I hike up the hill to the mail box. There inside is an express envelope from American Book Publishing. My heart leaps and I am smiling as the dog and I head back down the road to the house. Even when Elliott does a lunge at Tod’s two dogs as we pass and I drop the letters while trying to hold him, I’m still smiling.
Jill can tell there’s something special when I come in the door and simply say, “Got an envelope from the publisher,” in response to her question of, “What did we get?”
I tear off the corner, slip my pocket knife beneath the tape and slit the top of the packet. My hand comes out with the book. My eyes sparkle as I look at the cover and realize that the real thing is even better than I’d envisioned it from the PDF file.
We break out the peanuts and pour ourselves a glass of sherry. Jill thumbs through the book and hands it to me. “My husband the author,” she says smiling and raising her glass.
I flip the pages to the Acknowledgements and read her the section about her help. I can see her eyes begin to glisten and a smile twists her lips as she sips her sherry. I turn to page 58 and the brief letter written by Richard Clow on that epic day of April 9, 1865 from which I derived the title of the book. I read his words and look at the ceiling to keep my own tears from running out of my eyes.
I take a deep breath, a sip of my sherry, and pull myself together.
“Yes,” I say, soberly yet with a smile, “I hope it sells a million copies.”