Civil War Transcendence, part 367

 

Again, I was shocked beyond belief.  I must have fainted, because I suddenly discovered that I was being held in a standing position by San Cirr Ray. She had wrapped her arms around me to keep me from falling, and we were face to face just a few inches apart when I came back to full consciousness. She smiled in her belligerent way, indicating that she had complete control of me and that I was a creature beneath her dignity.

I quickly regained my composure and put my weight on my legs again. She smirked as she let me go and took a step back. However, she did keep one hand on my arm until I had fully recovered my equilibrium. It took me a minute, but once I felt steady, I shook her arm loose. I believe her distain for my existence helped me recover quicker than normal.

I searched for Kann Mer Ray and found him stroking Stonewall, who seemed to enjoy the alien rub down. I made an attempt to speak but could only cough a few times before my speech faculties returned.

“W-wh-when will be joining this union?” I stammered.

“When humankind is ready,” he answered.

“How long will that take?” I retorted.

“Only the Creator knows,” he claimed.

“How long has your work, your guidance, your manipulation been going on?” I demanded.

“Since your planet was born,” he chimed as he kept his attention on Stonewall with his back to me.

Speaking to myself in a low voice, I uttered, “Then it has been in process for millions of years.”

“Correct,” he affirmed.

“Then why do you have so many Earths on which you are working in parallel? You should be able to accomplish your mission on just one,” I quipped.

This got his attention. He turned from Stonewall to face me, which caused Stonewall to give me a disagreeable snort. Apparently the alien massage was highly enjoyable, and he wanted it to continue.

Both Kann Mer Ray, the Mentor, and San Cirr Ray, the Assistant, faced me and fixed me with rather severe gazes. Then the Mentor explained, “Because your species has been one of the hardest to influence. For your planet, The Creator wanted the highest intelligent species to evolve from the elements of your Earth, plus the random influx of basic components from meteors to augment your line of development. As you know, it has taken billions of years to reach the present stage of planet and human progress. Multiple Earths were really implemented in the last 20,000 years to hasten humankind’s advancement. We have been inserting specific people to modify certain events in different historic ages to see what might accelerate humans to attain their best attributes on a continuous basis.”

“What has been done on other planets?” I asked.

The Mentor smiled and retorted, “That, as many of your human governments cite, is on a need to know basis.”

I grimly smiled back and said, “So you leave me in the dark, the same as our governments do. Why should I believe you? You might be trying to fatten us up to eat us, for all I know.”

The Mentor laughed wholeheartedly, while the Assistant scowled. Once the Mentor had fully enjoyed my attempt at levity, he added, “Ah yes. We have watched Mr. Serling’s TV segments with much interest. However, I promise you that we aren’t trying to raise humans to butcher and eat as indicated in Mr. Serling’s ‘How to Serve Man,’which was one of his better TV programs on your earth.”

I was surprised that the Mentor was familiar with Rod Serling and understood my jab at his reason for dealing with mankind.  I let out a long breath that I didn’t know I had been suppressing. The Mentor had supposedly been truthful with me, and it had rocked my world. I finally let go of all the worry, distrust and fears I had been carrying. I suddenly felt like a millstone had been lifted from my body.

With a new perspective I offered, “Okay let’s discuss the mission that you proposed.”

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Civil War Transcendence, part 366

 

For the second time, I was so shocked that my eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets. I became slack jawed and must have gone into a semi-catatonic state. The next thing I remember was being gently shaken by Kann Mer Ray.

“Jim, are you alright?” he queried in a concerned voice.

I was laying on the ground with Kann Mer Ray kneeling over me and Stonewall looking down at me.  Apparently, when Kann Mer Ray observed that I was no longer a threat, he had dropped his hands to his side, which released Stonewall and me from our paralytic condition. However, when released, I was so out of it that I had dropped to the ground.

Kann Mer Ray helped me to my feet. I was wobbly, but able to keep upright. After a few minutes, he let go of me, and I felt more stable.  However, when Stonewall extended his head toward me and gently nuzzled my chest, I tried to reach up to touch him, but it felt as if there was a 100 pound dumbbell strapped to each of my forearms. It was all I could do to move my arms up to waist level. After a few more tries I finally got my arms high enough to take Stonewall’s head in my hands.

It took what seemed like hours before I had enough strength to gently rub his jaws. I think he really appreciated it because, when I initially touched him, his body felt as hard as granite. I believe he had experienced some of the same trauma I had.  Yet after a few minutes of massage, he snorted a few times and began to relax. I also began to gain more control of my body and strength returned to my core being.

Once we had some semblance of normalcy, Kann Mer Ray and San Cirr Ray approached us again.  I turned from Stonewall and positioned myself in front of these beings. I nodded at them with a new understanding of the power they had not only had over me, but over our whole planet.

