A NOVEL OF TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
The bank was open when I got there, and I got a withdrawal of $7.50. The teller eyed me grudgingly but didn’t question my extraction.
Once I got the money, I went to the livery stable. The livery owner introduced himself as Jonas Coffman. Apparently, Mr. Coffman had taken me at my word and had Beauregard saddled and ready to go.
I paid him the money, mounted the dazed animal, and bent down to look Mr. Coffman in the eye. This made him move back a step or two, and I asked him the type of tricks Beauregard had played on previous riders.
“Well, ole Beau don’t like any steam whistles from boats or trains,” Mr. Coffman admitted. “They make him a bit skittish. If’n he gets real tired, he’s liable to just lay down in the road. That’s about all he does.”
I thanked him and kicked Ole Beau in the flanks, which must have awakened him, because he trotted out of the stable. I directed him south on the Shepherdstown Pike toward Halltown. I was told this was the better road than the one that skirted the Potomac River. It was longer, but not as rugged.
Beau kept trotting, so I let him go and just hung on for dear life.
He had the worst gait that I had ever experienced! I was bouncing up and down like a rag doll. My vertebrae were jammed together with each step Ole Beau took.
After about 10 minutes, I finally had enough and capitulated by pulling back on the reins and saying whoa. Beau stopped abruptly. I pitched forward, but not far enough to have the saddle horn do any damage to the tender parts of my anatomy.
Beau just stood there, in the middle of the road, with his head tucked in and his shoulders scrunched, as if he were going to be hit over the head. I reasoned that is what usually happened to the poor dumb animal, due to his unusual means of locomotion. I took a moment to look at the cayuse and understood there were a lot of tricks that Ole Beau knew.
I reached down and patted him on the side of the neck and gently touched him with the heels of my brogans. We shambled forward at a walk, southward toward Harper’s Ferry, and hopefully to find answers to some historical questions.