Civil War Transcendence, conclusion..?

This is the last installment of my serial story, but not the end of the road for Jim and Daphne.

The further adventures of Jim Hagar and Daphne Newcomer will continue in a new book, Assassins of History: Creators of Chaos, which will be published later this year.

It’s the second book in my Assassins of History series.  You can get the first book here. 

A third book, Assassins of History: Alien Influence is nearing completion.

I want to thank you for following my blog and Facebook page.

We really appreciate your support.

Assassins of History by Vernon Dutton

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 455

 

Once we entered the parlor, Al and I were herded to a two-seat divan. Helena and Gracie sat in straight back chairs on either side of a loveseat, which was occupied by Miss Rector and Kirk.

Needless to say, Kirk and Wanda Lu Rector were oblivious to any other humans on earth.  Their obvious connection was just as formidable and immediate as when Daphne and I had first met.

I looked at the two love-sick young people and then looked at Al. He turned and gave me a grin from ear to ear.  I nodded and rolled my eyes, which brought a low chuckle from Al.

 

Scene from Romeo and Juliet

 

Miss Rector broke the ice by pouring tea for all of us while Helena and Gracie passed around the sweet breads. Once everyone was served, we began to eat and drink.

I needed to know something about the gang of eight so I asked, “When do ya believe tha cutthroats will show up?”

Helena answered, “I expect they will be here about eight in the morning.”

I gave her a look of amazement at her precise pronunciation and then asked, “Ya said they’re heavily armed. What do ya mean by heavily armed?”

Helena, who had taken her seat after serving the sweet breads, said, “Each of them has two pistols.  In addition, two of them had percussion rifles.”

I probed, “Do ya know whether tha rifles were two banded or three banded?”

Helena smiled at me and answered, “They were two banded.”

I raised my eye brows and nodded my head.

Kirk and Wanda Lu had turned to witness my exchange with Helena, but once we had finished, they quickly turned to look at each other and smiled like two kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

I had one more question for Helena, “Miss Simmons, which direction do ya think they’ll be coming from?”

Helena looked at the floor for a second or two and then said, “That’s hard to say. I expect they will be coming from the north part of town. The gang has taken up a roost in the local sporting house.” At the end of her explanation she looked at the floor and got an embarrassed expression on her face.

I nodded, turned to Miss Rector and asked, “Do ya have a barn?”

Miss Rector said, “No suh. We have always put our horses in Mr. Lofton’s livery stable.”

I nodded and then continued, “Well are there any outbuildings other than a privy in tha back of yar property?”

“Yes suh. Thar are two slave cabins, but they haven’t been occupied for quite a while,” she answered.

I nodded and then decided to mention the elephant that was in the room, “Miss Rector, may we stay here tonight on tha first floor? We can make ourselves comfortable here in tha parlor. In tha morning we will set up plans on how to deal with tha killers.”

Miss Rector smiled from ear to ear, and turning to look at Kirk, said, “Y’all are quite welcome to stay here.”

Kirk smiled back at her reply, and the two moonstruck youths continued to look at each other with blatant attraction for each other.

To break the spell I uttered, “Well, I ‘spect y’all need to get to bed and let us get a few hours of sleep before dawn breaks.”

This request finally got things moving. Wanda Lu turned to Helena and Gracie and said, “I know tha gentlemen would appreciate any extra blankets and pillows y’all can find from tha hall closet.”

This sent the two scrambling out of the room, while Kirk and Wanda Lu continued to stare at each other like two love-sick turtle doves.

Almost immediately the two ladies returned with six blankets and three pillows.

I got up and went to the fireplace and began to stoke the fire. I asked, “Is there any wood we can bring in to keep tha fire going?”

Wanda Lu got up and answered, “Yes suh. There is still a mess of wood on tha back porch.”

Al sprang up and said, “I’ll fetch it.”

I nodded and turned to look at Wanda Lu Rector. I bowed and then said, “I’m so sorry for yar loss and tha dreadful actions perpetrated against ya and tha ladies. We will see what we can do to alleviate yar problems in tha morning.”

At this juncture, Miss Rector turned to Kirk and presented her hand. He stepped forward, took her hand in his, bent over and kissed it with such panache that even d’Artagnan would have been envious.  Then he stood up and gallantly said, “Until tha morrow, Miss Rector.”