The Mentor, as San Cirr Ray called him, began, “I’m sorry that I caused you such dismay. I was hoping that you were more…ah…ah. What is the word I am looking for? Oh yes, ‘uncaring.’  I was hoping that you were so uncaring that the knowledge we imparted wouldn’t affect you as deeply as it did. However, you are a person that is intensely concerned about his fellow humans. I should have realized this trait because your Animal Spirit Guide couldn’t have bonded with you so profoundly if you hadn’t been such a loving person.”

I was shocked by his apology and his analysis. All I could do was stare at him with an unemotional expression. I was so drained of all feeling that I couldn’t respond to his soliloquy. I just raised my hand and then dropped it to my side to acknowledge that I had heard him.

I had to clear my throat a few times before I croaked out, “What did ya mean that you had to find the right paragon of the human race?”

The Mentor looked intently at me for a few seconds as if forming an answer that would make sense to a mere human.  Then he began, “When I mentioned we want the best and most peaceful paragon of the human race, you need to understand our meaning of paragon. It is kind of like wanting the best attributes of the human race to evolve. We consider compassion, intelligence, ability to love, and imagination to be the ones we highly value.”

I considered his answer for a moment and then asked, “On how many Earths are you shaping these attributes?”

“Why…all of them!?” he blurted.

I held myself in check and didn’t let my emotions run away with me again. Then I asked again, “But how many Earths are there?”

He nodded toward San Cirr Ray, who had remained silent for some time. She looked me in the eyes and answered with the same tolerant voice that a human would bestow on a dog, “There are over 25 parallel Earths.”

I couldn’t hide my shock and uttered, “Wow!”

I turned back to the Mentor and probed, “I take it you want to reach the point where all humans are imbued with these attributes? Right?”

San Cirr Ray answered, “Yes.”

“Why do you have so many Earths you are influencing in this manner?” I questioned.

“Because evolution is a very finite procedure. The most minute action can trigger a total change to a planet’s evolution,” the Mentor answered and then continued, “We are constantly recruiting human beings to implement specific actions to see what outcomes will occur.”

Standing to my full height and looking the Mentor eye to eye, I finally got to the $64,000 question I had wanted to ask, “What gives you the right to foster your own agenda on our evolution?”

He returned my eye to eye contact and without hesitation explained, “Because your species is slated to join our union of habitable planets, and we are not going to accept a rogue or contentious member. To have a serene universal co-existing union, your planet must evolve to reach its highest level of peace and tranquility by all its inhabitants. Our task is to help you accomplish this ultimate transition.”

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 365

 

Finally, I stuttered, “How in heaven’s name could we do that? The U. S. capital is so heavily protected with forts that we wouldn’t get anywhere near Washington D.C., let alone raid it.”

“We can provide a way,” Kann Mer Ray promised.

‘Listen, I can’t be a part of changing history with advanced technology,” I declared.

“Well, you’ve done it before,” San Cirr Ray said with a smirk.

“But that was different. I was trying to save people’s lives,” I argued.

“Isn’t shortening the war, saving people’s lives?” Kann Mer Ray probed.

“But what will it do to the history of this planet or universe or whatever ya call it?” I retorted.

“It will bring about a different result to the conflagration that happened in your universe,” he disclosed.

I looked at him in stunned silence for what seemed like hours before the parts of the puzzle came together. Anger transfused my being. I took an aggressive step toward the alien, who didn’t seem intimidated in the least, and through clinched teeth, hissed, “Do you mean to tell me that you are in control of history, and we are nothing but guinea pigs for your entertainment?”

San Cirr Ray smiled and then quipped, “Mentor, I believe the human finally has seen the light.”

I transfixed her with a gaze of such hate that, for a split second, her mirth was stymied as she became aware of a possible physical attack.

Kann Mer Ray’s eyes never left my face as he raised his hand for his assistant to remain silent. Then in a matter of fact voice informed me, “We have to know what historical evolution will produce the best and most peaceful paragon of the human race.”

I was shaken to the core of my essence.  I turned my back to the aliens and took a few steps away until I was on Stonewall’s left side facing the terrain behind us. I grabbed his saddle horn with my left hand to keep from falling and began to shake my head.  My heart was beating like a drum at a marching band concert. My breath was ragged and coming in gasps.  I couldn’t believe what I just heard.

It took me a few minutes to get my act together. Once I had my heart rate under control and my breathing wouldn’t cause me to hyperventilate, I turned and looked back at the aliens. Through eyes that had a difficult time focusing, I could barely discern that Kann Mer Ray’s face displayed no emotion at all, while San Cirr Ray had a smirk on her face. She was really enjoying my trauma.

The anger that welled up inside me, due to her arrogance, helped bring me back to a normal state of being. The only thought that ran throw the reptilian part of my mind was retaliation.  I reached for my Colts. I really didn’t care what happened to me anymore.

Before I could clear the Colts from my belt, Kann Mer Ray lifted his hand and pointed the index finger on his right hand at me. I couldn’t move.  He took a step toward me, and Stonewall tried to rear up and bring his front hooves down on the alien. Kann Mer Ray simply pointed the index finger of his left hand at my faithful friend, and Stonewall was held in place without his front legs ever leaving the ground.

