The Elves left the conference by suddenly disappearing.
Jim shook his head and muttered, “I could really use that disappearing act of theirs. Wish I had the ability.”
Leaving the schoolhouse, Jim called to Miss Dixie Belle. She trotted over to him. He patted her neck, mounted and gave a clicking noise. She began a smooth forward trot, and Jim directed her toward the telegraph office using only his knees.
Once at the front of the telegraph office, Jim dismounted and opened the door. The cavalry telegraph operator, whom Jim had never seen before, looked up, saw Jim, immediately stood and saluted.
Jim returned the salute and asked, “Ya know where Lt. Kirkland is?”
The telegraph operator answered, “Sir, I understand he’s in Harpers Ferry.”
Jim nodded and said, “Please send him a request to come to Shepherdstown as quickly as possible.”
The telegraph operator nodded, sat down and immediately began to send the message. Once it was sent, an almost immediate response indicated he would be on the road tomorrow.
Jim grinned and stated, “Lt. Kirkland must have had tha outpost duty today.” Nodding to the telegraph operator, he said, “Thank ya for yar assistance.”
He left the 19th century’s answer to a telephone and mounted Miss Dixie Belle. Jim directed her to Hattie’s place.
Riding into the yard in front of Hattie’s kitchen, Jim saw Al’s horse tied up to the front porch. Dismounting, Jim gently rubbed Miss Dixie Belle’s nose and forehead. Then he mounted the porch steps and entered the house.
Al and Hattie were sitting at the dining room table drinking coffee and gawking at each other like two love-sick turtle doves.
Jim couldn’t help smiling at the two and was really glad they had grown so close to each other so quickly. The two friends looked up at Jim without the least bit of embarrassment and smiled.
Hattie pointed to the cups and the coffee pot on the hearth and said, “Why don’t ya join us?”
Jim nodded back and said, “Don’t mind if I do.”
Once Jim had poured some coffee in a tin cup, he sat down next to Al and took a sip of the hot savory liquid.
Al inquired, “What’s up?”
Jim smiled and remarked, “Y’all sure have hit it off big time.”
Al smiled and Hattie grinned sheepishly. Then Al uttered in quick succession, “We’re gonna be married. Ya wanna be my best man?”
Jim sat up straight, grinned from ear-to-ear and returned, “Well congratulations y’all”.
Turning to Al, he said, “I would be honored to be yar best man.”
Jim shook Al’s hand and kissed Hattie on the cheek. Suddenly a jug of hard cider appeared and the three close friends drank a toast to the coming wedding.
After a few drafts, the couple sat down and faced Jim across the dining room table. Jim broached the next logical question, “When y’all going to tie tha knot?”
Hattie piped up, “Two weeks from Sunday at the Lutheran Church.”
Jim nodded and said, “Wonderful. Well, I just dropped by to see ya, since I ain’t seen ya for a while. I ‘spect I better get on tha way and spread tha wonderful news to tha folks at Ferry Hill.”
Hattie and Al walked Jim to the door and waved goodbye as he rode off on Miss Dixie Belle.
Jim muttered to himself, “Now who can I get to ride with us?” Almost immediately Caleb Throckmorton’s name popped in his mind. Jim nodded his head and said, “Yes, he’ll do. I need to contact him as soon as I can.”