Once in the schoolhouse, Al and I sat the man down in the dusty teacher’s chair.
He moaned and continued to cradle his right arm close to his body.
The man had lost his hat during our shootout, so we had a good view of his face. I looked at Al and ask, “Ya recognize him?”
Al shook his head and then put his hand on the man’s right shoulder and asked, “What’s yar name?”
The man cringed and let out a yelp, but didn’t answer.
Al increased the pressure on the man’s shoulder and he shouted, “Lemuel Johnson, and quit torturing me!”
Al took his hand off the man’s shoulder and responded, “Ya think that hurts? Wait til tha doctor has to set it. Then ya’ll really have sumthin’ to yell about.”
The man looked up at Al with a fearful glance.
Al continued, “If’n ya’ll tell us why ya took some potshots at me, we’ll make tha pain go away.”
The man gave Al a dubious look.
Al put his right hand over his heart and, raising his left as if he were being sworn in at a court proceeding, vowed, “I promise.”
The man was too far gone due to the pain to hold back any information, so he blurted, “I was told by my officer to shoot Jim Hager when he came to town alone. I been hanging out waiting ‘til you showed up. When you did, I did what I was ordered to do.”
Al and I looked at each other with surprised expressions.
Al continued, “Who’s yar officer?”
“I’m not saying another word until you make the pain go away,” dictated the ambusher.
Al and I looked at each other and I shrugged. I moved behind the teacher’s chair and waited.
Al sighed, drew back his fist and hit the man square on the point of his chin. Needless to say the man was knocked out and catapulted back in his chair, which I kept from overturning. We moved the chair so it pinned the man against the teacher’s desk without it touching his broken arm and draped his shoulders and head on the desk.
Al looked at his handiwork, grinned and said, “I didn’t know we looked so much alike. I really think this idiot was so scared that he took a shot at tha first stranger that rode into town. I’m just glad he was such a bad shot.”
Al suddenly ran his hand over his face in an exasperating jester and said, “I shoulda gotten tha name of his officer before I cured his pain.”
I took a moment to reflect on the whole escapade and said, “I don’t think this was tha work of tha spy ring. This little exploit has tha odor of a certain rogue Yankee captain, who has illegally sacrificed one of his worst troopers in tha off chance that he might kill me.”
Al looked at me with a grim expression and queried, “Ya mean that Yank that was gonna take ya, Miss Daphne and Mrs. Douglas to tha Yank camp in Boonsboro?”
“Yelp. I bet it’s him who sent that poor kid to do his dirty work,” I conjectured.
“Makes sense, Jim, but how do we find out for sure?” Al asked.
I returned a very sly grin and revealed, “Ya know tha penalty for spying, don’t cha?”
Al laughed, slapped me on the shoulder and answered, “I shore do, and I bet that youngster will blab his head off when he’s told tha consequences of his actions.”
Al then scratched his jaw and said, “Ya really plan to hang ‘im?”
“Naw, once he tells me what I wanna know, I’ll charge him with attempted murder and give him to tha local authorities,” I disclosed.
Al chuckled and commented, “Jim, tha local authority in this town has been kilt by tha spy ring, and ya done kilt off tha local authority in Harpers Ferry and his henchmen. There ain’t no local authorities left, except maybe tha ones in Martinsburg.”
I was shocked at Al’s accurate synopsis of the local law officer situation.