The alien, with his ever present assistant, came to stand in front of me. Kann Mer Ray continued to hold us in a paralyzed state. Looking at me with eyes that seemed to sear into my soul, he began, “You are one of only a handful of humans to whom we have revealed the motive for our presence on this earth. I know this is hard to believe, but there are other parallel Earths.”

I had figured out the parallel universe concept, but I didn’t understand that there could be many possible Earths out there in different dimensions. My face went slack as the importance of his words hit me with another thunderbolt.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 364

 

I could see the greenish teal glimmer in the roadway before she ever appeared. In an instant, San Cirr Ray materialized about five yards in front of us.

Stonewall halted and whinnied a warning to the alien.  His ears were laid back, and I could feel that his body was tense.  His last meeting with her hadn’t ended on a very friendly note.

San Cirr Ray looked at Stonewall and then at me.

“Looks like I don’t have a friend in this world,” she determined.

I didn’t say a word, but instead queried, “I thought both of you were supposed to be here when we met?”

Suddenly, a brighter greenish phantasm appeared and then flashed into the personage of Kann Mer Ray.

Stonewall started to back up, but I said, “Whoa boy.”

Kann Mer Ray bowed and apologized, “I’m sorry to be late. I was running behind. I didn’t mean to startle your steed.”

Stonewall gave one of his snorts and displayed laid back ears and a tense body.

Kann Mer Ray began to raise his hand.

“Don’t even think about it,” I challenged.

He gave me a resigned look and let his hand drop to his side.

“Alright, I’m here and ready to talk. What is your proposal?” I demanded.

“You promised to do our bidding in return for the safe deliverance of your men, not just listen to a proposal,” San Cirr Ray blurted.

“I originally said I would listen to your proposal. You took it to mean that I would do your bidding,” I retorted hotly.

Kan Mer Ray said, “I believe that once Jim hears our proposal that he will give it his full attention.”

I turned to look at the male alien with a frown.

Kan Mer Ray proposed, “Why don’t you dismount and let us talk face to face?”

I nodded, dismounted and came around to face the aliens. Stonewall gently nudged me to let me know he had my back. I grinned in response.

Kan Mer Ray noted, “Your steed, or should I say your incarnated animal spirit guide, is very protective.”

I looked at him with a shocked expression. “What do ya mean?” I declared.

The alien smiled at me and asserted, “Surely you knew your rapport was more than usual?”

I still looked at him with a stunned countenance.

Slowly, I turned to look at Stonewall. His eyes looked straight into my eyes without flinching. Then I swear his features seemed to be smiling. I uttered in a fascinated voice, “Well, if that don’t beat all.”

Suddenly, I laughed and hugged his neck. He let loose with one of his famous whinnies, and I laughed even harder.

“Okay, you’ve had a great revelation. Now how about we discuss why we came here?” San Cirr Ray expressed in a derisive voice.

I turned swiftly with a disdainful utterance readily available, but looking at Kann Mer Ray, decided against it. Instead I asked, “Okay, what is it?”

“We want you and Mosby to raid Washington. We believe the action will incite the populace of the North to bring enough pressure on the U.S. President that he would sue for peace,” proposed the alien.

My lower jaw literally dropped so hard that I thought I had unhinged my jaw. My eyes popped open so wide that they hurt. Lastly, my ears jerked backward so far that it affected my hearing. I maintained these exaggerated bodily positions until Stonewall nudged me.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 363

We had a leisurely lunch and enjoyed each other’s company. John Lee opened up a little more and told of the days when he was a horse tamer. He had broken a lot of horses and gentled them for young aristocrat ladies in Frederick City for fox hunting. That business dried up in the 1850’s when fox hunting went out of style for ladies.

Daphne tried to get me to tell more about Arkansas. I spun a tale about Jim Bowie getting one of his famous knives made at Washington, Arkansas, which was one of the last towns before crossing the Red River into Texas. This kept both of them engrossed for a few minutes. I tried to remember some of my Arkansas history before the Civil War and finally discussed Arkansas coming into the union in 1836 along with Michigan in early 1837. This was when the Missouri Compromise was in full swing. If a state that allowed slavery wanted to join the union, then a free state also had to join the union at the same time.

Confederate private with Bowie knife

We finished lunch, and it seemed we had established the basis of a friendship between us.  Getting up to leave, I asked John Lee, “Where ya gonna go now?”

“To get the hosses ready for moving tomorrow,” he answered.

I nodded my head and said, “When yar thru, come knock on our door. Ya can sleep in the spare bedroom we have down the hall.”

He looked at me in wonderment. Then he smiled, nodded his head and left via the hotel back door for the livery stable.

I left some specie on the table for the meal and a little more for the cook, who was so gracious to allow us to use the pantry for our meal.

