The two Newcomer boys, Mrs. Newcomer, Daphne and a few of the house servants comprised the greeting committee. I noted that Mr. Newcomer, Ahab and Bessie weren’t members of the welcoming throng.
I shook hands when offered, gave an embarrassed smile and moved toward the main house as swiftly as respectability would allow.
Once inside, I proceeded to the servant’s eating area and sat down. I was exhausted. Everyone said I needed to move to the main dining room, but I pleaded excessive tiredness and kept my seat. I hoped this would send everyone away and allow me to find a bed somewhere close, but no luck.
The participants moved the main dinner items to my locale and we had a picnic of sorts. There were only four chairs, and since I had procured one, Daphne, Mrs. Newcomer and Tom Newcomer procured the others.
I have to admit I was hungry, but it was a chore to eat and provide answers to the many questions asked of me. Finally, I held up my hands and stated, “I am so very tired. Please, may I go back out to the barn and bed down for the night?”
I was met with all kinds of refusals. Abruptly, Daphne said, “Ya will sleep on tha chaise lounge in tha parlor. I doubt ya could make it upstairs to a bedroom.”
I smiled at her compassion and noted that Nurse Daphne was still alive and well at the Newcomer hacienda.
She helped me to my feet, and I shuffled to the parlor. My legs gave way when I began to sit down on the chaise lounge, and I hit the low-cut sofa with a bang.
Daphne said, “We need to get ya under tha covers quickly.”
I nodded my agreement.
Daphne turned to the horde that had accompanied us to the make-shift bedroom and said, “Everybody out. I need to get Lt. Hager put to bed.”
I almost laughed out loud when I saw the reaction of Daphne’s order on Mrs. Newcomer’s face. She put one hand on her forehead, another on her heart and gasped, “Daphne!”
Daphne retorted, “Oh mama, don’t worry. It’s all very platonic plus I have to check Jim for any problems dealing with the saber wound on the back of his head.”
I believe the idea of having to stay and witness looking at my injury far outweighed the problem of proper restraint in Daphne’s helping me physically get ready for bed, because as I took off my coat, Mrs. Newcomer scooted out of the parlor like a scared haint.
At this point Mr. Newcomer, Ahab and Bessie made their appearance by entering my make-shift accommodation as everyone else was leaving. Mr. Newcomer advanced on Daphne and me while Ahab closed the parlor doors and stood guard with Bessie by his side. I began to stand up when the gang of three entered the room.
Mr. Newcomer saw the two Colts stuck in my belt as he approached. He said in very placating tone, “Please sit Mr. Hager. I just wanted to say how much we appreciate yar taking care of Daphne as well as Ahab and Bessie on tha road last night.”
I looked at him for a moment with an ashamed expression, and then looking at the floor, confessed, “I don’t believe they’d have been in any peril if they’d been with anyone but me. I apologize for the danger I put them in.”
Mr. Newcomer uttered, “What do ya mean?”
I looked up to see a bewildered look on his face.
“Well, sir. I believe we have a group of assassins in our midst that have wounded Major Mosby and tried to kill me along with Daphne, Ahab and Bessie tonight,” I asserted.
Mr. Newcomer had a quick intake of breath, but once he had gotten over his shock, asked, “Why?”
“I believe we have a bunch of Union spies operating in this area, and they have tried to take out certain of our cadre in the cavalry,” I explained.
Mr. Newcomer looked at me with a questioning look and asked, “They tried to take you out?”
“I’m sorry sir. That is an expression which means they tried to kill us,” I clarified.
At this juncture, I glanced at Daphne. My opinion of what had happened must have been an unwanted revelation, because one of her hands had drifted to her mouth while the other was clinched in a fist over her heart.
I looked back at Mr. Newcomer and declared, “Once I leave here tomorrow, neither Daphne nor any member of yar household needs to be in my general vicinity. Also, Ahab needs to guard Daphne at all times. Whoever is tha head of this spy ring must know of my affection for her and might try to kidnap her in order to force me to act in their behalf.”
Initially, Mr. Newcomer looked at me with a fearful expression in response to Daphne being kidnapped, but it changed to a hostile look at the mention of my regard for her.