From this, she took her cue to exit stage left. I mean, she left the room and headed toward the stairs with Kirk looking longingly after her.

I nodded at Helena and Gracie, who nodded back and followed Miss Rector upstairs.

It was all I could do to keep from busting out laughing, but I know I was just as goofy when I first met Daphne. So I kept my response to a gentle chuckle.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 454

 

When the ladies had cried themselves out, Kirkland released them and took a step back so he could see them clearly.

The young blonde lady stammered, “This is our family home. We’ve lived here for a long time. My father was tha local general store owner. He also brokered some of tha wheat, corn and lumber for tha farmers in tha area to markets down river in lower Maryland and upper Virginia. He was a very good business man, and he got his clients good prices for their crops without taking advantage of them.”

At this point, she sobbed, “A man came into town three months ago and began to force tha farmers to give their business to him. He threatened tha farmers’ lives and tha lives of their families. He brought in a gang of despicable men who raided some of tha farmers’ barns and stole their crops. These crops were sold down tha river and tha proceeds were kept by this monster. When my father and some of tha farmers when to tha office of this brute for a showdown, they shot my father when he reached in his pocket for a list of the crops stolen and accused him of reaching for a gun.”

The lady put her face in her hands again and sobbed for a moment. The two black young ladies also cried, but they kept their distance.

Kirkland patiently waited for the young blonde lady to continue. After a few moments she raised her head and said, “We have no town marshal and tha county sheriff must be in cahoots with this gang, because he doesn’t even come down here from Frederick anymore. Since tha Yankees have taken up camp in Frederick, everything has changed.”

 

Shepherdstown on the banks of the Potomac

 

Kirk asked, “How long ago was your father murdered?”

The young blonde lady shuttered and then answered, “Last week.”

Kirk asked, “May I ask yar name?”

“It’s Wanda Lu Rector,” she revealed and pointing at the Black ladies, she added, “And these ladies are my friends, Helena and Gracie.”

Kirkland, being a true southern gentleman took off his hat and bowed to Miss Rector. Then he bowed to Helena and Gracie.  Holding his hat in his hands, he said, “My name is…..”

I immediately interrupted, “That is of no importance at tha present time. What have they done to ya and yar friends?”

Miss Rector was surprised by my statement and abruptly looked fearfully at the three of us.

To allay any of her qualms, I raised my hands palms out to her and stated, “We are not here to harm ya. We are just riding through, but we will be glad to help ya if ya will let us.”

The young lady looked at us for a long time and then turned her head to look at the two black ladies. They both gave almost imperceptive nods. So Miss Rector stammered, “We’ve been ordered to leave this house tomorrow or be thrown out on tha road.”

I asked, “Why did tha livery stable owner say yar home was a rooming house and send us here to stay tha night?”

Miss Rector frowned and looked down at the floor as if lost in thought. Then she looked up at me and said, “James Lofton, tha livery owner, was a very good friend of my father’s. He knew of our plight and must have thought ya could help.”

I nodded and said, “How many of these blackhearts are there?”

One of the black ladies spoke up, “There are eight of them and they are heavily armed.”

We three men looked at her and sort of gaped at her precise elocution.

She looked embarrassed and added, “My name is Helena Simmons.” Then she pointed to the other black lady and stated, “This is Gracie Davis.”

Miss Davis curtseyed and smiled.

I smiled at all the ladies and removed my hat. Al followed suit. Then I asked, “May we come in?”

Miss Rector gushed, “Oh by all means, please do come in.”

Al and I entered the house and Al shut the door. We laid our saddle bags and my special weapon in the foyer.

Then Miss Rector offered very formally, “Won’t ya come into tha parlor? We have some tea made and there is some sweet bread already cut. Would y’all like to join us for a very early morning meal?”

Kirkland answered, “We would love to join such wonderful company for an early morning meal.”

Miss Rector smiled coyly, which changed her whole countenance. She was a very beautiful lady.

The two black ladies gestured toward the parlor, and we all trooped to a room just a few steps down the hall on the left.

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 453

 

Potomac River

Piers for the old covered bridge across the Potomac are visible in the foreground of this photo.

 

We went outside and mounted our horses, left town and crossed the Potomac River into Maryland via the Shepherdstown covered bridge. Once in Maryland, I took one last look at Ferry Hill and mentally wished my beloved a fond farewell.

