We moseyed up the lane, and when we got within about 20 feet of the house, the door was cracked open and a musket was shoved through the opening. A gravelly voice slurred, “Who’s dat?”
Al answered, “Al Madigan and friends.”
“What in tarnation er ya doin out herah this time of nite?” the inebriated soul queried.
“Let us come in and we’ll tell ya,” Al said. “Thar’s a reward involved. Al tantalized.
Well, why didn’t ya say so in tha furst place? Come on in,” the voice exclaimed.
We all dismounted, and Tom took the horses around to the rear of the house to bed them down and keep them from being seen from the road. Al and I walked on to a rickety front porch. The owner stood by the side of the door as Al entered. Our host shook hands with Al and then stepped back to get a good look at him by the light of a small fireplace.
He then laughed and in a mocking tone said, “Well look at ya in your purdy new uniform.”
I hadn’t entered yet, but the smell of the lair wafted out the door. The stink from this man’s humble shack could gag a maggot. I really didn’t want to go any further, but Al motioned me inside. I momentarily balked, but decided if Al could stand it, I could, too. I advanced into the abode and was introduced to our host.
“Jim, this is Earl Hawks,” Al said, “the man I recommended for the job.”
I was caught off balance for a moment and looked at Al in bewilderment.
Al continued, “You remember about information and a reward.”
I suddenly got with the program, and putting on a bonhomie smile, I grabbed the grimy paw of our host in a firm hand shake and stated, “Oh, yes. Mr. Hawks it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
This brought a gap-tooth grin from our host and he literally smacked his lips in anticipation of some kind of reward. As the fire light hit our host full in the face, I suddenly thought that I had seen this man before, but couldn’t quite place him.
About this time Tom arrived at the front door. Having deposited our mounts for the night, he was also introduced to our greedy host.
Mr. Hawks got right down to cases with, “What can I do fur ya that I can collect this herah reward?”
I turned to Al, and he took up the story line. Basically he told Hawks that we had been sent to learn about the traffic up and down the Valley Road from someone that could be trusted and was an expert on the area. Al said Mr. Hawks had immediately come to mind for this first bit of information with other informational visits and rewards to follow.
This brought our host’s avaricious reply, “How much?”