them stable. And he listened to the story of each slave, providing them with a warm cooked meal he had made with Aphrodisia to shovel into their hungry bellies. After the stories and large meal, the slaves were set free.
As she excepted the ring, Aphrodisia realized that the killing of Emilie had made him stronger. He craved the good and resented the evil. Aphrodisia lived with the comfort that she did not do everything wrong in her life. Melatiah and his family had brought her the most happiness she could ever expect in her abandoned, stone-cold life. She was just humbled and overjoyed to become a part of the Laurier-Beaumont-DeCuir family. She started crying.
"Are you alright, my sweet?" Melatiah was concerned.
Aphrodisia nodded. "I'm just so happy to be your wife. You don't understand how happy."
EARLY SPRING, 1757
DETROIT (Beaumont House)
The old Felicity Beaumont sat on the edge of an ancient bed. Felicity had led an ancient life, as it was shown in the gray that streaked her hair and the wrinkles of joy around her mouth and in the memories in her sparkling eyes. She had seen the ups and downs of her own life, but fought through them and preferred to look at the joys as more valuable then the hardships. She had known both life and death, and was now spending the last of her days in her mother and father's room on their bedside.
Felicity pulled out a diary of her own and looked back on her earliest days.
"Ah... Dear old Emilie had gone through her rebellious phase. She wouldn't listen to anyone but that Bernard. How she did love him. I never did see the big deal between braids and a bun, but, to Emilie, it seemed to make all the difference." Felicity sighed. She flipped forward.
"When Mother died, we were all heartbroken. No one knew she was dying until she was already deceased. We couldn't bear it without her. She had carried so much love for us. We just weren't used to having it all gone." Felicity turned to another page.
"Oh, this was when the DeCuir family decided to move to Charles Town. Emilie wanted Hettie and me to inherit the house. I'm so glad we did. This house has been a garden of memories -- the good and the bad. How I do wonder whatever happened to those DeCuirs. Emilie promised to write... but she never did."
Felicity was deep in thought when she heard a soft knocking on the door. "Come in, dear."
"Aunt Felicity, would you like me to bring up your morning tea?"
"Oh, yes. That would be splendid. Thank you, Abigail." Felicity turned back to her diary. Abigail turned to leave. "Oh, wait! Abigail, would you do me a favor and spend some time in the graveyard today with your sister? I think it would be nice for you two to get out and have some fresh air. Hettie would be so proud of you darling girls. She would have loved to see her pretty daughters grow up into strong women like I have seen."
Abigail nodded. "Of course, Aunt Felicity. We'll go out shortly. Is there anything else?"
Felicity gazed at her niece. "Have I ever told you how much you look like my mother? Your grandmother?"
"Uh, no, you haven't, Aunt Felicity." Abigail lied. Though Felicity was no doubt sharp-witted and wise, her memory was not as strong as it had once been.
"Well, don't let me hold you up from your daily duties. Go along now," Felicity said fondly. Abigail turned away quietly. She walked to the kitchen, calling for Claudette.
"Claudette? Claudette? Aunt Felicity would like us to visit the graveyard today. Hello, Claudette?" Abigail heard no answer. Frowning, she spotted a dirty dish on the table. "Claud-ette! Why do I always have to be the one cleaning up around here? If you use a dish -- goodness -- clean it up!"
"Well you certainly do not need to yell. Heaven forbid disturb Aunt Felicity..." Claudette came into view.
Abigail glared at her younger sister. "Stop, Claudette. She wants us to go to the graveyard and sit awhile. And I've got to give her fresh morning tea."
Claudette yawned. "Goodness, that woman lives on tea. Is that the only thing she consumes?"
Gasping, Abigail shook her head. "If you had any respect for our Aunt-"
"Come on, Abigail. Let's just get this graveyard thing over with. It's just like another chore Aunt Felicity orders us to do."
"No, it's not. She cares about us very much. More than you care for her." Bickering and arguing, the sisters strolled out to the yard.
Once they had sat on the bench, the argument vanished, like ice on a hot day. They listened to the buzzing of fat bumblebees, saw the mystic butterflies swirling in the crisp morning air, and felt the sun peek out of the clouds and warm their shoulders. Their fight had vanished -- replaced with nature. Abigail supposed that it was probably nature's job.
It was Claudette who interrupted the nature. "Why do you suppose there are so many flowers over Grandmother's grave?"
It was true. To Abigail, it was strange, especially since there were no other bundles of flowers on the other graves. And it looked like it would be very difficult to plant them all over one grave.
"I... I do not know... That is odd."
"Yes. Extremely. Our family always says that you look a lot like her."
"Who cares if I look a lot like her? I wish everyone would stop saying that all the time! I don't care what she looked like, and I certainly do not care if I look like her. I'm NOT her! In fact, I wish I didn't look like her so I wouldn't have to hear everyone telling ME about her! I could never live up to the person everyone says she was. I can't wait to leave this house and stop hearing everyone tell all those stories about who she was because I am so different from her. Does anyone hear me when I say I'm NOT her? Anyone? Do you hear me, Claudette?"
Claudette looked surprised. "I didn't know you felt that way."
"You, Claudette, you just coast along on everything and you always think everything has something wrong with it. You never actually think about things. You just sit here and complain and complain and complain. Don't you ever wonder? Don't you ever wonder if we have cousins living in Charles Town like Aunt Felicity says there might be? Don't you ever wonder if we'll ever get to leave this old house? Do you?"
"Well, Claudette, I do. I think about these things because I have nothing else to think about. I sit here and do chores for Aunt Felicity and I do her cleaning and cooking and I listen to her like a slave. What else am I supposed to do? Yell at our Aunt? Scream? Leave her alone without anyone to care for her? You certainly wouldn't do anything like cleaning or cooking. You'd complain.
"Maybe I'm being selfish, difficult, or unreasonable. But I just know that all my life I've been told about someone better and bigger and smarter. And to be told I look just like her is an insult to me, because I can't compare to her. I'm sorry I yelled at you. I just know that when Aunt Felicity passes away I will move far away. And I won't have to worry about Grandmother again because no one will know me and no one will have known her."
The sisters were silent for some time. They did not look at each other or acknowledge the other's presence. The sisters just rested on an old bench that had always been in that spot. For a while, at least.
After quite a while, when morning had run into noon, Abigail left the bench. Mumbling to Claudette, she said, "I forgot to give Aunt Felicity her morning tea."
*The Antique Legacy*