Sheba's back ached as she made her bed at the Washington's home. James had left at dawn to begin building their home. Sheba sat down in a chair just as Martha walked in.
"Dear, please don't bother with the chores," she told her, "The servants will get it." "Mrs Washington," said Sheba, "I believe in equality amongst men and women. If I can do something to assist the slaves and make their life easier, then I will." "But darling," said Martha, "You have a child in you! You must take it easy." She set down a tray with tea. "Drink," she said. As Sheba sipped, Martha arranged some flowers on the bedside table.
"Have you visited your husband lately?" asked Martha. "He's been working since dawn," said Sheba, "It's only noon." "Yes, darling," replied Martha, "But he misses you." "I can't ride a horse while pregnant," said Sheba, "But I would if I could. A few hours away from my love feels like years."
"How about I send a horse to him so that you two can have lunch together?" offered Martha. "That sounds wonderful," said Sheba. Martha hurried off to send the horse and Sheba read a book while she waited. She began to doze off when she felt hands wrap around her chest.
She smiled. "James," she said, "It takes more to sneak up on me then that." He kissed her. "I know," he said, "But I couldn't miss a chance to try."
He sat down beside her. "How are you feeling?" he asked. "Sore and tired," she responded, "But no morning sickness." A maid brought in a tray of food for them.
"Thank you, Miss Liza," said James. The maid looked surprised at him calling her miss, since it was usual for a slave to be called by their first names only. She left the room to give them some privacy.
"Where did you get the wood and nails for the house?" asked Sheba. "I borrowed it from Mr. Kindle at the shop." "How will we pay it back?" "One penny at a time, my love," he assured her. He rubbed her belly.
"What do you wish for?" he asked. "I will be happy with whatever God gives us," she replied. "I married a wise woman," said James. "And I married a wise man."
As they ate, Sheba began to wonder if at four months pregnant she should look as if she were eight months pregnant. "Maybe we'll get more than just one baby," she commented. "Maybe," said James.
Sheba ran her fingers through his long, blond hair. "I can't wait till the house is finished," she said, "And since you built it, I know it will be perfect." They kissed and James had to leave her.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Five Months Later
Sheba held James' hand as she looked at their new house. It was large enough to raise a fine family in. The kitchen had a Dutch oven, a small stove, and a large fireplace with a spit and a wire to hold pots. The living room had only a table and three chairs in it. Behind these rooms was a bedroom for Sheba and James. The rooms were divided by sheets of wood for walls. Instead of doors, Sheba made some curtains out of some old dresses. Next to the bedroom wall, a ladder led up to the small attic, which would serve as a children's room.
"So this is where our first baby will be born," said James. "I think so," replied Sheba. He pulled her closer to him. "And this is where we'll have our happily ever after?" "You know it." They stared into each other's eyes for a moment.
James swept Sheba off her feet and carried her inside. He laid her on their straw stuffed mattress and landed beside her. "I'll never leave your side," he told her. "And I'll never leave yours."
A knock interrupted them. James got up to get the door and Sheba laid on the bed. She felt a kick in her womb. "Don't worry," she whispered, "Your time will come soon enough."
"Sheba!" called James, "You have a visitor!" "I need some assistance to get up!" she called back. A man entered and Sheba gasped.
"Lafayette!" she cried. He held her hand and pulled her up. "You look different!" he said. Sheba laughed. "Really? I wasn't sure if you would notice that I'm three times bigger!" He kissed her face in the traditional French greeting.
"How is the married life?" he asked James. "So far," he replied, "It's the best decision I've ever made." "You picked a good one," Lafayette told him, "And you'll have the children to prove it." They all sat down around the table and talked until the sun went down.
"Stay with us tonight," Sheba told Lafayette, "We have room." Lafayette agreed and that night slept in the attic.
Sheba dreamed of peaceful things, until a sharp pain jolted her out of the bed. She cried out, gasping for breath. "James!" She yelled, "Its time!"
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