A NOVEL OF TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
After a few more moments of small talk, I asked if I could take a walk to help the digestion of the wonderful food I had the privilege of partaking…and if Daphne would accompany me with a chaperon.
Daphne looked expectantly at her mother. Mrs. Newcomer in turn looked at Mr. Newcomer with a resigned look. Mr. Newcomer nodded his acquiescence and turning to Ahab directed, “You will accompany Mr. Hager and Daphne.”
Ahab looked at me at once with a stern expression that indicated he would tear me limb from limb if I as so much as breathed in her direction.
I thought, “Oh Great. Now I have this ebony Hercules, ready to take me apart if I as so much as look at her cross-eyed.”
I let out a sigh that made Mr. Newcomer grin and got to my feet.
Daphne followed suit, and I asked her the best place to take a walk. She indicated the back of the house, so we traipsed out the back door with the ever vigilant Ahab a few feet behind us. It was just getting really dark as we strolled toward the kitchen.
I asked Daphne if her older brother, Tom, was going to join up with Mosby’s Cavalry. She indicated that he had already tried, but her mother had forbade it, and the family had hired a substitute for $200 to take his place. I didn’t follow that line of questioning any further.
I asked, “Have you attended a school here in Harpers Ferry?”
She replied, “No, but I have had a few tutors. One taught me music and how to play the piano, which I have studied since a little girl. Another taught me how to read and some arithmetic. I also spent two years in Finishing School in Baltimore.”
I raised my eyebrows and said, “Oh, that explains it.”
Stopping she turned toward me and demanded in a truculent voice, “Explains what?”
Ahab was immediately behind me and no doubt was ready to carry out the ‘coup de grace’ at this young girl’s command.
As we say in the South; “her color was up,” and she was ready to defend her person from any smart-mouthed hooligan from Arkansas.
I instantly put up my hands in front of me as if to ward off an attacker, smiled and uttered, “It explains the grace and charm that emanates from your person when you enter the room.”
She suddenly smiled, looked at me coyly and returned, “Well, Mr. Hager don’t you have a gentlemanly way with words?”
I breathed a sigh of relief. This was no one to trifle with. I smiled and said, “I believe we should return to the house now.”