Nudging Stonewall, we began an easy lope southward down the C & O canal towpath. It didn’t take long before we got to the small community of Antietam, where there was a place to cross over to the Harpers Ferry Road. When we entered this main north-south byway, we walked our steeds for about an hour until they had regained their breath and strength.

Picking up the pace, we loped our steeds until we came to the community of Dargan, a few miles above Sandy Hook, where the bridge to Harpers Ferry was located. We walked the cayuses, and for the first time, the silence was broken when Lt. Kirkland asked in what seemed to be a distinctive northern accent, “How far do youse believe we will travel tonight?”

Al and I both turned to look in awe at his adaptation of speech from someone who sounded like a New Yorker or a New Jersian.  I have to admit I just stared at him for almost thirty seconds before I answered, “Ya will definitely be tha one to speak for us during this mission.”

I looked at Al, and even in the darkness, I could see him smiling from ear-to-ear.

I just shook my head and we nudged our cayuses into a lope. We ate up the miles and made it to the south end of Maryland Heights. Once we made it past this prominent land mark we begin to walk our mounts as we headed toward Weverton, Maryland.

The moon was out and shone its radiance on the hard pan road we were traveling. We didn’t encounter any traffic, which was just fine with me.

When the horses had recovered, we picked up the pace until we entered the western side of Weverton. At that point I looked at my pocket watch, which was easily read in the moonlight. It was 2:00 am. I nodded and decided we would stop at the next town for the night. In my universe it was Brunswick, Maryland. I turned to Al and said, “What’s tha name of tha next town?”

Al answered, “It is called Barry, Maryland.”

I was completely taken back by his almost perfect eastern Maryland accent. My astonishment made him chuckle.

I just shook my head and muttered, “I guess I better adopt some type of Yankee accent, or I’m going to be left out in the cold.”

The two men looked at me and laughed at my rendition of a Maine accent. I used to watch a TV show about a mystery writer that lived in Maine. All the cast members had employed exaggerated Maine accents in their roles. I became pretty good in mimicking them. Apparently my foolishness might be put to good use.

We walked our mounts through Weverton.  Then we loped the horses until we got into Barry. We found the local livery and roused the owner out of his bed, which was in a small room in the stable. Once he got our money and began rubdowns on our horses, we asked where we could bed down for the night. He directed us to the local rooming house, which was located only a block away.

We carried all our paraphernalia with us, just in case the livery owner got nosey and wanted to look through our saddle bags.

Stonewall gave me a parting whinny as we vacated the livery.

You couldn’t miss the rooming house. It was a three story structure with a large picket fence that enclosed both the house and beautiful flower beds that lined both sides of a stone walkway leading to the large front porch. I opened a squeaky fence gate, and we walked up the walk to the front porch. Mounting the four steps to the porch, I was about to knock on the front door, when it was abruptly opened.

A young woman stood in the doorway with an oil lamp in her left hand and a huge dragoon pistol in her right hand. I gasped aloud at the sight of her.

She was wearing a long red calico dress covered by a heavy black cape. Her long blonde hair was pulled back over her shoulders and fell down her back. A trembling voice demanded, “What’d ya want.”

I didn’t answer for what seemed to be an eternity, but finally stammered, “We were told this was a rooming house. We just wanted some rooms for tha night.”

The woman looked us over and saw we were carrying luggage. Her face lost some of its apprehension, but she didn’t lower the huge pistol that was pointed at my midsection, when she challenged, “Who told ya that?”

I uttered, “The livery stable owner?” and added, “We just rode into town and asked him where to find a room for tha night.”

Finally, she lowered her pistol and said, “Sorry for tha confrontation, but therah have been a lot of thieving, stealing and even killing in tha last few months.”

She walked to a table in the foyer and put the pistol and lamp on it. Then she put her face in her hands and began to sob. Almost immediately two young black women appeared out of a side parlor and rushed to her side.

I stuttered, “Ma’am, are ya alright?”

She just shook her head and wrapped her arms around the two young women. Then they all began to cry.

I looked at Al, who just shrugged.

However, Lt. Kirkland walked to the three and wrapped the three in his huge long arms. He rocked them back and forth for a few seconds and then said, “Why don’t ya tell us what happened?”

Almost immediately, the three women turned and wrapped their arms around Kirkland in a group hug. It reminded me of a mother hen with her chicks under her wings.

