I walked out of Ferry Hill Mansion and saw the servant still holding vigil in front of the house with his shotgun. I asked him what his name was and he said it was Ezra. I saw that the carriage had been removed and asked, “Ezra, where’s the carriage?”
He replied, “John Lee’s done taken it back to the stables to clean it up and tend to the horses.”
“You ‘spect he has a horse I could ride down to the bottom of the hill and collect the body of the highwayman who tried to rob us?” I asked.
Ezra’s eyes went wide and he looked at me in amazement.
“Did you kilt him, Mr. Hager?”
“I reckon I did, Ezra,” I responded.
“Wait here, Mr. Hager. I go and get John Lee,” Ezra volunteered.
It wasn’t long at all before Ezra returned with John Lee. I recognized him at once as our carriage driver during the night. I looked at John Lee and he had the look of someone just about ready to fall down from exhaustion. His facial features had the look of someone resigned to be reprimanded or worse for the runaway carriage team. It must have shocked him to his core when I offered him my hand. He had been looking down, but when he saw my hand he looked up and our eyes locked.
“I want to thank you for being able to keep from being thrown from your driver’s seat and for getting control of the runaway team of horses. It was my stupidity in not taking into consideration what might happen when I shot the robber that resulted in spooking the team. You did a great service in rectifying my foolhardiness. I apologize for what I put you through.”
John Lee’s mouth dropped open and he looked at me as if I had two heads. I had to actually take his hand from his side to shake it. Once I had his hand in mine, he squeezed my hand with the strength of a person who had handled the reins of teams of horses for decades. I almost winced from his grip.
He stammered, “Thank you, suh.” Then he grinned from ear to ear.
I delicately asked, “Might you have a spare horse that I could ride down to the bottom of the hill and see who I shot?”
He laughed and said, “I shore do.”
As he turned to head back to the stables, I added, “And a horse for Ezra, also.”
John Lee looked at Ezra, laughed at Ezra’s discomfort, and said, “I be glad to bring him one, too.”
In just a few minutes John Lee returned with two saddled horses. I looked at Ezra and said, “You better let one of your cohorts have the shotgun. I have my pistols if we run into any more robbers.”
He retorted, “If’n it’s all the same to ya, Mr. Hager, I would like to carry the shotgun.”
“Suit yourself, but watch out where ya pointing that thing,” I entreated.
He nodded and we began our descent to the Potomac.
At the bottom of the hill, we found the body of the robber. I dismounted and walked to the deceased. The newly-risen moon illuminated the face of the corpse and I uttered, “Oh my Lord.”