A Novelette of Travel Back in Time
There wasn’t a guard on duty outside the outpost door, but there was a sergeant seated at a desk facing the front door when I entered the building.
He looked up from a stack of correspondence when I entered. Laying the paperwork aside, he asked, “What may I do for ya, sir?”
I smiled and asked, “Is tha commanding officer available?”
The sergeant motioned toward a closed door, which was apparently the only other room in the building and divulged, “The Lieutenant is in conference at tha present time. If ya would like to wait, there is a bench on tha porch outside, or ya are welcome to come back later.”
I was about to answer when I heard a woman’s laugh emanate from the Lieutenant’s office.
I glanced at the closed door and raised my eyebrows. Looking back at the sergeant, I asked, “Do ya expect tha Lieutenant to be in conference for a long time?”
The sergeant blushed and answered, “No sir. He should be available any moment now.”
I nodded and remarked, “I’ll be on tha porch when he’s through.”
The sergeant wouldn’t look me in the eye as he responded, “I’ll come fetch ya when he’s out of conference.”
I didn’t reply but vacated the building and sat down on the front porch bench.
The porch had a small roof, so I wasn’t sitting in the sun. I looked around for Stonewall, but he was nowhere to be found. I figured he had found some shade somewhere and was resting from our journey.
The day wasn’t too cold, and I dozed off a few times before I heard voices raised in conversation approach the front door. Almost immediately, an attractive young lady dressed in a beautiful blue silk dress walked out on the porch, followed by a soldier in a lieutenant’s uniform that bore yellow piping, which signified he was in the cavalry.
I immediately stood and took off my hat.
The two were in such animated conversation that they didn’t notice me.
The lieutenant accompanied the young lady down the front steps to the street. Abruptly a carriage, which must have been waiting for her, came from the side of the outpost and stopped in front of her.
The lieutenant helped the lady into the carriage, whereupon she extended her hand to the officer, who eagerly kissed the back of her hand with all the flair of a 19th century gentleman.
The young lady giggled and then turned her face toward the driver. With a deep frown, which transformed her face from one of beauty to one of hatefulness, she snapped, “Driver, ya may take me home.”
Immediately, she turned her gaze back to the lieutenant and gave him a smile that was neither beautiful nor charming, but one of a petulant child. The carriage driver clicked at the team, flicked the reins and the 19th century equivalent of a Cadillac moved away.
The lieutenant smiled as the carriage disappeared down the street. Turning back toward the outpost, he saw me on the front porch with my hat in my hand.
He stopped and looked at me closely for a moment before he ventured, “May I help ya, sir?”
“Yes Lieutenant. If ya have a few moments, I would like to discuss a matter with ya,” I remarked.
“Certainly sir, please come into my office,” he declared. Ushering me into his inner sanctum, he offered me a chair facing his desk while he sat in a leather chair behind his desk. Once he was all comfy, he asked, “Well, what may I do for ya?”
I remained standing, extended my hand and said, “Please let me introduce myself. I’m Captain Jim Hager.
The lieutenant’s response was classic. His jaw dropped; his eyes bulged; and he took a big gulp, which made his Adam’s apple bob up and down.
Finally coming to his senses, he jumped to his feet and saluted.
I smiled, saluted and extended my hand again.
He tentatively took my hand but without much of a grip.
I shook his hand and let it go. I sat down, and he absentmindedly followed suit.
He was still stunned and didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Can ya keep a secret?”