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.“Ethan, there you are,” she said.She was walking towards us with William.“Madeline,” she acknowledged me with a sickly sweet smile.I was disappointed.I had hoped Elizabeth would stay with her friends long enough for me to talk with Ethan for a bit.I supposed William followed her in preparation to defend me if needed.Unfortunately, our conversation ended, and I left the plantation with William shortly thereafter.Chapter 30The TruthA couple of weeks later, I decided to tell Ethan the truth.I kept thinking about what Jonas told me, that Ethan had a right to know, to decide for himself what to do.At the very least, Ethan deserved to know the truth so that he could be involved in his child’s life at least partially, the same way I was involved in Lillie’s life partially.I realized that if I didn’t tell him the truth, this child would be deprived of an inheritance, especially if it were a boy.It seemed selfish of me.Besides, I didn’t think I could lie by writing down anyone else’s name as being the baby’s father on the birth record, nor did I want to leave it blank.So when Clarissa dropped Lillie off a week before Christmas, I asked her to have Ethan come back to get Lillie in the late afternoon, as I needed to talk with him.She agreed to tell him.She along with Catherine and Ginny had Sambo take them by carriage into the marketplace to do some shopping for Christmas.I declined going with them, since I wasn’t feeling in the Christmas mood, and I wanted to be there to talk with Ethan later.I had to stay focused on what I was going to say and how I was going to say it.The day was spent inside doing chores.There wasn’t much to do in the garden anymore since it had turned cold and the days were shorter.I did try to take Lillie for a walk every day for some fresh air, weather permitting.We were dusting the master study when Lillie suddenly squealed with delight.I looked out the window to see Ethan’s carriage in the drive and Ethan walking up to the carriage-front porch.I greeted him at the door.“Hello, Ethan,” I said, smiling tentatively.He instantly took my breath.His beard was longer than usual, as was his hair, and his eyes had dark circles under them, but he was still devastatingly handsome in his rugged state.“Madeline,” he greeted me, not returning my smile, not even taking my hand to kiss for a proper greeting.It was an awkward moment.I felt deflated, but I hoped to change his mood very soon.Lillie tugged on the legs of his trousers, saying, “Dada, dada.” He smiled at her and picked her up, giving her a big kiss on the cheek.She giggled and wiped her face.His beard must have tickled her when he kissed her.How I wished I could get tickled by those whiskers again.“How’s my girl?” he asked her.She said something non-intelligible, and we both laughed.It felt good to laugh with him.“Mother said you wanted to speak to me,” he said, looking at me again, still holding Lillie.His smile had disappeared.“Yes.Shall we go into the parlor?”He followed me back to the parlor where the piano was.I sat down on the sofa, and Ethan sat down on a nearby chair, putting Lillie on the floor.She toddled over to the piano and began playing random keys softly.“How are you, Madeline? You look like you’ve lost weight again.Is your…baby…is everything all right?”It was true; I had lost some weight, except for the baby bump, which had gotten larger.I worried so much over not wanting to marry William and over lying to Ethan that I didn’t eat well enough or sleep well enough.I was also still having those dreams almost every night, despite William giving me chamomile tea before going to bed and making me a dream catcher of my own.“We’re fine, though I have not been eating or sleeping as well as I should.”“Why? Aren’t you happy?”Of course I wasn’t happy.How could I be, when I couldn’t be with the one I loved? Couldn’t stop thinking about him or longing to be with him, wanting to share my confinement with him, share the baby’s progress with him.“No,” I said softly.“Not at all.I…I have something I feel I should tell you…something I should have told you months ago.” It was time to tell him the truth about the baby being his.I began feeling anxious, and my heart beat faster.This seemed to cause the baby to stir, and I felt it move.“Oh,” I said, putting my hand over my lower abdomen.“Are you all right?” Ethan asked.“I just felt the baby move,” I said.I looked at him intently.“Feel,” I said.I stood up and walked over in front of Ethan and took his hand and placed it on my abdomen where the baby was moving.I was not wearing a crinoline today, so he would’ve been able to feel the baby easy enough.“Madeline, I shouldn’t,” he objected.He tried to move his hand away, but I placed it back on there during another movement across my abdomen.He looked at my abdomen and then at me.“I remember Lillie doing that,” he said, softly, letting his hand drop away from my abdomen.“That must feel weird to you.”I nodded.“Weird and wonderful.” I braced myself, sat down in the chair right next to Ethan and then whispered, “Ethan…it’s yours.”“What?” he said, his eyes quick on mine.“The baby is yours, not William’s,” I said.“But…how do you know?”“Because I never had relations with William, or anyone else except for you.”“You mean you lied to me? Why? How could you…how could you do that?”“I was ambushed at the harvest ball by Elizabeth.What could I say in front of all those people? You’re married to her.I didn’t want you to be embarrassed in your own home.”“You could have told the truth.Everyone knew you and I were married before.You could have at least told me the truth down by the river.” He was understandably angry.“What did William think of what you said, about the baby being his? Are you really planning to marry him?”“It was his idea…he volunteered to marry me and lie about the baby being his.”“Oh, I see now.He’s fallen in love with you and talked you into marrying him and deceiving me.”“No, it made sense to me.We did this for you, Ethan…to save your reputation.Everyone would call you a philanderer.No one would want to do business with you.You might even lose friends.Besides, how could I tell you I was having your child when you were already married to Elizabeth and expecting another child with her? You gave me up to be with her because of that child.I didn’t think I had the right to force you into choosing me instead, abandoning that child, just because I was also with child.It was wrong of me to lie, and it broke my heart to do so, but I did it for you [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]