Daphne and I went through the lobby to the stairs leading to our room. Holding hands with my beloved as we ascended to the second floor, my heart was beating ninety miles an hour. Both of us knew what was on each other’s mind.  We were giddy and anticipatory as we stopped in front of our hotel door.

Daphne said, “Pick me up and carry me over the threshold. I just love it when ya do that.”

I smiled and picked her up, feinting as if she was heavy. I stood there acting as I could barely hold her up and then joked, “How much did ya eat for lunch?”

She hit me on the shoulder and retorted, “Oh, you rascal!”

We both laughed as I entered the door and set her down. Quickly, I wedged a chair under the door knob and turned to Daphne.  She rushed into my arms. Needless to say, we enjoyed an afternoon of delight.

Later in the afternoon, I got up from the bed and washed up in the hotel basin. I put on my clothes and checked my Colts and the four additional loaded cylinders to make sure they were still packed sufficiently to discharge.

I walked to Daphne’s side of the bed and looked at my sleeping wife. She lay on her back with her long black tresses splayed out from her head creating a semi-circle of ebony enhancement to her beauty. If she were alive in the 21st century, she would have won many beauty contests. I was still amazed that I was loved by this wonderful woman. Love and adoration poured from my heart toward her.

She must have sensed either the love or me standing over her, because she stirred and opened one eye to look sleepily at me. It took her a moment to focus, and when she did, she asked, “Is everything alright?”

I answered, “Everything is just perfect.”

She smiled and yawned. “What cha doing all suited up?” she inquired.

“I’m gonna go to the livery stable and then look around. Do ya have yar pistol handy?” I asked.

“Yes. It’s under my pillow,” she rejoined.

“Good. Why don’t ya wedge the chair under the door knob when I leave? I won’t be gone long,” I stated.

She replied, “Okay.” Then slyly smiled and said, “Don’t be gone too long.”

I grinned from ear to ear, bent down and gave her a lingering kiss. Once we broke from the embrace and finally were able to catch our breaths, I stood, put on my hat, took the chair from under the door knob and mouthing, “I love ya,” left the room.

I waited in the hall until I heard Daphne wedge the chair under the door knob. Then I walked down the stairs and left via the hotel back door for the livery.

I wasn’t as skittish as I was before, but I still kept one hand on the butt of a Colt.

I entered the livery and found John Lee administering to the horses.  He looked up at me in surprise and said, “I didn’t expect ya back herah until tha morning.”

I nodded and stated, “I needed to look around and get the lay of the land for our upcoming departure.”

“By the way,” I ventured, “ya don’t have any back up loaded cylinders for yar Colt, do ya?”

“Naw, I don’t,” he answered.

I handed him two loaded cylinders and said, “Take these. I hope we don’t need ‘em on the way home, but ya can never tell.”

He nodded and took the extra loads from me. When he pulled back his coat to put them in his vest pocket, I could see his Colt stuck in his trousers’ belt.

That made me feel a lot better about his readiness for any possible trouble.

I walked to Stonewall’s stall. He had stuck his head out when he heard me talking.

I saddled him, and we rode out through town to Bolivar Heights. Once there I directed us toward the River Road. I knew I was due for a meeting, and sure enough, when we reached a deserted portion of the road, she appeared.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 362

 

Once back at the livery stable, I unsaddled Stonewall and put him in a stall. I personally fetched some water, hay and oats for him. Then we had a meditative session before I left for the hotel.

I kept a weary lookout on my way to the hotel, which included having my hand on one of my Colts. I didn’t relax until I got to the hotel second floor and found John Lee sitting in front of our door.

I smiled at him and he waved at me.

As I approached him, I asked, “Have ya eaten yet?”

He shook his head that he hadn’t.

I stated, “Let me get Daphne and we will have lunch together.”

John Lee looked at me like I had grown three eyes. I smiled at him and then knocked on our door.

“Who’s there?” challenged Daphne.

“It’s me Liebchen,” I returned.

The door was immediately opened, and Daphne flew into my arms.  I grinned at John Lee and said, “We’ll be right out.”

I picked up Daphne and carried her into our temporary bridal suite.

“Jim, I was worried for ya,” she confessed.

I put her down and took her in my arms. I kissed her very gently, savoring her scent and the touch of her lips.  We ended our embrace and had to catch our breaths.  Our passion was definitely heightened.

I ventured, “I’m sorry, but I promised that we’d have lunch with John Lee.”

Daphne gave a disappointed frown, but then she wagged her finger at me and said, “Alright this time, but ya aren’t getting out of my clutches after lunch.”

I laughed heartily and promised, “I will submit after lunch.”  I continued, “I hope ya don’t mind eating in the hotel kitchen. They probably won’t allow John Lee in the dining room.”

Daphne cheerfully responded, “It doesn’t matter to me as long as the food’s good.”

I nodded my appreciation.

Daphne got her shawl, and we went out into the hall. John Lee got up from his chair from which he acted as a sentry for Daphne’s safety.