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 452

I was shocked at his declaration. Goggle-eyed and at a loss for words, all I could do was stare at him for what seemed like fifteen minutes. In reality, it was probably only fifteen seconds.

Finally, he smiled, put his right hand on my left shoulder and gently squeezed. This broke my trance and I took a big gulp of air.  I looked at San Cirr Ray who nodded at me in deference and then smiled. I returned her smile.

Looking out the windows in the back of the schoolhouse and then at the map again, Kann Mer Ray said, “Well, we’ve shown how to get there. Now we need to show you how to get back home.”

I nodded my affirmation to his statement because I didn’t want this to be a suicide mission.

Kann Mer Ray went over the escape route with me. Once he finished, he handed me the large map of the access route and the escape route. It automatically shrunk to the size of a napkin. I gasped at the extent of the alien technology.

Then he said, “Put your finger on a point of the map.”

DC map 1861

I did so and the map automatically zoomed in on the point. I almost dropped the magically map in my amazement. I looked at him like a boy who had been introduced to his first magic act.

He smiled and said, “Don’t let your companions see this, if you can help it. If they see it, let me know when they get back and it will be one of the things that the mind sweep will delete.”

All I could do was nod my head like a bobble-head doll.

Kann Mer Ray smiled and said, “It is time for us to depart. May Tantas’ Blessings go with you.”  Then, in an instant, they were gone.

I must have still been in a stupor when I heard heavy boots hitting the schoolhouse porch and then a hand turning the door knob. I quickly folded the map and put it in the right pocket of my vest.

Lieutenant Kirkland entered the schoolhouse, and when he saw me, he saluted.

I returned his salute and asked, “Did ya have any problems today?”

He returned, “No suh, none at all.”

I nodded and then we heard another horse being halted in front of the building. Al suddenly came in the entrance door and smiled at us.

I looked at the two and said, “Let’s sit down.”

I offered my desk chair to Kirkland because he was too tall to sit at one of the old student desks. I began, “We have Union uniforms that we will be changing into once we are down past Sandy Hook. During tha mission we will need to keep military bearing so as not to arouse suspicion. I have become acquainted with tha access to Washington City that we will be taking. Roughly speaking, we will be following tha C & O Canal towpath. Once our mission is accomplished, we will be leaving tha city by heading north and then swinging west back to tha C & O Canal towpath.  One of tha most important things for each of us to remember is to try and tone down our Southern twang.”

I had been getting head nods with the information I was giving, but the thing about Southern twang brought smiles from my compatriots.

I looked at each of the two men until I had their full attention and they had quit smiling. Then I said, “I will be the one who will destroy tha Treasury Building. I have a special weapon to accomplish this. Y’all’s part of tha mission is to kidnap Lincoln from tha President’s House and get him over to see tha destruction. Only I can work tha special weapon, so I guess y’all will have to really protect my carcass, at least until we destroy the building.”

This brought another smile from the men.

At that point I said, “Well, it’s dark enough for us to leave, so let’s go.”

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 451

I looked at the map and got the roads to follow fixed in my mind. Then I nodded and said, “Please go on.”

Kann Mer Ray continued, “At Point of Rocks, be sure to get on the C & O Canal towpath. Both the C & O canal and the towpath are on the north side of the Potomac River.  This point of your journey could be the first check point by Union cavalry. They are present at this ford periodically, but never on a consistent basis.”

Kann Mer Ray took a deep breath, and tracing the track of the C & O canal and towpath until it came to the aqueduct over the Monocacy River, he stated, “You will definitely have a check point here.”

I again raised my hand and said, “By the way, how are we gonna get through these check points?”

Kann Mer Ray looked at me and said, “Sorry Jim, I forgot to give you these.”

Again, he brought a set of three papers from the folds of his robe and handed them to me.

I took a quick look at them and looked up with a surprised expression on my face.

San Cirr Ray smiled, but Kann Mer Ray just gave me a blank stare.

I stammered, “How did ya get these?”

San Cirr Ray chuckled and answered, “We have access to the signatures of all famous historical Earth personages.

I looked down at the top paper and read:

 

So Ordered:

General Winfield Scott hereby orders safe passage to Special Agent Lieutenant James Hager. He is to be given immediate transit through all check points.

Signed:

General Winfield Scott
General of the Armies
Washington Headquarters

 

I shuffled through the other papers. There were orders for Lieutenant Kirkland and Al Madigan.

