Rebecca stood in nearly the same spot she had almost five months before. She'd been pacing the cabin like a bear when Israel had finally said, "Ma, why don't you go walking or something. Watching you pace is making me dizzy!"
"Israel!" Jemima had scolded him.
"He's right. I'm awfully restless. I feel like I've been trapped in this cabin for weeks."
"You have." Jemima said. "Go on Ma, you'll feel better after you get out. It will be fine. Israel and I can manage."
Rebecca glanced around the cabin. Her eyes rested on each of her children. She sighed. Leaning over and giving 'Mima a kiss she said, "I'll just walk a little bit."
Israel had stopped her at the door, "Listen Ma, you better not wander too far, and if'n you're gone too long, I'm coming right after ya."
"I'll keep that in mind." She said smiling at him.
Now, she stood with her bare toes in the icy river. The sky was clear and beautiful, but she did not come for the scenery. She could pretend to the children that she was just going for a walk, but there was only one reason to go out, and only one thing to look at; look for actually. It had been so long, and she feared he would never come back to her; that she would spend a lifetime waiting. Looking out to the blue sky and trees, though, she clung to hope. She was hoping to see a lonely figure returning home again. She was humming softly to herself when, like a miracle, an all-too-familiar voice called from the other side of the river.
"Well, I'll be! You know, my wife told me all about those beautiful river fairies, but I'd never expected to see one myself!"
"Dan!" She'd cried. He crossed the river in two steps and had his arms around her in a wink. She surprised herself by immediately bursting into to tears. She sobbed in his arms.
"I'm sorry." He said again and again into her hair. "It was a disaster start to finish." She'd simply clung to him, crying, unable to even speak. Finally, he'd pushed her away from him enough to look into her eyes.
Meeting his gaze, she found her voice and said, "Daniel Boone I missed you something fierce! It's all kissing and hugging now, but later, you can count on hearing a thing or two from me!"
He'd laughed in spite of himself then. "Well, I'll take the hugging and kissing now, then. It's worth it." He leaned close and kissed her and then there was nothing in the world anymore, just the two of them, together at last.
Later, as they walked hand in hand away from the river she'd answered all his questions about Israel and Jemima. He told her all about the fools of Doomsville, and the story of the hideous Mrs. Otis who had insisted on cooking a special soup for Daniel and Mingo. They had barely been able to choke it down, but she had sat watching them and making sure that they eat every bite. "I swear Rebecca, she claimed it was one of the chickens, but after we ate it, no one could find the Smith's little dog."
They were almost in sight of the cabin. She hesitated. "What is it Becky?" He asked concerned.
"Dan, I've something I need to tell you." She began, but found herself unable to continue.
Rebecca fidgeted nervously. Now, that he was finally here, it seemed almost impossible to explain all that had happened during the time he'd been away. She felt suddenly shy. Seeing her discomfort, he became filled with worry. "You said Israel and Jemima are fine." He asked hesitantly afraid of the answer.
"Oh, yes. Yes, they are." She felt terrible for scaring him. "No, its just. . . Dan when you left, I didn't tell you something." His face fell. He looked exactly like Israel, the time he'd broken one her china cups.
He looked down and said, almost in a whisper, "Are you fixing to leave me?"
She stared at him, confused. It took her a full minute to understand what he was asking. She laughed out loud at the thought saying, "And where would I go? Daniel Boone! What gets into your head." She pulled his chin up so that he met her eyes. "Daniel, taim i ngra leat, mo shearc! You must be half-starved so you're thinking crazy." She took both his hands in hers and taking in a deep breath she said, "No, Dan, when you left, I was carrying a child."
She watched his face carefully, as it registered. A flash of pain crossed his face. He glanced towards the meadow where four stones marked their own buried hopes. James. William. Patrick. Elizabeth. He wrapped not only his arms, but his whole body around her, whispering into her hair, "Oh, Becky, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"No, Dan," She said pushing him away and taking him by the hand smiling, "There's something I have to show you." She led him stunned and stumbling through the meadow, up the steps and into their cabin.
"PA!" Jemima and Israel hollered pouncing on him. Still dazed he hugged them each. Not letting go of his hand, Rebecca led him past them and straight to the cradle that Jemima had been gently rocking. He peered in.
"We named her Margaret Rose, but we just call her Rose. It suits her. She was born six weeks ago, and she's the healthiest baby you've ever seen."
She watched him start to sway. "Israel, get your Pa a chair!" She'd ordered. "Dan, sit down!" He stumbled back and missed the chair his son had pulled out for him completely, landing on his backside.
Rebecca knelt down in front of him. "I'm sorry Dan, I thought you'd be back in three weeks. I wanted to tell you, but I didn't want you to have to bear the burden of worry too. I thought she'd be like all the others. And the thought of you having to face that pain again, was more than I could stand. You didn't need to be totin' that burden while you tried to navigate through hostile territory" She smiled at him, her face soft. "But, she didn't die. She's just as healthy as can be." She lifted the tiny baby and moved to put her into his arms.
"No, Becky, no, I, I, I don't want to drop her." His voice was thick, and she could see the fear. The familiar pain. Their shared pain. She reached out with a free hand and touching his cheek, she said, "It's alright, mo ghra, she isn't going to die." She set Rose in his strong arms. He looked down at his sleeping child. Pale skin, bright red lips, pink cheeks and . . .
"Her hair's red." He said softly rubbing his cheek against her soft fuzzy hair.
"I'm afraid so." His wife said through tears. She exhaled slowly, and realized she had been holding her breath such a long, long, long time.
He looked up at her, unashamed of his tears, "Rebecca Boone, you are a wonder. It will be all hugging and kissing now, but later you and I are goin' to have a talk about secrets and totin' burdens alone."
She smiled at him. "Well, you were a mite late getting home."
He rose slowly, gently, cradling the smallest Boone in his arms. "Well, Israel, what do you think? You said you wanted a baby just last Christmas." He smiled at his son.
"I meant a brother Pa, and one closer to my age. Crimenitly, I'm surrounded by women!" He said the last word with a small amount of disgust. "Though, Rose isn't so bad. Although, she can holler something fierce. Just you wait, Pa, when she's hungry you'll know it."
Rebecca stood beside him wrapping her arm around his waist. All the worry, all the anguish she'd struggled with for the past months melted away into a peaceful contentment. She smiled up into her husband's shining green eyes and he bent down to kiss her over the head of their beautiful Kentucky Rose.