I looked at John Lee and said, “I guess we all can go down to eat now. After lunch ya don’t have to play nursemaid to us anymore today. I really appreciate the protection ya provided Daphne while I was away.”

John Lee, being a man of few words, just nodded his recognition of my appreciation.

We went down stairs to the front desk, and I asked the desk clerk, “Where can we three eat a meal together?”

The shocked look he gave us was worth asking the question.  “Ah, ah, ah, I don’t know,” he stammered.

“May we eat together in the kitchen?” I queried.

“Yes, I guess so,” he replied.

“Thank ya,” I said, and we headed for the kitchen.

I looked at Daphne, and she returned my gaze without any judgmental look or frown.

I led the way to the kitchen door and pushed it open to the most delicious aromas imaginable. I spied the main cook, because she was pan-frying a steak while giving orders to her two helpers.  She looked at me and curtly asked, “What do ya want?”

I calmly said, “A table where we three can have a meal together.”

She looked at us with a soul searching stare for a few seconds. Then she attended to her steak. Looking up at us again, she said, “Give me a minute, and I’ll set ya up.”

I nodded at her and we went back into the lobby for a few minutes. I finally got John Lee talking when I asked about his grandson in Martinsburg.  Apparently, they were sort of close. John Lee told of the first time that he took his grandson for a horse ride. The boy fell in love with horses from that day forward.  He had followed his grandpa in learning all he could about the equestrian trade.

After a few moments of fellowship, the cook stuck her head into the lobby and motioned for us to follow her.  She took us through the kitchen and into a small adjacent room with a square rustic table and four mismatched chairs. One wall of the room had shelves full of various and sundry canned goods, flour sacks, sugar sacks and cooking oils. It smelled like a potpourri of delightful fragrances.

The cook left us for a moment and then returned to tell us what was on the menu. I ordered a porterhouse steak with bread and cooked potatoes.  Daphne ordered a small beef brisket, corn and mashed potatoes. John Lee ordered a porterhouse steak with mashed potatoes and corn.  We all asked for coffee as our beverage.

Once the cook had left, I asked John Lee, “What cha gonna do once we get back to Shepherdstown?”

“I guess I’s gonna go back to work for Miss Douglas,“ he answered.

“Want a work for me?” I asked.

His face lit up and he said, “Shore would.”

“I’ll talk with Miss Douglas when we get back and see what we can work out. In the meantime, can ya help Daphne get all our paraphernalia together tomorrow so we can leave in the morning?” I ventured.

“Yes, I can,” he answered with a big grin on his face.

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 361

 

The Colonel looked at me expectantly.

“Sir, why don’t ya collect tha town council together, which would consist of tha Mayor, tha clergy, and tha newspaper editor, and tell ‘em they’ll need to get an election implemented for a new town marshal? Tell ‘em that Marshal Gill had been suspected of criminal activities for a long time, and that he and his henchmen were killed trying to assassinate a cavalry officer. Also reassure ‘em that tha cavalry contingent will maintain law and order until tha new marshal is elected,” I suggested.

The Colonel’s jaw dropped as I went through my possible solution of the elimination of Marshal Gill and his gang of cutthroats. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that Major Mosby was grinning from ear to ear.

Finally, Colonel Daniels took a big gulp of air and stammered, “Tha, that’s a very good plan, Captain. I’ll implement it immediately.”

Then he called to his adjutant to enter the tent. As he was issuing orders for an assembly of the town council, Mosby and I walked outside.

The Major said with a grin, “That was a very good proposal, Jim. I knew ya would come in handy someday.”

I smiled and nodded at the major.  Then I offered, “Let’s walk and talk.”

He nodded and we began an easy stroll to the edge of the camp. I didn’t want to tire out the major or delay his recuperation.

“How are ya doing?” I asked broaching his health situation.

“I have good days and not so good days, but I feel stronger every day,” he apprised me. “I’m really glad that ya got rid of Marshal Gill.” Then he laughed and   said, “Ya know, come to think of it, it seems ya have been the exterminator of the whole Gill gang.”

I turned, and looking at him, said, “Ya know, I guess ya’re right. I hadn’t thought of it like that before.”

We walked in silence for a few steps and then I confessed, “I haven’t thought of a plan to get Throckmorton to show his hand so we can arrest him for treason.”

The Major admitted, “Me neither.”

“If’n ya do, please let me know,” I requested.

361 telegraph

“I ‘spect tha best thing to do is go back to Shepherdstown, return to yar job of school teacher, get tha home guard organized and put tha telegraph office back in operation. If ya keep a sharp eye on things, ya might be able to get tha goods on him,” he recommended.

I nodded and said, “Sounds like good advice.” I stopped, turned to face him and asked, “How will we keep in touch?”

“Get tha telegraph office up and running as soon as possible and we can communicate on a daily basis,” he stated.

“That’ll be my first priority when we get back to Shepherdstown,“ I promised.

