A NOVELETTE OF TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
We rounded up the horse belonging to the killer that Al had just offed, along with the horse of the man that died on the river bank. That cayuse was temporarily lame. After we massaged the leg that it was favoring, he recovered quite rapidly.
We draped the killers’ bodies across the backs of their horses, and were just about to take them to town, when five Confederate troopers forded the Potomac and yelled at us to hold up. Once they came ashore, I saw that Lieutenant Kirkland was leading the contingent.
He and I had a great reunion, and I introduced him to Al. They seemed to hit it off; for which I was really thankful. They had been in the Confederate camp across the Potomac and had heard the shooting. The Lieutenant had come to investigate.
When I told him of the circumstances, he was truly amazed and said, “I need to stay around ya more often. I knew that I would see action when I joined up with ya and Major Mosby. However, lately it has been very quiet and I would like to have some action.”
Al laughed and said, “Lieutenant, be careful of what you wish for. When it comes to being around Jim Hager, ya will definitely get a barrel full of action.”
Lieutenant Kirkland laughed and said, “I truly believe ya.”
“We’re headed back to town to deposit these corpses at the mortician’s parlor,” I stated. “Do ya want to accompany us?
Kirkland said, “Yes. I’d be happy to. It’d give me a chance to survey the site of the shooting.”
Dismissing his troopers and telling them to return to camp, Lieutenant Kirkland rode with us to town. Once we had left the dead gunmen with the mortician, we went to the telegraph office.
When we arrived, the private whom I had told to find a guard for his protection was trying to tidy up the telegraph office. He had already nailed some boards over the blown-out window and swept up the glass and chunks of wood that were the results of the laceration of the front wall and office door by the buckshot from the assassins’ shotguns.
When we walked in the office, the private and his guard came to attention. They saluted. Kirkland and I returned the salute.
The private took a deep breath and said, “Capt’n, ya was surely right that sumthin’ was gonna happen. I wanna thank ya for sending me outta here before the shooting started.”
I grinned and said, “Well private, I ‘spect it was the least I could do.”
Looking around the place, I added, “Looks like ya have the situation well in hand. Do ya have the armament that I told ya to get?”
“Yes suh. Plus a few more pistols besides,” he answered.
I chuckled, “Well good. I just hope ya don’t have to use ‘em.”
Looking at the other private that was still standing at attention, I asked, “Are ya the guard?”
“Yes suh,” he replied.
“By tha way, what’s y’all’s names?” I inquired.
The soldier that operated the telegraph responded, “I’m Private Richards, and this is Private Gray.”
My mouth dropped open so wide that I could have put a large apple in it without touching a tooth.
The Privates looked apprehensive and thought they had done something wrong.
I closed my mouth, but continued to look at them with a stunned expression. I finally got control of my mental capacities and asked, “What’s y’all’s first names?”
Private Richards said, “My name’s Charles,” and, pointing at the Private Gray, he added, “This here’s Oscar.”
This really hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to put my hand on the counter of the telegraph desk to keep my equilibrium.
Al slipped up beside me and whispered, “Are ya alright, Jim?”
I nodded and looking at Private Richards inquired, “Is the telegraph okay?”
“Yes,” he answered in a perplexed voice.
“Good” I answered and walked out of the office.
Al and Kirkland followed, but I could tell they were wondering what was wrong with me.