I must have turned ashen because Hattie said, “Jim, ya have the look of death on yo face. What’s wrong?”
I turned to her and said in a barely audible voice, “I just been conscripted.”
She gasped, “What? How can they do that?”
“Believe me, they can do it,” I exclaimed.
I turned to the Corporal and asked, “Where were you given this message and where am I supposed to go?”
He looked hesitantly at Hattie as if he didn’t trust her. I probed, “You know what these papers bestow on me?”
He turned red and hesitantly answered, “Sort of.”
“Well, I am now a Lieutenant in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry.” I pointed at Hattie and stated, “This lady has saved my life and nursed me back to health. I trust her with my life. Now, where did you get these orders and where am I supposed to go?”
Hattie turned to the Corporal, put her hands on her hips and with a smirk on her face tilted her head in askance of the information I had demanded. The Corporal lowered his head in chastisement and uttered, “I’s south of herah at our camp along tha C&O at Major Mosby’s camp when I got the orders to find ya and that’s where ya supposed to go.”
I turned to Hattie and entreated, “Let’s keep this amongst ourselves. I might have to send a request for your help in the near future and I needed you to know what is going on.”
She beamed from ear to ear and affirmed, “Jim, you can count on me.”
“Thanks Hattie. I really appreciate you.”
She turned red as a beet and then uttered, “Well, I need to get y’all some food on the table, cause ya probably won’t be eating good for a while.” She then puttered off to fill our plates.
I told the Corporal, “I got shot at when I arrived here. It was by the grace of God that I didn’t get my head blown off. I want you to cover me while I saddle my horse and as soon as we’ve eaten we’ll beat feet to Mosby.”
He looked at me with a funny expression and I quickly said, “Sorry, I’m using ole Arkansas jargon. I mean we will hasten to the Confederate Camp on the C&O.”
After hearing the explanation, he nodded in comprehension.
The Corporal upholstered his pistol and went out the door toward the barn. I hurriedly followed, and in no time I had Goliath saddled and ready to go.
We went back in the house and ate what I hoped wasn’t my last meal. I made up my mind if it was going to be a dying man’s last repast I was going to make it a banquet. Well, I stuffed my body with so much food that I had to make a trip to the outhouse before we set out to report to Mosby.