When I entered the telegraph office, Pvt. Richards and Pvt. Gray jumped to attention and saluted. I returned their salutes and asked for pencil and paper. I quickly drafted a message to Mosby, asking him to ride to Shepherdstown with a contingent of cavalry to take possession of one of the chief spies in the local spy ring.
I gave the message to Pvt. Charles Richards, the telegraph operator, who in my old universe was my great-great-grandfather. As usual, all the history here is all muddled up. In this universe, he is almost a thousand miles north of where he lived in my old universe. Another weird and intriguing fact in my old universe is that Oscar Gray was Hattie Gray’s father. Who is Papa that Hattie is always referring to? If the Oscar Gray in the telegraph office is Oscar Gray, Jr. then he is Hattie’s brother. I got a headache just trying to understand how both Charles and Hattie could co-exist in their early twenties in this universe. It definitely is mind boggling.
Anyway, while Pvt. Richards was sending my message, I ask Pvt. Gray, “Are ya Hattie Gray’s brother?”
He looked shunned and then answered, “Yes, I am.”
I just nodded and waited for Pvt. Richards to finish sending my message. At least one of many questions was answered.
Once my message went through, almost immediately Pvt. Richards got a return message indicating Mosby would be leaving Harpers Ferry for Shepherdstown within the hour.
I thanked the two Privates and went back to the bank. In the meantime, Al had found some rope and tied Eldredge to a chair. Eldredge looked as if he had aged fifty years. His hang-dog expression was accentuated by tear stained cheeks.
I took Al aside and said, “Mosby is on his way here. I believe that Throckmorton has skedaddled, but I have to check it out just the same. I’m gonna need ya to back me up.”
Nodding toward Eldredge, I said, “Let’s take this varmint down to tha telegraph office and leave him with tha two soldiers there while we check out Throckmorton’s house.”
Al said, “Sounds good to me.”
We untied Eldredge, except for his hands, and marched him to the telegraph office. There was an extra chair there, so we sat him down and tied him up again. I got out my bandana and stuffed it in Eldredge’s mouth.
Once he was secure, I turned to the two Privates and ordered, “This man is not to be untied for any reason. No matter who comes in here and says to untie him. Don’t do it. Refer anyone who tries to get him released to me. Don’t even give him water or let him go to tha outhouse. Don’t even talk to him. He’s like a poisonous snake. He’ll kill ya when ya least expect it. Do y’all understand?”
Both men’s eyes were bulging out of their sockets by the time I had finished. They turned and looked at Eldredge. Then they turned back to me and nodded profusely that they understood.
I said, “Good.” Pointing at Al, I informed them, “We’re gonna go look for Mr. Throckmorton. He’s tha worst snake of them all. If’n he comes in here, get tha drop on him and hold him for me. Do ya understand?”
Both men again nodded in agreement.
Al and I turned and walked out the telegraph office’s door without saying another word. We mounted our horses and rode slowly to the Throckmorton residence located about three blocks away on Washington Street. Before we reached the Throckmorton house, we split up with Al coming in from the back of the house and me from the front.
I leisurely rode to the front gate of the waist high white picket fence that surrounded the two story brick abode and dismounted. Stonewall snorted his “be careful” snort.
Going through the gate and advancing up the walkway to the front porch, the hackles on my neck were standing up. I expected to be shot with each advancing step. Once on the porch, I rapped on the door rather hard.
Almost immediately a black lady in a maid’s dress opened the door and said, “May I help ya, suh?”
I asked, “Is Mr. Throckmorton at home?”
“Naw sir. He just left with Mrs. Throckmorton. They gone away for a few days,” she informed me.
“Could ya tell me if’n they went by carriage or on horseback,” I probed.
“Tis funny ya should ask. Mrs. Throckmorton went down toward Harpers Ferry and Mr. Throckmorton left like he’s headed nawth,” the maid divulged.
“Was he on a horse?” I asked.
“Oh, yes suh. He’s on his black stallion, what he keeps in tha livery stable,” she added.
I doffed my hat and said, “Thank ya very much.”
I ran down the path toward the front gate, barged through it and mounted Stonewall. I turned him toward the side street and said, “Let’s go.”