It was nearly eight o’ clock when I pulled up in front of Ferry Hill. John Lee happened to be there and took Stonewall’s reins when I dismounted. My old cayuse was so tired that he didn’t even whinny when led off to the stables.
I yawned, stretched and entered the mansion. Daphne and Mrs. Douglas must have been in the left parlor, because both were peering from the parlor doorway at me when I came in the entrance.
Daphne looked at me and said, “That was a pretty long time ya stayed at work.”
I just shrugged, took off my hat and walked toward the two women. I knew that I was in hot water when Daphne crossed her arms in front of her chest and narrowed her eyes. Mrs. Douglas assumed the same stance.
I looked at the heavens and thought, “Oh boy. I’m in for it.”
I tried to kiss Daphne, but she only provided her cheek. I kissed her proffered face and said, “Well, are there any leftovers from dinnah?”
Daphne growled, “Ya’re not getting one speck of food ‘til ya tell what happened in town!”
I took a deep breath and, looking at Mrs. Douglas, said, “I don’t think we will be troubling ya with our presence for much longer.”
The eyes of both ladies flew open and they almost said in unison, “What’d ya mean?”
I looked directly at Mrs. Douglas and replied, “Well we cleaned out a nest of vipers today, and I think it’s safe now for Daphne and me to live in the house we rented from ya.”
Daphne demanded, “What nest of vipers?”
I pleaded, “May I relate what happened over some food? I’m starving.”
Mrs. Douglas called, “Anna, we’re gonna need some food to bribe Jim with.”
I smiled. Daphne looked troubled. Mrs. Douglas looked intrigued.
First, I went to our room upstairs and changed into some more comfortable clothes. Daphne followed me and watched me like a hawk, but she never said a word. It was very disconcerting. I had my back turned to her when I finally finished with my new wardrobe by putting on my house shoes.
When I turned around, she was right in front of me. She slid into my arms and gave me one of her rib crushing hugs. She didn’t say anything but just held me. I wrapped my arms around her and kissed the top of her head. Then we began to sway.
I felt so happy and so blessed. Having her in my arms was heaven on earth.
After a few moments I said, “I love ya, Daphne.”
From the area of my chest came a muffled, “I love ya too.”
Suddenly, she let go of me, grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the room and down the stairs. She didn’t stop moving until we were all seated in the dining room, which included Anna. The servant ladies were all present also. As the food was offered to me I began to relate what all happened, but omitted the part about a meeting with the aliens.
I got the biggest reaction when I disclosed that I had believed that Throckmorton had been the spy ring leader for quite a while. The action part of the story didn’t get much of a response until I got to the part about taking the woman and her driver into custody. Then I was peppered with question about who she was, what she was wearing and where she was from.
When I told the ladies that I didn’t know the supposed female spy’s name, they went into all kinds of speculation as to who she was, based on the description of her clothes, which they had extracted from me at length. I enjoyed the time they were in their supposition mode, which allowed me to finish my meal without interruption.
When I finished eating, I stood and said, “Ladies, thank ya for a wonderful meal.”
Daphne looked at me in surprise and gravelly asked, “Where do ya think yar going?”
“Well, I was hoping to go to bed,” I replied.
Daphne gave me a withering glance and said, “Certainly not. We have to plan our move to tha cottage in town.”
I gave her a pained expression and asked, “Tonight?”
She looked at Mrs. Douglas and said, “Well, I guess we can let him leave ‘cause we’ll really be doing all tha real planning and house preparation.”
Mrs. Douglas nodded her affirmation, as did Anna and the servant ladies. Immediately they disregarded me and went into a planning session.
I quickly hot-footed it up the stairs and out of earshot. Once my head hit the pillow, I was out like a light.