I made it back to the livery stable after about four hours of riding (make that enduring) Beau, “the Shepherdstown Flash.” I had to keep kicking him to get any kind of a trot out of him. His one gait went “bumpa-de-bumpa-de-bump.”
I swear he jammed three of my lower back vertebrae and at least two vertebrae in my neck. Too bad they don’t have masseurs in the 19th century.
I gave Mr. Hentz, the livery owner, his money and made a note that if I ever decided to travel by horse again, I wouldn’t go the economy route.
Hattie ran to me and hugged me. The brothers came around the table to shake my hand and pound me on the back. Poppa just gave me a nod and a wave of his hand. I was astonished.
I asked, “What’s all the congratulations about?”
Hattie said, “Well, which reason do you want first?”
I just shrugged.
“Don’t be such a closed-mouth. How did you do it?” she blurted out.
“How did y’all learn about what happened in Harpers Ferry?” I queried.
“The telegraph,” she answered. “You have been the talk of the town for a solid week.”
“Oh!” was all I could muster to say.
“Now, you sit down and give us a firsthand account of your adventures.”
I was summarily ushered to the table and given a cup of coffee. Hattie went to the wood stove and returned with a plate full of greens, roasted potatoes and gravy, a ham steak, corn and a big slice of bread.
She set it down in front of me and demanded, “Now eat and tell us what happened.”
I proceeded to tell of the Yankee cavalry and being able to help rescue Daphne Jane Newcomer. I gave most of the credit to Captain Mosby. The brothers asked a bunch of questions about her. I left out any of my relationship with Daphne. I also left out the fight with Ahab.
Finally, Hattie shushed them about Daphne and told me to get on with the story.
I told of the shootout at the Throckmortons’ and that brought more questions.
Poppa, who had been keeping his eyes down as he steadily ate his food, actually looked up in surprise when I related that story. I also told of the shootout in the hotel and that I had been hit twice.
The brothers wanted proof. So I slipped off my coat and, when they saw the two pistols in my belt, they came closer to look at them. I figured out that they only used a rifle to do all their shooting and had never seen pistols up close. So they oohed and aahed over my pistols. Even Poppa told them to get out of the way so he could see the guns in my belt.
Finally, I slipped off my shirt and showed them my wounds. That really got a stunned look from them. I put the shirt back on, ultimately got all the food on my plate eaten, and answered all their questions. They would, no-doubt, be the envy of the town folk, since they got the stories first hand.
It was close to 10:00 pm when I begged off and collapsed on my bunk for the night.