Chapter Sixteen - A Healing Heart

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"Anger is contagious, so is grace." - Ann Voskamp

The morning light, which came streaming in gently to illuminate every crack and crevice on the floorboards, found Grace fingering the only precious link she had with Benedict Whitefield. In this new morning light Grace pressed her fingertips to the cool metal backing of a miniature portrait rendered in the likeness of her dear Mr. Whitefield. It had been sent over to her as a gift from London the previous year after she had sent him one of herself.

When a painter had visited the Lewis household at the request of her father to do a family portrait the previous spring he offered to also render a miniature portrait of each member of the family if they should so wish him to. As the tall, lanky artist from Charleston offered his services, it struck Grace that she might send a miniature portrait of herself over to Benedict in London just in time for his birthday. The idea had made her so giddy with excitement that just as her father opened his mouth to politely decline, as he had already spent quite a bit of money on the family portrait that had been commissioned, Grace interjected with such eagerness that her father had not even the time to prepare himself for a rebuttal.

"Oh father, what a splendid idea! Why I could send a miniature of myself over to Benedict in England, for it has been nearly three years since either of us has laid eyes on each other. I should think he would be very happy with the gift and I would be even more pleased to have made him happy."

Sensing an objection beginning to form on her father's lips, but unwilling to have her plan thwarted, she persisted.

"Oh father please! I would pay for the portrait to be done out of my own money and so would not trouble you for anything."

This seemed to satisfy her father as he simply nodded and replied only "Very well. If it is to be done on your own time with your own funds I can see no objection. As for the rest of my family," Mr. Lewis turned towards the Charleston painter with all the resolve of a man who wants nothing to do with the cajoles of a pesky salesman. "I will not pay for them to be painted in miniature, for you see, I am a simple farmer and military man without the means to spend my money on frivolity and so cannot possibly see the necessity of separate miniature portraits when I have just recently paid for a very fine large one of everyone together."

The painter nodded and with an obeying "Yes, Sir" the matter was dropped. Within a few days Grace's completed miniature, rendered very handsomely though at quite a handsome price, was sent on the next ship bound for London out of Charleston. Grace had spend every cent she had on that portrait and yet could hardly regret it.

Within several months, a small package came with a loving note from Benedict and an exquisitely rendered miniature in his likeness both as a thank you and as a gesture of his admiration. Withheld from her knowledge was the fact that he too had spent every pound of his spending money on the little masterpiece, insisting that he go to the finest artist he could afford to have it done. It was a treasure she had kept with her always - either on a chain or in her dress pocket since the day it was received, refusing to ever be parted with it.

Why instinctively she had taken it up in her hands as soon as she awoke one could only guess at. The most favorable explanation, and perhaps the most logical one, was that she missed him. She felt his absence more acutely that morning than she had since her first night here back at her home, which no longer seemed like the loving safe-haven she once knew.

Perhaps it was the tender way that Tarelton had clasped her hand in his and gratefully placed a kiss on the back of it that brought to mind the tender way that Benedict had clasped her hand and with such love placed a sweet kiss on her lips the day she agreed to be his wife. It was entirely plausible. After all, she had so freely allowed Tarelton to kiss her hand in the fervent way that he did and in so improper a place as his very own bedchamber without a single thought of unfaithfulness to the one she had so resolutely given her heart too. If the gesture hadn't conjured up such memories she would have surely realized the indecency of it and let Tarelton know immediately that she was promised to another. Perhaps it might have been better if she had.

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