The contraction encircled her pelvis and then settled deep in her back, just above her tailbone. It radiated around her spine until at last she thought she could bear no more.
“Push, darlin’. He’s almost here. Push him slowly.” Jack’s voice soothed her aching body as she looked at him positioned on the bedstead between her legs. The pressure and urge to push came over her, and it was as if her body took over. Leaning up on her elbows and thrusting her body forward as far as possible, she curled into a comma-shape and pushed.
She could feel his life leaving her, felt him slip from her body and into Jack’s waiting hands. He was born.
Her third son was born.
Jack lifted the child for her to see, a smile of love and joy radiating over his face and echoing in his eyes. He looked to Claire, tears streaming down his face and handed her the child, the umbilical cord still joining them.
“Here is your daughter, Mrs. Porter.”
Her eyes flashed to Jack’s face. “My…daughter?” She cradled the child to her breast and looked at her in astonishment.
She had given him two sons before. She had given up on a daughter. Jack had teasingly convinced her that all she could produce were male children. She had tried to tell him it was his fault if they were male or female, but he would hear none of it.
And now, as the last pain coursed through her body, completing the birth process, the lifeline between her and her daughter stopped pulsating, ready to sever the physical tie forever. And Claire wasn’t sure she was ready to do that.
But Jack took the child from her, cut the cord, lovingly cleaned her and swaddled her in the new soft downy quilt Claire had made for her. Then he again placed their daughter next to her breast, leaning down to give his wife a lingering kiss on the lips.
After, Claire slept. The newborn child lay snuggled into her side. Jack tended to their two sons, Jackson and Jeremiah, keeping them out of their mother’s hair for a few hours.
When she woke, late into the night, she sat up and looked to her sons sleeping in the trundle bed beside her. Jack sat at the table across the cabin, an oil lamp flickering over a sheet of paper in front of him.
“What are you doing?” she softly inquired of him.
He looked up and smiled, the rich darkness of his eyes glinting back at her, the thick silkiness of his hair falling over one shoulder. She recalled how he’d looked seven years earlier when they’d crossed into her century. He was a man out of time there. Here, he was definitely in his element. And she was in hers. It was as if she’d finally come home after a lifetime of yearning. She counted her blessings daily.
Hannah had come home.
“This cabin is too small, Claire. I’m going to build a new one. My sons and my daughter deserve that.” His grin broadened. “My wife deserves that.”
She smiled. “Are you disappointed that she is a girl?”
Jack’s eyes grew solemn. He rose and walked to her, placed one knee on the trundle bed near his sleeping sons and leaned close.
“I have everything I ever wanted,” he whispered. “You, our sons, and now I have another you. A little Claire with snapping green eyes and golden hair. Another angel. I couldn’t want for more.” He smiled at her and then gently kissed her lips.
When he drew back, she gazed into his eyes and cupped his face with the palm of her right hand. “Jack,” she questioned as her gaze drifted across the room. “Would you bring the Bible to me?”
Crossing the room, he picked up the family Bible from its place of reverence on a high shelf. Picking up a quill pen, he returned and gave both to her.
Solemnly, she opened the book and turned to the center. Below the names of their two sons, Jackson Miller Porter II and Jeremiah Edward Porter, she inscribed the name of her daughter: Amabel Victoria Porter. Amabel, Latin for the most lovable one, and keeping with tradition. Victoria, of course, for Vicki, and as was appropriate, breaking with tradition.
She felt a sigh of relief escape her as she filled in the last space. A long ago memory came back to her and she knew this was her last child.
Then as the ink dried, her gaze lifted to the joining of her name and Jack’s immediately above her children’s and she read, as she had done a hundred times before, the inscription there: Hannah Claire Winslow, betrothed to Jackson Miller Porter, 15 June, 1719.
Days later, Jack Porter lay in his bed, his arms around his wife, his newborn daughter tucked into her cradle near the fire, his sons still sleeping soundly in the trundle beside them, and knew that he was the most fortunate man, in this century or any other.
Every now and then he thought about how he and Claire would recount the tale of their marriage to the children and how he would recite the legend of Blackbeard’s chalice to them on chilly winter’s nights.
And every now and then, he would wake, just to look at the sleeping angel beside him, and reach over to fold her into his arms and steal a sweet night kiss.