I looked up and grinned from ear-to-ear.  I had to take a gulp of air to get my voice and stammer, “Mo…most impressive.”

Kann Mer Ray smiled obligingly and again looked at the map.

I directed my gaze to the map and Kann Mer Ray continued, “Once over the Monocacy aqueduct, you need to continue traveling the C & O canal and towpath. It might be the long way to travel, but it is probably the safest.”

Again, he traced the C & O canal and towpath until he came to Lock 22 on the map. Looking at me, he declared, “Here you will depart the towpath and take the Pennyfield Lock Road to the north until it intersects the River Road.”

Glancing down at the map again, he began to trace the River Road and said, “You will travel this road all the way until it ultimately dead-ends into High Street.”

I held up my hand again and uttered, “Let me think about all this.”

Kann Mer Ray said, “Please do. We are almost at the end of the briefing.”

I nodded, stretched and looked back at the map.

After a few moments of reacquainting myself with the directions we would be taking, I said, “Okay, let’s continue.”

Kann Mer Ray took up his position over the map again, and starting with the dead-end of the River Road into High Street, he began tracing our trail and said, “Follow High Street until it comes to a small trolley line on your left. Make a left and follow the trolley line. It will take you right to the President’s House. The Treasury Building is to the east of the President’s House.”

Kann Mer Ray took a deep breath, turned to face me and said in a solemn voice, “Jim, this is a very dangerous mission. Unfortunately, we can’t help in anyway other than provide the weapon, which we will be able to explain if our bluff works on President Lincoln and he moves for a peace conference.”

He took another deep breath and gazed at me with a soul searching stare. Then he said, “I want to tell you that your mission can be categorized as ‘Doing God’s Will’.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 450

I went out the back door of the Ferry Hill mansion and headed to the stables.

As I walked into the stables, Stonewall whinnied and John Lee brought him, fully saddled and equipped, out of his stall.

I took Stonewall’s reins from John Lee, shook his hand and swung into Stonewall’s saddle. He must have known this was a very important mission, because he was feisty and ready to go.  As I rode out of the stables, I happened to look back at Ferry Hill. Daphne was standing on the back stairs. She waved her handkerchief and I touched the brim of my hat in response.

I took the short cut to the base of the hill overlooking the Potomac River. Crossing the river on the old covered bridge, I swiftly rode to the schoolhouse and entered the site of my first job in this universe.

I walked to my desk and said, “I am here.”

Immediately Kann Mer Ray and San Cirr Ray appeared. I nodded at the twosome and they nodded back.

Kann Mer Ray held a weird device that I would describe as an old blunderbuss. Measuring from the butt plate on the stock to the end of the flared-out barrel, it was about three and a half feet long.

Kann Mer Ray motioned for me to come forward. When I got to his side, he explained, “This weapon is disguised as an antique weapon, but it is lethal in the extreme.”

Turning the dispenser of Greek Fire on its side to where the hammer was facing us, he continued, “To distribute the flame, pull back the hammer and pull the trigger. It will provide a spark just like a regular blunderbuss. It takes a moment after the spark is ignited for the liquid housed in the stock to spew out the barrel.”

“You need to be close to the building for the liquid to be effective, and I would aim the weapon at the building until all the liquid is dispensed. If you have someone that can throw water on the fire, it would cause the conflagration to intensify tenfold. If you don’t have time to add water, don’t worry; the flames will spread and not go out until the building is consumed, because the flames cannot be extinguished.”

I shifted my gaze from the blunderbuss to look at Kann Mer Ray and released a breath of air I didn’t know I had been holding.

Kann Mer Ray added, “I believe the weapon will ride just like a carbine on your saddle.”

San Cirr Ray brought forward three sets of Union cavalry uniforms and laid them on the desk.  She looked at me and smiled.

I returned her smile and stated, “Looks like y’all have thought of just about everything.”

Kann Mer Ray said, “Not quite,” and brought forth a roll of maps from his robe.

Moving the uniforms into the chair behind my desk, he unrolled the maps and said, “Let’s go over the way down to Washington City.”

I moved to where I could get a good view of the way south to the capital and all the fortifications overlooking the C & O canal that would possibly affect our line of march.

Pointing at a position on the first map just below the Shepherdstown covered bridge, over the Potomac River into Maryland, he said, “I know you are familiar with a lot of the area, but I’m going to describe your best trek anyway.”

