She looked at this great man with his broad chest, dark brown locks and gray blue eyes. Her heart swelled. He took her face in his hands, thinking to himself that her sweet little head meant more to him than anything in the world. He was sorry to be leaving her.
“I’ll return,” he had promised. “The Lord is on our side, and He will give us victory. You will see. I’ll be back, I promise you.” He took her frail neck in his large hands and bent to kiss her lips. She leaned into him, breathing in his warmth and smell, trying to commit it to memory that she might access it whenever she most missed him. She felt a pull on her skirt, and she turned to pick up Gwendolyn.
“Gwenie, dearest, say good-bye to Papa. He will be back soon, very soon.” Gwen squeezed her Papa around the neck and said, “Go, go!” pointing to the door. They laughed. “No dear, you cannot go with me. Not this time. But when I return, you will go with me, and we will ride into town and I will buy you something sweet.” He kissed her fat neck and she giggled at the tickling of his whiskers. He put her down and turned to face Catherine again.
“And you, dear, behave yourself while I am away.” He gave her a look of mock authority. She threw her arms around him.
“And when have you ever known me to behave? I shall do what I like while you are away, and enjoy it very much.” He laughed a loud, hearty laugh.
“Ah, that’s my girl,” he said, kissing her again. He mounted. She reaching up to take hold of his head, not wanting to let go.
“Be safe,” she said.
“My safety is up to God, not me,” he replied. “But I will be brave. That, I will promise you. And I believe He will keep us safe and bring us sure victory. And it will all be over. Just think of it, Catherine. No more men disappearing by the hundreds.”
“It is far from a sure victory,” She cautioned him. “What we thought would be a sure victory has been long and bloody and awful. I wish to God we could go back and make it all stop.”
“They are battles fought for righteousness sake, dear. As you well know. The devils holding other human beings as if they were animals. It ought to have been stopped long ago.”
“I know. As my father has long said. The American hypocrisy.”
“Indeed. And here it ends. We’ll get to tell our children and grandchildren how God brought us to victory in ending the greatest atrocity ever committed by the American people.”
“We shall see. That will certainly be my prayer.”
“Take good care of your mother,”
“And do not let Gwendolyn forget me.”
“Speak of me to her every night before bed.”
“And leave a lamp out for me in case I return in the night.”