I turned the door knob and quickly entered the house.
Hattie was standing about 5 feet in front of the door with a shunned look on her face. I
quickly shut the door, rushed toward her and, grabbing her by the shoulders, pushed her out of the pathway from the door to the protection of a solid wall of the house. She was shaking and I immediately inspected her for any bullet wounds. She had none that I could see.
I demanded, “Are you hurt?”
She looked at me with wild eyes. Then, it seemed that her mental toughness gradually returned because she slowly narrowed her eyes. And, a wild eyed afraid young woman was replaced by a tigress with a warrior’s heart.
“No, I ain’t hurt, but they done put a bullet in my coffee pot!” she exclaimed.
It didn’t even register that she had a coffee pot in her right hand and a coffee cup in her left hand. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank the Lord you weren’t wounded on my account,” I cried.
Hattie looked at me and said, “You mean that thar bullet was meant for you?”
I nodded. She looked with an astonished expression. “Oh, My Lord, Jim. Is ya so important?” she whispered.
I was aghast at how quickly she was able to comprehend the state of affairs. It must have shown on my face because she replied quickly, “Ya gots to be more careful from now on.”
“I’m not that important, but it seems the Yanks have revenge on their minds and have employed the sniper with the silver heart on his hat band and the Whitworth rifle again,” I rejoined. “Hattie, my presence here puts you and your family in danger. I would feel awful if any of you were hurt on my account. I need to move into town,” I reasoned.
“Ya ain’t going nowheres. I ain’t letting no bunch of Yanks try to run off a good friend,” she announced. “Besides I done accepted money to take care of ya for 10 months. So don’t try to get out of our deal, ya hear?”
I had to smile at that last statement. But I added, “What about Papa and your brothers?”
“Ah, theys off working and don’t know nothin about what’s been going on. So what they don’t know won’t hurt em.”
“Well, if’n I’m going to stay, you better get that hole in the coffee pot fixed,” I concluded.
“Ya just leave that to me. I’ll take care of it,” she promised.
She put down the pot and cup and looked at me with a keen eye. Then she uttered, “Jim, you looks haggard. What’s wrong?”
“I haven’t had too much sleep in the last few days. I’m going to catch a few winks,” I explained as I moseyed toward my room. “I have a Confederate cavalry horse in the barn. Would you be so kind to water and feed him? I would certainly appreciate it.”
“Sure Jim. I’ll take care of it.”
“His name is Goliath. You’ll see why when you see him.” I explained.
I closed the door to my room and staggered to the clothes pegs on the wall, took off my coat and placed it on a peg. I lurched to the bed, sat down and pulled my bracers off my shoulders. That is the last thing I remember.