He began, “Get on the C & O Path and follow it until you can cross over to the Harpers Ferry Road, which comes out of Sharpsburg, and travel it until you come to Sandy Hook, which is across the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry.

Ride east from Sandy Hook until you pass through Weverton, Maryland and traverse the Gap between the end of South Mountain and the Potomac River.  I recommend that you get back on the C & O Canal Path at that point and follow it as it passes south of the towns of Knoxville and Brunswick. Once past these towns, you won’t encounter any towns or settlements until you get to Point of Rocks, which is a major ford on the Potomac River.”

“I suggest you don the Union cavalry uniforms before you reach Point of Rocks and discard your other clothes.”

I raised my hand in abeyance of the information to let what he had said sink into my mind.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 449

The late afternoon sun shone through the windows of the left parlor as I opened the doors to see if the planning cabal was still in session. Needless to say, they were hard at it.

Daphne looked up, smiled at me and blew me a kiss. Then she and Annie went into another round of discussion about the baby clothes and how they needed to be cared for.

Mrs. Douglas began to shuffle through a few piles of infant clothing, which had suddenly appeared since I had last set foot in the parlor earlier this morning. I took a wild guess and deduced that these were Willie Douglas’s old baby clothes that were now ours to use. The colors of the clothes ranged from white to a drab gray. It seemed that hand-me-downs were a customary sacrament in the 19th century, as well as the 20th century, when I was growing up.

I closed the parlor door and went upstairs to our bedroom. I retrieved all my extra loaded cylinders for my Colt pistols and put them in my vest pockets. Taking a deep breath, I looked longingly around at the bedroom that Daphne and I shared for the last few months. It had been heavenly. I was hoping that we would have many more years together.

Walking slowly downstairs, I went to the left parlor and peeked in. The three ladies had their heads together, probably conjuring up a whole passel of things to do at the cottage. I watched them for a few moments and then hissed, “Pssst,” at Daphne.

She looked at me and grinned.

I smiled back and motioned to her to come out in the hall.

Once in the hall, she rushed into my arms and said, “Ya won’t believe all tha wonderful things we’re gonna do to tha cottage.”

I laughed and squeezed her tightly. Then I said, “I can’t wait to see all ya’ve got planned.”

She had me in one of her chest crushing hugs and wouldn’t let go. Then she confessed, “I want ya to know that I’ve never been so happy in all my life as I am right this moment, and it’s all because of ya.”

If it is possible, I believe she gripped me harder. I finally had to plead, “Darlin, yar squeezing me to death. Can ya let go a little?”

She laughed and eased up, which allowed me to actually suck in a breath of fresh air. If I didn’t know any better, I believed Daphne was part boa constrictor.

I reached up and took her by her shoulders.  Gently I pushed her back, which caused her to let go of me. I held her at arm’s length and took a few deep breaths.

She chuckled and asked, “What did ya wanna see me about?”

I finally got my lungs operating again and uttered, “Whew.”

Then I lied.

“I got word from Mosby that he needed to see in Harpers Ferry as soon as possible.”

She immediately frowned, crossed her arms and demanded in a rapid staccato beat, “Haven’t ya done enough for tha Cause? Can’t he leave ya alone for a while? I’m ‘bout ready to declare war on the gov’ment if’n he don’t leave us alone.”

I had to smile at her onslaught, which was the wrong thing to do, because she stamped her foot and added, “I mean it Jim.”

I glanced down at the floor, got a hang dog look on my face and acknowledged truthfully, “I hate it just as much as ya do, but I promise to get back as soon as I can.”

She lost some of her bluster, but she still wore a frown and glared at me, which seemed to make her deep brown eyes flare to life.

I added, “Darlin, ya don’t need to get so worked up during this time cause it might hurt little Jamie Lee some way.”

This statement caught Daphne by surprise. She hadn’t thought about our incubating baby, and almost immediately, she let out a sigh and said, “Ya’re right. I have to think about her right now.”

Her whole mien changed as if another entity took control of her senses. She quit frowning and, looking reflectively at me, stated, “Thank ya for getting me to remember my duty to our child.”

It was all I could do to keep from crying. I just nodded and croaked, “I love ya Daphne. Thank ya …”

I couldn’t finish. So I took her in my arms and fought back the tears that wanted to spill down my checks. Somehow I was able to staunch the flow.