Suddenly, Al Madigan’s face flashed into my mind.  I said, “Major, we talked about Sergeant Madigan joining up with me again. Do ya know where he’s at?”

The Major smiled and informed me, “I sent the sergeant ahead to Shepherdstown and told him to meet up with ya on tha sly. He’s to be tha liaison between us and also yar aide.”

I nodded and said, “Thanks Major.”

Mosby looked at me and said, “Ya’ve had quite a busy few days. Why don’t ya take a day of relaxation and then go back to Shepherdstown? I’ll tell tha Colonel that you have yar orders and will be in communication with us as soon as possible,” he stated.

“Do I need some kind of written order from ya?” I asked.

“No, I don’t want anyone to be able to find out what yar mission is. We know, and of course, I will let tha Colonel know some of yar mission, but we’ll be tha only ones that’ll be in direct communication,” he acknowledged.

I nodded. Then we began a slow and silent amble back to the Colonel’s tent. Once we got back to the tent, Major Mosby turned and said, “Take care of yarself Jim and give my best to Daphne.”

He offered his hand, which I shook. I took one step backward and saluted. He returned my salute.

I performed a snappy about-faced and looked around for Stonewall. I located him standing under a shade tree with his eyes closed. Grass was sticking out of his mouth, which meant he had gone into his meditative state while munching the local flora. As I approached him, he must have sensed my presence because he opened his eyes and began chewing on the grass he had snatched from under the tree.

I said, “Well, I guess we better go back to the hotel.”

Stonewall gave one of his affirmative snorts as I swung into his saddle.

“Let’s go,” I directed.

Stonewall broke into a walk.  Then he eased into a trot. Finally he broke into a lope. We ate up the distance to the hotel quickly.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 360

 

360 camp

My gaze drifted to another occupier of the tent. Major Mosby sat in a chair at a table in the middle of the tent. He hadn’t stood up when I made my abrupt entrance, but he looked at me with keen interest after I had made my statement of knowing who the spy master was.

I turned to the Major, and saluting him, stated, “Sir.”

He smiled and returned my salute.

The Colonel had jumped up at my ingress and rash statement. He failed to return my salute, probably due to my outlandish declaration. He sat down with a thud and said, “Captain, ya best report why ya made such an impetuous assertion.”

Recovering the appropriate military decorum, I stood at attention and related the gun fight that had taken place outside our room at the hotel.  As I revealed the particulars, the Colonel’s eyebrows shot up and his eyes widened. When I had imparted the effects of the gun fight, who my adversaries were, and that I had only been wounded in the arm, his jaw dropped and he looked at me as if I had grown three eyes.

Slowly he turned his head to Major Mosby and asked, “Major, is this tale to be believed?”

The Major returned the Colonel’s stare and declared, “If Jim said it, then it’s true.”

The Colonel looked back in my direction and fixing me with a stern gaze stated, “Do ya know what kind of predicament this places tha cavalry in? Ya’ve just killed the local marshal and his deputies,” he accused.

“Yes sir, I know, but did ya get tha body from the Newcomer’s barn?  I asked.

“Yes, it was recovered this afternoon,” he answered in a bewildered voice.

“That corpse was a deputy of Marshal Gill. My wife, her servants and I recognized him.  Tha marshal must have gotten word of his deputy’s body being retrieved and it forced him to kill two of tha people, who could link him to sending tha assassins to shoot us,” I claimed.

“So yar saying tha marshal was tha head of this spy ring?” mused Major Mosby.

“No sir, it wasn’t tha marshal. Tha person operating this ring is a lot smarter than Marshal Gill,” I remarked.

“Then, who is it?” required Colonel Daniels.

“I believe it is Elias Throckmorton,” I announced.

“Are ya crazy?” exploded Colonel Daniels.

I looked at Major Mosby and then back at the Colonel. I took a deep breath and shared the last few mutterings of the assassin that had lived a few moments after the hotel shoot out. I then connected the dots about Shepherdstown being the center of the majority of clandestine and overt Yankee activity. I tied in the assassination of Marshal Wells plus Major Mosby having suspected Marshal Gill of being a Union spy for quite some time. I then made the leap about Throckmorton telling two separate families of my wedding and sending them down to Harpers Ferry to attend.

I asked, “How did he know if someone from Harpers Ferry hadn’t told him?”

I continued, “I believe tha person that told him was Marshal Gill. Throckmorton sent our friends from around Shepherdstown to add to tha wedding confusion and hopefully lead to tha relaxation of my guard. He almost succeeded. If my wife hadn’t registered tha room she utilized as her dressing room as our only hotel room, we would have been killed early this morning.”

“So ya believe tha dying gunman was trying to say ‘banker’ when he died?” asked Mosby.

“Yes sir, I am,” I replied.

“Well, I don’t think we can convict him of treason yet. We need more evidence. Do ya have a way we can get tha goods on him?” inquired Mosby.

