Summer bloomed wonderfully after the rainy spring. Arabelle was two months old, a dark haired beauty with green eyes. She looked like her grandmother, Arabelle Storm.
James came inside as Sheba was trying to mend a few torn shirts while the kids napped.
"The mail came today," he said. His voice was getting deeper, since he was turning into a man.
"Good," said Sheba, not truly caring, because she had no letters to expect from a parent.
"There's one for you," he pressed, looking excited.
"From who?" "Lafayette." Sheba jumped up and snatched it from his hand.
"Sometimes I wonder if you married the right man," Said James. Sheba pulled his hair in front of his eyes.
"Don't be stupid. You know I did."
He smiled and sat beside her. She tore open the letter and began reading. Surprisingly, the paper was stained with tears.
Dear Sheba and James, I do hope all is well with your new family. All is well with mine. As soon as the war ends I shall have returned to France to a happy wife and two beautiful daughters, but am right now in the midst of the fight. I miss both of you dearly, and plan to see you before I leave. I also dearly wish to someday bring my family to America to meet you. The government is a confusing bunch, are they not? One minute, they hate the idea of helping America, next they love it, now they hate it again. With people constantly changing their minds, no one can win. Oh, Sheba, you are the strongest friend that stood by me the entire time at the war while you were there. Yes, there is General Washington and James and a few other good men, but no one ever truly listenes to me like you did. You helped me with my English and taught me to write it. You listened to my stories and encouraged me when I was afraid. You always seemed so fearless, even in the midst of battle. You always care more for others than for yourself, which is one of the reasons I am still alive today. My wife admires you from what I tell her of you in my letters, and she writes that she thinks you a beautiful young lady. She even keeeps a ske sketch of youthat James gav on her desk and prays for you each night! I do to, of course, but she says she is grateful for someone to take care of her husband for her. I thank you for all you have done for me, and wish I could repay you, but alas, non can repay love such as yours. ~ Marque De Lafayette
Sheba's jaw dropped. She had no idea Lafayette thought of her that way! She was a bit embarrassed, too, for she was not the kind to praise herself. She handed it to James, and as he read it, his eyes grew wide.
"I guess you played a bigger role than you thought," he said.
"Yea," She replied, "I guess I did."
James started coughing a bit, which struck Sheba as odd. It was summer, not the time for sickness.
"Are you alright?" she asked.
Sheba had a feeling it wasn't so simple. But, at his insisting, she dropped the subject.
As the day wore on, she forgot about her worries and focused on her family. Ollie kept the boys busy most of the time, and Arabelle was happy with Ezra. Ezra's burn scars were starting to fade, and he looked more like a man than a mutant. But every time she passed James, he was coughing, hard. After hours of listening to it, Sheba stopped him.
"Let me see your hands," she said.
He did, and his palms were covered in blood. He coughed again, this time spraying her dress with blood. When she saw his yellow tinted eyes, fear overcame her.
"Sweet mercy," she gasped, "Its yellow fever!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sheba collapsed into a chair, exhausted from taking on all the work herself. Of coarse Ezra tried to help, but the fire had still left its mark in damaging his lungs. He couldn't work long before he was out of breath, gasping and begging for air. So Sheba had given him charge of Arabelle, and had Ollie go to school. She wasn't about to let Ollie lose his future because of her, even at his insisting. Israel, Asher, and Micah were two years old now, and with Sheba still nursing Arabelle, James still sick with doctor bills piling up, and all the work that had to be done, it was overwhelming.
But out of sheer love, Sheba pulled herself out of the soft, comfortable chair and began feeding James some broth.
"I need to help you," James whispered, for that was all he could manage.
"No, love," Sheba replied, "There is nothing you need to do. Sickness is only temporary, and besides, I have Ezra and Ollie. They help a lot."
"But who works outside?"
Sheba smoothed his hair back and wiped his sweat away with a damp cloth.
"That's not a problem," she said, "And there is nothing you need to worry about. Now hush and go to sleep."
He obeyed her and closed his eyes. When she was certain James was asleep, Sheba tiptoed out of the room, feeling a bit nauseous.
Ezra was standing the living room with Arabelle, who was almost asleep but squealed when she saw her mother. Sheba took the baby and sat down with Ezra.
"How's he doing?" he asked.
"Better," she said softly, "Still weak, but better all the same."
"That was a close call you know."
"Yes, I do."
"And if it weren't for you, he could be dead by now."
"I don't need flattery, Ezra Storm, I need encouragement."
"You know I'm probably the least qualified person in this house to do that."
"Again, I do, but that doesn't mean you can't do it without meaning."
Ezra reclined in his chair and thought for a moment.
"You are a wonderful sister, wife, mother, leader, and example," he said after a few minutes.
"Didn't you read Lafayette's letter? He admires you, Sheba. Not just any woman can be admired by someone like him."
"You mean I stand out because I served my country?"
"Yes, and you were light hearted and filled with love the whole way. You were a spy, a healer, and you actually cared about people. Not many people do that in you're case."
Sheba smiled and ruffled Ezra's thick brown hair. "You always know just what to say."
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