I pulled out my pocket watch and, in the bright moonlight, was able to discern it was nine o’clock. As I rode toward the bridge I was halted by the sentry. We employed the regular rigmarole for passing a picket post, which included me giving the password, “Shenandoah.”
I had a few words with the Sergeant of the Guard, alerting him that I might run into some Yanks on the other side of the Potomac River and, if I did, I would be coming back across the bridge in a hurry. He said he would be on duty until midnight and would personally keep a lookout for me.
I thanked him profusely and cantered across the bridge.
Once on the Maryland side of the Potomac, I didn’t waste any time and galloped Hattie’s horse up the steep slope to the top of the hill and turned left toward Ferry Hill and my beloved. I arrived at the Douglas mansion’s front entrance and was immediately accosted by Ezra, who walked out the front door with his proverbial shotgun pointed straight at my head.
I quickly raised my hands and choked out, “Ezra, please be careful. It’s me, Hager.”
Ezra lowered his weapon and apologized, “Sorry, Mistah Hager. Just being careful.”
I responded, “No offense taken. Are the ladies of the house still up?”
“Yes, sah. They are in the left parlor,” he revealed.
I rejoined, “I’m gonna take my horse around to the stable and see if John Lee can have him ready for me in case I have to leave hurriedly.”
“Yes, sah. That is good thinking ’cause the Yanks been up and down the road to Sharpsburg for the last five hours,” he said.
I nodded and took Hattie’s horse to the stables and found John Lee. He wasn’t asleep yet and promised to have him ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Remembering being nearly shot for my abrupt entrance the last time I walked in the back door, I knocked loudly to alert anyone on watch. Sure enough, I heard the voice of a servant demand who I was. I gave my name and he told me to come on in. Upon entry there was a servant whom I had never met sitting at a table with a big dragoon pistol resting in his lap. We nodded at each other, and I headed to the parlor.
The ladies had been informed by Ezra that I was here. I saw both Mrs. Douglas and Daphne looking out the door of the parlor as I came into the hallway. Daphne rushed into my arms and we held each other close. Mrs. Douglas gave a sigh of resignation and went back into the parlor, allowing us to fervently kiss. Breathlessly, we broke from our embrace with both of us gasping for air. I had one of those poignant moments of clarity and asked myself, “Why don’t you breathe when kissing?” I broke from my silly revelry and looked deeply into Daphne’s eyes. They were like deep hypnotic chocolate pools, and again I felt I could lose myself in those orbs. I actually shook my head to clear my thinking.
She didn’t seem to notice, but asked,” Why didn’t you tell me you were a government agent?”
I responded, “Don’t believe all you heard from Major Mosby at the town meeting.”
She raised her eyebrows and said, “Please, you must explain.”