“I’ll have to give it some thought, Major. Before tha marshal was killed, I was gonna use tha dead deputy’s body to force him to reveal who he had been working with, but I’m afraid I eliminated that source of evidence,” I confessed in a regretful voice.

Mosby laughed and said, “Well, Jim, ya can’t be faulted for defending yarself and yar wife.”

The Colonel still looked peeved. He turned to Major Mosby and stated, “How in heaven’s name are we gonna explain to tha Richmond Command what happened to Gill?”

Major Mosby smiled slyly and said, “We won’t. We’ll just report that we had a run in with some union sympathizers and they had unfortunately been killed in tha exchange of gunfire.”

“Ya mean, lie to ‘em?” the Colonel said in a panicky voice.

“No, sir. Definitely not! We just won’t give them all tha facts of tha matter until we have tha spy master dead to rights. Then we can tell Richmond of tha great job ya’ve accomplished here,” Mosby presented with a straight face.

I had to stifle a smile at Mosby’s preening of the Colonel’s ego.

“Oh!” said the Colonel. Suddenly he scrunched up his face, “But what about tha town authorities?” he whined.

I spoke up, “I believe I have a solution to that dilemma.”

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 359

 

I went back in our hotel room and closed the door.  I stood facing the door for a few seconds and listened to make sure the troopers began the disposal of the bodies from the hallway. When I was assured they had begun the process, I turned to see Daphne observing me from across the room. She had donned the everyday garb that she normally wore.

I said, “Are ya alright?”

She nodded and then began to cry.  I opened my arms and she ran into my embrace. “It’s alright, Darling. It’s alright,” I cooed.

“I was so fearful for yar life, Jim. I couldn’t bear to lose ya. I love ya so much, “she sobbed.

“I know, Liebchen. I promise to be as careful as I can be, but these times call for drastic measures,” I explained.

“Oh, Jim,” she wailed.

Taking her by the shoulders and gently moving her out of my embrace so I could see her face, I promised, “We are about at tha end of tha tunnel in dealing with tha secret forces that have been opposing us. It shouldn’t be much longer and we’ll be rid of ‘em.”

“Oh, Jim, I hope so. I’m so scared,” she confessed.

Fixing her with a loving gaze, I said, “Liebchen, I’m gonna ask a big favor of ya.

I need ya to be my rock because I’m scared, too. So, if ya will summon that will of iron that I’ve seen ya exhibit and exhort me to vanquish our foes, I can accomplish my mission that much faster.”

Daphne looked at me for a long moment. I guess that I must have shocked her with my admission of fear. Gradually, she stopped crying, and I saw her transform before my eyes from a sobbing young wife in fear for her life to a strong-willed women bent on eradicating the evil threating the future of her family.  Slowly she reached up and took my hands from her shoulders and grasped my hands in hers.

With a determined glare, she ordered me like the Spartan wives of old, “Crush our enemies, Jim.”

I smiled and said, “Gladly.”

I put on my coat with a grimace, donned my hat, and walked to the door. Before I opened it, I turned to look her and commanded, “Don’t go out until I return. Lock the door and don’t open it to anyone. If anyone tries to enter, shoot ‘em.”

She nodded.

I turned back to the door and opened it. Looking down the hall, I saw that the bodies were gone.  I closed the door and proceeded down to the front desk. I informed the clerk that the bodies had been disposed of and that he could get the hallway cleaned up.

He nodded fearfully and asked, “Will y’all be departing anytime soon?”

I smiled grimly and said, “Not hardly.”   I left as he gave me a despondent look.

I left the hotel by the back door, and keeping a sharp lookout for any lurking men, who might be taking an excessive interest in me, I quickly strode to the livery stable.

On entering the front entrance, I yelled, “John Lee, are ya in here?”

I heard an answering shout, “Yeah.”

John Lee appeared from one of the stalls down toward the end of the building. About the same time, I heard a loud whinny from another stall across from where John Lee appeared. Then the unmistakable head of Stonewall appeared as he looked at me from the open top door of his stall.

I hurried toward them. I shook John Lee’s hand and asked, “Did ya have any problems during tha night?”

He shook his head and said, “Nary a one.”

“Good,” I replied. “Could I ask another favor?” I begged.

“Course,” he answered.

“Could ya go to tha hotel and sit outside Daphne’s room til I get back?” I pleaded.

“Sho ‘nuff,” he said and began to trot toward the hotel.

“Don’t let ‘em give ya any trouble ‘bout acting as a sentry for Daphne. Get a chair and sit outside tha room. Tell ‘em Captain Hager commanded ya to do it,” I yelled.

He waved his hand that he understood as he left the livery and headed toward the hotel.

359 horse

I turned toward Stonewall and walked over to his stall. He lowered his head and I began our ritual of gently rubbing his jaws, while he rested his head against my chest. After a few minutes, I said, “We’ve got to get to the cavalry camp.”

Stonewall gave a disgusted snorted and added a whinny to make it known that he didn’t like the fast paced life we were living.  I quickly saddled him, got aboard his strong back, and rode out of the livery like the wind.

