We had a leisurely lunch and enjoyed each other’s company. John Lee opened up a little more and told of the days when he was a horse tamer. He had broken a lot of horses and gentled them for young aristocrat ladies in Frederick City for fox hunting. That business dried up in the 1850’s when fox hunting went out of style for ladies.
Daphne tried to get me to tell more about Arkansas. I spun a tale about Jim Bowie getting one of his famous knives made at Washington, Arkansas, which was one of the last towns before crossing the Red River into Texas. This kept both of them engrossed for a few minutes. I tried to remember some of my Arkansas history before the Civil War and finally discussed Arkansas coming into the union in 1836 along with Michigan in early 1837. This was when the Missouri Compromise was in full swing. If a state that allowed slavery wanted to join the union, then a free state also had to join the union at the same time.
We finished lunch, and it seemed we had established the basis of a friendship between us. Getting up to leave, I asked John Lee, “Where ya gonna go now?”
“To get the hosses ready for moving tomorrow,” he answered.
I nodded my head and said, “When yar thru, come knock on our door. Ya can sleep in the spare bedroom we have down the hall.”
He looked at me in wonderment. Then he smiled, nodded his head and left via the hotel back door for the livery stable.
I left some specie on the table for the meal and a little more for the cook, who was so gracious to allow us to use the pantry for our meal.
Daphne and I went through the lobby to the stairs leading to our room. Holding hands with my beloved as we ascended to the second floor, my heart was beating ninety miles an hour. Both of us knew what was on each other’s mind. We were giddy and anticipatory as we stopped in front of our hotel door.
Daphne said, “Pick me up and carry me over the threshold. I just love it when ya do that.”
I smiled and picked her up, feinting as if she was heavy. I stood there acting as I could barely hold her up and then joked, “How much did ya eat for lunch?”
She hit me on the shoulder and retorted, “Oh, you rascal!”
We both laughed as I entered the door and set her down. Quickly, I wedged a chair under the door knob and turned to Daphne. She rushed into my arms. Needless to say, we enjoyed an afternoon of delight.
Later in the afternoon, I got up from the bed and washed up in the hotel basin. I put on my clothes and checked my Colts and the four additional loaded cylinders to make sure they were still packed sufficiently to discharge.
I walked to Daphne’s side of the bed and looked at my sleeping wife. She lay on her back with her long black tresses splayed out from her head creating a semi-circle of ebony enhancement to her beauty. If she were alive in the 21st century, she would have won many beauty contests. I was still amazed that I was loved by this wonderful woman. Love and adoration poured from my heart toward her.
She must have sensed either the love or me standing over her, because she stirred and opened one eye to look sleepily at me. It took her a moment to focus, and when she did, she asked, “Is everything alright?”
I answered, “Everything is just perfect.”
She smiled and yawned. “What cha doing all suited up?” she inquired.
“I’m gonna go to the livery stable and then look around. Do ya have yar pistol handy?” I asked.
“Yes. It’s under my pillow,” she rejoined.
“Good. Why don’t ya wedge the chair under the door knob when I leave? I won’t be gone long,” I stated.
She replied, “Okay.” Then slyly smiled and said, “Don’t be gone too long.”
I grinned from ear to ear, bent down and gave her a lingering kiss. Once we broke from the embrace and finally were able to catch our breaths, I stood, put on my hat, took the chair from under the door knob and mouthing, “I love ya,” left the room.
I waited in the hall until I heard Daphne wedge the chair under the door knob. Then I walked down the stairs and left via the hotel back door for the livery.
I wasn’t as skittish as I was before, but I still kept one hand on the butt of a Colt.
I entered the livery and found John Lee administering to the horses. He looked up at me in surprise and said, “I didn’t expect ya back herah until tha morning.”
I nodded and stated, “I needed to look around and get the lay of the land for our upcoming departure.”
“By the way,” I ventured, “ya don’t have any back up loaded cylinders for yar Colt, do ya?”
“Naw, I don’t,” he answered.
I handed him two loaded cylinders and said, “Take these. I hope we don’t need ‘em on the way home, but ya can never tell.”
He nodded and took the extra loads from me. When he pulled back his coat to put them in his vest pocket, I could see his Colt stuck in his trousers’ belt.
That made me feel a lot better about his readiness for any possible trouble.
I walked to Stonewall’s stall. He had stuck his head out when he heard me talking.
I saddled him, and we rode out through town to Bolivar Heights. Once there I directed us toward the River Road. I knew I was due for a meeting, and sure enough, when we reached a deserted portion of the road, she appeared.