Fire Along The Sky Page 214

’’And the lawyers in Manhattan,’’ said Daniel.

’’Aye, well,’’ Nathaniel said. ’’I suppose I'll have to deal with them, like it or not. I'm just thankful Will Spencer is in the city so I won't have to go down there myself.’’

Simon had been quiet through this exchange, but there was something bothering him. Elizabeth saw it too. She said, ’’Simon, tell me what you are thinking.’’

Nathaniel had a good deal of respect for Simon Ballentyne, and he had come to like him. There were times, though, when he was too quick to speak his mind. In that way he and Lily were alike, and Nathaniel worried occasionally that she had chosen the man because he challenged her in ways few men could. A marriage based on that particular kind of spark alone could go cold, and it worried him.

Lily put her hand on Simon's arm and made a low, warning sound, but he only covered it with his own and went on to answer the question put to him.

’’Perhaps the girl would want her mother to come back if she had the choice. Jemima may be mean tempered and cruel hearted, but it would take more than that to cut the tie that binds mother to daughter. And I'm wondering if she'd hesitate to say what she truly wants for fear of offending the people who have been kind to her.’’

For one strange moment, Nathaniel had the odd idea that his former mother-in-law's spirit was in the room, and that she had used Simon's mouth to speak her mind from the grave. Falling-Day would have said exactly the same thing, and she would have been just as right.

Elizabeth was looking as surprised as Nathaniel felt, but there was no displeasure in her expression. She said, ’’Why, Simon, what a philosopher you promise to be.’’

’’I suppose that's why you married him, sister,’’ Daniel said dryly. ’’His debating skills.’’

Lily was still enough of a newlywed to blush, but she lifted her chin and looked her brother directly in the eye. ’’That's part of it, aye. I hope one day you'll do as well for yourself when you go looking for a bride.’’

Daniel's jaw clenched so hard that the muscles there rolled and twitched. His eyes were tear bright and hard, and in them Nathaniel saw that the boy had given up on any kind of normal future for himself.

Across the table he met Elizabeth's eye.

You see? Her expression spoke to him clearly. You see now how it is with him?

He was starting to see it, yes. Nathaniel looked at his middle son, and understood that he had come home from one war to fight another.


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