From Chap. 5, 1811

Upon entering the other side of the house I found the women gathered around a quilt stretched halfway across the room, their hands flitting about like swallows. The conversation here, too, revolved around the battle at Tippecanoe. It seemed to be dominated by one woman who had arranged herself on a small settee pulled up to the quilting frame. From here she held court, speaking often, with her eyes closed more than they were open. The children's pet turkey came to mind. The similarity was so uncanny, I derived a shameless amount of amusement comparing the two.

"There have already been some balls in Vincennes since the war, but this one promises to be the ball to end all balls," she gushed. "And you should see the gown my niece is wearing!" She flipped her right hand out, palm up, as if checking for raindrops. "The sleeves are so puffed each one has a cute little pillow in it." She turned her hand over to form a right angle in front of her neck with her smallest finger extending straight forward. "Of course, she had to send east to Dayton for it. But then, she should have a special dress; after all, she and her young man will be leading off the ball. She's such a delight. Did I ever tell you she pieced a quilt before she was six?"

The aunt sang on, now talking about some man whose table had foliage growing out of its legs, also his trousers were always twisted and he smelled like "a feather mattress that needed aired." I soon lost interest in her and found myself staring at the back of Christiana's neck, at thos contrary ringlets that refused to stay up with the rest of her hair. Then my gaze fell to our new baby, asleep on her lap, not hampering her quilting at all. Little Delilah came in and stood beside Christiana until her mother gave her permission to speak. Delilah whispered something into Christiana's ear, Christiana nodded, and Delilah ran back outside, curls bouncing.

While Christiana was turned toward Delilah, she noticed me. She turned back around, but as my gaze continued to bear upon her she began to blush and fidget and glance over her shoulder. Surely she didn't feel guilty for gossiping; after all, she was only listening. Perhaps it was the knowledge we shared about a member of our church recently charging another member with frolicking at a ball. Maybe it was the dress, the excitement about the dress. Members of the McCoy household wore only that of which one was neither proud nor ashamed.

I was contemplating none of these. Instead, I was asking myself when that girl I found in Kentucky had become such a beautiful woman. It was as if she had to be removed from her everyday frame before I could appreciate her splendor . . . that face as cheerful as a shiny, fresh apple . . . those watery green eyes still full of mischief. I wanted to reach out and touch her.