I had returned to where Stonewall was standing. He was really enjoying his meditation. I had to touch him to wake him up. He jumped with a start, but seeing me, he settled down. I told him, “I’m gonna go find us water. You stay here.”
He eyed me as if to say, “If you think I’m gonna move from this here place, you are crazy.”
I approached one of Major’s couriers and whispered, “Is therah any water to be had around herah?”
He turned, pointed north and murmured, “Therah’s a pond ‘bout a hunnerd yards that away.”
I nodded and walked back to Stonewall. This time he heard me coming and turned to look at me as I approached. I hadn’t tied him up, when I dismounted. So, he must have eaten some of the small clumps of grass that dotted the area because he didn’t appear to be grazing.
As I walked pass him toward the pond, I said in a low voice, “Let’s get some water.” He fell in behind me and followed me north. We came to the pond and he didn’t hesitate to meander down to the edge of the water and begin to drink. I took my canteen off his saddle and went down the bank from where he was steadily imbibing of Mother Nature’s nectar. I lowered my canteen into the water and just hoped that I would not get some of the wonderful bacteria that caused so much disease and death in my 19th Century Universe.
Once my canteen filled up, I took a long drink of the cool fluid before attaching it back on Stonewall’s saddle. The water tasted like it was laced with iron. It brought back memories of drinking well water back in rural Arkansas. Stonewall didn’t seem to be gorging himself, so I didn’t worry about him drinking too much water.
He lifted his head when I stood up. We turned to go back to camp, when I heard a pistol being cocked and then, “Who’s that?”
“It’s me,” I said mockingly.
“Well, ya betta not move,” came the retort.
I stood still as I heard approaching footsteps. “Raise ya hands,” was the next command.
I slowly raised my hands. Stonewall had stopped with me. When he turned to look back at our assailant, he laid his ears back. I didn’t know if this was one of our pickets so I followed his orders.
“Turn around,” the intruder directed. I turned and as I recognized who was accosting us my mouth gaped open. It was Mr. Hawks. I smiled, but he didn’t return my smile.
“Well, well, if’n it ain’t tha Reb spy,” he exclaimed. “Ya gonna bring a right fine reward from tha Yanks back in Boonsboro. Once’t you left my cabin, I found out that therah’s a thousand dollahs on your head.”
“Ya gave me a puny sum for what all I done for ya. Well, I’m a-gonna get my just reward now!” he gloated.
“Ya sure are,” I smirked as I brought my hand down hard on Stonewall’s right hindquarters.