Both of my friends gave a shocked look as my last utterance. I grinned at their astonished expressions. Then something hit me out of the blue. How come they were so chummy? As far as I knew, they hadn’t known each other before.
So, I asked, “Did y’all know each other?”
The two conspirators looked at each other in surprise. Quickly, Hattie turned to look at me and revealed, “I ain’t never laid eyes on ‘im til he waltzed in here about an hour ago and asked if’n ya was here. When I told him no, ya wasn’t, he asked for a cup of coffee. We been collaborating ever since.”
Al turned to look at me and grinned from ear to ear. I was at a loss to explain their sudden rapport, because usually it took a while for Hattie to warm to anybody. I finally shrugged and said, “Well, anyway, I know who our spy is.”
With their attention brought back to my critical information, I continued, “I don’t trust anyone but you two, Daphne, Mrs. Douglas and John Lee in this area.”
At once another set of trustworthy personages came to mind, so I added, “And the Sages.”
Continuing, I directed, “Al, I want ya to saddle up, ride to Major Mosby’s camp in Harpers Ferry and tell him that tha spy is Elias Throckmorton.”
Hattie let out a gasp. I disregarded her outburst and added, “Leave immediately and don’t stop for any reason.”
Turning to Hattie, I declared, “If anything happens to me or Al in tha next twenty-four hours, can ya contact Daphne and have her get with John Lee to deliver my message about Elias Throckmorton to Mosby?”
“Sure nuff,” she answered with grit.
I happened to glance at Al, who was observing Hattie. Al’s face revealed a certain emotion with which I was familiar. He was definitely smitten with Hattie Gray. I just smiled with this turn of events.
Al must have sensed my scrutinizing him because he looked at me, and seeing my knowing gaze, blushed from head to foot.
Hattie began to look back and forth between Al and me. Finally, she demanded, “What’s going on between ya two?”
“Nothing,” I lied. Then, getting a serious look on my face, I asked, “Can ya do what I asked?”
She puffed up and remarked, “Of course.”
I smiled and said, “I need to get back to Ferry Hill.”
Turning to Al, I directed, “When ya get back, come to Ferry Hill immediately. Don’t dally before ya check in with me.”
Al nodded and grinned. He understood that his wooing of Hattie would have to take place after my debriefing. Turning to Hattie, Al gave her a look that caused her to blush and added, “I’ll see ya later.”
With that promise of further association, he left the cabin. I heard him mount up and ride away.
I looked at Hattie and declared, “He’s a good man.”
She blushed, slapped my arm and commanded, “Go on. Get outta here.”
I walked out of Hattie’s Place, mounted Stonewall and rode back into town. When I arrived on German Street, I happened to see Mr. Throckmorton just about to enter the bank. I waved a greeting and he waved back. Instead of entering the bank, he came toward me with a big smile on his face and extended his hand in greeting. I bent down from the saddle and shook his hand.
“Congratulations Jim. I understand that you and Daphne Newcomer were married in Harpers Ferry,” he said.
“That’s right,” I responded. “It was a spur of the moment event.”
“That’s what I heard,” he rejoined.
“I appreciate yar giving Mrs. Douglas and Hattie Gray the use of yar carriage to get to tha wedding, plus getting tha word to Caleb, Joshua and Mrs. Throckmorton so they could attend,” I lauded.
He smiled and said, “It was tha least I could do for all tha help ya have given to Shepherdstown.
“I was wondering how ya found out about tha wedding so soon after Daphne and I decided to get married? It sure was short notice,” I inquired.
He thought for a moment and then said, “Oh yes! It was Mr. Black, who brought me tha information. I supposed it was from a telegram he’d received. I wasted no time in getting things started so everyone could get there for tha wedding,” he explained in a calm voice.
I said, “Well, we really appreciated yar kindness in augmenting the travel for Mrs. Douglas and Hattie Gray, plus getting word to the Throckmortons.”
He responded with his alligator smile. We doffed hats to each other and I rode toward the covered bridge.
On the way I thought, “Ya are one slippery character. Mr. Black is no longer alive to refute yar explanation. I’m gonna have to be on guard for another attempt on the life of my loved ones.”
I sighed and set my mind to thinking of defensive moves.