A Perfect Day

Trail to William Faulkner Home, 
Oxford, MS
Amazing That God Shows His Approval In Such Splendid Ways.

December 17, 1870

Joab rode up on the campus about ten minutes before noon, the first to arrive, so he thought. He sat on his horse for a moment, breathing deep. The cold air refreshed him. He was handsome in his dark denim trousers and the only white shirt he owned. Mrs. Raines had starched and meticulously ironed it. The pleats lay in tight creases across the front and the blousy sleeves fluttered in the slightest December wind. His hair was clean and straight, barely touching his shoulders. His face was clean shaven. He wore no hat, not wishing to accentuate any cowlicks today. Drawing a deep breath, he exhaled and relaxed as best he could on such a glorious occasion, prayed that amidst the unsteadiness of the times this would be one perfect day. When he looked up, wagons full of people and riders on horseback were coming out of the woods on that end of The University grounds. The whole town had turned out.

The men on the square, he thought. They must have passed the word. Daniel drove the Stephens’ buckboard to the side where he and Aggie and Miss Caroline were to wait. Joab tied Star to an oak tree and took his place beside Reverend Phillips. He had no best man. Miss Caroline delicately walked across the pine needles, making her way to the other side of Reverend Phillips, smiling at Joab. She looked lovely. He could see Daniel was holding to Aggie, waiting for the moment when he would bring her and, in place of their father, give her away to Joab.

In that sacred moment a splendid sound came from the edge of the wood. Joab, knowing as surely as the noonday sun cast its golden streams across the pine-strewn ground on The University of Mississippi—it was Jonathan, Isaac, Samuel and Robert E. Lee Payne, and they were playing their violins. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gains I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. As they played, Daniel escorted his sister to Joab and placed her hand into his.

She whispered to him, “You’re mother is out there. She’s here, Joab, watching us as we make our vows.”

Joab swallowed hard and whispered back. “I thought to pray for a perfect day. Amazing that God shows his approval in such splendid ways.”

“Yes,” she said, and they both turned toward Reverend Phillips. Joab felt someone’s presence next to him. It was Samuel—his best little man.

“We drew straws,” he said, “and I won.”

Joab smiled and turned his handsome face toward his lovely bride, who was holding a large bouquet of Alpine Asters and wild fern, firmly tied with a wide blue ribbon, against her white gown. He didn’t know she had picked them herself.

An excerpt from JOAB
December, 2012


Writing JOAB has been a pleasure. I have lived it in the person of Rachel Payne. From a mother's heart. It will be going to the publisher any day now, just waiting for the last few pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. And then the hard part begins, the marketing and events for signings. I do love this, but it is time-consuming and exhausting. During these times, I live out the verse that appropriately entitles my blog—"As thy days, so shall thy strength be"(Deuteronomy 33:25), understanding that surely there is grace for every need.

Jane Bennett Gaddy
Trinity, FL
Christmas Day, 2012