Daphne wrapped her arms around me, but didn’t squeeze too hard. She sobbed and declared, “I love ya too Jim. So very much.”

It took a few moments to regain control of my emotions.  When I had, I released my hold on her and she released her grip on me. We moved back so we could see each other’s face. She had her phantom handkerchief and was dabbing her eyes.

I pulled her to me and kissed her fiercely. She responded in like manner. It seemed as if each of us poured passion, love and adoration into each other during our prolonged embrace.

We broke from the melding of our spirits and looked at each other in a new light. It seemed as if we were now united on a deeper plane than just the physical plane.

We smiled at each other with a joy that was akin to a kind of mental rapture.

Daphne said, “I’ll be praying for ya.”

I put my left hand on Daphne’s shoulder and my right hand where our baby was located and vowed, “I will complete this mission and get back to my family quickly.”

Turning , I walked toward the mansion’s back door.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 448

We all retired to the parlor after dinner, and each of us told what had been happening during the last few months. I purposely left out a lot of military information.

We finally broke up about 9:00 pm. The Newcomers went upstairs to Willie’s room. Willie was relegated to sleeping in his mother’s room.

I told Daphne that I needed to speak with John Lee and went to the stables.

John Lee was working on a harness by lantern light when I encountered him at the end of the stable. He looked up and smiled.

I pulled up a bale of hay and sat down. He continued to work on the leather goods and didn’t say a word.

Finally, I said, “I’m gonna be leaving tomorrow night. I would greatly appreciate it if ya would have Stonewall ready to go with enough food for four days and a bag of oats.”

He looked up, and I could tell he knew something special was going on, because he had a very serious look on his face.

I continued, “I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I want ya to take care of Daphne and our daughter no matter what.”

He took a big gulp of air and nodded gravely at my request.

I reached my right hand to him, and he took it in his right hand.

Then I said, “Ya and Al are tha best friends I have. Thank ya for all ya’ve done for us. I hope I have returned that devotion in kind, but, if I haven’t, I apologize. I just wanted to let ya know I think of ya as part of our family.”

John Lee looked surprised at first, but then he gripped my hand, and we shook hands.

I got up, put the hay bale back in its proper place and walked out of the stable.

Stonewall must have been dead to the world because he didn’t whinny once while I was in the stable.

The next morning, we had a big breakfast and said our good-byes to the Newcomers.  They left for Halltown about 10:30am.

After they left, I went to the stables and let Stonewall out of his stall and gave him free rein of the area. Then I spent the rest of the morning and the early part of the afternoon in the stables, loading cartridge cylinders for my Colts. I had about eight of them completed before 2:00 pm.

I was feeling butterflies in my stomach because of the fateful mission on which we were about to embark.  I knew that Daphne would be able to pick up on my sense of trepidation. So I stayed away from her as much as possible.

Luck was with me because Daphne, Annie and Mrs. Douglas were deep in their final planning stages of our move to the cottage in Shepherdstown. They were ensconced in the left parlor and making out their lists of things to carry to the cottage. Lord only knows when this great exodus was slated to take place.

I walked around the grounds, with Stonewall following close behind, and looked at all the trees, which were just starting to show buds. A few flowers had bloomed and were brilliantly displayed for our pleasure.

Once we got back at the stables, I turned to Stonewall. He stepped forward and put his head against my chest. I began to rub and massage his jaws. When he went into his meditative trance, I said, “We’re going on a very important mission tonight. I don’t know how it’ll turn out. We both could be killed.”

Stonewall snorted his understanding and gently nudged me with his head.

I continued, “I never have had tha privilege of tha rapport we have shared before, and I just wanted ya to know I couldn’t have accomplished any of tha missions I was given if it hadn’t been for ya.”

Stonewall nudged me again with his head. In response I moved to his side, wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him.

He whinnied and moved his head up and down.

I grinned and let him go. Then I said, “Well, it won’t be long before John Lee will saddle ya up and we’ll be on our way. So get as much rest as ya can.”

Stonewall snorted, turned, walked down to his stall and entered.

I grinned and walked to the back of Ferry Hill. Once at the back door, I took a deep breath and entered.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 447

We had a family reconciliation with Mr. and Mrs. Newcomer. I had never seen Mr. Newcomer as friendly toward me as he was during our reunion. Unfortunately, I am a skeptical person. Although I presented a friendly façade to the couple, I still had my doubts regarding their intentions.

