Andrew slept most of the next forty-eight hours, only waking long enough to tend his needs and ask after the baby. With Rosemarie in attendance, the baby had little need of anyone else. Ecstatic at her reprieve, she’d barely relinquish her hold on the baby, sleeping on a pallet by its cradle. The little girls were delighted at the acquisition of the baby, vying for the chance to kiss its pink cheeks and rub its blond fuzzy head. Even Jamie wasn’t too proud to hold it, being thoroughly tired of girls. They insisted it was their brother, though Molly kept reminding them they didn’t know whose baby it was. “That man gave us this baby.” Addie insisted. “When Pap gave us a puppy we got to keep it. We didn’t have a baby.”
“No Aggie. That’s not the way it works with babies. This baby may have a mother who’s looking for it, right now.” Molly explained.
“That’s not fair. She can just get another one. We need this one.” Addie insisted.
The baby quickly plumped up with regular feedings. The childrens’ hand-me-downs were put to good use. Rosemarie fairly doted on it, lavishing on it all the love she meant for her lost baby.
Late on the afternoon of the second day, Andrew woke and wandered through looking for Molly, encountering Rosemarie nursing the baby. He asked after Molly.
“Mistress Wharton stepped across to see Mistress Bartles.”
“No, I am looking for my wife Molly, not Mistress Wharton.” He explained.
“The only Molly I’ve met is Mistress Molly Wharton. I just came after the baby got here.” she answered.
He found Molly watching the children at play in the backyard. “Whose children are those?” he asked.
“They are mine. After you were gone, we all thought you were dead. I found I was to have your child. To save me from trouble, James Wharton married me. You know what can happen to a bondswoman found with child. Jamie is your child, though James Wharton gave him his name.” she paused.
“You married Wharton! How could you marry Wharton? Why didn’t you wait? You didn’t even give me the chance to get back! How could you marry so soon?” he demanded of her.
Will and Aggie walked up, having seen them in conversation. It was clear Andrew was overwrought. Will addressed Andrew. “Hold your peace, man. Wharton saved her by the marrying. She could have been punished or sold to another. She was fortunate he offered. She’d have been foolish to refuse. Your capture left her in a grave situation.”
Molly spoke. “I’ll thank you to compose yourself. Will, can you put him up? Come children!” With that, she left them, stalking to the house.