After getting the reply from Confederate Cavalry headquarters, we all thanked Mr. Throckmorton for his generous supply of the punch, lanterns and all the other paraphernalia that made the dance such a success. He accepted graciously and said that this is the best school Shepherdstown has ever had.
He looked at me with a knowing smile and said, “And the best-controlled class that I have ever witnessed.”
I smiled back and added, “The students are the best I have ever had the privilege to teach.”
We both bowed to each other. Then Mrs. Douglas, Willie, Daphne and I got in the carriage.
We had to wake up the driver and the two female servants, who were crowded together on the driver’s bench, for it was quite late. After we had gone about a block, Daphne turned to me and queried, “What was all that conversation about with Mr. Throckmorton? There was hidden meaning in both his backdoor praise and your rejoinder.”
I turned to her with the most innocent smile and responded, “Well, I don’t know what ever you mean.”
Her eyes narrowed and she said snappishly, “Jim Hager, what have you been up to?”
I replied, “Nothing. I just got the students’ attention and everything turned out wonderfully.”
Before Daphne could erupt into a demand for the reason for the veiled exchange between Mr. Throckmorton and me, Mrs. Douglas said, “Daphne, once we are home I will tell you the whole story. Willie told me what happened.”
I looked toward Willie and, thankfully, he had joined the female servants in blissful slumber. Daphne looked at me with a knowing expression that I had probably gone outside the bounds of good deportment. I just smiled back and she narrowed her eyes even more in my direction.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you,” she chastised.
We progressed through town and came to the old covered bridge over the Potomac. Clouds had rolled in and there was no moon. It was pitch black when we entered the bridge. You couldn’t see you hand in front of your face. I quickly leaned toward Daphne and with my left hand turned her face to me. She willingly let me guide her lips to mine and we kissed delicately and sweetly, savoring each other’s affection. I thought we had gotten away with some late night delight when Mrs. Douglas said, “All right you two. That’s enough of that.”
Her admonishment jolted us back to the proper etiquette and we resumed sitting innocuously side by side.