I took Daphne by the arm and directed her to the left parlor. Mrs. Douglas looked up from a book in her lap and asked in a frustrated voice, “Are you two through breaking all the conventional requirements of courting?”
We both sheepishly looked at her and I replied, “Yes, Ma’am. I apologize for the way I have acted, but you can’t deny that we are madly in love. We promise to behave ourselves in the future. However, we have some very important issues to discuss. May we use the right parlor and close the doors? It is of the utmost import that we have this confab.”
Mrs. Douglas just shook her head and said in a sarcastic way, “Oh, by all means use whatever portion of the house you want to have your secret cabal meeting.”
I said in a conciliatory manner, “Thank you, and I assure you this discussion is very important.” Mrs. Douglas just waved us away.
Daphne and I retired to the right parlor and I closed the door. I took her hands in mine and explained that Major Mosby had taken liberties with my story so the town would feel safe. Also, he had let his commander think he had recruited me as an agent, which had gotten him promoted to major. I promised her that all I ever wanted to do was to love her and be a good school teacher, but circumstances had added responsibilities to those desires, whether I liked it or not.
Daphne was not a dunce. She asked me why I just didn’t refute the major’s story. I was hoping she was not going to ask me any pertinent questions. I turned red and hemmed and hawed for an answer. Daphne pulled her hands out of my mine, crossed her arms and, fixing me with a stern gaze, demanded, “Okay, Jim Hager, out with it.”
I stammered, “I couldn’t explain how I got here.”
She gave me a quizzical look and queried, “What does that mean?”
I took a deep breath and replied, “I didn’t come to this area by way of Baltimore.”
Her eyes widened and her eyebrows went up. “Well, how did you get here?” she asked.
I sat down on the parlor couch and put my head in my hands. “I don’t know,” I responded.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” she insisted.
Just then Ezra came busting in the room and said, “Yankee cavalry is coming.”
I immediately jumped up, grabbed Daphne, planted a quick kiss on her lips, and ran out the back door toward the stables.