Chapter 1

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“Ephraim!” Bill called excitedly.  He raced through the early morning light toward the rocky cliff, stumbling as he neared the peak. “Father! I have a son!”

 

The man sitting quietly by the cliff’s edge raised his head and smiled gently as his own son, winded and breathing hard, came to a skidding halt beside him. “Sit with me, Bill. How is Judith?”

 

After catching his breath, Bill dropped to the ground beside Ephraim, crossed his legs, and brushed his long hair back from his face. He took in a lungful of the brisk sea air and then met his father’s curious but amused gaze.

 

“It was a long labor, and she’s very tired, but she’s doing well. Don’t you want to hear about your grandson?”

 

Ephraim placed his hand over his son’s and said calmly, “We will show appreciation and gratitude to the Creator for the strength of women. Without that, we would not have the blessings of our children.” He squeezed his hand. “We men can build house after house, but only a woman’s grace and love can make it a home.”

 

Nodding in agreement with his undeniably wise father, Bill returned his smile. “After two days of labor, I think everyone is worn out—especially Judith. The midwife stayed with her the entire time, and the other ladies and my sisters helped me with Nora. She wanted the baby to hurry up and come so she could meet him!” Bill chuckled at his daughter’s enthusiasm. “I think the women came in and took over to keep me and Nora out of their way. They said I was useless!”

 

“Just as you were when Nora was born.”

 

Bill couldn’t dispute that. He had been just as nervous and excited when Nora, his first child, had been born two years before. In the middle of a sudden storm, he could handle a tossing ship and a group of panicked men, but when his wife was giving birth to his children …

 

“We have the best people. They brought food and kept the coffee pot full. When Judith finally went to sleep, with our son in her arms, Jane put Nora to bed for a nap, and Mary said she would stay with Judith and the baby so I could come and tell you.”

 

Ephraim merely made a satisfied sound in acknowledgement of his daughters remaining to assist their brother and his exhausted wife.

 

“Judith is a fine woman. You were fortunate she allowed you to marry her.”  Ephraim looked at his son from the corner of his eye and a bright twinkle lit the deep brown. “Now tell me about my grandson.”

 

“You’re right. I was lucky.” Bill dropped his head and glanced up, embarrassment darkening his skin. Then his smile widened, and his whole face brightened. “He was born kicking and squalling! He’s bigger than his sister was and strong, too! He grabbed hold of my finger and wouldn’t let go!” Bill looked up toward the lightening sky and took another deep breath. “His hair is as black as his mother’s, but she says he looks just like me.” Bill’s chest puffed with pride. “Nora was so excited to see her baby brother, she wanted to hold him. We had her sit next to Judith on our bed and put a pillow on her lap. She was so careful with him. I think he smiled at her!”

 

Ephraim could clearly see the joy in his son’s tired face, and he was pleased that the growing family was healthy and well. “And what are you going to name my new grandson?”

 

Bill dipped his head again as his cheeks grew red. “Judith wants to name him after me, but—”

 

“William Black, Junior is a good strong name for a good strong boy.”

 

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