After my rather ominous warnings and the requirement of the mission’s acceptance without further specifics, both men looked at each other in stunned silence. Then they looked at me as if to say, “Are you serious?”
I looked at both men in turn with a very stern expression. I could see they understood I was telling the truth about the danger and the various mission scenarios that could occur.
Lieutenant Kirkland was the first to give voice to his answer. He chuckled and remarked, “Well, it beats having to fill out daily reports and take troops on patrol.”
Caleb looked from Kirkland to me and said, “I don’t think that I could leave Momma right now. Joshua is just now recovering from tha beating he took, and she needs me to help with tha farming. If I didn’t have such responsibilities, I would jump at tha chance. Sorry, Jim.”
I said with a smile, “Don’t be apologizing. I understand completely. Ya are needed by yar family, and they come first. Take care and give my love to Ma Throckmorton and Joshua.”
I stood and so did Caleb. We shook hands and he left.
I looked at Kirkland and said, “Well, I guess it’s up to us to do this.”
He grinned and was just about to answer when the door to the schoolhouse opened and in walked Al Madigan.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had such a surprised look on my face that Al actually laughed. Then he said, “Jim, I don’t know what yar up to, but I could tell that me and Hattie getting hitched caused ya to forego whatever ya had come to talk about. So ya can count me in on whatever it is.”
I was at a loss for words, but I recovered quickly and said, “Al, if’n I got ya killed before ya married Hattie, she’d probably shoot me on sight.”
“Naw she wouldn’t. I talked it over with her and she knows something important is brewing or else ya wouldn’t have come to see me,” he declared. “So ya better let me in on it because I got her talked into jining ya right now, but if’n I went back to her tonite, she’d never let me leave until we met tha preacher.”
I grinned, and we heartily shook hands.
Al sat down, and I gave him the same warnings and the “no specifics” speech that I gave Kirkland and Caleb. He whistled and said, “I knew it was big, but I didn’t figure it was that big. Yeah, ya can count me in.”
I looked at both men and said, “This is going to be a real strange mission, so before we go any further, there has to be two conditions.”
Both men looked at me with a questioning expression on their faces.
I declared, “Y’all can’t wear uniforms on this mission and we can’t address each other by our military designation. Which means that if’n we are caught, we are on our own and we will be treated as spies.”
Kirkland nodded and said, “I kinda thought it would be something like that.”
Al just nodded and smiled.
I nodded at their acceptance of the conditions of the mission and stated, “Well, we’re gonna burn down tha Treasury building in Washington City.”
Both men looked at me as if I was crazy. Kirkland was the first to speak, “How is burning down tha Treasury Building gonna end tha War?”
Both men looked at me for a plausible explanation.
I grinned and said, “Because of what kind of fire we use to burn down tha building and who is going to be witnessing its destruction.”
The men’s brows furrowed in bewilderment.
I smiled and said, “Ole Abe is gonna witness tha destruction, and tha source of tha fire is something that hasn’t been seen on this Earth for almost two thousand years.”