We made it to the cavalry camp without mishap. At the entrance to the fortified area, I was waved through toward the Colonel’s tent.

Once I galloped to the Colonel’s headquarters, I jumped down from Stonewall and advanced on the guard, who quickly ushered me into the presence of the Colonel.

My abrupt entrance to the Colonel’s tent caused him to exclaim, “What tha?”

I promptly saluted, which brought the Colonel back to his senses. Once he returned my salute, I stated, “Colonel, I know who’s probably tha head of tha spy ring that’s been operating in our region.”

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Civil War Transcendence, part 358

She was pointing at my left arm. I could see that blood had stained the night shirt sleeve from the middle of my upper left arm to the elbow.  I guess she had grabbed my wounded appendage when she flew into my arms out in the hall.

I didn’t feel any pain yet, probably because the shock to my body hadn’t worn off. After all the wounds that I had endured in the last few months, I could tell it wasn’t anything serious. However, in this day and time, any wound could get out of control.

To prevent a possible infection, I asked, “Liebchen, could ya get me some alcohol?”

This stopped her dead in her tracks.  “What does that mean?” she asked.

I looked at her and said, “What?”

She looked at me sternly and demanded, “Ya called me some name. What does it mean?”

“Oh, I guess that just slipped out,” I confessed with a grin.

“Jim Hager, what does it mean?” she insisted.

I chuckled, blushed, and looking awkwardly at the floor, explained, “It means sweetheart.”

She looked at me for a few seconds and then, in a low voice, asked, “In what language?”

“German,” I answered.

She looked at me in awe for a few more seconds and then admitted, “No one has ever called me by a loving name in another language.”

“I meant it as my pet name for ya and only ya. I hope ya don’t mind. Like I said, it just jumped out of my mouth, when I thought of ya,” I professed.

“I think it is a most beautiful gift, Jim,” she asserted, while we both looked into each other’s eyes with love and adoration.

358 apothecary

Suddenly, Daphne jerked back to the present and said, “I need to get you some alcohol for the wound,” she chimed.

“Just give the desk clerk some money and tell him to send Doc Morton a message to deliver some alcohol in a bottle to our room,” I advised.

She nodded, and putting on a very long robe, went to the second floor landing. She called down to the desk clerk, and when he appeared, she threw him a silver coin and made her request. He hurried off like a jack rabbit to do her bidding.

Once Daphne was in the room, I removed my night shirt and donned some underwear and my trousers. She cleaned the wound with water and a clean hand towel. The wound was not deep. It was merely a graze. However, we waited for the desk clerk to appear with the alcohol so we could disinfect the injury.

It didn’t take long before we heard a knock at the door, and the desk clerk handed over the alcohol bottle. Then he sheepishly asked, “Sir, when may the bodies be moved from the hall? It’s causing the hotel patrons some grief.”

I’ll have ‘em removed when my cavalry squad gets here,” I promised.

He nodded and went downstairs.

Daphne applied an abundance of alcohol to my arm. After the third application, I was used to the pain and quit grimacing.

Finally, I said, “I think that will do it. I need to get dressed before the squad of cavalry arrives.”

She acquiesced to my request, but not before she had wrapped the wound with some cotton material she produced from one of her boxes.

I gingerly put on a shirt and tucked it into my trousers. Then, I donned a vest that covered my bracers (suspenders). Just seconds later, we heard the sound of multiple boots coming down the hall.

I immediately opened the door and entered the hall.

There were about 10 troopers being led by a sergeant, who happened to be the sergeant that was on duty when I reported to the cavalry camp the day before.

He was a crusty old soldier. He didn’t salute when he stopped in front of me, but looking around me at the bodies down the hall, retorted with a smirk, “Well, Lieutenant, I see you have been busy.”

“Captain,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“I’m a captain,” I corrected.

“Oh,” he murmured. Then he thought better of his salty disposition, and coming to attention, saluted.

I returned the salute and said, “Take the bodies to the mortician, and have one of the men to relay to the Colonel that I will be coming to camp in just a few minutes.”

He replied, “Aah, yes sir.” Then he hesitantly asked, “Sir, what happened?”

Pointing at the dead men, I recounted, “During the early hours of the morning, those men gathered in front of a room down the hall and were prepared to kill my wife and me.  Fortunately for us, they went to the wrong door. They yelled for me to come out, but we were located in this room.” I pointed to the door of our present room.

I continued, “I was armed when I came out of this room and accosted them. They turned to fire, but I got two of them before they could get a shot off. One man shot and grazed my left arm, but I dispatched him.”

The sergeant and the men stood in shocked silence, looking back and forth between the dead men and me.

Finally, I directed, “So get the bodies to the funeral home, and I will go brief Colonel Daniels.”

The sergeant looked at me as if I had grown a second head. Then he snapped to attention, and turning to the troopers, barked, “Ya heard the captain! Get the bodies to the mortician!”

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