“Diamond Courage,” Part 39

 

Chapter 39

Closer

March,1863

I spent a restless night, and got out of bed to sit in a chair where I would not disturb Andrew and think about what might happen. I hoped the minister’s wife would agree to help us, and that Laurel would be there, of course. The hours crept by as I watched the first appearance of daylight, and I waited anxiously for Andrew to awaken.

He finally awoke two hours later, around eight o’clock. “We’re to have an answer to our dilemma this morning,” I told him. “I would count it a favor if we could eat quickly and then go to the church.”

He sat on the edge of the bed. “I need to bathe, and then I’ll get dressed and we can be on our way.”

“Why did you not bathe last night?” I wanted no delay in finding out if Laurel were in the house.

“I was mightily wearied from our exertions, and fell asleep with my clothes on.”

“You do not have them on now.”

“I slept for a while, and then awoke to fnd that I was as I have said. I changed into my night shirt and went back to sleep.”

“Well, try to bathe as fast as you can.”

While Andrew prepared himself to meet the world, I sat in the chair where I had spent part of the night and fretted. I wanted to find out what the minister’s wife said, and as soon as possible.

After what seemed an inordinately long time, Andrew emerged, fully dressed and ready to meet the day. We went downstairs and had breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. I was aware that, as a young man who was still growing, Andrew had a prodigious appetite, but he ate enough breakfast for two large men, thereby delaying us further. It was nearly 9:30 when we finished and made our way over to the church.

“You seem unusually agitated this morning,” Andrew remarked.

“I wish to see Laurel, if that is possible.” I did not mention my anxiety about his causing us delay because he had been a good companion and helpful to me at several turns. And he was shot for my sake, so I felt I owed him some measure of civility.”

We came to the church and went in to be greeted by the same young man who was there the day before. “We’re here to see Reverend Hale,” I said.

He smiled. “He is expecting you. Please go in. I believe you know the way.”

We went through the door and down the hall to Hale’s office and found him busy writing something. The door to the office was open, so I knocked on the door post. He looked up.

“We are sorry to disturb you,” I said.

“I was just working on my sermon for Sunday.

“Ah, Mr. Dillard and Andrew. I regret that I do not know your last name, Andrew.”

“It’s Coggins.”

“In that case, please come in and sit down, Mr. Dillard and Mr. Coggins.”

We sat in the same two chairs that we sat in the day before.

“I take it you are here for word as to whether my wife is willing to fulfill your request or not.”

“That we are,” I said, “and we are most anxious to receive that news.”

He frowned, and I feared bad news. “I regret  to tell you that although my wife is in favor of granting your request, she is at the present time is indisposed and so cannot leave her bedroom for the foreseeable future.”

“I am sorry to hear she is not well and will offer prayers for healing.” Hale nodded in approval. “Do you know how long she might be so?”

He sighed. “She could be well tomorrow, or it might take a week. I have no way of telling.”

“Could you accomplish my wish?”

“I could try, but I don’t know if they will let me in.”

“Are there any other women in your congregation who would be willing to help me?”

He shook his head. “They have doubts about the kind of women who come to the home, so they want no part of it.”

“So we must wait on your wife.”

“It would seem so, although I will try to gain entrance this afternoon.”

“About what time?”

He consulted a small black leather bound book on his desk. “I fear that I should not be able to try until about three this afternoon. I’m sorry, but I have important appointments until then.”

“We shall count on you, then, and return to witness your attempt.”

He looked doubtful. “I think that after what happened to you, you had best stay away from the home, or at least out of sight.”

“We shall wait in the hotel. It is not very far.”

“That sounds satisfactory. We shall see you then.”

We stood up and shook hands, and Andrew and I went back out the way we came. Once in the street, I asked, “What do you think Andrew?”

He thought a while and then said, “I think it all sounds doubtful. We will have to think of another way.”

“And what would that be?”

“I don’t know. I was hoping you would have some ideas.”

“As, I have none, either. We must pray that God will open a path.”

“I was of the mind that the minister’s wife was that path.”

“God has many paths, Andrew. We must pray that He will reveal another.”

“Agreed.”

We walked back to the hotel and went up to our room. “I am exhausted,” Andrew said. “I must rest.” He went in the bedroom and lay down.

I did not like this wish for so much rest on Andrew’s part. A young man like him should be vigorous and full of energy. I wondered if something were wrong for him. I prayed there wasn’t but I had a feeling I would know in the next few days.

“I am going out to walk in the city,” I called to Andrew, who was not yet asleep.

“That might be helpful to you. Just beware of saloons.”

“Have no fear of that. Once such encounter was more than enough.”

I went down into the streets and spent a restless morning going to and fro, searching the faces I met as if that would give me a clue as to where Laurel was. Of course, I had no luck with this activity, and returned to the hotel, once again uncertain as to what the morrow would bring.

 

 

Chapter 40

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