The time went quickly as we drove the few miles to Harpers Ferry. Daphne was cradled next to me with my left arm around her and her head buried into my chest. She couldn’t see my face so she didn’t see that I was distracted.
I was thinking about the mole that tried to kill Major Mosby and us, what we could do to keep the Yanks on the defensive, and the wonderful young women I was about to marry.
Daphne was going on and on about where we would live, how she would furnish the house, and how many children we would have. This later musing got my attention. I ventured, “How many did ya say?”
“Why, Jim Hager, ya haven’t been listening to a thing I’ve said,” she accused.
“I’m sorry Darling. I was trying to figure out who was tha person behind tha assassination attempt on tha road last night,” I confessed.
“You called me Darling,” she said in a wistful tone.
“Yes, I did,” I avowed.
“It’s tha first time ya ever called me yar darling,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“I apologize that I haven’t said it sooner, but I promise I will say it every single day we are together,” I assured her.
Like a magician she produced her enchanted handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. She smiled brightly at me and revealed, “You don’t know how much that means to me.”
I smiled back at her beautiful countenance and made the mistake of looking into those big brown eyes. I was captivated. I don’t know how she does it, but the cascading black tresses, the beautiful shape of her perfect face and those eyes never cease to mesmerize my soul. I know I looked like a hypnotized idiot, but I couldn’t help it.
Distantly I heard, “Jim, are ya alright?”
It snapped my being back to the present. I smiled and quickly returned, “Yes, I’m absolutely fine. I don’t think ya know tha effect ya have on me when I look deeply into yar eyes. You capture my soul.”
She looked at me for a long moment and then admitted, “I don’t know about ya, but I felt it from tha first time I saw ya, when ya rescued me from tha Yankees. I covered it pretty well, but ya had my heart from that moment.”
We both smiled, and the bond between us strengthened even more.
We came out of our trances and looked at the landscape. We were entering Harpers Ferry. I asked John Lee, “John, do ya know wherah tha cavalry camp is located?”
“Yes, Jim. I’m headed that away now,” he informed me.
“Thanks John,” I uttered.
In no time we traversed School House Ridge and descended a small decline. Coming down the hill, I could see the cavalry camp sprawled out to our right in a plain overlooking the Shenandoah River. John Lee drove up to the guard post and let me out. I turned back to Daphne, and taking her hands in mine, said, “I’ll meet you at the hotel as soon as I can.”
She said, “I can’t wait.”
I smiled and motioned to Stonewall. He walked over to me and I climbed in the saddle without any pain. Then, turning toward the guards at the guard posts, we moved to the inevitable bureaucratic claptrap entailed in just getting entrance to a military camp.
Due to my civilian attire, the guard looked at me warily. He brought his musket to Port Arms and said, “What do ya want?”
I retorted with authority, “Lieutenant Hager, reporting to Colonel Daniels as ordered.”
This got his attention rather swiftly. He immediately became deferential and said, “Yes sir. We’ve been told to be on tha lookout for ya and to bring ya to tha Colonel as soon as ya arrive. If ya will follow me, sir, I will take ya to the Colonel’s office.”
We followed the guard, who happened to be a corporal, through the camp to a large tent with a lean-to type fly in front. Orderlies and officers were milling around, while a white-haired man with three stars on his collar was talking to a captain. It wasn’t a friendly conversation, and I thought that the captain was getting a dressing-down.
I dismounted and waited until the Colonel was through with the captain, who walked away dejectedly. I turned to Stonewall and said, “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”
I approached the Colonel. He focused on me when I was about three feet in front of him. I stopped abruptly, saluted and uttered, “Lieutenant Hager reporting as per the Colonel’s orders.”
The Colonel was briefly taken aback. He looked me up and down and haltingly returned my salute.