Anyway, we talked and shared what we had being doing since leaving their home due to the warning at gunpoint that Daphne issued to Mr. Newcomer and his subsequent order to leave forever.

The big question I had was, “Where is Ahab?”

I counted him as one of the last dangerous enemies to Daphne and me. When I finally got the conversation around to asking Mr. Newcomer about him, Mr. Newcomer immediately looked at Mrs. Newcomer. She got a really angry look on her face, but didn’t say anything.

Mr. Newcomer bowed his head, cleared his throat, looked up at me and said, “He’s gone.”

I got a confused look on my face and looked at Daphne. She said gently, “Poppa, what do ya mean?”

Mr. Newcomer looked at her and explained, “He tied us up and gagged us, took all tha money we had in tha house from our secret places, which he had learned about over tha years, and took off.”

“What do ya mean, took off?” Daphne probed.

“He robbed us and then he and Bessie stole two horses from tha stables. They took off and we nor anyone else has seen hide nor hair of ‘em since,” Mr. Newcomer revealed.

I asked, “When did this take place?”

“I ’spect ‘bout a week ago,” Mr. Newcomer said.

“Was there anything that ya think could have caused him to do what he did?” I probed.

Mr. Newcomer bowed his head in thought and after a few seconds looked at me and disclosed, “Not really.” He got a confused look on his face and said, “But, it was right after we got word that Elias Throckmorton had been taken into custody for being a Yankee spy that all this happened.”

My eyes opened as wide as saucers. I looked at Daphne. She had the same surprised expression on her face.

Looking back at Mr. Newcomer, I asked, “Did Ahab ever have any meetings with Sheriff Gill or Elias Throckmorton that ya know of?”

Mr. Newcomer looked at the ceiling for a long time. Then he looked at me and  answered, “He was rarely away from tha mansion except on family business, but he often went to town by himself. I guess he could have met with ‘em there, but it don’t seem likely,”.

It was my turn to look at the ceiling and try to think when Ahab could have given information to Gill or Throckmorton that resulted in an attempt on Daphne or my life. One attempt came to mind, which was when we left Martinsburg and had the shootout with the two killers on our way back to the Newcomers home. Ahab had driven the carriage in which we traveled. However, he hadn’t participated in the gunfight. In fact he had helped in using the carriage team as a battering ram.

I looked at Mr. Newcomer and said, “I think ya had a spy in yar household that kept Sheriff Gill and, therefore, Elias Throckmorton appraised of Daphne and my movements.

Mr. Newcomer’s shocked reaction wasn’t an act. He responded as if he had been hit by a bolt of lightning. His fell back on the divan and his eyes took on a glassy stare. Once he assimilated the information, his face registered a look of total devastation. He looked at Mrs. Newcomer, whose face also showed a look of despair.

Tears of anguish began to run down Mrs. Newcomer’s cheeks. She put her hand on Mr. Newcomer’s arm and sobbed, “Oh, Horus.”

Mr. Newcomer put his hand over his wife’s and hung his head. When he raised his head, tears flowed down his cheeks. Looking at Daphne, he stammered, “I…I…I’ve been such a fool. Can ya ever forgive me?”

Daphne bolted out of her seat toward Mr. Newcomer. He stood up and took Daphne in his arms. They both shook with the release of emotions, which disintegrated the wall erected between them. Mrs. Newcomer stood and was welcomed into the family hug.

After a few moments I stood and smiled at the creation of a new family right before my eyes that was based on love and respect.

The three released themselves from the family hug and began to smile and then laugh at the wonder of this total injection of love into their family relationship.

Mr. Newcomer turned and walked toward me. He extended his hand and stuttered, “I…I’m truly sorry for all I have cause ya and Daphne. I won’t blame ya if ya don’t wanna shake.”

I laughed and hugged him, which led to another family hug, except this time there were four participants instead of three. We all laughed and cried together.

Mrs. Douglas, who must have been listening at the door to the parlor, entered with tears running down her cheeks and said, “Praise God!”

This brought a lot of “amens,” from us.

Each of the Newcomers took turns hugging Mrs. Douglas and expressing how much they appreciated her taking care of Daphne and me.

Then Mrs. Douglas said, “Let’s all retire to tha dining room. Dinner is already on the table.”

Everyone filed out to tha parlor with a new lease on life and headed to the dining room.

 

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